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northern lights scotland

Experience the magic of the Northern Lights in Scotland’s dramatic landscapes and unpolluted skies, offering a remarkable destination for witnessing the celestial phenomenon.

Whether you are an intrepid adventurer or a passionate photographer, Scotland’s dark nights offer some of the best opportunities for aurora hunting in the UK.

From the mystical Isle of Skye to the remote Shetland Islands, Scotland’s diverse landscapes showcasing the Northern Lights are nothing short of magical.

Below are the best places to see the Northern Lights in Scotland…

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Northern Lights Scotland FAQ
The Best Places in Scotland to See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights Scotland FAQ

Can you see the Northern Lights in Scotland?

Yes, the Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, can be seen in Scotland, particularly in the northern and more remote areas with minimal light pollution.

What is the best time to see Northern Lights in Scotland?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Scotland is during the winter months, from September to March. This period aligns with the longest nights and increased darkness, which are ideal conditions for observing the auroras.

How often can you see the Northern Lights in Scotland?

The frequency of seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland varies. In the northern regions and remote areas with dark skies, such as the Isle of Skye or Shetland Islands, sightings can occur several times a month during the peak aurora seasons (September to March).

Will the Northern Lights be visible in Scotland tonight?

The visibility of the Northern Lights in Scotland tonight depends on various factors, including solar activity, geomagnetic conditions, and local weather. It’s recommended to check real-time aurora forecasts and geomagnetic activity predictions from sources like space weather agencies and online aurora trackers.


The Best Places in Scotland to See the Northern Lights

1. North West Scotland

North West Scotland 

Spotting the Northern Lights in Scotland in the remote landscapes of the northwest promises to be an unparalleled experience.

The sparsely populated region, home to famous Scottish lochs and Scottish mountains, offers an ideal backdrop for the celestial ballet in the sky.

The village of Torridon is far away from any light pollution and is an excellent place to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Scotland. Wrap up warm and get cosy as you admire Loch Maree’s shores, which offer stunning reflections of the Auroras.

Alternatively, head to the coastline to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, the westernmost point of mainland Britain. This grazing spot offers expansive views of the night sky and the lighthouse serves as a picturesque backdrop.

Accommodation recommendations:

2. Edinburgh

Northern Lights in Edinburgh

Whilst the city of Edinburgh might not be the most obvious choice for spotting the Northern Lights in Scotland, the capital offers a magical blend of the natural and man-made.

The urban landscape and light pollution can make spotting the Aurora Borealis a little more challenging. However, when conditions align you are gifted a juxtaposition of nature’s wonders against a backdrop of architectural grandeur.

There are plenty of spots to see the Northern Lights in Edinburgh, including Calton Hill. This spot is slightly out of the city centre but provides elevated views of the shimmering lights of the auroras.

Other places to see the Northern Lights in Edinburgh are Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat.

Accommodation recommendations:

3. Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye northern lights

When looking for the best places to see Northern Lights in Scotland, be sure to add the Isle of Skye to the top of the list. The Isle of Skye has several dark spots perfect for stargazing due to their minimal light pollution.

Your best chance of catching the Northern Lights on the Isle of Skye is along the Trotternish Peninsula. The northern end of the island includes areas around the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, providing elevated viewpoints away from major light sources.

The Fairy Pools are also a must when visiting the island. Whilst a popular spot during the day, the Fairy Pools are relatively free of light pollution at night. Other places to see the lights include Talisker Beach, Neist Point and Glendale.

With ample opportunities to see the Northern Lights, it is little wonder that the Isle of Skye is one of the best Scottish islands to visit.

Accommodation recommendations:

4. Shetland Islands

Northern Lights in Shetland Islands

Situated at a high latitude, the remote Shetland Islands offer some of the most reliable and breath-taking views of the Aurora Borealis.

From the stunning bliss of Eshaness to the peaceful shores of St Ninian’s Beach, one of the best beaches in Scotland, countless vantage points exist for witnessing the Northern Lights.

Far removed from the light pollution of bustling cities, these islands provide an uninterrupted view of the cosmic performance. Famed for being the closest point to the North Pole than anywhere else in Britain, the Shetland Islands is one of the best places to see in Northern Lights in Scotland.

Below are property recommendations situated on mainland Scotland as travelling by boat is required to reach the Shetland Islands. 

Accommodation recommendations:

5. Outer Hebrides

Northern Lights in Outer Hebridies

To conclude our guide to seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland we are travelling to the outer reaches of the country. There are many reasons why you should make the journey to The Outer Hebrides to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

First of all, you can take your pick from the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra to catch the dancing display of the Aurora Borealis. Across the landscape of the Outer Hebrides, many other astronomical sights can be seen. These include the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way and the Great Andromeda galaxy.

Second of all, beyond the celestial spectacle, a trip to the Outer Hebrides provides an opportunity to connect with nature on a profound level.

From the rugged cliffs of Lewis to the tranquil white sands of Harris, the islands boast breath-taking landscapes that beckon exploration. Hiking, birdwatching, and beachcombing become immersive experiences in this untamed wilderness.

Lastly, each year in February/March you can catch the Dark Skies Festival here. This is your opportunity to enjoy a programme of events, including live music, film, theatre, astronomy talks, and stargazing.

Accommodation recommendations:

If you’re planning on catching the Northern Lights in Scotland, take a look at the full range of holiday cottages in Scotland and secure your stay with us. Use our free Scotland travel guide to help you plan your trip!

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