7 of the best places to spot the Northern Lights in Scotland

The Northern Lights are one of our planet's great spectacles, a colourful, celestial display caused when charged particles from the solar wind slam into the Earth's atmosphere.

The aurora borealis is usually reserved for locations much further north than the UK, but sometimes - usually following a particularly violent phase of solar activity - then can stretch down over our country as well.

Scotland is obviously best placed to witness the displays, so here are x of the best places to spot the Northern Lights in Scotland.

The Shetland Islands

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The further north you head, the more likely you are to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and so the Shetland Isles are perfectly located to catch the very best of the display, even if they're not as easily accessible as some of the other locations on this list.

Glenlivet and Tomintoul, Cairngorms National Park

The Glenlivet and Tomintoul area in the northern reaches of the Cairngorms National Park was awarded International Dark Skies status in 2018, meaning it's an ideal spot for stargazing, with minimal interference from light pollution.

Not only is the area also one of only 63 Dark Sky Parks across the globe, it's the most northerly one on the entire planet.

Of course, most of the Cairngorms offer skies dark enough to catch the aurora, although many locations will have their skies obscured by hills.

The Moray Coast

It's not just about being as north as possible, having an uninterrupted view of the horizon is paramount to spotting the aurora.

That's why the Moray Coast is so perfect for stargazing, with a coastline gazing northwards into the further reaches of the North Sea.

Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest Park was once the first and only Dark Sky Park in Scotland. It seems to have lost that 'official' status now, but still boasts spectacular views of the night sky across 300 square miles of near untouched woodland.

Skye, Lewis and Harris

On the western side of Scotland, the islands of Skye, Lewis and Harris offer unparalleled coastlines from which to spot the Lights.

The North West (north of Ullapool)

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Back on the mainland, places like Applecross and Lochinver offer a similar experience to the islands mentioned above, but without the need for boat of ferry to access them.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

While heading north and venturing away from light pollution is always your best bet, you don't always have to head out to the middle of nowhere to spot the aurora.

If the Northern Lights are particularly strong, the height of Arthur's Seat makes it a great vantage point to spot the display, even in the heart of Edinburgh.