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The Best Places To See The Aurora Borealis In Scotland

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, with their stunning displays of hues of green, purple, red, and pink, are some of the most breathtaking spectacles to be seen anywhere in the world.

While people often travel to places such as Scandinavia and Canada to witness the incredible natural display, Scotland is a place where you can also see the Aurora Borealis, often rivalling other far northern countries.

Even as far south as the Scottish central belt, you will be able to catch glimpses of the Northern Lights, although further north will improve your chances. The awesome spectacle can usually be seen between later September and March, and ideally between December and January, but you’ll need to be prepared for a long, late-night to catch the Mirrie Dancers.

You can also consult specialist aurora forecast websites such as AuroraWatch UK. The best time is between 10 pm and midnight, depending on cloud cover, and head away from the cities and towns to somewhere nice and dark. Though it pays to be patient, as they may appear for long durations up to an hour and sometimes only for a few minutes, either way, they are worth the wait.

The Aurora Borealis take their name from Aurora (the Roman goddess of dawn) and Boreas (the Greek name for north wind), here are some of the best places in Scotland to spot the Northern Lights.

The Isles of Lewis and Harris

The Outer Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis, as well as being home to some of Scotland’s most gorgeous beaches, offer unrivalled views of the Northern Lights from most parts of the islands on a clear night.

Orkney and Shetland

Both the Orkney and Shetlands are far enough north to provide amazing views of the Lights but venture away from populated areas such as Lerwick and Kirkwall due to light pollution.


Caithness on the mainland has some of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis, as there is plenty of remote, dark sky spots and minimal light pollution.

The Isle of Coll

The community on the Isle of Coll are dedicated to preserving its dark Sky designation and keeping the lights off as much as possible to help provide spectacular night skies for the Lights and other astronomical wonders.


The Trotternish peninsula to the north of Skye is remote, very dark, and has a selection of Dark Sky Discoveries sites, which mean there are ideal viewing conditions for stargazing and aurora spotting.


Oban is with Skye as being one of the best places to spot the Aurora Borealis on the west coast, but it is advised to keep a distance from the main town and venture out into the countryside and hills.

Dumfries and Galloway

The Dark Sky Park at Galloway Forest Park is the first of its kind in the UK, and Europe’s second Dark Sky Park, meaning it is one of the best places in the UK to see natural phenomena in the night skies. However, being further south, it may be trickier to spot the Aurora Borealis,

The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park also has just the right conditions to see the Lights, so try looking north from Cairngorm Mountain car park or head to the Glenlivet Estate, known for its dark sky events.

If you’re visiting Scotland this winter to hopefully see the lights, why not check out the best winter walks in Scotland by visiting our website today.

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