Ruff Guide to… Lincoln

Few cities have as much history and heritage as Lincoln. With a castle built by William the Conqueror and a cathedral that was once the tallest building in the world, it certainly has a past to be proud of. It’s a beautiful city too and whether your visit takes you to the Cornhill Quarter, historic Bailgate or the aptly named Steep Hill, you find plenty of things to see and do – and you can enjoy many of the main attractions with your faithful hound by your side.

At Lincoln Cathedral
The boys take in Lincoln Cathedral

Dog-friendly Lincoln: the must-sees

Lincoln Cathedral is a real local landmark and this beautiful building can be seen for miles around. Indeed, when its 525ft-high central spire was completed in 1311, the Gothic cathedral became the tallest building in the world. Dogs are welcome to visit the cathedral with their owners to take in the centuries of history and spectacular stained glass windows. Adult tickets start from £7. A complimentary floor tour is included in the admission price but other tours – which allow you to climb the tower and go up to the roof – are available for an extra £7.50.

To see the city from a different perspective, head out on the water on the Brayford Belle. Salty sea dogs are welcome to join the 50-minute sightseeing tours along the Fossdyke Canal, which are packed with fascinating facts about Lincoln’s past and present. Sailings take place several times a day from Tuesday to Sunday and the boat leaves from Brayford waterfront – the oldest inland harbour in England. Adult tickets cost £9 and dogs travel for free. Pets must be kept on lead at all times.

Lincoln Castle
Lincoln Castle has regular dog-friendly weekends

Another key attraction in the city is Lincoln Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror more than 1,000 years ago. The castle is home to one of the original copies of the Magna Carta – and that alone draws in thousands of visitors each year. While pets are not normally allowed inside the castle, it does host several dog-friendly days throughout the year. Click here to find the next dates. The castle grounds are free to enjoy but if you’d like to see the Magna Carta or walk the medieval walls, charges do apply. At the time of writing, an adult day ticket cost £16.

While you’re in Lincoln, you may well see the famous Red Arrows – who are based at RAF Waddington – out on a training run. The Dambusters also called the Lincoln area home and you can explore the city’s aviation history at the International Bomber Command Centre. This museum pays tribute to the 57,861 volunteers who lost their lives during the Second World War. Dogs on leads are welcome everywhere on site, aside from the exhibition. Access to the peace garden and memorial is free but adult tickets otherwise cost £9.75, plus £3 for parking.

Walking at Doddington Hall, Lincoln
There are a number of walking trails to follow at Doddington Hall

Dog owners will also enjoy a visit to Doddington Hall & Gardens. This family-run estate consists of an Elizabethan mansion, five acres of formal gardens, and several boutique shops and cafes in restored period buildings. While dogs are not allowed in the hall or gardens, they are welcome to explore the parkland on lead. See the walking trails here. Pets are also welcome in the Coffee Shop (inside the Giant Bike Shop) and the Doddington Country Clothing and Home stores. Be sure to check out The Bottle & Glass pub in nearby Harby too, where dogs are always welcome.

The historic Lincoln Arboretum is well worth checking out on a visit to the city, too. This 19th Century Grade II listed park, in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, was designed by the celebrated Victorian gardener Edward Milner. It covers 22 acres and has several attractions, such as two lakes, fountains, a maze, bandstand and a children’s play area. While the park isn’t enormous, it is a lovely spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre with your dog and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Steep Hill, Lincoln
Historic Steep Hill is packed full of independent shops, boutiques and cafes

Dog-friendly Lincoln: the best walks

The best way to see Lincoln is undoubtedly on foot – and if you’re keen to tick off all the local landmarks, sign up for a guided tour. If you’re travelling on a budget, we can particularly recommend the Lincoln Free Walking Tour, which is offered by enthusiastic locals, Brant and Matt. Their traditional tour takes three hours and includes sights such as the cathedral and historic Steep Hill. The friends also offer walks centred around the city’s Roman heritage and industrial past. All tours are entirely tips-based are dogs are very welcome.

For a lovely canalside stroll, follow the Fossdyke Canal Trail along the Fossdyke Navigation. This starts at the Brayford waterfront in Lincoln and runs to the village of Saxilby, six miles away. It’s a real pleasure to walk between the two – and if you’re need of refreshment along the way, call in at the dog-friendly Pyewipe Inn, around a 30-minute walk from Lincoln. Rail services also run between Saxilby and the city so if the thought of a return walk is a bit too much, you can always let the train take the strain. The journey takes approximately 10 minutes.

Hartsholme Country Park, Lincoln
The picturesque Hartsholme Country Park © Visit Lincoln

Hartsholme Country Park is a wonderful place to enjoy a walk with your dog, and is arguably the prettiest green space in Lincoln. The 200-acre park is centred around a reservoir and has lots of lakeside and woodland nature trails to follow. It is also home an abundance of wildlife and the RSPB offer guided walks on the first Sunday of every month. The Green Flag award-winning park is a particularly great place to visit in summer as its trees offer plenty of shade and there is also a dog-friendly cafe onsite.

Lincoln also has three large areas of what is known as common land in the city – West Common, South Common and the curiously named Cow Paddle. These open spaces are there for everyone to enjoy, whether you want to take a stroll, exercise your dog or even graze your horse. You can get excellent views of the cathedral from West Common, which is also home to football pitches, a golf course and tennis courts. Do keep an eye out for horses when you visit though – if you spot any, it’s obviously best to pop your dog on lead.

