Dog Friendly Sydney: How to visit Sydney with your dog
How dog friendly is Sydney? Today our friend and Sydney local, Shandos from Travelnuity – Dog-Friendly Travel Around the World has shared her advice about exploring Sydney with your dog. This post is packed with tips both that both visitors and locals will find helpful!
So, you’re planning to visit Sydney and have just added organising a pet sitter for your dog to your to-do list. But have you considered that you could actually bring your dog along on your trip to Sydney? While bringing your dog may not always be possible, there’re plenty of options for enjoying a trip to Sydney with your dog.
This page contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation, at no extra cost to you, when you click on or make a purchase using these links. You can find our full disclosure policy here.
Getting to Sydney with your dog
If you’re planning to drive to Sydney, it’s easy to bring along your dog in your car. Just make sure you allow for some dog-friendly breaks along the way, to let everyone stretch their legs and attend to their business.
If you’re planning on flying domestically to Sydney, both Qantas and Virgin Australia will allow you to book your pet dog into the hold. The prices are fairly reasonable, starting at around $100 and increasing based on size. Make sure you book well in advance and allow extra time for dropping off and picking up your dog.
If you’re flying to Sydney from overseas, I’d recommend leaving your dog behind. All dogs flying into Australia need to undergo a rigorous preparation schedule and stay in quarantine (which is only in Melbourne) for ten days on arrival unless you’re flying from New Zealand.
Getting around Sydney with your dog
The easiest way to get around Sydney with your dog is by private vehicle. If it’s not your own car that you’re driving, check in advance that the rental car allows dogs. This often depends on the particular location, but I’ve also summarised the pet policies of all major rental car companies in Australia.
Unfortunately, pet dogs of all sizes are not allowed on trains in Sydney. Smaller dogs that can fit into a carrier bag, which is fully enclosed, are allowed on buses and light rail, although you are required to get permission from the driver. I’ve done this multiple times, and my dog hasn’t been denied entry, but I have avoided peak hour.
The same rules are meant to apply to ferries in Sydney, but the policy is generally laxer. Dogs are often permitted to travel just on a leash on the outside decks.
If you do have trouble getting around using these methods, another possible option is Uber or a taxi. Ask permission from the driver first, ideally when making a booking or immediately afterward. They would also appreciate your dog being in a carrier or at least sitting on a blanket that you provide.
Finding dog-friendly accommodation in Sydney
The most important thing to organise when visiting Sydney with your dog is finding somewhere dog-friendly to stay. Luckily, an increasing number of hotels in Sydney are allowing dogs to stay with you, particularly boutique and luxury hotels.
Some dog-friendly hotels in Sydney to consider:
Pier One Sydney Harbour
Located right on Sydney Harbour in Walsh Bay, this makes for a great luxury pet-friendly stay. When I stayed at Pier One Sydney with my dog, Schnitzel, it felt I was like travelling with a celebrity! Book in advance as there is only a handful of dog-friendly rooms, plus a $90 fee per stay is charged.
Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour
The entire Ovolo hotel chain recently became pet-friendly, offering a V.I.Pooch package, complete with a “Doggy Bag” full of freebies. Ovolo has two locations in Sydney, but I’d pick Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour for its laid-back neighbourhood. (Ovolo Woolloomooloo is, unfortunately, next to the non-dog-friendly Royal Botanic Garden.) There is a charge of $80 per dog per night, with a maximum of two dogs allowed.
For a more affordable hotel stay in Sydney, consider this small lodge north of the harbour in Kirribilli. There’s a wide range of rooms available at affordable prices, with selected rooms allowing pets – check before booking. There is a $60 fee per stay, with a limit of one pet.
For more dog-friendly hotels (plus tips for dog-friendly parks and beaches), check out my full list of dog-friendly tips for Sydney.
Note that the pet policies of hotels vary, including the number of pets permitted, maximum weight, whether you can leave them unattended, and of course the additional price to pay. Check these details in advance before making a booking. Additionally, often, you need to book directly with hotels when staying with a pet so that you are assigned a pet-friendly room.
Another accommodation option to consider is staying at an Airbnb, either a private room or entire property. The majority of Airbnb’s in Sydney don’t allow pets, but there are some hidden gems if you apply the pet-friendly filter. Check out my tips for staying in an Airbnb with your pet.
Dining out with your dog in Sydney
Sydney is home to plenty of dog-friendly dining options, thanks to its many outdoor dining spaces and mild weather. (Plus, when it turns cold you’ll often find an outdoor heater close by.)
Dogs are allowed by law in any outdoor dining space, as long as you don’t need to pass through the restaurant or cafe to reach it, although not all outdoor dining spaces permit dogs. Always check before entering, perhaps sending an email in advance if you are uncertain and don’t want to be disappointed.
