Dog-Friendly Europe

Travelling in Europe with a Dog: The Ultimate Guide

Traveling to Europe with a dog

If you’re taking a holiday and would love to take your dog along, whether for a shorter vacation or long-term travels, Europe is your ideal destination. Not only is Europe about the most dog-friendly part of the world, it’s easy to travel in between many of the countries, thanks to EU regulations. In February 2017 I flew from Australia to Spain to travel around nearly every part of Europe, along with my Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. Since then we’ve visited 21 countries in Europe, with many more to come, and had plenty of dog-friendly adventures along the way. If you’re interested in also travelling in Europe with a dog, I’ve put together this guide to everything dog-related to help you along the way.

Table of Contents

Paperwork for Travelling in Europe with a Dog
Travelling Into and Around the EU and Related Countries
Rules for Non-EU Countries
Long-Distance Transport in Europe with a Dog
Catching Long-Distance Trains in Europe with a Dog
Flying with a Dog in Europe
Can you Catch Long-Distance Buses in Europe with a Dog?
Taking Ferries with a Dog in Europe
Local Transport in Europe with a Dog
Hiring a Car in Europe with a Dog
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Europe
Dining Out in Europe with a Dog
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Europe
Dog-Friendly Guides to Countries and Regions

Paperwork for Travelling in Europe with a Dog

One of the best parts about travelling to Europe with a dog is that often you don’t need to fill in paperwork and visit the vet to travel between countries, unlike in other parts of the world. This is thanks to many of the countries in Europe belonging to the European Union (or EU for short) and its regulations making it easy for pets to travel around the EU and a handful of other countries. Think of it as the Schengen area equivalent for dogs! Just as you don’t need to show a passport crossing the border from the Netherlands to Belgium, the same applies for your dog and their passport.

Travelling Into And Around the EU and Related Countries

Dog-friendly guide to Europe: Paperwork

If you’re initially travelling to an EU country in Europe, due to EU regulations the same rules apply for dogs arriving in nearly every country, making it easier to keep on top of what you need to prepare. To check out the paperwork required when travelling to the EU with your dog, check out my straightforward guide. And once you’re in the EU, except for a handful of countries you don’t need to bother anymore with paperwork to travel between countries.

Want to know whether you will be visiting an EU country or countries? Currently, there are 28 countries in Europe that are part of the EU. They are (in alphabetical order): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the EU counts the following countries and territories as applying rules equivalent to the EU for the transportation of pets. The rules for dogs arriving in the countries are usually similar, plus travelling in between the countries generally doesn’t require paperwork. These countries and territories that are essentially “part of the EU” for travelling with your dog are: Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City State. (Iceland is also included in this list, but is definitely not somewhere you should visit with a dog, as they require a complicated 30 day quarantine period.)

Travelling around Europe with a dog

Exploring the medieval towns of Germany, part of the European Union

So, for the above 35 countries (and 2 territories), you’ll generally not need to show any paperwork or visit the vet to move between the countries (except if a worming treatment is required, see below), once you have entered into one of them with your dog. However, you should always keep a copy of their paperwork on hand (the same as your would your own passport). Plus, if you’re staying in the EU longer than 4 months, you are expected to get an EU Pet Passport for your pet. This is essentially a fancy record book for your dog’s rabies vaccination and other treatments and health checks.

The one exception to this is that a handful of these countries require a worming treatment done by a vet, between 1 to 5 days before arrival. They are: Finland, Ireland, Malta, Norway and the UK. For these countries (at least the UK), be prepared for the officials to check the rest of the paperwork for your dog, including rabies vaccination records.

There’s another potential exception if you are initially from Europe and get your dog vaccinated against rabies for the first time: some countries require you to wait 21 days after the vaccination before entering. This definitely applies to the UK, plus I’ve also heard of it applying for Corsica (from mainland France). Keep this in mind, and if you’r travelling around Europe with your dog, prepare it’s pet passport and vaccinate it against rabies in advance.

(I’ve also heard of a case of someone travelling to the UK from elsewhere in the EU, where the rabies vaccination done prior to arrival in the EU but not recorded in their new EU Pet Passport was not recognised, and they had to re-vaccinate to get into the UK (and re-organise their travel plans). When I got an EU Pet Passport for my dog prior to travelling to the UK, the vet luckily recorded the previous rabies vaccine. Though it was questioned when boarding our ferry due to being dated before the passport, and it was only when I showed older paperwork including desexing papers that we were let through. If it may be an issue, consider a rabies booster.)

