Top 6 Best Places For Stargazing Worldwide, Per Travel Experts

There’s something magical about gazing into the night sky to watch all the twinkling stars, but city lights can spoil the cosmic party. This is why people travel to places around the globe, seeking an unobstructed front-row seat to Mother Nature’s nightly spectacle. With that being said, finding the best places for stargazing can prove to be challenging. So, we’ve done the galactic grunt work for you.

Although scientists have pinpointed Antarctica as offering perhaps the most pristine view of the stars above, it’s not a realistic destination for most people. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the best places for stargazing, drawing insights from travel experts across nine popular websites. These destinations are celebrated as dark sky spaces, sanctuaries where the night sky is preserved in its awe-inspiring natural state. Did we miss a place that is your favorite to watch the night sky? Comment below.

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A man looking at a starry night sky
A man looking at a starry night sky (Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash)

The List: Best Places for Stargazing in the World

1. Utah

A night sky full of stars in Zion Canyon National Park, Utah
A night sky full of stars in Zion Canyon National Park, Utah (Photo by GoodFocused on Shutterstock)

This state tops our list because it has more Dark Sky Spaces than any other place on Earth — 24 of them! Thanks to the dry air and high altitudes, Timeout says you’ll get some of the best views at Zion and Arches National Parks. If you want fewer crowds, head to Canyonlands or Bryce Canyon National Parks.

AFAR also recommends visiting Bryce Canyon for the best stargazing, saying it has better “astronomy programming.” On any given night, Astronomy Rangers will lead you on a journey to see up to 7,500 stars.  You’ll also get “a horizon-to-horizon view of the Milky Way and catch glimpses of Venus and Jupiter.”

Two other amazing spots to capture pictures of the night sky in Utah are Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Forbes says the natural rock formations at this location make it not only spectacular but also a great place to record memories. No telescope is needed!

2. Chile

The Milky Way above the Licancabur volcano in the Atacama Desert in Chile
The Milky Way above the Licancabur volcano in the Atacama Desert in Chile (Photo by Fotografo de los Andes on Shutterstock)

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is also considered one of the best stargazing spots, thanks to its “high altitude, few clouds and near-zero light pollution.” According to Travel and Leisure, you have a “crystal-clear view of some of the most famous constellations of the Southern Hemisphere sky.” As a result, local tour guides offer personal stargazing experiences, so tourists can cross it off their bucket list.

Smithsonian Magazine agrees the 600-mile stretch of desert offers amazing views, and is the reason “the astro-tourism scene is booming.” If you are looking for a more personalized viewing experience, you may consider heading to Elqui Domos, located on the edge of the desert. It features not only an observatory but has “dome tents with open ceilings or timber cabins with glass roofs.”

You can’t go wrong with a trip to the Elqui Valley, since the entire area was declared an “International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2015”, according to Timeout. The area boasts “over half of Earth’s astronomy infrastructure” and more is built every year. The website recommends a stay in the village of Vicuña.

3. Namibia

Dead Vlei at dusk in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia
Dead Vlei at dusk in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia (Photo by Felix Lipov on Shutterstock)

This country, on the southwest coast of Africa, is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth, making it the perfect place for stargazing. While many programs offered in the nearly 500,000-acre stretch of land are for students, AFAR says visitors should check out the Wolwedans camps and lodges, “where travelers can book a sustainably focused overnight stay in the starry-skied desert.”

To keep its status as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Reserve, Namibia also regulates vehicle headlights, so that nothing interferes with perfect stargazing. Timeout recommends staying at Wolwedans or the Kwessie Dunes Lodge for a complete experience. You can book a stargazing safari complete with programming and a place to stay.

When you visit the NamibRand Nature Reserve, you’ll be 60 miles from the closest village. Smithsonian Magazine says you can “camp out in the arid Namib Desert and take a guided tour of the dunes.” Wolwedans also has a star-gazing bed on its main veranda. How cool is that?

4. New Zealand

Milky Way Panorama at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve
Milky Way Panorama at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve (Photo by eroxust on Shutterstock)

Visitors flock in droves to New Zealand’s Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. AFAR says tours are offered at “both the Lake Tekapo Earth and Sky and Aoraki/Mount Cook visitor centers.” On a clear night, you can witness the aurora australis,  the Southern Cross, and the Southern Star.  Talk about hitting the trifecta!

Timeout agrees this is a “stargazer’s paradise” with incredible mountain landscapes. During your visit, you will learn about the indigenous people’s traditions and sky beliefs. Wai-Iti International Dark Sky Park has regular events, while Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is one of the largest stargazing sites in the world.

If you take a nighttime tour of Mt. John Observatory, Smithsonian Magazine says you can “spot the Magellanic Clouds—satellite galaxies of the Milky Way visible only from the southern hemisphere.” What an experience.

5. Canary Islands

The Milky Way above volcano Teide at the Island of Tenerife
The Milky Way above volcano Teide at the Island of Tenerife (Photo by Traveller Martin on Shutterstock)

The Canary Islands, off of Morocco have some of the darkest skies, thanks to high altitudes and its proximity to the equator. Its semi-annual Starmus Festival is popular with science, music, and art enthusiasts. Smithsonian Magazine reports even Neil Armstrong and Stephen Hawking visited the festival. Take a cable car ride to the top of Mount Teide or visit the observatory which is open April thru December. You can’t go wrong.

According to Forbes, La Palma is another perfect spot to view the stars in the Canary Islands. Enjoy dinner while watching a spectacular sunset.

The Canary Islands have three spots recognized by UNESCO as “Starlight Reserves,” thanks to the Starlight Foundation. You can catch amazing starry views all over these islands, but  AFAR says La Palma and Tenerife are the go-to’s for the best celestial sights. They’re big on astro-tourism and host observatories by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.

6. Hawaii

One of the Muana Kea observatories
One of the Mauna Kea observatories (Photo by Dai Mar Tamarack on Shutterstock)

Located about 2,500 miles southwest of California, Hawaii’s high volcanic peaks make it a top spot for astronomy, especially the Mauna Kea summit on the Big Island, known as a premier stargazing destination. Home to the world’s largest research observatory, Mauna Kea houses thirteen of the globe’s most advanced telescopes. Plus, Travel and Leisure says it’s unique because you can go from sea level to nearly 14,000 feet in just two hours. Just remember to acclimate at the Visitor Information Station to avoid altitude sickness.

This sleeping giant towers above the cloud line, hosting several observatories at its peak. TripAdvisor says you will have the chance to peer into the cosmos using advanced telescopes and gain insights from seasoned astronomers.

If you can make the drive up without getting sick, Smithsonian Magazine says you will be treated to the world’s largest optical telescope. Mauna Kea Peak closes at night, but the visitor’s center is open until 10 p.m. with free lectures and other events.


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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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