What are the top free stargazing spots accessible from London?

As bustling and vibrant as London is, its city lights can often outshine the beauty of the night sky. This bustling city's brilliance can make it challenging for stargazers to appreciate the stars' natural splendor. But fear not, fellow stargazers, as there are several locations within a few hours' drive from London where you can indulge in the mesmerizing panorama of the night sky. In this article, you'll discover some of the best locations in England and Wales for stargazing, all of which are easily accessible from London and are absolutely free of cost.

1. South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park, located in the south of England, is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London's city center. Here, the velvety dark sky offers a vast canvas for stargazing. As England's newest national park, it boasts a Dark Sky Reserve status, meaning it's one of the best places in England to stargaze without light pollution disturbing the view.

The park stretches over 1,600 square kilometers, encompassing parts of Hampshire and Sussex. There are several prime stargazing spots within the park, including Butser Hill and Old Winchester Hill. On a clear night, you can easily spot constellations, planets, and even the spectacular streak of the Milky Way.

2. Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A little further from London but well worth the journey is the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. As an International Dark Sky Reserve, this park is one of the best places in the UK for stargazing. The absence of light pollution here allows for an unprecedented view of the night sky.

The park offers several dark sky discovery sites, including the Usk Reservoir, Crai Reservoir, and Llangorse Lake. Each of these spots offer stunning views of the stars, and if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a meteor shower. The drive from London could take around three hours, but for the spectacular views of the night sky, the journey is well worth it.

3. Kielder Observatory, Northumberland

Yet another widely recognized spot for stargazing is the Kielder Observatory, located in the heart of Northumberland National Park. This observatory is nestled in the middle of Kielder Forest, which boasts the largest expanse of dark sky in Europe.

Granted, reaching Kielder Observatory from London is a bit of a journey, requiring a four-hour drive or a combination of trains and buses. However, the chance to explore the universe with the help of professional astronomers and powerful telescopes at the observatory is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. Remember that while the observatory itself does require an entry fee, the surrounding parkland is free to explore.

4. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland

Galloway Forest Park in Scotland was the UK's first Dark Sky Park and is one of the best places in the country to witness the celestial ballet of the night sky. Although it's a long drive from London, once you're there, you'll find the views of the cosmos truly breathtaking.

The park spans an area of nearly 300 square miles, offering plenty of spots to pitch a blanket, lie back, and gaze upward. On a clear, dark night, you might see over 7,000 stars and the Milky Way arching over the horizon. Plus, you'll be away from any major sources of light pollution, ensuring a clear view of the night sky.

5. Exmoor National Park, South West England

Last but not least, Exmoor National Park is another fantastic stargazing spot just a few hours away from London. This park is an International Dark Sky Reserve, ensuring minimal light pollution and optimal conditions for stargazing.

Exmoor offers several Dark Sky Discovery Sites, such as Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, and Wimbleball Lake. Each provides a unique vantage point of the night sky, with panoramic views of the stars, galaxies, and meteor showers. It's a haven for astronomers and stargazers alike, offering stunning views and tranquility away from city lights.

While the lights of London might hide the stars from view, remember that the beauty of the night sky is never far away. These locations offer you a front-row seat to one of nature's most breathtaking spectacles. So pack a blanket, bring a thermos of hot tea, and prepare to lose yourself in the awe-inspiring display of our universe.

6. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, North England

A treasure trove for star gazers and one of the most popular locations in North England is the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This spectacular expanse of rolling hills and valleys is a key spot for those seeking to catch a glimpse of the enchanting night sky. Just over four hours from London, the journey is well worth it when you consider the unparalleled views of the cosmos that await.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park covers an area of approximately 680 square miles, promising an abundance of choice when it comes to selecting the perfect stargazing spot. For the best views, head over to Hawes and Malham, the park's two designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites. Here, the darkness comes alive with the dazzling glow of stars, planets and meteor showers, an unforgettable sight for both seasoned astronomers and amateur stargazers.

Additionally, the park often hosts astronomy events throughout the year, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about the cosmos from experts in the field. While the events themselves may come with a fee, the car park and surrounding areas remain free for public use. So pack your warm jacket and a flask of hot chocolate, and prepare to be awed by the magnificence of the night sky.

7. The North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

The North York Moors National Park, located in North Yorkshire, is another stargazing spot that is easily accessible from London. For those who are willing to make the roughly four-hour journey, they will be rewarded with some of the darkest skies in the country.

At an astounding 554 square miles, this national park is home to several Dark Sky Discovery Sites, including The Moors National Park Centre, Sutton Bank National Park Centre, and Dalby Forest. The absence of light pollution at these sites allows for an uninterrupted view of the night sky. On clear nights, visitors can see celestial bodies such as planets and constellations with the naked eye.

One of the highlights for stargazers visiting this park is the opportunity to witness the spectacular phenomenon of the Northern Lights. Although sightings are sporadic and depend on solar activity, the North York Moors National Park is one of the best places in England to catch this mesmerizing display when it does occur.


From the southern downs of England to the northernmost part of Scotland, the UK is home to an array of national parks and dark sky reserves that offer an escape from the bright lights of London. Each of these stargazing spots provides a unique view of the night sky, showcasing the beauty and wonder of the cosmos.

Whether you're an experienced astronomer or just starting your journey into stargazing, these locations offer something for everyone. With minimal light pollution and optimal viewing conditions, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience. So why not plan a trip to one of these top free stargazing spots? You never know, you might just catch a rare view of the Northern Lights or witness a spectacular meteor shower. After all, the night sky is a masterpiece that's free for everyone to enjoy!