It’s exciting to travel around the world on your own, with your family, or with your friends, but one other companion makes the journey a little bit more precious: your dog.
In many countries, bringing dogs along can be a challenge. The “No Pets Allowed” can often be seen. And on the few occasions that paws are allowed through the door, people around you often may not be comfortable seeing pets in shops or restaurants.
Not in Switzerland! Europe, in general, is generally a very dog-friendly place. You’ll find dogs walking alongside you on busy streets or taking a nap under the shade of an outdoor café. And, in Switzerland, you can take in all the wonders nature can offer and have your dog be right there with you.
So if you’re ready to go on a Swiss adventure with your precious pooch, here are seven things you can do with your dogs in Switzerland:
1. Be one with nature
Going on a hike or a bike ride is probably one of the main reasons for traveling to Switzerland. If your dog is as fit as you are, you are more than welcome to bring them on hiking trails and jogging paths. Personally, I have seen and taken dogs all over the alps, and they love it!
In general, dogs need to be leashed when on trails. If you already know where you’re traveling to, look up the relevant regulations. Different cantons have different rules about pets. The Canton of Schwyz is the only canton in Switzerland with a leash law in all public places, including hiking trails. Other cantons tend to be more lenient. However, in general, as long as you don’t disturb anyone, you will be good to go. Either way though, if you are in an area where you see “Robidog” boxes (green boxes on a stand) it means you are expected to pick up and dispose of your dog’s droppings.
2. Have a dog-gone blast at the park
You don’t have to head to the Alps to breathe in fresh Swiss air. There are many dog parks in several cities for you to visit. Once again, different dog parks have different laws. In general, be prepared to leash your dogs. Some parks require the leash during breeding season, while some fenced dog parks don’t require it at all. Obviously, you are also expected to clean up after your dog.
Not all public parks allow dogs, either. Watch out for the signs so you don’t end up with a heavy fine. The Swiss do love their rules! Some great places to spend an afternoon with your dog are Parc Bertrand or Genthod in Geneva, Horburgpark in Basel, or the Allmend Brunau (technically not a dog park, but great place for all sorts of furry playmates) in Zurich.
3. City-hop with your dog
Public transportation in Switzerland is very dog friendly and a great way to travel with your dog. Small dogs in carriers can usually take a ride for free. Big dogs are issued a half-price ticket. If you can’t handle all the walking through the maze of streets in any city, then don’t hesitate to hop on the bus, train, tram, and even ferry. You can even get day cards or travelcards for your dogs to make hopping on and off public transport much more convenient. That doesn’t happen in most countries, right?
4. Take the Fondue Tram in Zurich
Take all the things that you love and enjoy all of it in one go: travel, food, and playtime with your pooch. The Fondue Tram in Zurich celebrates what Switzerland does best – cheese. The tram takes you on a tour around the most popular sights in Zurich while you enjoy a meal with fondue and drinks. The best part? Your dog is more than welcome to join you with a half-price ticket.
And even if fondue or trams are not your thing, many restaurants are happy to have your dog, as long as it behaves. Especially in summer, when you can sit outside freely on the terraces Europe is renowned for. Of course, some restaurants are dog-friendlier than others, but it pays to just ask and more often than not you will get a friendly nod.
5. Take your dog shopping
Shopping in Switzerland is a must, whether you’re actually out to buy something or just happily browsing dazzling displays. Switzerland is known for very posh shopping streets like the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, Rue du Rhone, or Place de la Rippone in Geneva. You can also find a lot of quaint boutique shops with unique Swiss finds.
Window-shop to your heart’s content with your dog on a leash. Most stores are very dog-friendly, except for those that sell food, of course. When a shop does not allow pets inside, there will most likely be a post for you to tie your dog while you browse through the store. The Swiss are very thoughtful that way.
6. Immerse in Swiss Culture and History
Every city in Switzerland has its own version of Old Town. Here, perfectly preserved structures and architecture tell the story of how the city began. This kind of travel can be a little tricky when you’re bringing your dog along. As a general rule, dogs are not allowed in museums and some cathedrals where valuable items and treasures are carefully preserved. Some castles may also restrict the entry of dogs.
So, where can you go with your dog?
It won’t be that hard to bring your dog around the city. Just be ready with a leash or a carrier. Check out the Luzern Musegg Wall for a taste of history and architecture with your dog. If you want something closer to nature, you can visit Bern Bear Park and introduce your dogs to a new kind of furry friend.
7. Enjoy a classy hotel together
After a long day of adventure and exploring, the best thing to do is snuggle up in comfortable sheets in a warm room in Switzerland. Not all hotels allow pets in the room, but it won’t take you too long to find the perfect, and dog-friendly Swiss hotel for you and your dog. Sometimes, they even go out of their way to make your dogs feel just as welcome as you do.
Now that you have an almost endless list of options for traveling with your dog in Switzerland, all that is left to do is book the trip, right? Note: One last tip. Just keep in mind, that there are always rules for entering Switzerland with a dog. But, when traveling with your dog to Switzerland from the United States and Canada, it is simply a microchip, rabies vaccination and endorsed EU Health Certificate.
Roger Timbrook is a keen traveler, lover of dogs and the outdoors. Originally from Australia, he is now living in Switzerland where he spends most of his time enjoying the amazing Swiss Alps. You can find him on his blog or on Twitter.