People have long been enchanted by the stars, those mysterious lights etched into the dark canvas of the night. But in most places, you’re unlikely to catch a glimpse of even the brightest star in Earth’s night sky – the dazzling Dog Star Sirius – due to the light pollution that comes with modern living.
But don’t worry! For lovers of stargazing, Scotland is home to many a celestial oasis where you can take in the beauty of the stars. In fact, the Scots have a fantastic word to describe the stars (and other luminous, shining things): Solasta. In Scotland, you can get away from city lights and experience the stars in all their solasta glory.
If you’ve ever wanted to look up into a truly stunning, glittering night sky and see all it has to offer, then take a look at our list of great spots for stargazing in Scotland below!
This post was originally published in March 2020, and was updated in January 2021.
Stargazing in Scotland Map
Before diving into each spot I recommend for stargazing in Scotland, I thought it might help to start with a map. This will help you get a sense of where each location is and how to plan to visit – if you decide you want to go stargazing there.
1. Glen Nevis
For lovers of stargazing, Scotland is a location that’s hard to beat. Sites like Glen Nevis are precisely why.
This stunning glen is not only a place of natural beautiful – it’s also a celestial haven. Those blazing stars shine all the brighter when you’re exploring this rugged terrain. Yet with the abundant parking and handy visitors centre, modern comforts are not far away.
Personally, this is one of my favorite spots to visit. If you are in the area, check out what to do in Fort William during the day.
Assynt is a secluded area in the west of Scotland, officially recognized as a great place to cast your eyes skyward into the glittering darkness above.
It is so quiet and peaceful here, you’ll understand why the people of the past looked to the stars for comfort and knowledge. Wrap up warm, bring a flask of hot chocolate, and enjoy the night.
3. The Moray Coast
The Moray Coast is one of Scotland’s gems, with its calm seaside scenery and its charming fishing villages. This oasis opens up onto an ocean of stars at night and – with dark skies undisturbed by light pollutions – stretches on endlessly.
The Moray Astronomy Club in Elgin takes full advantage of their stunning dark skies, and so should you. Whether you bring equipment or not, it’s well worth a visit here for a glimpse of this sky full of diamonds.
4. Galloway Forest
This breath-taking location is the first in the U.K. to be deemed a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. On a cloudless night, opportunities to observe the moon and constellations in this beautiful forest park are abundant.
The park covers 774 squae kilometers, so there is plenty of woodland you can explore to find the best spot to cast your eyes upwards to the stars. For the best stargazing conditions, consider heading to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, perched on a lovely hilltop. Or to the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, which overlooks the placid waters of Clatteringshaws Loch.
If you’re new to stargazing, Scotland and its enchanting forests will help you find your passion for it!
5. Tomintoul and Glenlivet
This jewel of the Cairngorms National Park is an area of land which offers otherworldly beauty and a marvelous view of the stars. It earned Gold Tier status from the International Dark-Sky Association for the spectacular quality of clarity if its inky dark sky. It also became Scotland’s second International Dark Sky Park, Cairngorms Dark Sky Park.
Believe it or not, neighboring galaxies trillions of miles away can be seen with just your eyes. But a pair of binocular certainly wouldn’t hurt if you want to get a clearer view!
Come and see a sky brimming with glittering stars in the Dark Sky town of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway. The street lighting in this charming little town is specially set up to keep light pollution to a minimum. This preserves the breath-taking views of the starry dark skies above.
The best place to see Scotland’s stars in Moffat is a car park only a mile outside of the town. There’s free parking and toilet facilities. But be advised that they don’t often allow overnight camping. If you love stargazing, Scotland is the place to go. If you’re new to it, Moffat is the place to start.
7. Isle of Coll
This beautiful remote island is located in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and has some of the darkest skies in Europe. Which means top notch stargazing opportunities!
They certainly know how to make the most of the visibility of the stars on Coll. They offer a brilliant stargazing weekend break called Coll & the Cosmos. Suitable for visitors of all backgrounds. You don’t need to know what you’re looking at to get the most out of this break. Novice stargazers and experts alike will not be disappointed!
8. Newbattle Abbey
Abbey’s, due to their old connection with gothic literature, tend to conjure up a sense of mystery. What better setting could there be for looking up into the endless starry night? Newbattle Abbey is located not far from Edinburgh and has been awarded Orion site status. From here, the eight main stars in the constellation are visible in all their glory.
I would definitely recommend a visit here. When it comes to the wonder of stargazing, Scotland and its mysterious abbeys go hand it hand.
9. Isle of Skye
It should be no surprise that we’re finishing the list of stargazing spots in Scotland with the Isle of Skye. This beautiful Western isle is one of the darkest places in Scotland. It boasts nine incredible Dark Sky Discovery sites, so there is no shortage of options for Isle of Sky stargazing.
If you’re looking to dedicate a holiday to the pursuit of seeing dazzling stars and planets spinning on the inky blanket of the sky, this is the place for you. Skye is a wonderful place to visit. The fantastic opportunities to stand under the moon and look into the light of constellations older than we can even imagine, make it all the more magical.
Have questions about stargazing in Scotland? Let us know in the comments!