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The Best 9 Dog Friendly Beaches in Scotland & 2021 Restrictions

Scotland is wild, rugged and full of incredible ancient history – and it’s easier than you think to find great walks for your dogs up here. From Saltcoats Beach to Balnakeil Beach, the Firth of Forth and everywhere along the West Coast – there’s a lot of ground to cover. Of course, a guide covering every single dog friendly beach in the country would take us a fair while! If you’re looking for dog friendly beaches in Scotland, we have nine great picks to save you some time.

Looking around for somewhere nice and sandy to take your pets? Maybe you’re on the lookout for beaches near the best dog friendly days out in Scotland, too. In any case, there are plenty of reasons why you should take your pooch to explore the best that the region has to offer.

However, dog restrictions may apply here and there, so do be a responsible pet owner and absolutely pay attention to beach information before you go. Without further ado, let’s dive into what you can expect as dog owners exploring Scotland – and why the best dog-friendly beaches up here are absolutely worth the rugged trails.

When are dogs allowed on beaches in Scotland & are there any dog restrictions?

While there will be a dog-friendly beach in Scotland or two that welcome pets all year round, there may be some that impose dog restrictions. This is certainly something we have looked for in our hunt for the top beach destinations for you and your dog. A dog ban is likely to come into effect on a beach that’s normally full of people during peak season. However, you might also find some dog friendly beaches have bans in place when local wildlife needs to be protected. It stands to reason that in some areas, you just need to keep your dog on a close lead. Simple!

The Best Beaches in Scotland for Dogs

Sandhead Beach

Sandhead Beach is absolutely one of the best-looking dog-friendly beaches in Scotland – ripe for all kinds of photo opportunities.

At low tide, the beach extends for about three miles, leaving a bare stretch of wet, soft sand in its place. It is a favourite spot for watersports fans – therefore, you can rest assured that there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied when you’re not walking the dogs.

There are also plenty of picnic tables around for you to relax with your loved ones when you’re not treading the dunes. Most importantly, dogs are welcome on this beach all year round. The miles and miles of bare sand make for great spots to throw a ball for your pooch and spend a peaceful afternoon in that classic Scottish calm.

Your dog will love roaming free around this natural space and will definitely enjoy the soft sand! The bay itself is full of interesting marine wildlife and has in fact been designated as a Special Area for Conservation (SAC).

Sandshead truly is a beautiful beach that is definitely not to be missed, with dogs, or even without – but that’s half the fun.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No
  • Address: Sandhead Beach, Sandhead, DG9 9JA
  • Facilities Near By: Campsite, toilet, car park, picnic area

Leven West Beach

Leven West Beach, funnily enough, is based close to the town of Leven, and makes for a great dog-friendly holiday getaway.

The town itself is a seaside resort and is famously known for overlooking the Firth of Forth. This is a great place to spend a weekend or longer with your family, and that definitely includes your dog.

Your four-legged friend will be absolutely delighted with the miles and miles of soft sand, paddling along in the beautiful blue water. The beach is backed by a promenade, and there are more facilities and amenities deep into Leven itself.

The town has two golf clubs, several cafes, restaurants, shops and more, even on the promenade itself. It is great for long dog walks and there are plenty of walking routes to choose from. There’s also a campsite close by, making it one of the best dog-friendly beaches for short breaks. Why not wake up to a fresh sea breeze?

If you prefer, of course, you can also take a look at our complete guide to the top cottages in Scotland that welcome dogs, too – as well as other properties.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No
  • Address: Leven West Beach, Leven, KY8 4PJ
  • Facilities Near By: Campsite, car park, shops, public houses, restaurants/cafes, golf courses, children’s play area, properties

Millport Beach

Head out to the Isle of Cumbrae and you’ll find one of the best beaches Scotland has to offer, especially for dog lovers. Take a ten minute trip over on the ferry for the mainland and you’re good to go.

Millport is a great destination with wonderful features, in particular, its much-loved beach and its famous, quaint town scene. The area is famous for being host to the smallest cathedral in the whole of the UK, for example – though it’s likely going to be the sandy beach that appeals to you most of all.

