Best outdoor lanterns — 12 beautiful buys that will add a warm glow to your backyard

Shoppers love these best outdoor lanterns, as they create cozy, inviting atmospheres

Here are three of the best outdoor lanterns in white rectangles with gold frames - a cream domed lantern, five white circular paper lanterns, and a bright gold diamond shaped wall lantern
(Image credit: Wayfair / Amazon)

You can't go wrong with adding the best outdoor lanterns to your backyard space if you want to create a relaxed ambiance in the evening that will create light and impress guests.

My tiny backyard doesn't have quite enough space to test out every single lantern, so I've instead scoped out ones that are highly rated by genuine shoppers. From practical solar lanterns to aesthetic candle lanterns, there are plenty to choose from.

If you're looking for outdoor lighting ideas, I've got you covered, having sifted through retailer sites for hours and reading reviews from people who have used these lanterns and loved them. My selections are thoughtfully based on all the above.

12 of the best outdoor lanterns

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I've looked at the best outdoor lighting brands for these picks and have broken them down into four sections: solar lanterns, paper lanterns, candle lanterns, and exterior wall lanterns.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

Best solar lanterns

Solar lanterns helpfully soak up the sun with solar panels, meaning you can leave them out, let them do their thing, and then enjoy beautiful lighting.

Best paper lanterns

While these might not be as robust as other candles in our guide, they are a fun choice for parties and will quickly add texture to your backyard.

The best candle lanterns

Add refinement to your backyard with a gorgeous candle lantern that will help you create natural-looking light.

Best exterior wall lanterns

These are ideal for those looking for front yard ideas, as not only do they look beautiful, but they'll provide useful light while you're looking for your keys.

What to look for when buying outdoor lanterns

When shopping for the best outdoor lanterns, there are a range of factors to keep in mind when choosing the right one for you. 

  • Material: “Focus on durability since lanterns will face various weather conditions,” says Bob Berriz, outdoor design expert and founder of Berriz Design. “I highly recommend stainless steel or brass for their rust resistance and longevity.”
  • Lighting type: Bob recommends picking LED lamps for their energy efficiency and longevity. “LEDs can dramatically reduce maintenance due to their long lifespan,” he says. “Additionally, opt for lanterns that allow for adjustable brightness settings to suit different moods and needs.”
  • Style: It’s a smart idea to ensure the lantern matches the aesthetic and functional requirements of your space. “For example, if your home has a modern design, sleek, minimalist lanterns would be ideal,” Bob says. “Meanwhile, traditional homes might benefit from more ornate, classic designs.”
  • Lantern life: If you’re opting for an electric lantern, make sure you choose the one with good battery backup. “A lantern shining bright anywhere between 5-10 hours is good,” explains Mike Falahee, outdoor design expert and president of Marygrove. “Look out for how much power it requires to charge so that even in a remote location you get to charge it,” he adds.

Where to shop outdoor lanterns

I've rounded up twelve lanterns in a range of styles that are highly-rated. If you're feeling inspired and want to start shopping yourself, I recommended checking out these retailers:


What are the best outdoor lantern materials?

The best outdoor lantern materials are ones that are robust, rust-resistant, and weather-resistant, such as iron, aluminum, and brass. If you want to achieve a rustic look, wood also works well, but needs to be maintained more.

What is the best size for an outdoor lantern?

The best size for an outdoor lantern depends on the size of your space. Be sure to measure it up and check the dimensions of the product before fully committing to anything.

Outdoor lanterns are a brilliant way to create a cozy atmosphere in your backyard, thanks to their large size and elegant designs. Once you've picked out these, you can then move onto finding the best outdoor furniture for you and your guests to lounge on.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.