Out of these 35 countries, I’ve so far visited with my dog Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. We’ve crossed borders in a car, on train, via plane and ferry. The only time that our dog’s paperwork has ever been checked was entering the UK, before boarding the ferry.

Rules for Non-EU Countries

Visiting non-EU countries with a dog

Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, by night

So, this leaves the following countries in Europe (in alphabetical order): Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Most of these countries are in the Balkans, eastern Europe or the Caucasus region on the border with Asia.

For entering these countries, you will need to look into the regulations that apply to each country. The best place to check is at PetTravel.com, but also check the relevant government website to be sure. Often similar rules for the EU apply, but not always. For instance, many of these countries do not recognise the 3 year rabies vaccination, so check your vaccination dates.

To enter the EU from these countries, the same rules apply when entering from other countries around the world. In particular, the EU regulations do not exempt the following countries from the rabies antibody titration test (due to high levels of rabies): Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

In reality, I’ve heard reports from some people that they have travelled in between some of these countries and the EU and have had no requirement to show paperwork, the same as for when travelling in between EU countries. However, it is recommended to always be prepared. (So far, I haven’t any personal experience at travelling to these countries.)

Long-Distance Transport in Europe with a Dog

When travelling longer distances around Europe, the two main options are catching a train or flying. My preferred option has usually been taking a train, at least for train trips that are no more than 6-7 hours, as it’s usually cheaper overall and takes you right into the city centre. Unfortunately, usually it’s not possible to take dogs on long-distance buses, but between some destinations, ferries may also be an option.

Catching Long-Distance Trains with a Dog in Europe

Travelling in Europe with a dog: On the train

Catching the train in Germany

Most trains in Europe allow dogs, with the main (and frustrating!) exception being the Eurostar, which runs under the English Channel between London and the continent.

The rules for travelling with a dog on a train varies from train company to company, country to country. For instance, some countries unfortunately do not allow large dogs to travel on trains, only small dogs in a container. I am aware of this being the case for Spain, but potentially other countries. Always check the details for the specific train company before planning your trip. These are the relevant pages for a few countries:

In general, small animals travelling in a container do not require a ticket. The only exception I have found to this so far has been in France, where a set €7 fee is charged. Otherwise, larger dogs are usually charged 50% of a 2nd class ticket, similar to a child’s ticket. Expect to be required to have your dog on a leash and wear a muzzle (or at least be prepared to put one on if requested).

When travelling by train, it’s best to book your ticket in advance, except for set price tickets. Often you can get cheaper tickets if you book in advance, the sooner the better. Click here to check out more recommendations for travelling by train in Europe.

Flying with a Dog in Europe

The other alternative (or sometimes the only option) is to fly. Luckily, if you are travelling with a small dog, many airlines in Europe allow small dogs to fly in the cabin. Even many budget airlines allow dogs in the cabin. The main exception is for flying in and out of the UK and Ireland. Except for assistance dogs, no dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in the UK-based Easyjet and Ireland-base Ryanair not allowing dogs in the cabin at all, even when flying between different regions. If flying with a larger dog, an airline that doesn’t allow dogs in the cabin or in and out of the UK and Ireland, it’s still usually possible to check in a dog, although some airlines still don’t allow this. Additionally, airlines usually don’t allow snub-nosed breeds and a list of dangerous breeds to be checked in. Always check the pet policy for the airline (google the name of the airline and “pet policy”).

If flying with a dog, book the ticket for your dog when making an online booking (if possible), or otherwise contact the airline as soon as possible. Also check the airline’s pet policy for the specific dimensions of the carrier or crate your dog requires and any extra rules. For dogs, generally a set fee is charged per flight, and no, they’re never discounted during airline sales!

Can You Catch Long-Distance Buses in Europe with a Dog?

Unfortunately, taking long distance coaches is not really an option in Europe if you are travelling with a dog. I’ve checked the rules for multiple companies, especially when looking into travelling in the Balkans where there’s not many trains, and most bus companies don’t allow dogs, including Flixbus, one of the most common operators. I’ve heard that a few buses do allow dogs, but only at the discretion of the driver or only in the luggage hold (!) If you get stuck for transport in the Balkans, there are many mini-bus operations, and I’ve come across at least one that allows dogs if you book a private transport (i.e. the whole mini-bus). Just be prepared for it to be expensive, unless you’re travelling as part of a group.

