Dog-friendly and Sydney aren’t two things that usually go together. Much as I love my home city of Sydney, it’s far from dog-friendly, whether that’s finding accommodation, catching transport or dining out. But, if you know where to look, there are still some great options for visitors with dogs. So, I thought I’d share with your my secret tips for dog-friendly Sydney.
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Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Sydney
The hardest part about visiting Sydney with a dog is finding accommodation. Considering that many people renting in Sydney find it hard enough to find apartments and houses that allow dogs, finding a hotel room or Airbnb is even harder.
There are a limited range of hotels in Sydney that allow pets, with most at the higher end or boutique offerings. Consider these:
The Langham: If you’re after a dog-friendly luxury stay, the Langham is perfect for dogs up to 20kg. Located in the historic Rocks precinct and not far from the expansive lawns of Barangaroo Reserve, your dog will be offered 5-star service as part of the Pampered Pets Program. In particular, they have their own room service menu, with options ranging from slow cooked beef ragout to ocean trout sashimi, plus dog sitting and walking services can be arranged. Additional charge of $120 per pet, per night. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
Pier One Sydney: I’ve personally stayed in the dog-friendly rooms at Pier One and our dog Schnitzel was treated like a celebrity! As the name suggests, the 5-star hotel is located right on the harbour at Walsh Bay, also close to Barangaroo Reserve. The main bar where breakfast is served conveniently has a large outdoor seating area, meaning your dog can stay by your side in the typical Sydney sunshine. Additional charge of $90 per pet, per stay. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
The Hughenden Boutique Hotel: A 4-star hotel in posh Woollahra at a more affordable price point. It’s located just a few kilometeres from the Sydney CBD and adjacent to Centennial Park, which has wide expanses of off-leash dog areas. Dogs are allowed in specific rooms, for an additional charge of $20 per room, per stay. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
The Residences Centennial Park: Two 5-star self-contained residences complete with kitchen and laundry are available (if you get in quick!). Best of all they’re located right in the dog-friendly surroundings of Centennial Park. Additional charge of $50 per pet, per stay. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
Glenferrie Lodge: A guesthouse located just north of the Harbour Bridge in Kirribilli, with a wide range of rooms at affordable prices. Pets are allowed in specific rooms, 1 pet only, for an additional charge of $60 per pet, per stay. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
Due to the limited availability of both pet-friendly hotels and rooms, make sure you book well in advance, especially over the summer peak period. Additionally, keep in mind that at these hotels you generally cannot leave dogs in the rooms unattended.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, there are some dog-friendly Airbnbs to be found in Sydney. Most of the options closer in to the city are private room offerings, in a house where a dog also lives, so are ideal if your dog gets on well with other dogs. Here are three great options with plenty of positive reviews:
Victorian Terrace in St Peters: This terrace is perfectly located, both close to Sydney Airport and just a bus ride or short train trip to the city. Or handy off-street parking for 1 car can be organised. But best of all, it’s close to the huge off-leash Sydney Park and an enclosed off-leash dog park is just 3 streets away. From $75 per night. Click here to check availability.
Quirky Annandale Terrace: Annandale is a quiet leafy suburb, yet so close to the city. Parking is generally easy, plus this is close to buses to the city and Coogee, plus the light rail. There’s plenty of parks and it’s a 15 minute walk to the Tramsheds restaurant precinct. From $80 per night. Click here to check availability.
Room in Summer Hill: While Summer Hill is further out from the city, it’s recently become a hip and popular suburb. This room is directly above Decolata Cafe, with the same owner, so some excellent coffee is just metres away. From $41 per night. Click here to check availability.
Never stayed in an Airbnb before? Click here to sign-up and get a discount on your first stay! (Note: I’ll also get a $30 AUD credit, thanks!)
Dog-Friendly Restaurants in Sydney
The majority of restaurants and cafes in Sydney don’t allow dogs inside. I have come across this short list of some restaurants that allow dogs, but be a bit cautious about it. Recently some council rangers have been cracking down on venues including pubs that allow dogs inside based on food safety rules. Luckily though, there’s now a bill before the NSW parliament to officially allow dogs at the discretion of the owner, at least in pubs. Typical Australian bureaucracy!
However, many restaurants and cafes allow dogs in outside eating areas, such as on sidewalks or in beer gardens. This isn’t guaranteed (I have been turned away from at least restaurant with a huge outdoor area out the front), so it’s best to check before taking a seat. Some of my favourite dog-friendly cafes include:
The Grounds of Alexandria (Alexandria) – An inner west institute with it’s own barnyard animals. Either dine at the terrace of the cafe or pick up a BBQ feed outside on weekends. Just be prepared for a tough job finding a parking spot any day of the week.
The Greens (North Sydney) – Opened by the same team behind the Grounds, this former traditional bowling club with harbour views has been spruced up, and has an excellent large outdoor dining and drinking area.
Frenchy’s Cafe (Mosman) – Overlooking the harbour and next to a great dog-friendly walk in a rare section of bush, this cafe is perfect for French-style breakfasts and lunches.
Also, check out this list of dog-friendly beer gardens.
