The night sky is one of the joys of a winter in Wales. While much of the UK and Europe is blighted by light pollution, in Wales there are hundreds of places to experience the natural wonders above under dark skies. Some of them are obvious; Wales now has a network of International Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks that astronomers have singled out as world-beating places to go stargazing. However, there are hundreds of other places, from small and accessible Dark Sky Discovery Sites to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

As the nights draw in and the skies get dark for longer, these dark sky hideouts in Wales come alive.

Discovery in the Dark Wales

North Wales

It's home to the Snowdonia International Dark Sky Reserve, but don't forget the magical Isle of Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula; both are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) hosting the darkest of nights. 

Memorial against the starry sky
Dark skies in Snowdonia

Llanelian Community Centre, Llanelian

This village south of Colwyn Bay is a regular meeting place for the North Wales Astronomy Society, which hold regular observing nights at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday in each month. The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB is an excellent location for stargazing, with some of the darkest skies found atop of Caer Drewyn, an iron age fort sat atop of a hill overlooking the stunning valley of the Afon Dyfrdwy.

Capel Garmon, Betws-y-Coed

Deep within Snowdonia National Park, Capel Garmon Burial Chamber is a neolithic tomb above the Conwy Valley. Access is easy and there are great views of Snowdonia and the sky. 

Large moon in the dark sky
Stars in the dark sky
Dark skies in Snowdonia

Penmon Point, Isle of Anglesey

Penmon Point, the pebble-strewn beach promontory on Anglesey, is known for sightings of puffins, seals and dolphins, but it also has perfect conditions for stargazing. To the north is Trwyn Du lighthouse and Puffin Island beyond. 

Mid Wales

This central area of Wales is all about the 45,000 acres of the Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water-owned Elan Valley International Dark Sky Park, the only privately-owned such place in the world.

Usk Reservoir, Brecon Beacons

There are dozens of places in the Brecon Beacons, but the Usk Reservoir Dark Sky Discovery Site in the park's west is among the darkest and quietest. Car parking is provided, and you can walk out onto the dam itself. 

Cwmdu, Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons

This quiet valley within the Black Mountains hosts the twice-yearly AstroCamp at Cwmdu Campsite, where astronomers and stargazers gather to share telescopes and the valley views. 

Dark skies photo taken in the Brecon Beacons
Dark skies image of Bannau, Sir Gaer and Fan Brycheiniog from Llyn y Fan Fach
Dark skies in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales

Craig Goch Dam, Powys

Popular with stargazers and astro-photographers, the Elan Valley's Craig Goch Dam near Rhayader has easy parking. Stargaze from the dam itself or take the path on the east side of the reservoir to find stunning views of the night sky. 

Claerwen, Elan Valley, Powys

About 12 miles from Rhayader, Claerwen Dam in the Elan Valley has a car park on the western side, and no through traffic to worry about. 

Llangoed Hall Hotel, Powys

South towards Brecon along the A470, Llangoed Hall country house hotel close to the River Wye has stunning skies. The owners will switch-off the outdoor lights if asked, and even have a telescope and binoculars on hand. 

West Wales

By day enjoy a stroll along the world-famous Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, and by night pay a visit to one of Pembrokeshire's seven Dark Sky Discovery Sites. However, in wider West Wales there are many more places to stargaze. 

Broadhaven South Beach, Pembrokeshire

The National Trust car park at Broadhaven South Beach is the darkest of all Pembrokeshire's Dark Sky Discovery Sites, which gets 'Milky Way'-class designation.
 

Penbryn Beach, Ceredigion

With the ocean on one side, the rugged and rural west coast of Wales is a haven for dark skies. Penbryn Beach is less than a mile's walk from the National Trust Car Park at Llanborth Farm in Penbryn. 

Port Eynon, Gower Peninsula

Although nearby Rhossili Bay is more famous, there are few darker spots in Wales than tiny Port Eynon in the Gower Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Carreglwyd Caravan and Camping Site here is perfect for meteor, and the Milky Way in summer. 

South Wales

It might be where most people in Wales live, but escaping the light pollution of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea is easier than you might think. You could head towards the southernly part of the Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve, or give one of the many options in Monmouthshire or the Vale of Glamorgan a try. 

Nash Point Car Park, Llantwit Major

This headland on the Monknash Coast of the Vale of Glamorgan can get very windy, but its night skies will blow you away. Parking at Nash Point is easy, as is a pre- or post- stargazing pint at The Horseshoe Inn or The Plough & Harrow.

Abergavenny Museum and Castle, Monmouthshire

Abergavenny Castle in Monmouthshire is a Dark Sky Discovery Site, with events, opportunities for stargazing and guides to the night sky all year round. There's also plenty to do in and around Abergavenny, including lots of places to refuel, so why not stay and explore the area in the daytime too! 

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