Stargazing Around the World

Living in a city, light pollution can get in the way of the night sky and hinder the ability to properly stargaze. Getting as high up on the rooftops as possible may make the stars clearer, and binoculars can bring out certain planets and constellations. These measures, though, still can’t compare to geographical locations known for their dark skies and spectacular views of the stars–no cities for miles. If you’re planning a trip with the hopes of stargazing or are simply looking to try a new activity, this list should inspire your travels locally, or abroad.

North America

The night sky of Cape Brenton in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Cherry Springs State Park, PA, USA

Cherry Springs State Park is an 82-acre state park in central Pennsylvania offering unique attributes that make this hidden gem ideal for all stargazers and astronomers. The stargazing field sits at an elevation of 2,300 feet, while the park’s coordinate location gives visitors a direct view of the nucleus of the Milky Way. The elevation of Cherry Springs allows a 360-degree view of the night sky unobscured by trees, city lights, and air pollution. 

Short-term stargazing (a few hours) and overnight stargazing are offered depending on what visitors are looking for. There are specific viewing areas and visitors can use flashlights, but lights must be directed downward and a red filter cover used to preserve night vision for optimal gazing. For serial gazers, Galaxy Passes are available; visitors pay a one-time fee and gain access to the Observation Field for the rest of the year–but pack warm; the mountain top tends to be on the chilly side overnight!

Nova Scotia, Canada

If stargazers head to the UNESCO Southwest Nova Scotia Biosphere Reserve in Canada, they’ll enjoy some very remote viewing of the night sky. This location is certified by the Starlight Foundation–a non-profit organization that invites society to rethink the way it values the starry sky. Trout Point Lodge, within the UNESCO Reserve, is the primary destination for visitors, receiving certification as the world’s first Starlight Hotel in 2014 from the Starlight Foundation. 

The lodge offers astrophotography workshops, guided stargazing walks, and a stargazing platform located in a meadow away from the surrounding forest that gives a completely unobstructed view of the night sky. Nova Scotia’s stargazing area has some of the darkest, protected night skies in North America, giving way to breathtaking views, including meteor showers and even glimpses of the Aurora Borealis.

South America/Central America

Atacama Desert, Chile

Travelers who want to visit South America, but want something a little different, should consider the Atacama Desert in Chile. This desert is one of the driest places on Earth, a detail that makes all the difference for astronomers around the world, as the altitude and dryness of the area hold very little air pollution, yielding to an uninterrupted view of the night sky. Because this location is so perfect for stargazing, the small town is filled with night sky tours you can book. This is the perfect opportunity to view the unique traits of the Southern Hemisphere’s sky.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Costa Rica sits 10 degrees north latitude, which places it just above the equator. This geographical placement makes Costa Rica one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing, allowing visitors to easily view all northern and southern constellations. For any astronomy aficionados who prefer viewing the night sky in a warm, tropical climate–La Fortuna is for you! 

By day, travelers can enjoy the quiet town and friendly locals and also visit the Arenal Volcano, an active natural wonder in northern Costa Rica. While viewing the night sky, gazers will get the opportunity to view the Magellanic Clouds; two galaxies first identified by Ferdinand Magellan in the 1520s. Costa Rica is one of the few places in the Northern Hemisphere where these galaxies are visible. Pro-tip: visit between December and April for peak gazing!

Australia/Oceania

Stargazers in New Zealand.

Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

Earning the nickname of Australia’s astronomy capital, Coonabarabran has clear and pristine night skies due to its high altitude and low humidity, making it perfect for any level of stargazing experience. The biggest optical telescope in Australia is located just outside the town at the Siding Spring Observatory, known as the Anglo-Australian telescope. In this location, there are a few private observatories for night sky shows and plenty of space in the vast outback for naked-eye viewing.

If you’re looking to be wowed by more astronomical wonders, the Milroy Observatory is home to the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and it is open to the public! Visitors can experience a 90-minute astronomy session and learn about the night sky on the continent. Viewing the night sky isn’t the only excitement, as visitors traveling in October can attend the Warrumbungle Festival of the Stars which celebrates the region’s love for astronomy with lectures, activities, and more. 

If you’re looking for a more remote location, look to Broken Hill to fulfill your stargazing needs. Nothing obscures the night sky in this town, housing a vast desert below some of the darkest skies with views of stunning constellations and planets. New South Wales has something for every astronomical taste and should be a must-add destination to any traveler’s bucket list. 

Aoraki Mackenzie, New Zealand

Aoraki Mackenzie is the first dark sky reserve to be designated in the Southern Hemisphere, earning gold status from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) for being almost entirely free of light pollution. Declared a reserve in 2012, the area’s light pollution is strictly controlled, being one of 11 reserves in the world. The reserve is home to the Mount John Observatory, an astronomical research center. There are six telescopes on-site, waiting to dazzle visitors with a view of over 50 million stars each night. 