One of the most popular cafes in Sydney, which is also dog-friendly, is The Grounds of Alexandria. Dogs are allowed in most areas on the Grounds, except for inside the cafe (although they are allowed on its terrace). They are permitted in The Potting Shed.
If the weather is dicey, you may be able to dine inside at some dog-friendly pubs. Pupsy has put together this great list of dog-friendly pubs in Sydney. I recently visited the Erko in Erskineville on a cold winter’s day, where I appreciated sitting inside with my pup. They even have a wall of photos of their four-legged visitors!
Another top choice closer to the city centre is The Carrington in Surry Hills.
Top dog-friendly sightseeing ideas in Sydney
If you’re visiting Sydney with a dog, unfortunately, some of the most popular sightseeing options don’t allow you to bring along your dog. This includes sights such as the Taronga Zoo and all the museums. However, there are still plenty of dog-friendly options available for your trip, particularly if you’re keen to explore on foot. Consider these options…
Get up close to the Sydney Opera House
If you’ve never visited Sydney before, you can’t leave without checking out the city’s most famous building, the Sydney Opera House.
If you’re visiting with a dog, not surprisingly they won’t be allowed inside for a show or tour. But don’t miss walking up and around the Opera House. Dogs are allowed in this harbour-side area, as long as they are on a leash.
For views of the Opera House across the harbour, skip heading to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, as it is located inside the Royal Botanic Garden, which doesn’t allow dogs. Instead, walk around Circular Quay to the Overseas Passenger Terminal and the Rocks precinct for some great shots.
On a side note, unfortunately, the Opera Bar and Opera Kitchen despite being mainly outdoors don’t permit pets. However, I’m sure some of the other outdoor cafes in the area will allow your dog to join you – just ask in advance.
Stroll along the harbour at Barangaroo Reserve
For a harbour-side walk with your dog, you’ll have to skip the famous Royal Botanic Garden and its waterfront path along Farm Cove. As I mentioned above, dogs aren’t allowed inside the gardens, except for assistance dogs.
Instead, head around the other side of the harbour to Barangaroo Reserve. Here dogs are allowed as long as they stay on a leash. There’re plenty of paths to choose from; just stay clear of any bicycles.
Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
One of the best ways to experience the Sydney Harbour Bridge is by walking across it, and it’s the best option if you’re visiting Sydney with your dog. Forget about the expensive BridgeClimb this visit!
If walking across the bridge with your dog, there’re two options. Either start from the Rocks precinct (or Milsons Point if you’re staying north of the bridge) and then walk both directions with your pup. However, it is longer than you expect and dogs are allowed on ferries in Sydney, so perhaps take a ferry in one direction. (Technically, dogs are meant to be in an enclosed bag on ferries in Sydney, but often this is not enforced.)
My recommendation is to walk southbound, so that you’re heading towards the fabulous views of the city skyline, along with views of Circular Quay down below. Make sure you keep your dog on a leash and out of the way of the many runners. (Although bicycles are segregated to the west side of the bridge.)
If your dog is still a bundle of energy after arriving in the city, it’s not far from the end of the bridge to Observatory Hill Park. This is one of the few off-leash dog parks in the city.
Explore more of Sydney on foot with your dog
There’s also plenty more great walks to do in Sydney with your dog, whether you want to explore the city’s natural beauty or its historical sights. Many of the walks listed on this site are dog-friendly.
The main parts of the city that you need to avoid are any areas inside of national parks, including the multiple locations of Sydney Harbour National Park scattered around the harbour. (See the green areas marked on this map).
One of the most popular walking paths in Sydney, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, is completely dog-friendly, as long as you follow the signposted rules for the parks and beaches. (Unfortunately, none of the beaches along the route is dog-friendly). It’s a great option during the cooler months or heads out early in the morning on warmer summer days.
Alternatively, consider these options:
Most of the route of this walk permits a dog to join you, although you may need to skip visiting the exterior of Government House. (The Domain allows dogs on a leash, while the Royal Botanic Garden, which I believe includes this doesn’t allow dogs – double check the signs.) If you want to give your dog some time to run off-leash, detour by Cook + Philip Park, where all the grassed areas are off-leash.
Milsons Point to Lavender Bay walk is a popular walk on the north side of the harbour, perhaps after walking across the Harbour Bridge. Skip going inside Luna Park, but continue along to Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden.
Dogs are allowed off-leash, but keep them out of the garden beds. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, especially as it’s quite sheltered.
Gadyan Track is a great spot to visit with your dog and includes a fascinating Aboriginal carving to check out. The main part of the reserve is off-leash, although dogs need to be on a leash while completing the walk through the bushland and kept away from the playground.
It’s best to drive to this walk, as dogs aren’t allowed on the train in Sydney.
About the author: Shandos Cleaver is the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity; a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. Shandos recently returned to her home city of Sydney, Australia, after spending nearly two years travelling around Europe and the USA with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel.