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Chasing The Northern Lights in Scotland 


As the days lengthen and spring flowers begin to bloom, Scotland is gearing up for summer. However, here at Highland Experience, we bid a fond farewell to winter with a touch of sadness. 

The winter months in Scotland offer much to appreciate, often overlooked by many. The stunning landscape, though different, retains its stunning allure with snow-capped mountains and hues of rust, orange, and brown. There is nothing better than a crisp winter day out enjoying the scenery of Scotland. 

Moreover, Scotland’s rich history, culture, traditions, and cuisine remain ever-present, providing the perfect backdrop for exploration. What could be better than a day spent discovering Scotland’s beauty, followed by cozying up in a tartan blanket by a roaring log fire with a dram of whisky? 

a man with dark hair and a sunset in the background

Aurora Borealis and Stargazing in Northern Scotland 

Scotland is renowned for its dark skies, making it an ideal destination for stargazing and, if you are lucky, catching a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights during the winter months. With our extended nights, Scotland offers many opportunities to immerse yourself in the celestial wonders of the evening sky. 

While we can’t promise you will witness the Northern Lights on your Highland adventure, there is always a glimmer of hope. It is not something to solely base your trip around, but rather a magical bonus if luck is on your side. With a bit of perseverance, many of our guides and passengers have been fortunate enough to spot them while out on tour. A lot of people don’t realise, but northern Scotland shares the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska. 

During the winter, our private tours offer excellent options for remote accommodations away from light pollution, enhancing your chances of catching a glimpse of the mesmerising Aurora Borealis and a sky full of stars. 


Seeing the Aurora Borealis  

To catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, a combination of factors must align. Firstly, optimal solar activity is essential. Secondly, dark skies are crucial to minimise light pollution. Additionally, clear skies are beneficial, but the Northern Lights can still be visible through clouds, especially with the assistance of a camera. Several websites, such as Aurora Alerts ( and AuroraWatch (, monitor auroral activity and provide real-time alerts for strong displays. 


What Can I Expect to See? 

If you’re a first-time observer of the Northern Lights, it is crucial to understand that what your camera captures may differ from what your eyes will see. Photographs of the Aurora tend to reveal more detail than what’s visible to the naked eye. If you are unsure whether you are witnessing the Northern Lights, snapping a photo can often confirm your suspicions. 

For those attempting to photograph the Aurora with a smartphone, check out this guide for tips: If you are using a camera, this resource provides helpful instructions:  


Why Visit Scotland in Winter? 

Scotland offers a wealth of experiences beyond the Northern Lights. Winter in Scotland transforms the landscape into a tranquil and serene environment. With fewer tourists, quieter roads and walking trails, it is the perfect time to explore. Plus, there is a significant upside for those who have encountered them before – no midges! 

Winter in Scotland is all about relaxation, connecting with nature, and enjoying life at your own pace. It is about embracing chilly days spent exploring and cozy evenings indulging in delicious food and drinks while immersing yourself in Scottish culture. 

You can opt for one of our 3-day Ultimate Skye Experience tours or let us help you customise your own adventure. Private tours are available year-round, allowing you to experience Scotland on your terms. Consider basing yourself in one location for a few days – whether it is Perthshire, the Isle of Skye, or the Cairngorm National Park – and we will collaborate with you to craft your ideal winter getaway. 

While we eagerly await the busy summer months and the warmth of sunshine, we are secretly looking forward to the next enchanting Scottish winter!


Written by our colleague and private tours specialist, Catherine Wood, and the image was captured by Chris Conroy.