Pack your doggy bags! It's four-legged vacation time

Restrictions on taking pets on holiday are to be relaxed. Simon Calder offers a ruff guide

Rabies, we have always been told, begins at Calais. Indeed, one of the scare stories that gained greatest traction while the Channel Tunnel was being dug was that packs of rabid rats would use the bore as an invasion route to spread the fatal disease across Britain.

Those fears proved groundless – and yesterday the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, announced that the "outdated rules which have caused hardship to generations of pets and pet owners" would be overhauled. From the start of next year, the UK will broadly adopt the much more relaxed EU pet movement scheme, greatly easing the burden in time and cost that owners of dogs, cats and – yes – ferrets must currently bear.

The demand for six months to elapse between a rabies jab and an overseas trip has been reduced to 21 days. Blood tests – the value of which has long been disputed – are no longer required.

The new rules will extend beyond Europe to parts of the world deemed safe, such as Australasia and North America, allowing labradors easily to visit Labrador. Locations where rabies is still prevalent, such as parts of Asia and South America, will be subject to much tougher regulations.

Pet owners yearning to explore Europe are not the only people to be celebrating a tangible case of animal liberation – the outbound travel industry will also rejoice. At present only 100,000 British travellers jump through the legal hoops necessary to bring a pet home to the UK after a holiday abroad. The new rules are likely dramatically to increase the number and frequency of families taking dogs beyond Barking and cats further than Purfleet to the Continent.

But where to go, and where to avoid? This pet's guide offers four-legged getaways to the four corners of Europe.

Paris, France

The French capital is the idea location for poodles and other breeds – easy to reach, and one of the most canine-minded cities in Europe (as the trottoirs often testify). Chiens are welcome on and around the Seine, with restaurateurs rarely turning up their noses at dogs who dine. Paris even has a dog boutique, called Moustaches (which translates as "whiskers"), selling everything from jewel-encrusted dog bowls to gemstoned collars.

Ostend, Belgium

Fresh fish constitutes feline heaven, and there is no need for the cat lover to venture further than this fine old town and Belgium's leading port, in terms of the quantity of fish landed. After lunch, you can hop on the train for a 15-minute ride to Bruges – where, it is said, no fewer than 58 cat-friendly hotels await you and your feline friend.

Rottweil, Germany

The original home of the controversial Rottweiler breed has a dramatic location in south-west Germany: a medieval town in a thickly wooded valley – exactly the kind of territory that a big, powerful dog needs to mark out. Then it is your turn for enjoyment – at the convivial Café Schädle, serving the robust local wine.

Geilo, Norway

The ideal winter escape for an active hound could be to run with the huskies that take tourists sledging around this appealing ski resort. But given the intense yelping that accompanies the performance, you may well find that after all the shouting you sound a touch husky yourself.

Lisbon, Portugal

Pet-friendly hotels are a relatively rare breed – and airport hotels where dogs are welcome, even more so. But the Holiday Inn Express at Lisbon Airport encourages canine customers, charging their owners an extra €20 for the privilege. The city centre is a 15-minute ride away, by dog-friendly bus.

Cap Ferret, France

Unlike the more glamorous Riviera location of Cap Ferrat, this isolated headland comprises perfect territory to let your ferret run free to burrow holes in the sand-dunes that extend exquisitely along the coast. It is, however, disappointing that the nearby campsite Lège-Cap-Ferret does not allow pets.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Out of every 102 residents of the beautiful Croatian coast, approximately 101 Dalmatians are dog-lovers. As the "Pearl of the Adriatic" comprises an attractive walled city, plus an expansive woodland sprawl, for a dog and its owner this is the perfect spot.

Húsavík, Iceland

The raw and spectacular north coast of Iceland has a remarkable range of attraction for days when it is raining cats and dogs – including Phallological Museum. In Iceland, the local dog treat is a whale penis; indeed, that was how the proprietor started his collection of male organs. Besides the specimens on display, he may have a few spares out the back.


As with small children, so with pets: the canal network that adds such allure to this graceful city comprises a constant danger. And even if your dog is the kind who loves to splash about, he may – like a number of young British humans – inadvertently pick up something nasty.

Anywhere in Greece

Imminent bankruptcy is not the problem for pet owners, so much as the long and arduous overland journey – and it appears to have a large population of stray cats who may take a (literally) unhealthy interest in visiting British felines.

Hamelin, Germany

To those who have not yet become acquainted with the rodent world, rats are surprisingly popular and easily domesticated. But it's better not to tempt fate by transporting an animal to the town that, legend has it, experienced a highly successful rodent eradication scheme. For you, Roland, the tour is over.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil