What is it about lighthouses that appeal to so many people? We live next to two lighthouses in Australia, and we love them. So maybe that has something to do with it. Check out the two lighthouses in Wollongong in Australia, where we live to get a sense of our connection. Lighthouses are to warn passing ships that the rugged coast is near, and is dangerous. That simple. Yet not quite that simple. They are the guiding light … symbols of strength, and similarly symbols of shelter, and protection. They guide people to safety. It is also the story of the lighthouse keepers that resonate with many people. I decided to ask fellow travel writers to share the Best Lighthouses in the World, after visiting the great grand daddy of them all, Hook Lighthouse in Ireland, which you will read about later in this post. Lighthouses vary so much, as you will see, and each have a unique story.
Best Lighthouses in Australia
- 1 Best Lighthouses in Australia
- 1.1 Hornby Lighthouse, Sydney
- 1.2 Port Fairy Historic Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.3 Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse and Wollongong Head Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.4 Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.5 Troubridge Island Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.6 Point Hicks Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.7 Cape Otway Lighthouse, Australia
- 1.8 Lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, Australia
- 1.9 Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Australia
- 2 Best Lighthouses in Asia
- 3 Best Lighthouses in Europe
- 3.1 Hook Lighthouse, Wexford, Ireland
- 3.2 Valentia Island Lighthouse, Ireland
- 3.3 The Gardskagi Lighthouse, Iceland
- 3.4 Dryholaey Light House in Iceland
- 3.5 South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey, UK
- 3.6 Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne, UK
- 3.7 The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
- 3.8 Muckle Flugga, Scotland
- 3.9 The Point of Ayre, Isle of Man, UK
- 3.10 Nieuwpoort Lighthouse, Belgium
- 3.11 Lightouse of Ploumanac’h, France
- 3.12 Vilan Lighthouse and Cape, Spain
- 3.13 Favaritx Lighthouse, Menorca, Spain
- 3.14 Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul Turkey
- 3.15 Armenistis Lighthouse, Mykonos, Greece
- 3.16 Farol do Cabo de São Vicente
- 3.17 Lighthouse of St. Nicholas Fortress, Rhodes in Greece
- 3.18 Warnemunde, Germany
- 3.19 Utklippan, Sweden
- 3.20 Rostral Columns, St Petersburg, Russia
- 3.21 The Lighthouse of Capelinhos, Faial, Azores
- 3.22 Texel Lighthouse, Netherlands
- 3.23 Pilsum, East Frisia, Germany
- 4 Best Lighthouses in New Zealand
- 5 Best Lighthouses in North America
- 5.1 Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai, Hawaii
- 5.2 Cape Spear Lighthouse, St. John’s, Canada
- 5.3 Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada
- 5.4 Garden Key Light in the Dry Tortugas on Fort Jefferson in Florida
- 5.5 Portland Head Light in Portland, Maine
- 5.6 Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
- 5.7 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Jupiter, FL
- 5.8 Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
- 5.9 Sanibel Island Light, Florida
- 5.10 Owls Head Light, Camden, Maine, USA
- 5.11 New London Ledge Lighthouse, Connecticut, USA
- 5.12 Marshall Point Lighthouse, Maine, USA
- 5.13 West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine, USA
- 5.14 Point Judith Lighthouse, Narragansett, