How Dog-Friendly Are Airports in Europe?

Dogs commonly fly on planes in Europe, including being allowed in the cabin on many airlines, so you’d expect the airports to be quite pet-friendly, right? Unfortunately though, if you compare the airports of Europe to those in the USA, you’ll be a bit disappointed. Here are some tips on travelling through European airports to keep in mind when flying with your dog in Europe, including the best dog-friendly airports in Europe.

Dog-friendly airports in Europe

Are Dogs Allowed Just on a Leash?

Firstly, don’t always assume that dogs are allowed to walk around the airports in Europe just on a leash. You’ll see this happen at many airports, such as in France and Italy. However, before entering the airport, check for any signage about dog rules.

Signage at Riga Airport

At the airport in Riga, we were allowed to fly with our dog in a carrier bag in the cabin, but he needed to also be in the carrier bag when we entered the airport. Check out my photo of the sign at the entrance. I haven’t seen such signs at other airports, but it’s likely to be at some. Of course this doesn’t apply to service dogs.

Are There Pet Relief Areas?

Despite having flown multiple times with my dog in the cabin in Europe, for a long time I never heard of pet relief areas. These areas are quite common in airports in the USA. They are areas set up for dogs to do their business, whether inside the terminal building or outside the buildings.

Even better, many of these are located airside of security, ensuring that pets can relieve themselves immediately before the flight or while transferring between flights. Often their location is disclosed on the airport website, or else there is signage, just like for human toilets.

Dog-friendly airports
A typical indoors pet relief area at a US airport

However, designated pet relief areas generally don’t exist at European airports, not even outdoor ones, despite the many dogs that fly. Perhaps this is because many flights within Europe are quite short, and flights with transfers aren’t as common?

However, hopefully this will soon be changing, with a pair of pet relief areas recently opening at Helsinki Airport, see below. I’ve also included some other recommendations, for the closest alternative options at European airports.

Recommended Airports

Helsinki Airport (Finland)

Helsinki Airport, the largest airport in Finland, is the first European airport I’ve heard of that has opened a pet relief area, similar to those in the USA. There are two pet relief areas, both of which have been located with long-haul passengers in mind.

Firstly, there is one outside Terminal 2, the terminal used for non-Schengen and long-haul passengers. The pet relief area is close to the terminal’s main entrance and includes artificial grass and signposting as “Pet Relief” (in English). Secondly, inside the terminal and past security, there is a second pet relief area near Gate 51. Both pet relief areas are open 24 hours.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)

Another recommendation I’ve come across for a dog-friendly airport is Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Inside the terminal building, behind security, there’s a grassed outdoor area called the Airport Park. It’s located above Pier D in Lounge 1, in the area for European flights.

Unfortunately, I haven’t visited this airport myself, so I’m not 100% sure about the details of the area. Initially I read that there’s some real grass where it’s okay for dogs to pee, but other sources state it’s just fake grass and a pee pad should be used.

I’d recommend travelling with a pee pad and using it with your dog (even if they don’t normally use one), with the encouragement that they’re surrounded by greenery, rather than a sterile bathroom setting. In any case, it’s a nice spot to walk your dog with some fresh air!

Barcelona-El Prat Airport (Spain)

Dog-friendly airports in Europe
The outdoor area at Barcelona Airport

Another airport where I’m certain there’s an option for dogs is Barcelona-El Prat Airport, in north-eastern Spain. It’s the very first airport that I flew out of with my dog in Europe.

Fortunately I made a lucky discovery, that later came in handy when I transited at the airport before a 3.5 hour flight to the Canary Islands. Inside the security area of the airport just next to the McDonald’s, is an outdoor area complete with a coffee shop and a bark-covered garden bed.

Okay, the area is mainly for smokers, and it’s not the most private area or designed for dogs. But if you’re discreet your dog can do their business outdoors there in a pinch.

What About Frankfurt Airport (Germany)?

One European airport that some travellers mistakenly believe has pet relief areas is Frankfurt am Main Airport in Germany. Which would be terrific, considering the high number of transiting passengers at the airport, plus it’s the main hub of Lufthansa, which has a great reputation for flying pets.

However, Frankfurt Airport instead has an Animal Lounge. It’s used only for animals flying in cargo, whether a layover or just the departure and arrival point. If you’re instead flying with your pet in the cabin or as excess baggage (and collect your pet in between flights) and transit through Frankfurt Airport, it’s not possible for you to use this area.

For pet relief, you’ll need to head outside through security, assuming you have time during your transit and the relevant paperwork. I still haven’t visited this airport, but I’ve heard that your best is area east of Terminal 1 Concourse C.

Grassed Areas at Other Airports in Europe

The majority of other airports I’ve visited with my dog haven’t had any areas suitable for dogs to relieve themselves inside, but they’ve usually had grass just outside the terminal or within a 1-2 minute walk.

My usual recommendation is to firstly check-in for your flight, then pop back outside with your dog, before heading back inside and going through security.

I’ve personally checked out the following airports and can give them the thumbs-up:

  • Czech Republic – Václav Havel Airport Prague
  • France – Marseille Provence Airport
  • France – Paris Orly Airport
  • Greece – Athens International Airport
  • Italy – Catania–Fontanarossa Airport
  • Latvia – Riga International Airport
  • Malta – Malta International Airport
  • Romania – Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport
  • Spain – Tenerife South Airport

A Warning about Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (France)

Unfortunately, the place where I most needed access to a pet relief area was at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (or Roissy Airport), prior to flying across the Atlantic with my dog in the cabin, an 8 hour plus flight. And of course I had difficulty finding access to anything suitable, at least near Terminal 2A, where I was flying from.

Now, Charles de Gaulle Airport is the second busiest airport in Europe (after Heathrow Airport and narrowly edging out Amsterdam Schiphol Airport) and it’s gigantic. It has three terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, with Terminal 2 alone larger than most airports. (Check out the map.) Unfortunately, outside of Terminal 2, at least the western end near Terminal 2A, we simply found expanse after expanse of bitumen and concrete.

We eventually spoke to an information desk, and the lady suggested that we take the free shuttle train to Terminal 3. I believe there’s some grass near Terminal 3 (close to the nearby hotels – I’d spotted some from our taxi) and perhaps Terminal 1. I’ve also more recently heard that there’s grass outside of Terminal 2G, but that’s not connected to the rest of Terminal 2 and requires a shuttle bus. However, by this time we were cutting it fine for taking a shuttle and we ended up finding some weeds in one carpark.

So, if you’re flying through Charles de Gaulle with a dog, double check which Terminal and be prepared for a long mission to find somewhere for your dog!

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Europe Pet-Friendly Airports

30 thoughts on “How Dog-Friendly Are Airports in Europe?”

  1. hi there, we are trying to fly with our small dog to Nice from LAX. with a 5 hour stop over in Sweden. We are trying to research if there is a dog relief area at the International Airport there.
    Do you know?

    Reply
    • I haven’t been to the airport in Stockholm, but I would expect there isn’t a dog relief area. I would head outside and find some grass, also just stretch your legs.

      You’ll pass through immigration when you fly into Sweden, then it’s almost a domestic flight to Nice, as it’s within Schengen, so it shouldn’t take too long to re-enter for your next flight. Plenty of time to exit during a 5 hour stopover.

      Reply
  2. I flew out CDG and they had a outdoor smoking area at the end of the terminal I was flying delta to MSP. So 9 hr flight and because she was able to pee 5mins b4 boarding we had plenty of time and she did great. So Infirst look for pet bathrooms then I look for outside smoking areas. but I’m flying Zurich to Lax a 12hr flight in may and idk how we will do that one. I’ve never used potty pads but I better train her on them. I’m flying business class right next to first so I really need to fin a viable solution for onboard bathroom use for her.

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    • Thanks for the tip Casey, I’ll keep that in mind. Such a long flight would be tricky. Luckily my dog has always held on without complaints, so I’ve never had to resort to pee pads. The longest he went was actually a ferry not a plane, because he refused to go on the bare ferry deck. Wishing you all the best on the flight!

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    • Hello,
      Thank you for this post! I will be flying with my dog from Athens to CDG and then on to the US. My layover in CDG is 12 hrs and I don’t believe I will be able to clear customs due to Covid-19. I must find an area for my dog to relieve herself. Through this post (so helpful, thank you!) it seems that a great option for me would be to use the outdoor smoking area that you found. It sounds like you were flying back to the US also. Were you in terminal 2? Thank so much for any other advice.

      Reply
  3. I am planning to fly with transit stop in CDG, I wouldn’t be able to clean security area. If I have to go from one terminal to another to change flights, will I have to take a bus no matter what? My idea was that if I have to take a bus, I will have to go outside and my dog can do his business right next to front dog, he just need some type of fresh area. Do yoy think ill be able to?

    Reply
    • Alla – I haven’t previously transited at CDG, but looking at this handy website (https://easycdg.com/passenger-information/connecting-flight-connections-paris-cdg-airport/where-to-go/), I believe you have to take the bus between terminals, not walk. My concern though is that there are likely no grass areas where you get on and off the bus – my experience of CDG is that there is virtually no grass, except if you head over to the hotels. Definitely try and do this and speak to the staff, they should be understanding. As a back-up, would your dog go on a “puppy pee pad” inside the restrooms? (I know my dog would never do this, but is quite good at “holding on”.)

      Reply
  4. Adding to your list, Lisbon Airport has a good grassy area right in front of the arrival area. As the airport is not very large, for those on a connecting flight can go out for a quick pee.

    Frankfurt International has grass areas only close to the rent-a-car areas. For those with a bit more time, a 10 min walt towards the Lufthansa office, which has a good grassy area is worth.

    Dusseldorf International in Germany has a very little grassy area next to the parking lots in the arrival area.

    Reply
    • I’m thinking of taking Lufthansa back from Rome to Seattle thru FRA in September, and would have a 1 hour 45 min layover. Would that be enough time to get to the Lufthansa office and back in thru security? I do hope the European airports get it together about pet relief areas! We have homes in the US and Italy and would like to take our dog with us back and forth. Between American Airlines not allowing pets in cabin and Lufthansa severely restricting pets plus under seat carriers to 8 kg, it leaves only United and Delta as options (both quite reasonable and friendly with in cabin pet policies.)

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      • I would check with the airline for their recommended stopover time. The airport in Helsinki now has pet relief areas, I hope other European airports follow suit.

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  5. This is such a helpful post! I’ve found that so few international airports have clearly articulated pet policies. I want to travel abroad with my dog once this pandemic is over, but it’s so hard knowing what to expect. This was immensely helpful to me.

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  6. Hi Shandos –

    The CDG info is really helpful. For years, I’ve traveled all over Asia and Europe with my lab-pointer mix, and next month we finally return home. Unfortunately with the Covid of Things, I do not have the option to fly her under the plane as per usual – airlines are short-staffed, and because of airport closures, my 9 hour flight is now more like 18. I’m working with my airline to get her on as an ESA, but worry that they may say ‘non’ due to her size. Hopefully I can make some magic happen and then it’s just a matter of figuring out a potty break with my 1.5 hr layover at de Gaulle. Fingers crossed!

    Reply
    • Wishing you all the best for your journey home, it’s especially tough at the moment! It would be great if more airports in Europe set up pet relief areas, but hope my tips on CDG help. In particular, check which terminal you are flying in and out of, because it varies greatly at CDG between terminals.

      Reply
      • Hi!
        I’m planning to bring my cat from Macau to Edinburgh, transit in Paris CDG. Due to Covid-19, i believe my and my cat will need to go separate from CDG. Is there any reliable pet agent that can help me pick up from cat from the airline then transit in other airline? Thank you

        Reply
  7. Take the “CDGVAL” free shuttle train toward the Holiday Inn Express and get off to walk the dog then hop back on. When asking for the train say “C-D-G-Val” Its a walk!