The beach itself is very popular with canoeists and dog walkers, but in fact, one of the more popular activities on the beach is crab fishing. It’s pretty safe to say that there are all kinds of things to interest you if you dare to get tired of the long stretches of dog walking paradise. Of course, the most important thing about Millport Beach is that it is open to dogs all year round.

The car park for the beach is situated in the town itself and you will be happy to know that all around the island, parking is free. After a long day at the beach and playing with your dog, why not stop for ice cream at one of the local cafes?

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No
  • Address: Millport Beach, Millport, Cumbrae, KA28 0DJ
  • Facilities Near By: Toilets, restaurants, cafes, car park, shops, museum, pier, promenade, properties

Balnakeil Beach 

Situated at the northwestern tip of Scotland, Balnakeil Beach is a beautiful area covered in white sands, backed by clear blue water and dunes, and is covered in green grass. Bakaneil also happens to be one of the most remote dog friendly beaches on our list, meaning if it’s peace and quiet with your dogs you’re looking for, then you’re in the right place.

As well as being dog friendly, there are many historic and heritage buildings close by, such as ancient churches – making it one of the most fascinating walks for you and your dogs up this end of the British Isles. Balnakeil House in particular is a local building with lots of history to it – it’s now actually a holiday let, but it’s well worth reading up on the history.

Even during the summer, you will most likely be amongst very few people to have travelled to this beach. Adventurers will find that there’s plenty of space to trot their canine companion around, but as with many rural beaches, there’s no lifeguard cover. Your dog is welcome on this beach year round and they will love to run free along the soft sand and through the clear water.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: Balnakeil Beach, Armadale, NC 3925 6897
  • Facilities Near By: Holiday let, historic buildings 

Mellon Udrigle Beach 

Mellon Udrigle is yet another beach on this list that is a prime area for photographers! The stunning coastline up here is home to soft, white sands and turquoise waters. The beach is backed by dunes and, on clearer days, you will be able to see the mountains from across the bay. It’s well-loved by walking enthusiasts.

The walk to the beach through the wooden boardwalk is no less beautiful than the beach itself and is definitely worth taking the time to trot along. Mellon Udrigle is popular among fishers and sailors as well as dog walkers, meaning it can get surprisingly busy – the other humans you’ll spot up here won’t necessarily be tourists, but will be taking in the sea view and the local sport.

Your dog is welcome on Mellon Udrigle Beach year-round, but as there are sheep usually in the grassy areas surrounding the beach, should your dog be a bit of a hunter, keeping them on a lead is a must.

You could make a weekend of it and say at the nearby campsite – but do bring items that you could possibly need with you, as there are no nearby facilities. Amongst these, naturally, should be a camera. This is a view you’re not going to want to forget in a hurry.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: Mellon Udrigle Beach, Ullapool, IV22 2NT
  • Facilities Near By: Campsite

Staffin Bay / The Isle of Skye 

The Isle of Skye covers various sands and stretches – but we really can’t choose between them. Of all the distant islands up in Scotland that are perfect for a walk or two, Skye really does serve up a lot of choice.

This beautiful island is known for its stunning landscapes, replete with rugged, wild greenery and rolling dunes. You will come across several dog-friendly beaches on Skye, meaning it’s a prime spot to explore with any four-legged friends accompanying you on holiday.

They will absolutely love roaming around along the hills, the dunes and the incredible beaches. For example, for a day at the seaside, you could always take them to Staffin Bay. This beach is situated on the northeast coast of the island.

Access to the beach is fairly wide and is close to Staffin itself. From the beach, you will be able to take boat and fishing trips during the tourist season or take a walk over to Kilt Rock and the Meals Falls viewpoint. Staffin beach itself is, of course, just a piece of the puzzle – there are plenty more dog-friendly beaches where that came from, and if you do get a taste for the Scottish islands, make sure to venture over to the Isle of Mull, too.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: Staffin Bay, Uig, IV51 9JU
  • Facilities Near By: Slipway 

Saltcoats Beach 

Many love heading to Saltcoats with their dogs, and if you’ve ever been, you’ll already know why. It’s a great resort for families, and its easy links back to popular towns and cities make it one of the top picks for anyone holidaying with dogs.

