The Easiest Way To Travel From Ireland To Spain With A Dog

Updated On: February 05, 2024 | Published On: August 04, 2021

Are you planning on traveling from Ireland to Spain with your dog? You've landed in the perfect spot! Embarking on a ferry trip to sunny Spain with your four-legged buddy promises an extraordinary adventure you definitely don't want to miss.

If you're wondering about the ins and outs of traveling to Spain with a dog, you're in good company. Poppy and I are practically veterans, having traversed this route several times. We're excited to divulge all the essential details and tips to ensure your journey is as seamless and delightful as ours. From sorting out the necessary paperwork to selecting the ideal travel mode for both you and your pooch, we're here to guide you. Strap in and prepare for an unforgettable voyage with your beloved canine companion!

Can I bring my dog to Spain from Ireland?

Absolutely! Bringing a dog to Spain on an adventure from Ireland is totally doable, as long as you're up to speed with the necessary procedures. It's all about being prepared with the right paperwork and making sure your dog is up to date with vaccinations. Don't worry, though, we're diving into all the essentials for a hassle-free, dog-friendly journey to the European mainland.

Poppy and I are seasoned travelers of the Iberian Peninsula, and we've got stories to tell! We've road-tripped through the lush vineyards of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, enjoyed sun-soaked swims in the Mediterranean off the gorgeous coast of Mallorca, and strolled (with plenty of pit stops for treats) through the vibrant streets of Barcelona. Each journey has been a tail-wagging good time!

How to travel to Spain with a dog?

Traveling to Spain with a dog from Ireland can be a fantastic adventure, and you have several options to make the journey:

  1. By Air: If you choose to fly, ensure that your dog meets all the requirements for air travel. Not all airlines allow dogs in the cabin, to find a full list check out our blog on European airlines that welcome dogs in the cabin
  2. By Ferry - Direct to Spain: When taking a dog-friendly ferry to Spain, you have two different options, either the Ireland-Spain route of Rosslare to Bilbao (which is located in the Basque Region of Spain) or the Rosslare to Santander route.
  3. By Ferry via France: There is also the another option of taking one of the pet-friendly ferry crossings to France.  You can catch the ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg or Cork to Roscoff and then enjoy the miles of driving through France countryside until you cross into Spain by the Pyrenees. 
Each of these options has its own set of requirements and preparations, so it's crucial to plan ahead and ensure all travel documents and health certifications for your dog are in order.

Is Spain dog friendly? 

Spain is widely recognized as a dog-friendly country, offering numerous destinations and accommodations that welcome canine companions. Many cities in Spain, provide dog-friendly parks, beaches, and even restaurants, making it easier to explore with pets.  

Most public transport, like trains and buses, are cool with dogs tagging along. Just remember to double-check the rules with each transport provider before you set off as some transports have different rules than others. For example, in Barcelona small dogs are allowed on the metro in pet carriers and larger dogs must be on a leash and have a muzzle on, however during peak hours dogs are not allowed at all. In Palma de Mallorca small dogs in carrier are welcome for free on the bus while larger dogs are charged a €0.30 fee. 

Can dogs go on the ferry to France?

Yes, dogs can travel on ferries from Ireland to France. Irish Ferries and Brittany Ferries are two popular ferry companies that offer pet-friendly travel options between Ireland and France. Here are some key details:

  • Irish Ferries: Irish Ferries allows dogs (and cats) to travel from Dublin Port to Cherbourg. Pets must be declared at the time of booking, and they need to meet the EU entry guidelines (more details below). Dogs can travel in kennels, located on the car deck, and there is a charge based on the size of the kennel required (€30 / €45 / €60 ).
    • Foot and car passengers are allowed to bring pets on this journey, but it is important to know that on the return trip (from Cherbourg to Ireland), car passengers must first go to the terminal building before the car check-in point so that your dog's microchip details can be checked.
  • Brittany Ferries: Brittany Ferries offers dog-friendly cabins for their ferry routes between Ireland and France. They run a ferry service between the port of Cork and Roscoff and Rosslare and Cherbourg. You are not able to bring your pet if you are a foot passenger or traveling by bike. 
It's important to check with the specific ferry company you plan to use for the most up-to-date information and to make reservations for your pet in advance. Additionally, make sure your pet complies with all relevant EU regulations for pet travel.

If you are staying in Cork, make sure to bookmark some of these dog-friendly restaurants. If you are planning to stay the night, you can find some accommodations that welcomes dogs in the area too. 

Does Brittany ferries offer pet friendly cabins?

Yes, Brittany Ferries offers a small allocation of pet-friendly cabins on both of their routes to Spain. 

These special cabins come in two types: exterior cabins with windows for a view of the sea, and cozy interior cabins. Both are equipped with air conditioning, laminate flooring for easy cleaning, and enough space to comfortably fit a dog bed. You can also enjoy ensuite facilities for added convenience.