Sazzy's Dog Cafe, Lincoln
It’s all about our four-legged friends at Sazzy’s Dog Cafe © Sazzy’s Dog Cafe

Dog-friendly Lincoln: the best pubs and cafes

The city is packed with pet-friendly places to eat and drink but you won’t find anywhere more welcoming than Sazzy’s Dog Cafe, in Burton Road. This family-run business serves a great selection of hot and cold snacks for humans but it’s all about the dogs here, with a doggy menu and a wide range of natural chews, treats, toys and accessories for sale. There’s even a photo wall of the cafe’s Doggy Pals. Pampered pooches will also be in for a treat at Doughnotts, on Cornhill – and if they’re lucky, they can enjoy their own doggy doughnut.

Coffee Bobbins is another great place to go with dogs. This independent cafe, in The Strait, is renowned for its homemade cakes and also serves a mean afternoon tea. Caffeine addicts will also enjoy a visit to Coffee by the Arch, in Newport. The cafe welcomes dogs inside and out but has a really nice outdoor seating area. It also serves arguably the best bacon sandwiches in Lincoln! Homeware shop Sanctuary in the Bail also doubles as a cafe with a lovely courtyard and dogs are welcome to join their owners at the store, in Bailgate, for a bite to eat.

Wig & Mitre, Lincoln
Dogs are very welcome at the Wig & Mitre pub

If you fancy a pint or a glass of wine, head to the Wig & Mitre, on Steep Hill. Dogs are very welcome at this historic city pub, which serves excellent food all day long. Pets will be able to enjoy a treat or two at The Birdcage, in Baggholme Road, and The Adam and Eve Tavern – the oldest pub in Lincoln – is well worth a visit too. Dogs are welcome in the bar area of the pub, on Lindum Road, which hosts regular events, such as quizzes and board game nights. The cosy Treaty of Commerce, in High Street, also dates back hundreds of years and allows pets inside.

Ale enthusiasts should make a beeline for The Strugglers Inn, in Westgate. It may not look like much from the outside but this traditional pub has won scores of awards. Its old-school layout also makes it feel like you’re drinking in your nan’s lounge – but in a cool way. Good pints are also guaranteed at The Dog and Bone in John Street, which has previously been voted the East Midlands CAMRA Pub of the Year. The Mailbox, in Guildhall Street, and BeerHeadZ, in Eastgate, are also great spots to enjoy a craft beer or two with your pet pooch in tow.

Ernie waiting patiently for a bite of something tasty at Ole Ole Tapas, Lincoln
Ernie waiting patiently for something tasty at Ole Ole Tapas

For an authentic taste of Spain, be sure to visit Ole Ole in Ingleman Place. This lovely family-run restaurant serves up tapas and paella and dogs are welcome in the tiled bar area, as well as the garden area outside. Dogs and their owners are also very welcome at Pimento, a vegetarian and vegan cafe in Steep Hill. And just a few doors away, you’ll find Browns Pie Shop, which specialises in hearty, handmade pies. Dogs are welcome in the restaurant and you can also buy pies to takeaway.

Cosy Club, in Sincil Street, is also a popular place to visit with pets. This quirky eatery, in the Corn Exchange, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and you might be tempted to stay for all three just to soak up the cool decor. Pizza lovers are in for a treat in Lincoln too, with two great dog-friendly pizzerias to choose from. Slow Rise, in St Martin’s Lane, serves great vegetarian and vegan pies, while Dough LoCo, in Drury Lane, specialises in Neapolitan-style pizza. Dogs are allowed on outside tables only.

Art Deco interior at The Tower Hotel, Lincoln
Art Deco interior at The Tower Hotel, Lincoln

Dog-friendly Lincoln: where to stay

If you want all the city attractions on your doorstep, check in to The Tower Hotel. This Art Deco-style property can be found in the historic Bailgate area of Lincoln, with the castle literally over the road. Dogs are welcome at the hotel, which has recently been refurbished. The White Hart Hotel, which overlooks the cathedral, has just had an extensive makeover too and pets are allowed in many of its sleek and stylish rooms. Extra charges apply at both hotels.

Two miles from the city centre, you’ll find Washingborough Hall Hotel – a Georgian manor house set in three acres of grounds. Dogs are welcome throughout the hotel, aside from the main dining room and function suites. Again, an additional fee applies for pets but this is not the case at The Forge, in nearby Ingham, where up to two dogs can stay free of charge. This stylish one-bedroom self-catering property also has access to an enclosed garden.

Ernie and Stan in Lincoln
Lincoln is a very dog-friendly city – as Ernie and Stan can attest!

How do I get to Lincoln?

The city is approximately a three-hour drive from London via the A1. Simply come off at the junction for Newark then join the A46 to Lincoln. If you’re coming from the north, take the A57 exit near Retford. Lincoln is also well served by trains, with services taking approximately two hours from London. Book tickets via East Midlands Railway. National Express and Megabus services also travel to Lincoln, and the nearest airports are Humberside and East Midlands.

Where can I find out more?

For more general information, check out the Visit Lincoln website. To see the tourist board’s specific dog-friendly recommendations, click here. For other ideas when it comes to things to see and do in the city, take a look at the Lincoln and Beyond website.

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