Finding Scotland's Northern Lights by Motorhome

Finding Scotland's Northern Lights by Motorhome

by Scottish Tourer March 01, 2021

Surprising to many that live in Scotland, but you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to see the natural beauty of the Northern Lights. In order to see the Northern Lights in Scotland, you just need to know where to go and when.

These lights have fascinated the human race throughout history and modern times are no exception. The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, provide nature's very own light show experience. It is a truly special phenominon and one that everyone in Scotland and around the world should try to see at least once in their lifetime. 

The reason we can see the Northern Lights in Scotland may surprise many, but Scotland is located on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and also Nunivak Island in Alaska, two of the most well known places where the Northern Lights are visivile from.

This fact means that when you hire a campervan in Scotland, you just may be lucky enough to encounter the lights without travelling to far-off lands. 

Scottish Tourer has used all our campervan and motorhome experience to give a detailed guide on how to see the Northern Lights in Scotland. 

Northern lights in Scotland

When is best to view the Northern Lights in Scotland? 

The darker and clearer the night sky is, the better the chance you have of gaining a good view of the lights.

The nights need to be cold, with limited light pollution and increased solar activity. This may also involve a wee bit of staying up to the middle of the night to experience the fantastic lights, but they are definitely something worth staying up for!

What better way to do this than with your motorhome or campervan hire?

Sit outside under your awning with the BBQ on, toasting marshmallows and keeping warm. Remember to pack a nice blanket and a hat for the extra chilly evenings, winter in Scotland can get cold! All Scottish Tourer campervans and motorhomes come fully equipped with all of the above, all you need to provide here are the marshmallow and a blanket! 


What causes the Northern Lights?

The Aurora Borealis is named after the roman goddess of dawn (Aurora) and the North Wind (Boreas). It is caused by charged particles accelerated into the Earth's upper atmosphere along the magnetic field lines. The sun drives the energy required for the magnificent display.

The results of this are quite spectacular with different lights, shapes, patterns and colours. The different colours are a result of the gas particles colliding together. These different colours can last a few fleeting moments or for a few minutes. They are never quite the same but the result is always breathtaking and certainly one which should be ticked off everyone’s list as a wonder to see with their own eyes.

We challenge you to try and grab a picture so you can share it with us on your return (long exposure will work best for this!)

Where is best to see the Northern Lights in Scotland?

The Scottish Highlands are host to not only some of the best views and scenery throughout all of the UK (and the world) but also some of the best viewing platforms for the Northern Lights.

The best places to locate the Northern Lights in Scotland are places with as much darkness and as little light pollution as possible. 

  • The Isle of Skye offers a fabulous vantage point on the peninsula. Here you will find some wonderful places to camp and since Skye is home to no less than nine Dark Sky Discovery sites you wont be short of the darkness required to make a truly wonderful show. 

  • The Outer Hebrides, in particular Uist, appears to have a great viewpoint for the lights. The islands here have very little light pollution so provide a wonderful area to stay for a holiday and see the miracle dancers in the sky. Here you will have the choice from Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula, Barry and Eriskay. 

  • Orkney, just off the North Coast, is another great place to see the lights. If you head up to Dingleshowe beach or the Coast at Birsay you will get a great viewpoint and enjoy the peaceful noise of the water. 

A few tips to remember…

  • The Northern Lights need solar activity to be seen so without solar activity there will be no evidence of this wonder.
  • A clear sky is key to the Northern lights. They cannot be seen if you cannot see the stars.
  • If you can head off the beaten track to places that have very little light pollution you have a much better chance of getting a clear viewing.
  • This effectively means stay away from street lights, cars and buildings. This is part of the reason Scotland’s highlands are such a perfect vantage point.
  • The lights cannot be seen during a full moon or at least not well or clearly. 

motorhome tour of Scotland

How to make the most of the Northern Lights on a motorhome tour of Scotland?

It does take some determination to catch the Northern Lights in action.

Doing some research as to when they may be viewable is definitely recommended, There are apps available for this and the best viewpoints to see them from. If you aren’t into staying up late to see them, then set an alarm. Get wrapped up and grab a blanket while you wait on nature's light show to start. Generally, you don’t have to wait up too late as the lights are usually seen between 2100-0000 hrs.

If you are keen to see the Northern Lights in Scotland, then what better way to be able to be flexible than with one of our luxury motorhomes for hire?

With a motorhome, you aren’t tied to one hotel, peering out of a window to get a glimpse. With our motorhome you can easily get the awning out and embrace the chilly evenings with a hot chocolate. Make the night extra-cosy by lighting the provided BBQ to make your own little fire pit, toasting some marshmallows or making smores, in the hope of seeing something unique and special all whilst making memories. Once you're ready for bed, simply step back inside the cosy motorhome and get snuggled in. 

Seeing the Northern Lights has never been more accessible than with a motorhome from Scottish Tourer.

Contact our team today to get your motorhome rental booked and take a step towards seeing one of nature's most magnificent sights. 

← Historic Orkney in a Motorhome  Questions to think about when hiring a motorhome?→

Holiday & Activities