Dog-friendly and Sydney aren’t two things that usually go together. Much as I love my home city of Sydney in Australia, it’s far from dog-friendly, whether that’s finding accommodation, catching transport or dining out. But, if you know where to look, there are still some great options for visitors with dogs. So, I thought I’d share with your my secret tips for dog-friendly Sydney.
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Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Sydney
The hardest part about visiting Sydney with a dog is finding accommodation. Considering that many people renting in Sydney find it hard enough to find apartments and houses that allow dogs, finding a hotel room or Airbnb is even harder.
However, the number of hotels in Sydney that allow pets is growing. In particular, there are quite a few boutique hotels that have some dog-friendly rooms. For a complete listing of where to stay with your pup in Sydney, that I regularly update, check out my guide to dog-friendly hotels in Sydney.
Due to the limited availability of both pet-friendly hotels and rooms, make sure you book well in advance, especially over the summer peak period. Additionally, keep in mind that at these hotels you generally cannot leave dogs in the rooms unattended. Most hotels also charge an additional rate for pets, whether per night or pet stay.
As there aren’t many affordable pet-friendly hotels in Sydney, a decent alternative is to stay at an Airbnb. I regularly update this list of fabulous pet-friendly Airbnbs scattered around Sydney, from the beaches to the inner city suburbs and the green fringes of the city. Also check out my guide to staying in a pet-friendly Airbnb, with tips on staying in an Airbnb for the first time with your dog.
Dog-Friendly Restaurants in Sydney
Sydney has plenty of restaurants and cafes that allow dogs in outdoor eating areas, such as on sidewalks or in beer gardens. There are also a handful of places that may allow dogs inside to dine, in particular inner-city pubs. But this is a grey area under Australian food safety regulations. Every now and then local councils crack down on the venues, although there are tentative moves to change this in the NSW parliament.
For now, head outside to dine with your dog in Sydney. Although keep in mind that permission for your dog to join you at outdoor dining areas isn’t guaranteed (I have been turned away from at least one restaurant with a huge outdoor area out the front), so it’s best to check before taking a seat.
Some of my favourite dog-friendly cafes in Sydney include:
The Grounds of Alexandria (Alexandria) – An inner west institute with it’s own barnyard animals. Either dine at the terrace of the cafe or pick up a BBQ feed outside on weekends. Just be prepared for a tough job finding a parking spot any day of the week.
The Greens (North Sydney) – Opened by the same team behind the Grounds, this former traditional bowling club with harbour views has been spruced up, and has an excellent large outdoor dining and drinking area.
Dachshund Coffee (Hunters Hill) – All types of dogs, not just Dachshunds, are allowed in the outside area of this small cafe in Hunters Hill. As well as plenty of brunch-style options for humans, they also offer “doglato” and a lamb roast treat for dogs!
Frenchy’s Cafe (Mosman) – Overlooking the harbour and next to a great walk in a rare section of dog-friendly bush, this cafe is perfect for French-style breakfasts and lunches.
The other dog-friendly alternative in Sydney are dog-specific cafes. Your dog will be spoilt with a wide menu of treats, plus there is usually coffee for their human “minders”. Some of the dog-friendly cafes in Sydney include:
Cafe Bones (Leichhardt) – Claiming to be the world’s first dog-friendly cafe, stop by this cafe for a puppyccino for your dog and some delicious-looking food for humans, too.
Chew Chew (Wollstonecraft) – Located right next to Wollstonecraft train station (a few stops north of the city), this cafe and dog supply store specialises in organic and nutritious meals, plus dog birthday cakes.
Dog-Friendly Transport in Sydney
The transport options in Sydney are not exactly dog-friendly. For starters, dogs are not allowed at all on the trains, which are usually the quickest way to get in and out of the city. When it comes to buses, light rail and ferries, dogs are only allowed if they are in a container/bag and at the discretion of the driver. Check out the full list of rules.
It took me a long time to consider taking my dog on the bus in Sydney, as I didn’t even realise it was allowed. I’ve recently taken my dog on a bus multiple times, travelling outside peak-hour, carrying my dog in his enclosed carrier and asking the bus driver, and haven’t been turned down.
I have heard from other people that their dog hasn’t been allowed on board, but usually they haven’t had their dog in a carrier bag. (For photos of my carrier bag and a similar bag you can buy on Amazon, read this article.)
On the other hand, I’ve heard reports that the crew onboard ferries are often quite lax when it comes to enforcing rules for pets, and dogs are often allowed on board with just a leash, as long as they’re kept outside.
Hopefully, the situation might soon change in NSW, including allowing dogs on train, but nothing has happened yet. It would be great if the rules are changed, no matter how many restrictions (such as last carriage only, outside peak hour, etc.) are likely to apply.
When it comes to Ubers and taxis, it’s actually up to the discretion of the driver. With Uber, the Uber Pet option is currently being trialled in Sydney, which allows your pet on board for a slightly higher rate. If booking a taxi, mention that you have a pet when making the booking. Plus keep in minds that it is law to restrain dogs with a seat belt or other means.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Sydney
Considering how many beaches there are in Sydney, unfortunately not many of them allow dogs. However, there are a few options to consider.
Rose Bay Beach (Rose Bay) – The closest dog-friendly beach to the city, this harbour beach allows dogs off-leash all day long.
Silver Beach (Kurnell, near Cronulla) – One of Sydney’s southern-most beaches, dogs are allowed on one section of this beach, opposite the National Park end. The entrance is next to the toilet block at the round-about. There’s a tap and bubbler for humans, and a water bowl for dogs. Best of all, it’s off-leash 24 hours.