Not too far from Glasgow, this sandy beach is in a great location from which to see across the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. The beach is divided through the middle by a small stream and is backed by an esplanade.

The esplanade is home to facilities such as toilets and a children’s play area, meaning many of your needs are already taken care of. Just bring a picnic and a lead for your dog, and away you go. Of course, don’t forget to bring a dog ball or frisbee, too – as dogs are welcome on the beach all year round.

Should you and your family decide that you would like a warm meal or a cup of tea, then this beach is perfectly situated between two towns, Saltcoats and Ardrossan. Both are close to the beach and are full of cafes, restaurants and shops. Part of the fun of travelling out here is taking a walk or two around the local heritage – with some of the best Scottish dog pubs only a stone’s throw away, too.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: Saltcoats Beach, KA22 8DU
  • Facilities Near By: Pier, cafes, restaurants, shops, toilets, children’s play area, car park 

Sandwood Bay

Ever fancied heading right out to the edge of the Scottish coastline? Sandwood Bay is a genuine trek – around four miles down a footpath – but once you get here, you’ll see why the sands are growing ever more popular with the locals.

If the walk down to Sandwood wasn’t envigorating enough for dogs and their humans alike, the beach itself is around a mile long, backing onto the Sandwood Estate, and bringing with it ancient Viking history. It’s also been home to many a shipwreck, with tales of spirits and sirens making up the local lore. If it’s a dog-friendly beach with the character you’re after, then you’ve absolutely found it.

Up in the Highlands, the nearest spot is Ullapool, but as it is so remote, this beach doesn’t have any lifeguard cover. That said, dogs are welcome here all year round. One of the best parts of travelling up to these distant regions is the fact you get lots of access – and peace and quiet while you’re at it, too!

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: Sandwood Bay, Ullapool, NC 2210 6522
  • Facilities Near By: Footpath, local history

St Combs Beach

Just down from Fraserburgh and backing onto the fishing village of the same name, St Combs is a delightful day out for dogs and their owners, with a coastline and views that ramp out into the North Sea. Locals claim that St Combs might just be the sunniest corner of Scotland. That might not take much beating, but we will certainly let you be the judge of that. It’s a dog-friendly beach in Scotland you’ll need shades and SPF for.

This largely sand beach has rolling dunes and grassy patches, making it a bit of varied terrain for your pets. Up in Grampian and close to Rattray Head, the walking trail with your furry friends should be fairly simple. Dip into any rock pools you find along the way, and absolutely take breaks on the sand to photograph that incredible North Sea panorama.

Anyone looking to take a break from the sand (at least in part) might want to check out the local nature reserve – the perfect spot for you to spy some of Scotland’s local critters in a pretty biodiverse corner of the country.

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No
  • Lifeguards: No 
  • Address: St Combs Beach, Fraserburgh, Grampian, AB43 8ZY
  • Facilities Near By: Town amenities, pubs, toilets

Last Word

Dog owners have more choice when it comes to Scotland dog-friendly beaches than ever before. More coastal spots are opening up to dogs than ever before, and while there are a few areas with restricted zones and spots, you likely won’t find it too difficult to find a nice sandy stroll to get those paws wet.

The destinations we’ve lined up for you in this guide are simply the best spots you should head to first – why not take a look out for different categories of beaches elsewhere, like shingle, pebble or wild beaches? Scotland has more than just sand – and a fair amount of surprises if you are looking in the right places.

Some of the best dog friendly walks in Scotlandback onto its coast and beaches – though it’s likely you and your dogs may want to take a look round some of the lochs and wooded walks on the mainland. Across our website, we’ve lined up different guides to trips and adventures you might want to take with dogs, so do make a point to check them out in a bit more detail.

From Skye to Ayr, East Lothian and everywhere in between, Scotland is a varied family adventure-ready and waiting for you. It’s not just humans who love the terrain up here, either. From sandbank to sandbank, don’t forget to dip into rock pools and to check out the natural lochs, too.

From east to west coast, there’s the beach after beach ready to explore. Take a look at a few local authority sites and see what takes your fancy. Dogs, on the whole, love the water – though if you’ve got one or two fussy pups that just won’t hack it, there are plenty of attractions close to our top picks you can look at elsewhere.

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