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  8. Has anyone had experience with Frankfurt or Munich airports for pet relief areas? I’m researching which route to take to export my pet (to Slovakia) after Covid restrictions lift and the choices for connections will be Charles de Gaul, Frankfurt or Munich. Any advice would be appreciated. This will be little Lucy’s first time on an airplane (in cabin) and I’m trying to get as much information as possible in advance.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for the info on CDG airport. I am going to have a short layover there with my dog and I’m trying to map out my route to include a bathroom break for him. Flying delta and finnair. Does anyone know which terminal would have the best choice for a potty break? Going out of the airport is not an option due to the short layover.

    Reply
  10. Hi Shandos,

    Thank you for your helpful blog posts. I will be taking my Yorkie from SFO to Frankfurt then onwards to Athens soon. It will be her first long-haul flight. While I believe she will be able to hold it for the duration of the 11 hour flight, if she does soil her carrier it doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal unless I am missing something??? Wipes + poop bags + extra fuzzy carrier liner=no big deal? Am I missing something? I am most worried about her feeling claustrophobic in her carrier for that long….she is CHILL as can be on my lap but we have had even short flights where she will trash about in her carrier for about a minute trying the break free (then she relaxes). My questions are (1) have you ever used Rescue Remedy or Dramamine when your dog is on a long haul flight (thinking maybe it would be useful on hour 9?) and (2) have you ever snuck your dog out of its carrier to sleep under a blanket on your lap?? We are flying Lufthansa business class and I have no idea how willing they are to look the other way. Thank you!

    Reply
    • It sounds like you have everything prepared for accidents. Most people I’ve spoken to have been surprised at their dogs holding on, rather than needing to deal with something.

      With regards to the length of flight, luckily the longest flight my dog has had in cabin was about 8 hours, and he slept most of that flight. We’d also earlier had train trips that were nearly as long. I haven’t used Rescue Remedy or Dramamine. I would only use it if you already use it with your dog, or trial it beforehand. Perhaps also speak to your vet for advice.

      I also haven’t snuck my dog out onto my lap on planes, just on trains, where it has been more lax, except for when briefly boarding one flight where Schnitzel was unsettled. The attitude differs between different airlines – perhaps check in advance or be very discreet – if your pup stays quiet they will be unlikely to notice or object.

      Wishing you all the best!

      Reply
  11. I thought it might help others if I followed up here. We took our 10 hour flight and with early check-in, boarding and disembarking it was about a total of 13 hours. Our dog did not pee. When we arrived for our connecting flight, we had three hours. Our dog would not pee on the marble airport floor nor a pee pad (she is not trained on pee pads). We took our last 3 hour flight, and when we arrived and got our luge we went outside and she finally peed. She held it for 19 hours!!! It turns out….it’s grass or nothing for our little princess. LOL. In all seriousness, I was worried but my husband reminded me that she had 3 hours between flights to let it go if she really needed to, and she chose not to. She did not go #2 for 26 hours, which was less surprising given that she was given a very small bit of food while we were on the road. Lastly, a friend recommended Trazadone to relax her if we thought she was getting anxious, and we were really glad we had it. The Lufthansa crew would not bend the rules and allow me to take her out of her carrier even with a harness and leash on that was tethered to my seatbelt, so she was a bit claustrophobic about hour 5. Good luck, all!

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  12. Hello! I have a healthy layover in Frankfurt airport prior to a 9 hr flight to the states. No doubt, getting outside for a pet relief break is a top priority. Although we will be traveling with the pet passport, I’m concerned about exiting/re-entering the airport. Can you share any advice here? Do you know who could confirm this shouldn’t be an issue? Maybe I’m overthinking it but I’d hate to exit and later learn that we can’t get through security. Many thanks, M

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  13. We are flying from MSP to CDG and then connecting to NICE with our two dogs at the end of August. All the information listed here is super helpful and thank you to everyone for your answers. My main question is…where is the smoking area located on Terminal 2E? Hoping to take the dogs there after the long flight instead of hopping on the shuttle to the holiday express. I just rather not leave the airport.

    Thank you ~ Andrea

    Reply
    • Thanks Andrea! Sorry, I don’t know where the smoking area is, but I’m pretty sure it’s shown on the signs inside the terminal.

      Reply

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