Taking Ferries with a Dog in Europe

Dog travel Europe: Catching a ferry

The onboard kennel on a ferry from England to the Netherlands

One final form of transport to keep in mind are long-distance ferries. These are often the easiest option to get between destinations such as France and England, England and Ireland, Helsinki and Talinn, Sicily and Malta, and around the Greek Islands. Most of the ferries that I’ve investigated allow dogs on board for a small fee. If you are travelling with a car, they will be expected to stay in the car. If you are a foot passenger, you will generally need to leave them in a special area on the car deck or on the outside deck, or occasionally they are allowed in the cabin if they are in a carrier, such as on this ferry between Scotland and Belfast.

The main exception to this are the channel ferries connecting France/Belgium/Netherlands and England. The majority of the ferries do not allow foot passengers to take dogs, including all ferries on the shortest route between Calais and Dover. During my investigations, I only found these two ferries that allow foot passengers to take dogs. Additionally, I have since learnt about a ferry between Newcastle and the Netherlands that has dog-friendly cabin berths!

Local Transport in Europe with a Dog

Dog-Friendly Local Transport

Exploring the palaces at Potsdam near Berlin, which we reached using a local train and bus

Generally, most local trains, metros and trams in Europe allow dogs, but don’t assume this is always the case. For instance, Madrid only started allowing dogs that weren’t in a container on their metro in mid-2016, with the restrictions that they must travel in the rear carriage and are not permitted during peak hour. Buses are not as likely to allow dogs, other than small dogs in a container, but larger dogs are also permitted in many places.

As well as variable rules as to whether dogs are allowed on local transport, they are also variations on whether dogs require a ticket. Most of the time, small dogs in a container ride free. However, for larger dogs, sometimes they ride free, sometimes they require a child’s (half-price) ticket or sometimes there is a special dog ticket. For instance, in Berlin dogs require a half-price ticket, unless you have purchased a day ticket, in which case you can bring along one dog for free. Keep in mind that rules and ticketing will vary not just from country to country, but from city to city and region to region.

Often the signage about rules and tickets is only in the local language, or not easy to find. Try and Google the local public transport website in advance, although often it will only be in the local language. But it’s easier to translate it if you don’t have a bus arriving any minute! Alternatively, if I’ve been unsure I’ve usually carried my small dog in a carrier bag (and not bought a ticket) or just bought him a half-price ticket to be covered.

Most of the time on local transport, dogs must be on a leash and wear a muzzle, unless they are travelling in a container. Often there is a sign at the door or inside showing a dog wearing a muzzle. (Next to the signs stating no eating food.) However, most locals will inform you that wearing of muzzles, at least on smaller dogs, is not always enforced. Always be ready though.

Hiring a Car in Europe with a Dog

Hiring a car with a dog

Enjoying the view from the top of the car – only while stopped!

In many ways the easiest form of transport when travelling in Europe with a dog is to hire your own car. There’s no need to worry about timetables or tickets, your dog will often be more comfortable in its own “territory” and if the weather is mild it’s possible to leave your dog inside for short periods of time, to duck into a shop or have lunch. (Just be very careful, and never leave dogs in a car in warmer or hot weather.) Another positive benefit is that you can be more flexible with where you are staying, with cheaper Airbnbs in the suburbs or countryside hotels being accessible. On the other hand, many city centres in Europe have limited or expensive parking, and may even restrict access to non-local vehicles.

The majority of hire cars allow dogs inside, although you may want to double check in advance, especially if you are picking up the car with your dog. However, be considerate and always put a bed or blanket underneath your dog on the seat, always clean them off before allowing them inside, and attach them securely with a seat-belt harness or similar. Click here to read more tips on hiring cars around the world.

Hiring a car with a dog

Comfortable back in his bed on the backseat of the car

One other consideration specific to Europe to keep in mind is not all hire cars can cross borders. If you are wanting to take a car into another country, check with the hire car company first. (Or make a booking that can be cancelled for free, then check.) The hire car may be allowed to cross into certain countries, but not others. In particular, cars hired in the EU often cannot be taken into non-EU countries. Additionally, one-way hires where a car is picked up in one country and dropped off in another are usually not allowed. And if they are allowed, a ludicrously expensive one-way fee is always charged, so it is best avoided. One-way hires within the same country are more likely to be allowed and less likely to charge a fee or a reasonable fee.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Europe

Dog-friendly accommodation in Europe

Enjoying a dog-friendly hotel in Germany

Compared to most other parts of the world, there’s generally plenty of dog-friendly accomodation options in most parts of Europe, whether you’re looking to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb. However, the percentage of dog-friendly options does vary between locations and I’ve never yet come across a destination where ticking the “pets allowed” box didn’t eliminate some of the options.