Sirius Cove Reserve (Mosman) – Another harbour beach but this time on the northern side, this stretch of rocky sand is next to a great park for picnics. Dogs are allowed off-leash all day on weekdays, or after 4pm and before 9am on weekends and public holidays.
Rowland Reserve (Bayview) – Located about 1 hour north of the CBD on the beautiful Pittswater, this reserve is particularly popular with larger dogs. Handily, a mobile dog wash often operates here, plus it’s just across the water from the Newport Arms with its large dog-friendly beer garden.
McCauley’s Beach (Thirroul) – Just over an hour south of Sydney, this beach is great for a day trip along the beautiful coast. Dogs are allowed off leash all day, but just pay attention to the signage as the adjacent beach only allows off-leash dogs during restricted hours.
Check out my full list of dog beaches in Sydney
Dog-Friendly Parks in Sydney
Some of the best dog-friendly parks in Sydney are:
Cook + Phillip Park (CBD) – Tucked away in behind St Mary’s Cathedral, this is the most central off-leash dog park in Sydney. Dogs are allowed on all grassed areas, just keep them outside of the playground and the indoor swimming pool area.
Observatory Hill Park (CBD) – This is another off-leash dog spot in the city, not far from the start of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Walsh Bay precinct. Just be careful of wedding parties taking photos on the weekend who might not be happy about overly-friendly pooches!
Barangaroo Reserve (CBD) – While dogs need to remain on leash at Barangaroo Reserve, it’s still a beautiful option to exercise dogs right in the city next to the harbour. There’s a mixture of harbour-side paths and large expanses of grass.
Centennial Park – Located about 3km east of the Sydney CBD, this is one of the best dog-friendly parks close to the city. A huge expanse with everything from duck ponds to horse-riding to sports grounds, 43% of the park allows dogs off-leash, with the most popular areas being Sandstone Ridge and Federation Valley. Check out this page first or the signage at the park.
Glebe Foreshore Parks (Glebe) – Head down the end of Glebe to Blackwattle Bay and you’ll find multiple parks that merge together along the edge of the bay. Dogs are allowed in all of the park, except for sporting fields and playground areas. But they are only allowed off leash in certain sections – west of the canal and the walk along the foreshore towards the Fish Markets. The signage along the way is pretty clear.
Sydney Park (Alexandria) – If you’re staying south of Sydney, the best off-leash dog park is the large Sydney Park, close to St Peters train station. Dogs are allowed off-leash all day, except for in some small sections like the playground and near barbecue areas.
Sydney Olympic Park (Olympic Park) – The Sydney Olympic Park precinct contains multiple parks that are dog-friendly. The large and grassy Bicentennial Park, popular for picnics, welcomes well-behaved dogs on a leash, except in the Badu Mangroves area. There’s also an off-leash dog area near the P5a car park off Hill Road.
Shale Hills Dog Park (West Hoxton) – I love this option for dogs in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney. This recently opened park is huge but fully fenced. It has a smaller fenced area for smaller dogs, plus an agility course and training stations to help train your dog. For more information, click here.
For a full listing of off-leash dog parks in the centre of Sydney, including some small neighbourhood parks, check out the City of Sydney off-leash dog park listing.
What About the Botanic Gardens in Sydney?
Unfortunately, unlike the botanic gardens in Melbourne, which allows pets on a leash inside, the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney does not allow dogs at all. This is clearly signposted at the entrance. On the other hand, the adjacent Domain parklands do allow dogs, but on a leash.
The same rules apply at the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah, i.e. dogs are not permitted. If you’re looking for gardens in NSW that welcome dogs, look out for my upcoming post.
Dog-Friendly Walks in Sydney
Despite being a big city, Sydney is surrounded with pockets of bushland, perfect for short (or long!) bushwalks. Unfortunately, much of the bush is national park, meaning that dogs are strictly not allowed. There are luckily though a few walks that are still open to dogs.
(Just one big warning – many councils use baits for controlling foxes and other wild animals. Always check for signs before entering bushland with your dog, and avoid if baiting is currently occurring.)
Bondi to Coogee Walk – This 6km walk in the Eastern Suburbs is one of the best free things to do in Sydney, and it’s perfect for doing with your dog, as long as you don’t detour via the beaches and keep your dog on a leash. (They’re some of the busiest beaches in Sydney, so dogs are generally not allowed.)
It’s best done early or late in the day in summer, to avoid the midday heat, or any time of day over the winter. There’s also plenty of casual cafes along the way. For more details and a map, check out this site.
Manly Dam Circuit (Manly Vale) – This is one of the longer bushwalks that it’s possible to do in Sydney that allows dogs. The total circuit is 7.3km and takes about 3 hours. Dogs are allowed on the trail on a leash, but confusingly not in the carpark at the start of the walk.
Some dogs may also find it tricky to cross the mesh walkway above the dam wall at the end of the walk. For both reasons it might be best to park just outside on King St and detour around the carpark and dam wall section. Click here for more details.
Bidjigal Reserve (Castle Hill) – This bushland reserve just north of the M2 Motorway is a great spot to visit with your pup, as it isn’t a national park, with dogs on a leash allowed. There are multiple walking trails available, with the Platypus Track being a popular option.
It’s a 1.7km loop track, best accessed from the end of Excelsior Avenue. Smaller dogs may need to be carried at the stepping stones crossing the creek, which unfortunately no longer has any platypuses. Click here for more details.
Lake Parramatta Reserve (North Parramatta) – A beautiful area of bushland just near Parramatta, with a free carpark at the entrance. The full circuit around the lake is 4.2km, while there are also 2 shorter walks available (that are part of the full circuit). Dogs are allowed on a leash, and must remain on established walking trails. Click here for more details.
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