The other dog-friendly alternative in Sydney are dog-specific cafes. Your dog will be spoilt with a wide menu of treats, plus there is usually coffee for their human “minders”. Some of the dog-friendly cafes in Sydney include:
Cafe Bones (Leichhardt) – Claiming to be the world’s first dog-friendly cafe, stop by this cafe for a puppyccino for your dog and some delicious-looking food for humans, too.
Chew Chew (Wollstonecraft) – Located right next to Wollstonecraft train station (a few stops north of the city), this cafe and dog supply stores specialises in organic and nutritious meals, plus dog birthday cakes.
Dog-Friendly Transport in Sydney
The transport options in Sydney are not exactly dog-friendly. For starters, dogs are not allowed at all on the trains, which are usually the quickest way to get in and out of the city. When it comes to buses, light rail and ferries, dogs are only allowed if they are in a container/bag and at the discretion of the driver. Check out the full list of rules.
While living in Sydney, I never actually tried taking my dog on a bus, although I’ll give it a try when I next return home. I have read about some people who regularly do this, so it is possible. In particular, I think it’s easiest to take dogs on the harbour ferries, as long as they’re kept outside.
However, the situation could be changing, with this article mentioning that the transport authority is reviewing the rules in other cities, including where dogs are allowed on trains. It would be great if the rules are changed, no matter how many restrictions (such as last carriage only, outside peak hour, etc.) are likely to apply.
When it comes to Ubers and taxis, it’s actually up to the discretion of the driver. So, if you’re wanting to take your dog in an Uber or taxi just state this in advance or call the driver to check. Obviously, you’re likely to have better luck with a small dog in a container. And keep in minds that it is law to restrain dogs with a seat belt or other means.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Sydney
Considering how many beaches there are in Sydney, unfortunately not many of them allow dogs. However, there are a few options to consider.
Dumaresq Reserve (Rose Bay) – The closest dog-friendly beach to the city, this sliver of harbour beach allows dogs off-leash after 4:30pm or before 8:30am.
Silver Beach (Kurnell, near Cronulla) – One of Sydney’s southern-most beaches, dogs are allowed on one section of this beach, opposite the National Park end. The entrance is next to the toilet block at the round-about. There’s a tap and bubbler for humans, and a water bowl for dogs. Best of all, it’s off-leash 24 hours.
Sirius Cove Reserve (Mosman) – Another harbour beach but this time on the northern side, this stretch of rocky sand is next to a great park for picnics. Dogs are allowed off-leash all day on weekdays, or after 4pm and before 9am on weekends and public holidays.
Rowland Reserve (Bayview) – Located about 1 hour north of the CBD on the beautiful Pittswater, this reserve is particularly popular with larger dogs. Handily, a mobile dog wash often operates here, plus it’s just across the water from the Newport Arms with its large dog-friendly beer garden.
McCauley’s Beach (Thirroul) – Just over an hour south of Sydney, this beach is great for a day trip along the beautiful coast. Dogs are allowed off leash all day, but just pay attention to the signage as the adjacent beach only allows off-leash dogs during restricted hours.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Sydney
Some of the best dog-friendly parks in Sydney are:
Barangaroo Reserve (CBD) – While dogs need to remain on leash at Barangaroo Reserve, it’s still the best option to exercise dogs right in the city. (Dogs are prohibited in the Royal Botanic Gardens on the other side of the CBD). There’s a mixture of harbour-side paths and large expanses of grass.
Centennial Park – Located about 3km east of the Sydney CBD, this is one of the best dog-friendly parks close to the city. A huge expanse with everything from duck ponds to horse-riding to sports grounds, 43% of the park allows dogs off-leash, with the most popular areas being Sandstone Ridge and Federation Valley. Check out this online brochure first or the signage at the park.
Sydney Park (Alexandria) – If you’re staying south of Sydney, the best off-leash dog park is the large Sydney Park, close to St Peters train station. Dogs are allowed off-leash all day, except for in some small sections like the playground and near barbecue areas.
Dog-Friendly Walks in Sydney
Despite being a big city, Sydney is surrounded with pockets of bushland, perfect for short (or long!) bushwalks. Unfortunately, much of the bush is national park, meaning that dogs are strictly not allowed. There are luckily though a few walks that are still open to dogs:
Bondi to Coogee Walk – This 6km walk in the Eastern Suburbs is one of the best free things to do in Sydney, and it’s perfect for doing with your dog, as long as you don’t detour via the beaches and keep your dog on a leash. (They’re some of the busiest beaches in Sydney, so dogs are generally not allowed.) It’s best done early or late in the day in summer, to avoid the midday heat, or any time of day over the winter. There’s also plenty of casual cafes along the way. For more details and a map, check out this site.
Manly Dam Circuit (Manly Vale) – This is one of the longer bushwalks that it’s possible to do in Sydney that allows dogs. The total circuit is 7.3km and takes about 3 hours. Dogs are allowed on the trail on a leash, but confusingly not in the carpark at the start of the walk. Some dogs may also find it tricky to cross the mesh walkway above the dam wall at the end of the walk. For both reasons it might be best to park just outside on King St and detour around the carpark and dam wall section. Click here for more details.
Have any more dog-friendly Sydney tips for visitors?