Most of us think of pollution as CO2 and other gasses that we let out into the atmosphere that cause global warming, but there are actually many different types of pollution. Did you know that sound and light pollution is also something that disturbs our environment? Light pollution in big cities, industrial areas, villages and towns is an issue for wildlife and it means that it ever really gets dark because there are always some electric lights shining. As it never gets completely dark it also makes it difficult for us to see the stars, so if you have only ever watched the stars from a city or a village we really recommend you treat yourself to a stargazing trip! We promise you will not be dissapointed.
To make sure we will continue to have places around the world without light pollution, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) certifies and protects areas with particularly astounding starry night skies. There are Dark-sky parks and reserves all over the world so if you are wondering “where can I go stargazing near me” then read on and find the park closest to you!
You don’t need to be an astronomy enthusiast, know all the constellations or own a telescope or even binoculars to enjoy stargazing. A starry night sky is beautiful and impressive no matter how much or how little you know about it and can certainly be enjoyed by everyone! To get started you can of course try to spot some stars through your window, in your garden or maybe from your balcony or terrace at night. But for the most amazing stargazing experience (for beginners and enthusiasts) we have made a list of some Dark-Sky parks in Europe and places you can stay in or around them. If you are not close to one of these parks, there is no need to worry. Just getting out of the city, away from the lights and dense populations, into the countryside, the mountains, or other natural areas, will often guarantee you a beautiful starry night sky.
Ireland and Great Britain have quite a few Dark-Sky Parks and Reserves that you can visit, and we have found some of our campspaces close by so you can easily go to the centre of the reserve, or just watch them from outside your tent, campervan or accommodation.
Ireland & Northern Ireland
In the south of Ireland you can find the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve which covers about 700 square kilometres and is enclosed by the Atlantic coast also known as the Wild Atlantic to the west and the Kerry Mountains to the east. These two barriers really make the Kerry Dark Sky Park great for some surprisingly breathtaking stargazing! If you are ever in this area or anywhere nearby, don’t rob yourself of a stargazing experience here. You can bring your own tent or camper to a peaceful park or make it a luxury stargazing experience by staying the night at a yurt right next to the Atlantic.
In the north of Ireland you can find the Ballycroy National Park and Wild Nephin Wilderness, another Dark Sky park which is a huge wild area with almost no light pollution and perfect conditions for a pitch black sky on which you can really see the stars like you have never seen them before. Pitch your tent or park your camper on the edge of the ocean or in a secluded garden close to the sea and get ready to be amazed by the beautiful night sky.
Are you in Northern Ireland? Then find a spot in or near the Davagh Forest Park among wild forest and mountain sides. The core of this Dark Sky Park is farmed by the Beaghmore Stone Circle from the Bronze Age, so you can even combine stargazing with history here. A Dark Sky Observatory and Visitor Centre was opened in the forest in 2020, so you can enhance your stargazing experience from here.
One of the most well known Dark Sky parks in Europe is the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland. It has been a classified Dark Sky park for more than a half a century and with its 78,000 hectares it is UK’s biggest as well. No permanent illumination is allowed in the core of this park, so bring your red-light (and normal) torch to enjoy some outstanding stargazing and catch a glimpse of the amazing wildlife here. Visit our Scottish yurt while you are here and take a stargazing trip to the Galloway Forest Park.
The Gairngorms National Park in Scotland is not only a wondrous National Park it also forms the majority of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet - Cairngorms International Dark Sky Park. As it is a National Park you can also see Britain's only herd of reindeers if you are really lucky and even the last remaining trees of an ancient Scottish temperate rainforest called Caledonian Forest. So make it a day trip and enjoy the unique nature and impressive night sky at Gairngorms. Pitch your tent or bring your camper to one of the campspaces nearby - maybe you will even be blown away by the night sky at one of these places.
In England they have no less than seven Dark Sky Parks. So you could even do a stargazing roadtrip to find your favourite stargazing spot near you!
In the very south of England there are no less than four International Dark Sky Parks. So are you in England and want to swap the city lights for some stargazing for a bit, then you have plenty of great options! By the coast straight south from London you will find the South Downs National Park which is also known as the Dark Sky Moore’s Reserve. It might be difficult to believe that you can experience a sky dark enough for you to be able to enjoy some amazing stargazing at night, but this is the proof. You can easily find a spot to go with your tent or camper or treat yourself to a bit of luxury instead and have the ultimate stargazing experience from an amazing yurt or a glamping spot!
Moving west from the Moore’s Reserve you will find the Cranborne Chase Dark Sky Park which you can experience from the comfort of your own tent at this relaxing campspace or from a luxurious glamping spot instead. Close to the west coast the Exmoor National Park has also been classified as a Dark Sky Park and here you will find one of the darkest skies in England. Try a camping/glamping experience with dinner and breakfast included on the outskirts of the national park or opt for a yurt stargazing experience. Close by in the Cornwall region you will also find the Bodmin Moor Dark Sky Landscape where you can watch the starry night sky over the ocean.
To find the last three Dark Sky Parks in England you will have to go further north. A popular and very beautiful one is the Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park which is located just across the border from Scotland. A bit further south from the borderland the two remaining parks can be found: Yorkshire Dales National Park in the west and North York Moors National Park in the east not far off the coast, so if you are doing an east coast trip in England do make a stop here. You can stay in a charming little gypsy wagon or you can pitch your own tent at this neat bungalow garden and experience the dark sky magic.
