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Dog friendly travelling, days out and holidays in Scotland

woman holding cockapoo dog on board


Taking a trip with your four-legged friend may seem daunting away from the comfortable routine of home but dog-friendly travel has exploded in popularity in recent years to become a major tourism sector. Of course, people want to travel with these inseparable companions who have transcended the title of 'pet' to become an undisputable part of the family. Why shouldn't we share our amazing holiday experiences with our loyal friends?

Thankfully CalMac has made the process of travelling with your dog as efficient as it is comfortable. When booking online simply add a free of charge pet ticket, you'll then be asked to choose if you'd like to take your dog into the lounge, if they're going to chill out in the car or if you're travelling with a support or assistance animal. You can plan ahead by reading our guide to bringing pets on board.

But what awaits you on the other side of your CalMac experience? The answer is a veritable playground of islands perfect for sharing with your furry friend. Here are just some of the best dog-friendly destinations on our door step.


A classic destination for a weekend away, and with good reason. Arran is in touching distance of Glasgow, with a train line linking the port and the city's Central station. Once you get there you'll realise why it's been such a beloved destination for generations of travellers - stunning natural beauty, a welcoming community and living relics of Scotland's tumultuous history.

It's also a perfect dog-friendly location. What could better than walking along Lamlash Bay, the sun on your neck, the Holy Isle rising triumphantly from the beautiful waters and your loyal companion by your side? That's not the only iconic location you can walk with your dog though. Try Kildonan Beach on the South coast for uninterrupted views and wide-open spaces or take in some history with your pooch on the site of Lochranza Castle where they can roam around the medieval grounds.

If you've got an adventurous pup, then maybe a hike up the famous Goatfell is in order - just make sure you have plenty of water for both yourself and your furry pal. Finally, stop by the Little Rock Café in Brodick where dogs are treated as VIP guests, including being able to pick up a bag of homemade treats using all-natural ingredients.

dog up Goatfell


Another sensational destination easily accessed from the central belt is the glimmering Isle of Bute. This island manages to contain Victorian splendour, grand historic houses, sparkling beaches and a thriving food & drink scene within its modest coastline. With regular crossings from Wemyss Bay, direct by train from Glasgow, it is also an infinitely accessible location to reach.

Dog-friendly spots include the beautiful and secluded Ettrick Bay, a mile-long stretch of beach with crystal clear waters perfect for your pooch to zoom around at will. Scalpsie beach is another natural playground that attracts local dog-walkers and daytrippers, its gorgeous sands and breathtaking view across to Arran make it a great location for humans too.

Many pubs and cafes welcome dogs with a bowl of water and a treat, allowing you to enjoy a well-deserved toastie or a pint in peace. With an array of dog-friendly accommodation options stretching from plush hotels to rugged cabins, there are plenty of places to stay the night too if you'd like to extend your trip beyond a day.

Dog on beach at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute


The final entry into our iconic west coast day-trip itinerary is the always enchanting Isle of Great Cumbrae. A petite gem just a short trip from Largs, it has been a haven for those looking to escape the city for decades. Jump aboard one of the frequent CalMac services to reach an oasis of calm in the firth of Clyde. Anchored by the charming seaside village of Millport with its quirky architecture and old-school aesthetic, generations of daytrippers have taken time out to unwind here.

If you're really looking to tire your dog, and any associated humans, out with a mammoth walk then take on a full loop of the island - a beautiful undulating landscape that takes over three hours to circumambulate. For a slightly less demanding route take a wander out to Fintry Bay where the eponymous café gladly welcomes dogs to share a lunchtime bite.

There are many dog-friendly pubs dotted around the island as well as self-catering accommodation that gladly welcome guests of the canine variety.



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Away from the traditional central belt getaways, Gigha is a lesser known destination but one bursting with life and history. Reached by CalMac ferry from Tayinloan on the Kintyre coast, this small community-owned island is a paradise of fresh seafood, captivating views and outstanding natural beauty.

Dogs will find themselves in their element on the island's beaches. The Twin Beaches towards the North of the island are the ideal playground for energetic hounds to blow off some steam and enjoy themselves in the sand and tide while slightly less energetic owners will be rewarded by a series of stunning views out from the island.

Gigha is famous for its seafood and there are few better places in Scotland to sample the wares of the sea than The Boathouse restaurant. A family owned operation preparing locally sourced dishes, a meal here is one of the highlights of a trip to Gigha. Thankfully, the restaurant is also dog-friendly meaning your (by now probably very sleepy) companion can accompany you for a lovely meal in a beautiful setting. What better way to finish off a trip with your four-legged friend?

The Boathouse, Isle of Gigha


Another community-owned treasure is the brilliantly creative Isle of Eigg. Served by CalMac via our 'small islands' route departing from Mallaig, Eigg is a location that allures with its sense of unlimited potential - festivals, adventures, relaxation - it has a little of whatever you could want.

That goes for any dogs joining the jaunt too! Eigg is a wonderland for active pups, featuring some invigorating walks and stunning locations. Take a daunder up An Sgùrr, the island's dramatic peak with views across to the other small islands and Skye, or wander down to the stunning Laig beach for spectacular natural beauty and a dazzling tableaux of Rum rising across the water.

After all that you'll need a wee sit down, thankfully the Galmisdale Bay Café & Bar is a much-loved local haunt serving lunches and evening meals with a range of drinks. And best of all - it's dog-friendly so your (well-behaved) sidekick can join you inside for a bite.

Kayaking on Eigg

Lewis & Harris

The Outer Hebrides are one of Scotland's most magical locations, with Lewis and Harris sitting as the jewels in its crown. This is island life writ large, where tradition and modernity meet in a cultural mixing pot that sites ancient standing stones and cutting-edge tourist attractions side-by-side. CalMac travels direct to the main town of Stornaway from Ullapool on the west coast, alternatively you can travel from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris to reach the twin islands.

And you'll be glad you did - this is some of Scotland's most memorable scenery and home to some historical sites that are simply unmatched in their age and significance. But it wouldn't be the same if you had to leave the dog at home, right? Thankfully there's lots to do with your canine pal in tow: Check out the wealth of amazing beaches dotted across the islands or take a walk part-way to Ben Luskentyre for a cascade of incredible views.

Why not top it all off with a dram or a real ale from The Crown Inn in Stornaway? A quintessential islands pub with a warm and welcoming atmosphere for both yourself and your dog. You may even want to treat your wee pal to the latest in canine fashion - some Harris Tweed accessories.

Luskentyre Beach


Scotland has so many opportunities to share memorable experiences with our beloved dogs and CalMac is proud to be able to take you there. We want everyone to be comfortable and happy on our crossings so please read our guide to bringing your pets on board to make sure you've got everything you need before departing.

After that there's nothing left to do but to book your tickets, pack the treats and get ready for some next-level walkies!

Dog and man walking across bridge


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