Where to stargaze: the world's best countries for seeing the stars

Amanda Angus / 20 July 2015

Light pollution streaming from our towns and cities means that most of us have never seen a truly dark sky, and the magnificent celestial view that goes with it.



If you’d like to see the heavens in all their star-spangled glory, here are our suggestions for the best places to do just that…

England

With our proliferation of cities and towns, you might be surprised to learn that England too has some incredible stargazing opportunities.

The Kielder Forest in Northumberland is England’s first Dark Sky Park area, as well as the largest area of protected night sky in Europe. Kielder Observatory is England’s largest observatory and holds stargazing events throughout the year. 

Search holiday cottages near Kielder Forest...

Tenerife

Majestic Mount Teide, the dormant volcano overlooking the entirety of Tenerife, also gives incredible views of the blanket of stars above the island, due to its high altitude and the fact that flight paths are strictly controlled in the surrounding areas. 

It’s a particularly unusual experience given the spectacular lunar-like scenery that already feels as though you’re on another planet. 

Pay a visit to the Teide Observatory, from where you can admire the entire northern hemisphere and part of the southern hemisphere through telescopes.

Sail into the sunshine surrounding Madeira and the Canaries and join an expert astronomer for some stargazing on an amazing 14 night cruise. Find out more here.

South Africa

Known mostly for its incredible safari opportunities, South Africa is just as good for looking to the skies as it is looking for wildlife. 

The unpolluted sky makes it easy to identify constellations and even planets with just the naked eye, but at Lakeside Lodge you can spend one evening gazing at the stars in the special on-site Astro Boma, with help from a professional speaker or a qualified ranger.

See the stars and spot the 'big five' on an all-inclusive safari holiday at an authentic game lodge in South Africa Find out more here.

The USA

The US offers many fantastic places to stargaze, but perhaps most iconic is the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood. 

Set on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles, this observatory is free to enter and allows visitors to use telescopes and explore the mysteries above. 

See it for yourself during the LA stop on Saga's Best of the West tour. And of course, whilst in Hollywood you can explore a collection of stars of a completely different nature – embedded in the sidewalk on the sparkling Walk of Fame!

From the Grand Canyon to Hollywood Boulevard, join us on a journey across America's West Find out more here.

New Zealand

Not only does New Zealand boast crisp, clear night skies, it also offers unusual experiences to make your night-time viewing all the more memorable. 

A visit to the Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel, for example, where geothermally heated water will fill a hole you dig in the sand and create your own personal hot tub. 

This is incredible during the day, but after the sun sets and the brilliant stars start to shine overhead, it’s even better.

Alternatively, pay a visit to the Waitomo Glow-worm Caves on our tour of New Zealand.

Here you’ll board a boat for a cruise on an underground river lit by thousands of pale blue lights created by the glow-worms on the cave roof, creating the eerie sensation that you’re actually sailing out in the open, under thousands of stars.

Embark on a quest to discover the wonder of New Zealand… Find out more here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.