Due to this, it’s always best to at least research your accommodation options in advance, if not book. If you know there’s plenty of options available, you can leave it to later. But if the pickings for dog-friendly accommodation are slim, book now rather than risk leaving it to later and having nowhere with vacancies that’ll accept dogs.

Another important consideration is the size of the dog. Just like elsewhere, some hotels and Airbnbs only allow small dogs, which is unfortunate if you’re travelling with a well-behaved larger dog. Always look at the fine print, including whether there’s a restriction on size, number of dogs, rooms available to book and whether a fee is charged. If in doubt, contact the property. This is especially easy for Airbnbs, although many hotels also have a contact email address on their website. (Additionally, if you’ve got reviews from previous Airbnb stays that mention your dog as being a well-behaved guest, some hosts might be flexible.)

Dining Out in Europe with a Dog

Travelling in Europe with a dog: Dining out

Yes, this restaurant certainly was dog-friendly!

Seen photos of people dining in restaurants with their dog at their side? While this is certainly the case in some European countries, it is certainly not allowed in many countries. And even in countries where many restaurants and cafes allow it, not all restaurants will do so.

From the countries that I’ve visited so far, these are the countries where your dog is most likely to be allowed inside a restaurant or cafe:

  • Austria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland

For the following countries, I found some restaurants or cafes that allowed dogs inside, but many restaurants did not allow dogs inside:

  • Slovakia (most dog-friendly in Bratislava)
  • Spain (mainly the Basque region)
  • UK (usually only pubs, less likely in Northern Ireland)

For the following countries, restaurants and cafes never allow dogs inside due to government regulations (although there may be a few cheeky exceptions):

  • Ireland
  • Portugal

I’m aware the above list only covers 16 countries in Europe, as the other countries I either haven’t yet visited with a dog, only visited briefly (including the micro-countries of Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino) or just simply dined at outdoor terraces every day (thank you Belgium and Netherlands).

Even if you are dining out in a country that usually allows dogs inside restaurants and cafes, always check whether there is a sticker at the door stating no dogs allowed or asking for dogs to be left outside. (They’re usually easy to recognise even if you can’t speak the local language, as there will usually be an image of a dog.) Or when you step inside the door, check with the staff. (Asking “Okay?” and pointing at your dog gets the message across.) If you’re making a reservation, always mention if you’re bringing a dog. (They may restrict the total number of dogs, or seat you at a more dog-friendly table.)

As an example, while Germany is generally dog-friendly, dogs are never allowed in their wonderful bakeries, which are often combined with a cafe and the best place to have a quick coffee. The same also applied at many kebab shops and unfortunately both burger restaurants we tried to visit in a row in the western city of Trier!

If dogs aren’t allowed inside (or you don’t want to bother checking), many restaurants offer outdoor terraces, especially in the summer time, which are usually always dog friendly. If the weather’s not ideal for outdoor dining and dogs aren’t allowed inside, try to book an Airbnb or hotel room with a kitchen. Otherwise, there’s always takeaway.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Europe

Pet travel Europe: A view in the Swiss Alps

Taking in a gorgeous view of the Swiss Alps

Taking your dog sight-seeing is the trickier part of vacationing in Europe. Yes, dogs are fine to join you in wandering around old cities and are allowed on most hikes in national parks. However, if you’re entering inside churches, museums and palaces, dogs are almost never allowed.

If you really want to visit somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs, there are ways around it. My husband and I have sometimes alternated going outside, the other one staying in a dog-friendly cafe with our dog. Other times, especially if we’re staying somewhere for awhile, we’ve had suitable accommodation where our dog could be left along for up to half a day. Another option is to also look for dog sitting services, although I haven’t yet tried that.

However, the best option is to add dog-friendly sightseeing options to your itinerary. I’ve suggested lots of fun things to do with your dog in this post. Here’s some more ideas from different parts of Europe for your travels:

Looking for more details on visiting a specific country or region in Europe with a dog? Along with some awesome guest bloggers, I’ve put together these guides on different countries and regions, with more to come:

Have any more dog-friendly travel tips for Europe? Leave a comment below!

