15 Lighthouses Around the World to Put on Your Bucket List
Lighthouses possess almost a magical beauty. Their tall spires cast light out into the sea to guide ships toward safe harbor. Because of the ocean's mystical nature and legends of sirens and other folklore, the lighthouse has taken on romantic connotations throughout history. We see these lighthouses stand tall against the crashing waves and their light bursting through the darkness and the fog. And for long ago sailors, the lighthouse was a welcome sight. Lighthouses were truly beacons of light. They signified hope and safety. Sometimes seeing a lighthouse meant that the sailors would be going home soon.
Today, seafarers rely on electronic equipment to navigate on the sea. But lighthouses still serve as a valuable backup navigation for mariners. According to the U.S. National Ocean Service, U.S. federal lighthouses and beacons protect more than 300 ports and span more than 25,000 miles of waterways and coastal areas. There are more than 21,600 lighthouses worldwide, and some of them are still in use.
Lighthouses may have a practical purpose but their architectural design makes them a visitor attraction. In fact, you can join any number of national and international lighthouse tours. You can also plan your own lighthouse tour and visit the lighthouses that you most want to see. Travel the world to see gorgeous lighthouses in the United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, and Greece. But you don't have to go far to see some of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, either. The United States has hundreds of lighthouses that people from all over the world come to visit. Check out these 15 lighthouses around the world that you should put on your bucket list.
Tower of Hercules, Spain
The Tower of Hercules, built by the Romans in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain, is still in use today as a lighthouse. Its 180-foot tall polygonal shape serves as a beautiful reminder of its history in bringing sailors to safety. The lighthouse was built over 2,000 years ago and has survived the trials of time.
St. Mary’s Lighthouse, UK
Dating back to 1898, the Lighthouse on St. Mary's was in use until 1984 when modern technology took over the duties of navigation. The former keepers' cottages have been transformed into a visitors' center, and now people can visit the lighthouse to admire its beauty on the coast of a small island.
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark
One of the most famous lighthouses of all time is located in Denmark. The Rubjerg Knude has been standing since 1900 but was moved inland to protect it from erosion by the North Sea. Between the gorgeous horizon, vast sea and tall spire, this lighthouse is a beauty to behold.
José Ignacio Lighthouse, Uruguay
If you climb the spiral staircase inside of the lighthouse, you'll want to be careful because the steps are quite small. But the view you'll get when you reach the top of the lighthouse is spectacular.
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada
The 1915 lighthouse at Peggy's Cove is one of the most-photographed lighthouses for a reason. Its charming East Coast profile stands tall among the rocky shore, and houses accent the narrow inlet for a reminder that the lighthouse once protected a way of life for sailors and fishermen.
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia
One of the most notable characteristics of the Cape Byron Lighthouse is that it has a large ornate crown, a distinguishing characteristic of the James Barnet style of architecture. The optical lens for the lamp weighs eight tons and has 760 pieces of prismatic glass.
Neist Point Lighthouse, Scotland
The Neist Point Lighthouse draws thousands of landscape photographers every year just because of its beautiful views. Nestled among high cliffs, the ocean and an endless sky, it's no wonder that people want to visit this lighthouse.
Tourlitis Lighthouse, Greece
It looks like a fairy tale. The Tourlitis Lighthouse was built on top of a spindly rock spire in the middle of the sea. It's the first automated lighthouse after the original was destroyed in World War II and a replica was rebuilt in its place in the 1990s.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Argentina
The tower's red and white stripes are often what we associate with lighthouses when we think about them. Its light is powered by the sun. At 36 feet tall, the lighthouse stands majestic at the shore. You can see it from the outside but it's not open to the public. The lighthouse still provides a beautiful view from any angle.
Fanad Lighthouse, Ireland
Tourists can go inside of this lighthouse to experience the history of light-keepers and learn about the historical significance of lighthouses. Located on the Fanad Peninsula in Ireland, you can climb the tower of one of the greatest lighthouses in Ireland.
Biloxi Lighthouse, Mississippi, USA
If you can't make it overseas, there are plenty of gorgeous lighthouses in the United States. The Biloxi Lighthouse was built in 1848 out of cast iron and has become a signature landmark for the city of Biloxi, Mississippi. The lighthouse underwent a restoration after Hurricane Katrina but overall withstood much of the storm. That alone draws many people to visit it.
Diamond Head Lighthouse, Hawaii, USA
Take a hike in Diamond Head with a self-guided audio tour that teaches the history of the island of Oahu, its music, and the plant and animal life on its shores. The lighthouse at Diamond Dead was built in 1899. Today's view of the lighthouse is one of the most stunning that you'll ever witness.
Bodie Island Lighthouse, North Carolina, USA
The Bodie Island Lighthouse remains a quiet visitor attraction on the island. Surrounded by pine trees and marshland, the black-and-white striped tower for the lighthouse is picturesque in its classic beauty.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California, USA
At 115 feet, the lighthouse at Pigeon Point is one of the tallest lighthouses in the United States. The original first-order Fresnel lens contained 1,008 prisms and began guiding mariners in 1872. Today the magnificent lens is on historical display and the lighthouse is undergoing repairs. But you can still visit the lighthouse from the grounds.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, Florida, USA
This lighthouse holds a national historical landmark designation. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse's red tower stands out against the clear blue sky. You can explore the museum, attend events and workshops, and go on guided tours.