If you’re an avid stargazer and have always dreamt of viewing planets, constellations, and the Milky Way, we’ve got you covered! There are numerous incredible stargazing spots across the globe that are perfect for both professional and novice astronomers. Here are our top picks that offer the best views of the stars for an unforgettable astronomical adventure!
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Japan
Located in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park became the first place in Japan to receive the prestigious International Dark Sky Places accreditation. This park is situated on the Yaeyama Islands, near the Tropic of Cancer, and offers a spectacular view of up to 84 of the 88 constellations officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union. Although viewing conditions may vary due to weather, the park is undoubtedly one of the best stargazing spots in the world.
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Although tropical jungles are not typically the ideal place for stargazing, Costa Rica can offer some surprising celestial views under the right conditions. The country’s location near the equator provides a unique opportunity to view constellations from both the northern and southern hemispheres. Interestingly, Costa Rica is one of the few locations above the equator where the Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way Galaxy, can be seen. These clouds were first identified by Ferdinand Magellan and his crew during their circumnavigation of the world in the 1520s. Visitors who come during the dry season, which lasts from December to April, have the best chance of spotting them.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in South Africa, offers much more than just spotting the famous Big Five animals. The park’s remote location and minimal light pollution make it an ideal destination for stargazing. Visitors can enjoy impeccable night-sky viewing opportunities, with the flat savanna and bushveld providing an ideal terrain to explore the Southern Cross, Scorpio, and even the rings of Saturn through binoculars. Adding a nighttime astronomy experience to your game-drive itinerary is a must on any visit to Kruger National Park.
If you’re searching for a destination to marvel at the nighttime sky, Swedish Lapland might just be the perfect spot. Situated just north of the Arctic Circle near the borders of Norway, Finland, and Sweden, remote Kiruna is a mere 30 miles away from Esrange Space Center, which is Europe’s largest civilian space center. There, you can gaze in wonder at the vast expanse of stars and perhaps even witness the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis or northern lights.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a bus to Abisko and ride a cable car up to the Aurora Sky Station, one of the world’s top locations for viewing the northern lights. To make your stay in Swedish Lapland even more unforgettable, check out the IceHotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi, just 11 miles from Kiruna.
Pic du Midi, France
If it’s a place that NASA scientists used to prepare for Apollo missions by taking pictures of the Moon’s surface, then Pic du Midi in the French Pyrénées mountains is certainly worth a visit. A cable car from La Mongie can take you to the summit, where an observatory sits above the clouds. The reserve also includes the Pyrénées-Mont Perdu UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Pyrénées National Park, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers.
If you want to take your adventure to the next level, you can even book an overnight stay at Pic du Midi and experience a night under the stars like no other.