When it comes to furry passengers, you can bring either two small pets or one larger pet in each cabin. It's the perfect way to ensure your four-legged friend travels in comfort and style.

Please note that foot passengers are not permitted to travel with pets on Brittany Ferries. However, don't fret if pet-friendly cabins are fully booked; kennels are available on board as an alternative option. These kennels provide a safe and secure space for your pet during the journey.

For kennels: If you're traveling with two small dogs, they can comfortably share a large kennel. To ensure your pets' comfort during the journey, it's important to note that the size of large kennels varies depending on the ferry. Typically, these kennels range from 80 cm to 1 meter in height, 90 cm to 1 meter in width, and 90 cm to 1 meter in depth. This variance allows for a snug yet spacious environment for your furry friends.

Is there a direct ferry route from Ireland to Spain?

Yes,There are two direct ferry services to Spain, ensuring a smooth sea journey for you and your canine companion. The first route sails from Rosslare to the vibrant city of Bilbao, while the second route takes you from Rosslare to the picturesque coastal town of Santander.

These ferry routes provide not just a means of travel, but also an opportunity for a mini-adventure across the sea with your furry friend. So, pack your bags (and dog treats!), and set sail for a memorable Spanish escapade!

What are the ferry timetables? 

The direct ferry from Ireland to Santander operates twice a week beginning in the end of January 2024 until the end of March 2024. 

The direct ferry link between Rosslare and Bilbao starts running at the end of March 2024 and continues until the first weekend of November 2024.

The ferries operate twice a week, promising a scenic journey of approximately 30 hours. 

The ferry from Ireland to France is a bit shorter, running at around 19 hours.

How much is the ferry from Ireland to Spain?

International pet travel can be expensive, but traveling on the ferry can end up being great value. When taking your pup with you to Northern Spain, you will be required to book one of the dog-friendly cabins or one of their kennels. There are no additional fees when booking a dog-friendly cabin or kennel with Brittany Ferries to Spain, as it is already included in your cabin fee. 

Paws Friendly Tip - Make sure you book your pet-friendly cabin with plenty of notice, as they do sell out quickly.

Where is my dog allowed to go on the boat?

Dogs are only allowed in their designated pet-friendly cabin and in the designated bathroom/exercise area on deck 6 (for the Connemara ferry). It is important to note that one of the pet policies of Brittany Ferries is that all dogs must wear a muzzle when outside of their cabins. Dogs are not allowed to go into the general area of the boat.

What paperwork do I need for my dog in order to travel from Ireland to Spain by ferry?

Required vaccines and pet passport

When traveling to Spain, from a country within the European Union, you will need to make sure that your best friend is in overall good health and that they have a valid rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccinations cannot be allowed to expire otherwise, you will need to have your pup vaccinated as if for the first time and many authorities require this to be done 21 days before the travel date. Until this point, your dog will not be considered safe for travel. The day of the vaccine is counted as day 0.

In order to get a Rabies vaccine, your pup must be at least 12 weeks old. 

You will also need to make sure that your dog has a Pet Passport, and is microchipped. You can apply for an EU Pet Passport from your vet, and the turnaround can take around 5 working days. 

You will also need a veterinary health certificate filled in and stamped. You will find a spot for this in your pet passport where your local veterinarian can sign.

When returning to Ireland from Spain, one of the entry requirements is that your dog must be treated for tapeworms, no more than 120 hours and no less than 24 hours PRIOR to re-entry to Ireland. These specific requirements are the same if traveling to the United Kingdom as well. This will need to be recorded in your Pet Passport under section VII, “Echinococcus Treatment”. The Vet issuing the treatment will need to sign, stamp and date this entry. 

Paws Friendly Tip: Before your international trip with your dog, email yourself a copy of your dog's passport and any other travel documents you might need, just in case they get lost on the open road.

Although a lot of dog owners are wary of printing their pet's name on their dog's collar it can save you a lot of heartaches to print a tag with your contact information including a cell phone number should your furry family member wander off while in a foreign country.

If your pup is a regular visitor to the vet like Poppy is, ask them for any medical records that you will need to take with you in case you have to visit an emergency vet along the way. We carry Poppy's blood work print-outs in her passport so that a vet has an easy way to see what is normal for her (If ever you are worried that your pup isn't their normal self, a blood test is a great way to check their whole body status and has been lifesaving for Poppy on more than one occasion).

Now that you have booked your ferry, here are some tips for leading up to and the date of travel.

Pre-Ferry Checklist For Traveling From Ireland to Spain

Pet passport with a valid microchip, rabbies vaccine, and veterinarian health certificate.

Remember: If your dog’s rabies vaccine has lapsed, you will have to wait 21 days after the new booster vaccine before being permitted for your dog to travel. 

What to Bring on the Ferry

The pet-friendly cabins are extremely basic, however, there was a water bowl, a waste bag holder, bone, and a small pack of dog treats left for Poppy by Brittany Ferries. 