Travelling in Europe with a Dog

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Julie White
    April 12, 2018 at 2:56 am

    Very useful thank you. Travelling from Uk to Croatia this May, June and July in our motorhome with our rescue dog Jake, grateful especially for tips on Croatia and Slovenia. We’ll be crossing through Bosnia Herzegovina too so will let you know any good dog places.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      April 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks Julie, that’s great to hear. Have a wonderful trip and would love to hear about Bosnia!

  • Reply
    Sheila
    April 22, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    You can add the NL to your list of countries where dogs are allowed in restaurants. We’ve been living here 13+ years and while there are increasingly more not allowing them in, the majority still do. Use your judgement…Michelin star, no – more casual, yes.

    We’re retiring in a couple of years & hitting the road with our two so will be checking out your site for info on travel/living. We take them on a week long doggy holiday every year (8 countries & 1 principality so far) but know the next phase will be very different.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    • Reply
      Shandos
      April 23, 2018 at 12:03 am

      Thanks Sheila, that’s great to know! We visited the Netherlands in the middle of summer and just ate in outside areas, so wasn’t completely sure. That’s great to hear about our upcoming travel plans – have a wonderful time!

  • Reply
    Deb Crane
    April 27, 2018 at 12:55 am

    Hello from Western Australia Shandos and Schnitzel! Thank you for the great information. My husband hails from Brno, Czech Republic and as I am an Aussie, I was surprised when I first went to CZ to see so many dogs wearing muzzles whilst out and about. Can you tell me what the general European laws are for dogs wearing muzzles in public and which countries enforce this rule? Hubby told me that if a dog is taken on any public tram, they must wear a muzzle, but I have also seen them walking around the streets wearing them. Apparently there are huge fines and possible imprisonment if a dog is allowed to cause injury in CZ.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      April 27, 2018 at 1:13 am

      Hi Deb,
      Thanks for commenting! I’m not aware of any rules for dogs needing to wear muzzles when in public in Europe, except for dangerous breed dogs, with the details of this changing from country to country. Dogs are usually required to be on a leash though within most cities. I’ve definitely seen rules for dogs needing to wear a muzzle on public transport (about 40% of the time), sometimes all dogs or sometimes just larger dogs. Personally, I’ve only once put a muzzle on my small dog on a metro train (in Milan). Generally this rule isn’t enforced, so these days I just always make sure to have the muzzle in my handbag. Many other dog owners in Europe recommend the same. If the rules are harsh about dogs causing injury, I can understand people putting a muzzle on their dog to prevent the possibility, even without a rule. I didn’t notice many dogs with muzzles when I visited the Czech Republic last year, but was only briefly in the country, and will have to look out when I return this July.
      – Shandos & Schnitzel

  • Reply
    doroteya
    May 14, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Lovely post, I enjoyed reading it, also loved your pictures. As I have lived in Trier, I am curious to know which burger places did not allowed you to go with the dog.
    Also, I am now preparing an article for a newspaper, about what plans can you do with your dog around Europa and and was looking for ideas, so if you don’t mind I will use some of your tips and information you shared. If you wish I can mention your name and blog and if you are interested we can also publish some of your picture.
    Regards

    Doroteya

    • Reply
      Shandos
      May 16, 2018 at 5:04 am

      Doroteya – I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was Burgeramt and Burger House. It wasn’t surprising at the former, as it is quite small. Unfortunately for us, it was a December day with a top temperature of about 1C, so sitting outside was out of the question.

      I would be happy for you to share my information and tips in your newspaper article. Of course I would appreciate a mention of my blog, if possible with a link if the article is published online. I would prefer for my photos not to be republished. When it’s live, send me the link to travelnuity@gmail.com.

      Thanks! Shandos

  • Reply
    Steve C
    May 31, 2018 at 1:49 am

    We are looking forward to a 3 month Europe visit this year with our Norwich terrier ‘Todi’. Everything seems to be in order as far as entering Europe – Todi will be traveling on a Dutch passport! The only thing that seems unclear is returning to the US after 3 months. It seems that the only requirement for re-entering the US is proof of Rabies vaccination and that a health certificate from Europe is only required by the Airline. Does this agree with your experience on return to the US?
    By the way, one of our destinations will be Todi, Italy so our friends there can meet the little guy named after their town.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      June 5, 2018 at 2:04 am

      That’s so cool that you’re visiting the town he’s named after! And Italy is such a dog-friendly part of Europe. I’m pretty sure the proof of rabies vaccination and health certificate is all you require to return to the US. I’m actually from Australia, but will be flying from Europe to the US for the first time at the end of the year. The USDA has a Pet Travel hotline: 1800 545 USDA, which should be able to confirm.

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