The reserve itself is packed to the brim with activities and unique experiences, including special accommodations and even shops to visit in the downtime between viewing the night sky shows. More outdoorsy travelers can enjoy boating, cycling, fishing, skiing, and hiking before rounding out the night below the vast open starry sky. 

Europe

The Northern Lights and starry sky in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Trysil, Norway

Known for its magnificent show of the Northern Lights, Norway provides stunning stargazing as well as this natural wonder. In Trysil, you can do a quick internet search and book a private night sky tour, or you can simply explore the city and look for a more remote location, the higher the elevation the better! Enjoy the culture, as well as the skiing and hiking, but at night be sure to bundle up as you look for a glimpse of the night sky’s greatest light show. 

For more tips on traveling to Norway, check out this guide with a few helpful links!

Reykjavik, Iceland

South Iceland is a premier location for viewing the starry sky and, depending on the time of year, the Northern Lights. If the light pollution of the city of Reykjavik clouds up your views, a road trip to the Hotel Ranga is only an hour by car. The Hotel Ranga is categorized as a luxury resort–but it is home to the most advanced observatories in Iceland. A winter sky is optimal for starry sky viewing, and in the summer, the observatory is used for solar observing.

Don’t worry about light pollution at this resort–it is located in a rural area and external lights are always shut off to provide the best stargazing conditions for travelers. Not sure if you’ll be able to make it to Iceland in the next year or two? Definitely clear your calendar for 2026, as Iceland is expecting a total solar eclipse in August giving you plenty of time to prepare for the most incredible events in the sky. 

Asia

A stargazer and the Milky Way in India.

Ladakh, India

As one of the least populated regions in India, the remoteness of Ladakh makes it appealing for stargazers who want to explore untouched natural landscapes. This location’s high altitude and low levels of water vapor make way for one of the best dark sky environments in the world. Many travelers visit Ladakh for the outdoor activities, such as trekking, climbing, and rafting, all while being surrounded by the rich culture of the region and the strong spiritual ties to the cosmos. The Buddhist culture of the region encourages a connection with the universe. So, if you’re interested in stargazing and learning about its ties with culture and religion, plan a trip to Ladakh. 

Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand 

Translated to “City of Stars,” the third highest peak in Thailand, Doi Chiang Dao, calls to stargazers everywhere! Because this mountain towers high above sea level, it overlooks the landscape of northern Thailand, getting visitors that much closer to the beautiful starry sky. However, visitors must put in a bit of hard work to reach this payoff–a rugged hike to the summit of this limestone peak (check here for tips on planning your hike for optimal stargazing).

The entire hike to the summit should take about five hours, but it is recommended that the trip be broken up into two parts. The first being a 4.5-hour trek to a campsite on the mountain, then the final 20-minute climb to the top. Dress warm and carry a flashlight for the return trip, and enjoy a 360-degree view of the night sky!

Africa

The night sky in the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa.

Sahara Desert, Morocco

Neither city lights nor light pollution is a problem when you’re stargazing in the Sahara Desert! Nothing but sand dunes for miles offers an extremely unique glimpse into a completely unobstructed starry sky. The moment the sun begins its descent below the horizon, millions of constellations and planets are visible, with a streak of the Milky Way right in the center of it all.

While visiting the desert, catching the sunrise and sunset should both be at the top of your must-see list. Don’t stop there–Morocco is rich in culture and history, so spend a sunny day taking in the sights, talking to the locals, and trying the local fare. Check out this postcard from Marrakech, written by one of our very own team members, so you can get a leg up on planning your trip! 

Cederberg Mountains, South Africa

Outside of Cape Town, the Cederberg mountains create a stunning landscape amongst the sandy plains to the north. Nestled high above the ground within these mountains, astronomers and travelers alike can find the Cederberg Astronomical Conservancy. This privately-owned nonprofit is only open to the public for a few hours each Saturday night. Telescopes and slideshow presentations inform visitors about what to look for when the stars come out. Daytime activities in the hilly landscape keep visitors busy, from glimpsing solar flares from the sun while gazing through special daytime telescopes to hiking and swimming. 

Pro-tip: be sure to plan your trip around the lunar cycles of the full moon. The bright glow of the moon can obscure views of the starry sky!

If you’re a first-time stargazer looking for pointers, or if you’re a seasoned star chaser, hopefully this list will inspire a brand new trip to look upon a different, starry night sky. Let us know if it does! 

Did we miss a stargazing location or observatory that you swear by? Tell us about it, or any other tips or stories about your stargazing adventures, below! And don’t forget to pin!

 

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