Northern Lights: The best places in Scotland to see the Aurora Borealis

In Scotland, they are known as the Mirrie Dancers and they light up the skies with beautiful ribbons of green, purple, red and pink.

One of the most breathtaking natural phenomena seen anywhere in the world, Scotland can, on occasion rival even Canada and Scandinavia for seeing them.

Heading north to the Highlands, or jumping across to the islands will often be your best bet but they can often be seen as far south as Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

Catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis – one of nature’s most magical displays – is an unforgettable experience.

Normally, between late September and late March (ideally December and January) is the best time to look for the Mirrie Dancers – though be sure to stay up until the wee small hours to get the clearest view and you can consult specialist aurora forecast websites such as AuroraWatch UK.

The best time is between 10pm and midnight, depending on cloud cover, and heading away from the cities and towns to somewhere nice and dark is your best bet.

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Taking 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.

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 Isles of Lewis and Harris



The Aurora at Garry Beach, Tolsta on the Isle of Lewis

As well as being home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the Outer Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis offer unrivalled views of this stunning light show from most parts of the islands on a clear night.

Orkney and Shetland

The most northerly parts of the country are the most obvious place to go to see the northern lights.

Both the Orkney and Shetland isles have remote areas that will be perfect for viewing them but stay away from populated areas like Lerwick and Kirkwall due to the light pollution.

Caithness



The Aurora Borealis over Loch Watenan and Stemster in Caithness
The Aurora Borealis over Loch Watenan and Stemster in Caithness

Staying on the mainland, Caithness offers some of the best spots to see the lights.

With many remote spots, dark sky areas, and very little light pollution, the northeast region has some of the best places to catch a glimpse of this magic sight.

The Isle of Coll

Scotland’s very own Dark Sky Island has a community that’s dedicated to keep the lights off and providing some of the most spectacular places to see the lights and other celestial phenomena.

Even though it has three dedicated sites on the island, Arinagour, Cliad Football pitch and Totronald, nearly all of the island is perfect for night viewing.

Skye



The Northern Lights over the Isle of Skye
The Northern Lights over the Isle of Skye

On Skye’s northern Trotternish peninsula, which is remote and very dark, you’ll find several Dark Sky Discoveries sites meaning ideal viewing conditions for spotting the lights.

Oban

Along with Skye, this is one of the best places to spot the Northern Lights on the west coast but it’s best to stay from the main town and head out to the nearby hills or countryside.

Dumfries and Galloway

Home to Dark Sky Park at Galloway Forest Park, the first of its kind in the UK and Europe’s second Dark Sky Park, this can be one of the best places in the country to see natural phenomena in the night skies about Scotland.

Though Northern Lights are harder to spot further south, this is one of the best places to go to give yourself a real chance.

The Cairngorms

The national park is another location that is ideal for just the right conditions to see this incredible spectacle, try looking north from the Cairngorm Mountain car park or head to the Glenlivet Estate, which is known for its dark sky events.

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https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/scotland-now/northern-lights-best-places-scotland-26460871