Categories: Pet Friendly

Is there anything more endearing than seeing the joy burst back and forth in a dog’s tail when the word “walkies” is uttered. Northern Ireland is all about the outdoors and if your pooch could pick a destination for that perfect getaway or dog walking weekend break, he’d probably pick here. With a ton of great walks, dog-friendly accommodation and places to chew more than just a bone, you and your four-legged friend are sure to have a great time on a dog walking weekend break in Northern Ireland.

Wag that tail on the Causeway Coastal Route

Lead off with a trek fit for only the most dogged of adventurers. The Antrim Cliff Walk is part of the longer Causeway Coast Way.

This much shorter five-mile section of coast from the Giant’s Causeway to Dunseverick Castle features some spectacular cliff landscape and passes right above a series of coves. Along the way, look out for the dramatic rocks around Benbane Head and Hamilton’s Seat before passing above Port Moon to reach Dunseverick Castle.

Just a few miles from here, in the pretty coastal village of Ballintoy, is The Fullerton Arms Hotel (4*), a perfect spot for you and your dog to grab a bite to eat. This dog friendly establishment offers a varied menu, but its forte is the locally caught seafood.

Just a little further down the coast, in the town of Ballycastle, is the Marine Hotel (3*). This cosy spot is ideally located on the doorstep of some of Northern Ireland's top tourist attractions and they offer accommodation with designated dog friendly bedrooms. They even have a dog friendly Costa Coffee on site.

Bound around Belfast

For a rover-friendly ramble near Belfast, try the four-mile circuit around the Divis Ridge Trail. Located in the Belfast Hills, the trek offers spectacular skyline views over Belfast as well as the Mourne Mountains, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

At an elevation of 478m, it is the highest point in the Belfast Hills. However, the walk itself is on relatively flat paths, so you won’t be left panting for breath.

Just a short walk from the entrance of this National Trust site, you’ll find the dog friendly Divis Coffee Barn. The perfect pit stop after a walk, they offer outdoor seating, water bowls, and they even have a dog cookie jar for treats. So while you’re tucking into some homemade goodies they won’t feel left out. Not that that will stop them asking.

For something more substantial, for both you and your pup, head back into Belfast's Cathedral Quarter and sniff out the The Dirty Onion. This is one of the city's best known dog friendly venues. Famous for their 'Pooch Social' events, they have a dedicated area where your dog can rest and refuel. They even offer a bespoke dog friendly menu, including dog friendly beer.

A short walk from here is The AC Hotel (4*) on Belfast's waterfront. Pets are permitted and even get their own little bed, bowl and treats. Dogs aren't permitted in the hotel restaurant but if guests wish to dine with their four-legged friends, they are free to do so in the bar.

Mutt-friendly Murlough in County Down

A fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland's first Nature Reserve since 1967, Murlough National Nature Reserve in County Down is a fantastic two-and-a-half mile walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle.

Dogs are welcome to most parts of the reserve however there are restrictions in some areas in spring and summer when ground-nesting birds are breeding or cattle are grazing. Nearby Murlough Beach is another spot they’ll love!

With so many walks to explore around the Mournes, you should really make a break of it. The Bakers Cottages self-catering accommodation is the ideal place for all the family and your four-legged friend. There is a fully equipped play park, BBQ and fire pit available on site and with numerous golf courses and Game of Thrones® filming locations on your doorstep, you really are spoilt for choice.

Hounds will love the Haunted Forest at Tollymore, County Down

Staying near the Mournes, Tollymore Forest Park covers almost six-hundred-and-thirty hectares and offers some amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and sea.

After a walk along the shimmering Shimna River, head a few miles down the road to Hugh McCann's in Newcastle. Located opposite the promenade, it offers fantastic sea views and its homely interior is filled with antique fixtures and fittings. Sit yourself inside in the bar, enjoy a nice meal or drink beside the open fire and let the dog drift off to sleep.

A little further down the Mourne Coastal Route, and just outside the seaside village of Annalong, you’ll find Kribben Cottages (5*). You’ll find very little to crib about in this little cluster of five cottages nestled against the magnificent backdrop of the Mourne Mountains and there’s is plenty of room to play.

If your dog loves to run around and stretch its legs or is fond of chasing tennis balls then make sure to visit the outdoor exercise area at Rowallane Garden where dogs are allowed to roam free from their leads. The onsite café patio is the perfect place to rest after all that panting. Water bowls and a shady spot are available for your furry friend to recover while you enjoy a coffee.

From here it’s a ten-minute drive to Late & Early Cottage (4*). This self-catering accommodation in a restored 18th century stone cottage offers a cosy place to spend the night and stunning countryside and mountain views in the morning.

Frisky-free in County Fermanagh

Going west, and over in Fermanagh, the Lusty Beg Island Resort and Spa (4*) has everything you and your dog will need for a perfect getaway. It is located right on the small island of Lusty Beg in Lower Lough Erne and was the first resort in Ireland or the UK to win a Gold Paw by Dog Friendly NI. There are a selection of self-catering lodges, chalets and bedrooms to stay in and of course the spa is the very definition of divinity itself.

The on-site Fairy Trail is a fun adventure around the island for both young and old. It offers magical views over the Fermanagh Lakes and scenic walks through the woodlands. As if that weren’t enough for your four-legged friend, the resort stocks products made by Barkin Bistro - nutritional and locally sourced meals for dogs. So you can be sure that your dog is being as well fed and taken care of as you are.

Doing the dog in County Londonderry

Away up near Derry-Londonderry, the Port Path takes you on a scenic trek between the coastal towns of Portstewart and Portrush. At six-and-a-half miles in length, it's a good, medium length walk with panoramic sea views towards Donegal in the Republic and the Scottish Isles.

If this walk seems a little long, why not try Portstewart Strand with it's beautiful golden sands. This Blue Flag beach is very popular with walkers throughout the year and even though it gets busy in summer, there’s usually plenty of room for everyone.

For a bite to eat, try nearby Harry's Shack. Located at the end of Portstewart Strand, this popular beachfront destination is pet friendly all day Monday to Friday and offers delicious locally caught seafood and home grown vegetables.

With its patio and amazing views across the North Atlantic Ocean, it's a great place to watch a sunset after a long day. With or without a dog this is one of our top food picks in Northern Ireland.

If you have the time, and if you have the energy, Benone Strand is also close by and offers an enjoyable walk the following day.

With so much to do, your best friend will be snapping at your heels to come back.