Where to see the Northern Lights in Scotland

Northern Lights in Scotland

Scotland is home to some of the largest expanses of dark sky in Europe – and with the right location, time of year and a little bit of luck, it’s the ideal place to spot the Northern Lights (or ‘Mirrie Dancers’ as they are known locally).

From the breathtaking Aberdeenshire cliffs at Pennan to the secluded serenity of the Outer Hebrides, opportunities are abound to witness the mesmerising dance of the Aurora Borealis against a backdrop of millions of glittering stars.

Each location provides a unique perspective and experience, allowing visitors to not only witness the beautiful Northern Lights but to also explore the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of Scotland.

Direct flights are available from Dubai to Glasgow with Emirates – so get boarding and experience one of the most exciting wonders of the natural world.

Pennan, Aberdeenshire

Pennan is a tiny seaside village located by a stunning backdrop of Aberdeenshire cliffs, famous for being where a lot of the 1983 film Local Hero was made.

When the days get shorter, and the nights get darker, that’s when the magic happens.

Millions of lights seem to dance across the sky and the stars illuminate the night in an array of colour.

During a stay at the Pennan Inn, guests can opt to purchase an alarm from the owners to be kept informed as to when the Northern Lights are visible.

Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway

Not only Britain’s forest largest park, Galloway Forest Park was also the UK’s first Dark Sky Park.

Stretching across the southwest of Scotland, it is home to glens, lochs, hills and only a few buildings which means it has very little light pollution.

On clear nights it is possible to observe thousands of stars, making it one of the best places to stargaze in Europe.

In nearby Kirkcudbright (which is also home to the Dark Sky Planetarium), the Selkirk Arms Hotel offers stargazing packages which include bed, breakfast, evening meals and talks with stargazing experts as well as a chance to head into Galloway Forest Park to see the skies.

North Uist, Outer Hebrides

With minimal light pollution, the Outer Hebrides is one of the best places to catch the Northern Lights.

With the right weather conditions, each island can provide a mesmerising display of the Aurora Borealis at the right time.

Many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye including the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way and the Great Andromeda galaxy.

During the winter it gets dark in the late afternoon, giving visitors a great opportunity to not only watch out for the Northern Lights but just look up and stargaze.

Each year in February, there is a Dark Skies Festival which features theatre, live music, film, visual art, food, astronomy talks, and stargazing.

Accommodation options include the Temple View Hotel on North Uist, which is perfectly located for stunning scenery and possibly a view of those famous lights.

Orkney & Shetland

Looking for a real adventure? A stay in the northernmost regions of the British Isles to possibly witness the Aurora Borealis will feel like a world away.

Stay at the Keeper’s Cottage at Sumburgh Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is the oldest in Shetland, and perhaps the most well-known.

Rising above the precipitous Sumburgh Head cliffs at the southernmost point of mainland Shetland, the Lighthouse is visible from land and sea for miles around.

There’s no doubt that Orkney is one of the best places in the UK to try to catch a glimpse of them, with low levels of light pollution and unobstructed views.

Stay at one of Anderson’s Harbour Cottages, located right by the sea in a quiet part of Stromness.