Depending on the size of your dog, and whether you allow them to sleep in the bed with you, it might be a good idea to bring a dog bed for your pet's comfort. Poppy, being only 3 kilos, expects to sleep in the bed with me, and there was no issue having her curl up with me on my twin bunk bed. 

The rooms do get extremely cold, so I brought an extra blanket for Poppy and an empty hot water bottle for myself, which I filled up within the first hour after departure.

Don’t forget to pack bottled water, dog food, treats, and a toy to play with. 

Check the weather before leaving, if you will be sailing through rain, make sure you bring an extra towel to dry off the pup. In the cabin, you will be provided with one very small towel. The outdoor dog-friendly bathroom area is exposed, so if you don’t plan on sharing your towel with your pup, packing one for them isn’t a bad idea. 


We arrived 2 hours early for check-in. They will ask you for your pet passport, and you will have to scan your pup with a device that will read their microchip. They are checking that the chip number matches the number in their passport. They will also check to make sure your dog is up to date with their rabies, and that your pet passport is actually filled in. 

Tip: While waiting to board the boat, you will park your car and you can take your pup for a walk around the parking lot. I highly recommend taking your furry friend for a walk for as long as is allowed, as the bathroom area on the boat is extremely small.  At the Rosslare port, there is a beach about 3 minutes walking from where you will line up to board the ferry, we took Poppy for a little walk along this area.


Boarding the Boat

Once we embarked on the ship and parked the car, we were directed up to our room's deck. You are not allowed to return to your car once the boat departs, so you must bring everything you will need with you. 

On the Connemara ship, the 13 pet-friendly cabins are all grouped in the same hall.

During the Trip

We took the trip during the Covid-19 pandemic, so the shops were closed and the cafe on board was only open for a few hours around breakfast, lunch, and dinner time.

Tip: Make sure you download lots of movies, podcasts, books, etc. to keep you entertained during the 30+ hours. 

Our Experience

I know I am on the ‘extra special’ side of being a dog parent because I have created this website, but when I decided to get the dog-friendly cabin, I also decided that I would spend the trip in the cabin with Poppy. It is sad to say, that not all dog owners are the same. For a lot of the time (except during the night) there were at least 2 different dogs left alone all day. Sadly, they were barking and whimpering the whole time. Poppy didn’t seem too distressed, but as you can imagine, one dog barking will set off the other ones.

TIP: When booking ask if you can be at the end of the hallway, and not the first rooms from when you enter the boat. My room was the first room you would pass when entering the boat from the doggie bathroom area. What this meant is that every time someone entered the hallway, I would hear the slamming of both doors. This went on all day and night. It also means that every single dog going to use the bathroom has to pass by your door. If your pup is sensitive to noise, it can be distressing. Finally, it meant that if a pup wasn’t able to hold it until going outside, there was a high chance that there would be wee right outside your door. Every time I left the room, there was either a fresh lot of wee in the hallway, or it had just been mopped by the staff. Not the same luxury experience as so many of the dog-friendly hotels we have been lucky enough to visit. 

The dog-bathroom area was horrendous. It was an area of the deck, maybe 2 meters by 4 meters, right outside the bedrooms. It smelt like wee, especially during the middle of the day, and it wasn’t really big enough to walk around. If you happened to go out and another dog and their owner were already there, you were out of luck. The two pups would be pretty much standing on top of each other, and any chance of being able to go to the bathroom, at least for Poppy, was gone. 

The ship itself isn’t pet-friendly, so you are stuck in your bedroom, or outside in the bathroom space.


Knowing what to expect, and having the correct mindset before stepping foot on the ferry is the key. I knew that the rooms were not going to be luxurious and that the ensuite bathroom was going to be simple. Remembering that you are doing this so you can bring your dog along with you on your adventure is the key.

Are you planning a dog-friendly holiday? Be sure to tag @PawsFriendly on your next trip out with your pup.

While you are enjoying your vacation with the family pet, enjoy the local culture by eating and drinking out in dog-friendly restaurants, cafés, and bars, all of which, and more, you can easily discover on our website
As you plan your adventure from Ireland to Spain with your beloved dog, remember that the direct route offers both ease and efficiency. This journey isn't just about reaching a destination; it's about creating memorable experiences with your furry companion. 

Traveling from Ireland to Spain with your pup offers a wealth of opportunities for both you and your best friend. The Basque Country, in particular, is a popular destination that warmly welcomes canine companions. Imagine strolling along sandy beaches with your dog, exploring vibrant cities, and soaking up the rich cultural heritage of this stunning region. 

Whether you're lounging on the coast or wandering through picturesque towns, Spain provides an ideal backdrop for creating unforgettable memories with your four-legged best friend. This journey promises not just a change of scenery, but a chance to bond and experience the joy of discovery together. So, pack your bags, grab the leash, and set off on an adventure that caters to the needs and delights of both you and your beloved dog.

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