Best time to travel to Scotland

Northern Lights

The elusive Aurora reveals itself only to the most patient


Last updated:
Northern Lights in Scotland 2020 - Best Time

Although Scottish lands offer excellent conditions for observing the Northern Lights thanks to the low light pollution, in recent times not many have had the opportunity. Such a mischance is attributed to low sunspot activity. Nevertheless, you might still be the one to catch the aurora by its shining tail.

Picture taken at Dunnet Head 2020
Picture taken at Dunnet Head
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Top spots include Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Aberdeenshire, the Moray Coast, Lewis, Harris, Rubha Hunish in Skye, and also far northwest observatories like Applecross, Lochinver, Cairngorms, Angus, the Fife Coast, Rannoch Moor, and Perthshire. Scotland also has the​ only UK's dark sky park—Galloway Forest Park. The luckiest might even see the aurora in the capital city of Edinburgh by Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat.

The Shetland Islands located the closest to the north pole offer a decent chance to see the aurora. Many photographers, based in Lerwick, were able to capture the northern lights during the colder season. They even have a special name for it in Shetlands: the Mirrie Dancers, which refers to flickering of the lights in the night skies. Another name that is mentioned in Scottish Gaelic is Na Fir Chlis meaning “the Nimble Men”. According to Scottish folk tales, during winter nights Nimble Men and Merry Maidens dance in the dark skies.

Taken at Castlehill Dark Sky Discovery Site 2020
Taken at Castlehill Dark Sky Discovery Site
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The best time to look for Northern Lights is winter time.