If we talk about country size to Dark Sky Parks ratio Wales is definitely very high on the list. Here you can find no less than three Dark Sky Parks spread nicely from north to south, so no matter where you are in the country you will be close to one, so do give yourself a stargazing experience when you are in Wales. All three parks provide perfect conditions for absolutely stunning stargazing. The Snowdonia National Park is close to the coast and between the hills, the water, and the stars you will be sure to find peace. If you want to escape to the peaceful north of Wales a a peaceful rural sanctuary might be just what you need.
In the south the Brecon Beacons National Park is also a utopia for stargazing, and more or less halfway between these two parks is the Elan Valley Estate which is also absolutely amazing. If you want a luxury stargazing experience you can choose between some amazing glamping experiences in and around the Elan Valley Estate. Try glamping in a tipi at an amazing eco retreat, with a hot tub or in a soaring tree tent!
No matter if you are in Germany or just travelling through the country on your way around Europe we recommend a stopover at one of their four classified Dark Sky Parks which are spread across the country. The most popular one is probably Eifel National Park which is in the stunning region of North Rhine-Westphalia close to the Belgium border. So do you find yourself in this area at anytime make a stop at this warm and welcoming campspace you across the border or find your way to this beautiful camping spot in German nature.
In the south of the country just across the Austrian border you have the Winklmoosalm, in central Germany you can find Rhön, and just northwest from Berlin you will find Westhavelland, another beautiful Dark Sky Park. If you find yourself in one of these areas don’t rob yourself of an amazing stargazing experience.
In The Netherlands you can also find some very dark night sky that is perfect for stargazing. There are two parks: Lauwersmeer National Park and De Boschplaat which are both in the very north of the country by the sea. So in this area you will definitely be able to experience some top notch stargazing! This area does not only have beautiful starry night skies it is also home to part of the UNESCO World Heritage site the Wadden Sea, making this area great for day and night time activities.
You can enjoy the Dark Sky Park of Lauwersmeer National Park from one of our campspaces in the area and you won’t even have to leave it to see the starry night sky, just go outside your tent, camper, or cabin and get ready to be amazed! Stay at our great eco-campspace, opt for comfortable accommodation waiting for you at the site or bring your own tent or camper. Or pick a completely different one, there are so many options for you to choose from in this area!
In Spain there is one certified Dark Sky Park: Albanyà in the region of Catalonia, on the east coast right across the border from France. In the Bassegoda Park, which forms part of the Dark Sky Park you can join a stargazing tour great for beginners if you want to learn more about constellations and just learn a bit more about the bright and shining wonders above us. If you want to have an even closer look the park has set up a telescope for you to do exactly that. If you prefer to explore the stars on the night sky on your own, you can also find several spots in the area that are highly popular for a more private stargazing experience.
The most private stargazing experience you can probably get is at this wonderful spacious farm where you can bring your own tent or camper. If you are not crazy about the idea of farm camping you can still stay close by at another beautiful and peaceful campspace. Although Albanyà is the only official Dark Sky Park in Spain, you can still be amazed by impressive stargazing in other areas of Spain, like at this gorgeous olive farm south of Tarragona or other places in nature away from city lights.
Although Portugal does not have an official IDA dark sky park yet, you can easily find areas in this beautiful country where you can enjoy some mesmerizing stargazing. The Alentejo region in the areas surrounding the Alqueva Lake that is located right by the Spanish border does promote itself as a dark sky attraction. So if you ever find yourself in this region do go outside at night and take some time to be amazed by the starry night skies here. You can choose between luxurious glamping in an eco yurt between cork and olive trees, a charming log cabin, or a modern shepherd's hut. Are you with your own tent or camper, you can stay on a small farm in the beautiful countryside.
Forget about Paris and city trips, get out into the mountains or the vineyards where the night sky will look so big, beautiful and powerful. In France there are three certified Dark Sky Parks, all in the south of the country. Alpes Azur Mercantour by the Italian border just north of Monaco, Pic du Midi close to the Spanish border and Cévennes National Park half way between the other two parks. The Pic du Midi Dark Sky Park lies within the Pyrénées National Park and is the biggest Dark Sky Reserve in Europe. Here you can visit the Pic du Midi Observatory where you can get a closer look at the stars on a perfectly dark canvas through their telescope.
If you just want to enjoy the view, then bring a blanket and fall asleep under the stars at this cosy mini eco campspace right at the foot of the Pyrénées or this secluded and relaxing retreat in the countryside of the mountains.
Italy has also yet to get their first officially IDA classified dark sky park, but here you can also still find impressive starry night skies. Are you in the north of Italy then you can visit South Tyrol for some great stargazing in the mountains on the Swiss-Italian border. You can choose between bringing your own tent or camper to a charming campspace on the Italian or the Swiss side.
If you are in Tuscany or passing the area on your way north or south then this is of course a great spot for stargazing, and you can step into the historical footsteps of Galileo Galilei who developed his telescope here, and he made many great discoveries with that. If a region can inspire the development of a great telescope, it is worth having a look at how some stunning stargazing can inspire you. Make a luxurious stargazing experience by staying in a glamorous yurt in wild nature or maybe a caravan or a lodge between vineyards and olive trees is what you need? If you prefer pitching your own tent among olive trees then we’ve also got you covered.
Are you not close to any of these dark sky parks? Then have a look at the dark sky park map and see if you can find one close to you, or just take a trip to the countryside where the stars don’t have to compete with the city lights.
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