A guide to the world's best stargazing spots

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
By Azamara

A clear nights sky full of glistening stars and intricate formations is something that very few will get to see properly in their lifetime. City dwellers aren’t accustomed to the stunning sights the night sky can offer with urban light pollution often blocking the way to the heavens above.

Seeing shooting stars, picking out Orion’s Belt and getting to see galaxies hundreds of light-years away is an experience unlike any other and one that’ll make lasting memories for those who witness them. We spoke to stargazing experts and the teams behind some of the best stargazing experiences around the world to find out some of the best locations to see these constellations.

We spoke to Samuel at Wyoming Stargazing, he told us a little more about his favourite stargazing locations and some tips to make sure you find the perfect spot:

“To find the best locations in the world to go stargazing you need to look for four things; relatively high elevation, predictably clear weather, dark night skies, and accessibility by car. Putting all four of those characteristics together you arrive at a shortlist of some of the world's best stargazing locations. Among those are some popular tourist destinations including Arica Chile on the edge of the Atacama Desert (the driest place on Earth); the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii; the national parks that surround Moab Utah; the high plains of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania; and Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Wyoming.”

The Mediterranean

Petrova Gora-Biljeg, Croatia

For the most avid cruisers, there is no better destination to see the starry night sky than when on one of our med cruises. The Mediterranean offers landscapes unlike any other and Petrova Gora-Biljeg in Croatia is no exception. Recently gaining the Dark Sky status, it is now a popular spot for stargazers looking to get a glimpse of the magical night sky.

A short journey from the Croatian port of Rijeka, Petrova Gora-Biljeg is one of the best-preserved locations in the country and is surrounded by dense forests and high-rise mountains making the views even more beautiful. An area protected since 1969, you really will find it hard to find views, stars and constellations like it anywhere else.

The Algarve, Portugal

Stargazing in the Algarve

Sunny and warm climates mean that the night skies are often crystal clear in Portugal, and specifically The Algarve. Visitors to Portugal often find themselves exploring the historic towns, sunbathing on the sandy, white beaches and enjoying a paddle in the crystal clear waters, but cruisers often disregard the destination when the sun has set.

For those who want to witness the beauty that Portugal offers at night, the Centro de Observacao Astronomica no Algarve (COAA) Astronomy Centre offers stargazing experiences in the heart of Portimao, a location of outstanding natural beauty and some of the clearest skies in Europe.

La Palma, Canary Islands

Known as being a haven for stargazing, La Palma in the Canary Islands is a hive of activity once the sun goes down. Lush, green rainforest sit alongside open hillsides that are the perfect setting for a night of stargazing. Light pollution in La Palma is low and those who visit between are almost guaranteed to get a glimpse of the stunning night sky that shimmers above the sea.

Hello Canary Islands, talk about stargazing on their website and recommend heading to the International Astronomy Observatory in La Palma for a guided tour or lesson: “You can observe a large number of constellations from all of the islands but it’s on La Palma and Tenerife where the three IAC international astronomy observatories are set up to study the stars. There are guided tours of both observatories where they show you how the universe in which we live functions.”

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Stars over a mountain

Tenerife is another Mediterranean location that changes from day to night. Similarly to La Palma, Tenerife has some of the clearest skies in Europe and boasts the perfect conditions for a night of stargazing.

Heading on the cable car up to Mount Teide National Park will give you the elevation to get a great view of the skies above, sitting almost 2,000 metres up.

“The pristine sky of the Canary Islands awaits to delight every lover of astronomy. The fascinating sky flashes to the amazement of eyes accustomed to the gloomy sky of cities. Teide National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and awarded the title of "Starlight" tourist destination, is one of the best places on earth to see the stars, housing one of the most advanced astronomical observatories.” Canarias World reports on their website.

Tuscany, Italy

The Italian countryside is known for outstanding views and its skies are no exception. Tuscany is known for dry weather and vast, open landscapes, the perfect combination for staring at the night sky. It’s reported that the moon’s craters, sunspots and Jupiter’s moon can all be spotted from the region on a clear night. A trip to the Arcetri Astrophysics Observatory in Florence is the ideal way for star-spotting beginners to see some of the famous sights.

The rest of the world

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Stars above rocks on Kangaroo Island

Australia is one of the world’s most popular stargazing locations and is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of some magical sky movements. Kangaroo Island is one of the best locations in the south of Australia to catch a sighting of the Milky Way, especially at Flinders Chase National Park, a location completely protected from mainland light pollution.

We spoke to Matt Woods, Tour Administrator at Perth Observatory who told us a little more about stargazing in Australia:

“Two-thirds of the world's population cannot even see the Milky Way now and that is incredibly sad. When you go out and stargaze, you start understanding how incredible this universe is and how lucky we are to be alive to witness such incredible beauty.

“I still remember the first real-time I went out to the completely dark sky in the middle of winter and clearly saw the Sagittarius arm of our galaxy where you can see the emu in the sky right above my head. It was just an amazing experience and I just laid on the ground next to a lake and just took in the most majestic sight I have ever seen. Some of the best places in the world to stargaze include Karijini National Park, Western Australia, Wave Rock, Western Australia and Warrumbungle National Park, New South Wales.”

Arica, Chile

Stars over water in Arica

As Samuel explained, Arica in Chile is one of the best places to go stargazing. Situated on the edge of the Atacama Desert, considered one of the driest places on earth, a night out stargazing in the area isn’t for the fainthearted, but will offer views that’ll take your breath away.

Explore Inspired describe it as a place with ‘the most incredible sunsets and starry nights’: “Arica is a world-famous surfing destination, Chile’s most recently acquired territory, and home to some of the best seafood empanadas you’ll ever have. It’s also an incredible place to spend some time beach camping (for free) and see the stars. Arica is the northernmost city in Chile, just 11 miles south of the Peruvian border, and a place I never would have found had I not been denied entry to Peru. But should you ever find yourself this far north in Chile, know that you’re about to witness some of the most incredible sunsets and starry nights of your life.”

If going stargazing is at the top of your bucket list, make sure you book via one of our luxury cruise deals to one of these stunning locations or make sure you’re looking at the night sky from your cruise ship when you’re next on board, you never know what you’ll be able to see.

Best stargazing spots around the world:

  • Petrova Gora-Biljeg, Croatia

  • The Algarve, Portugal

  • La Palma, Canary Islands

  • Tenerife, Canary Islands

  • Tuscany, Italy

  • Kangaroo Island, South Australia

  • Arica, Chile

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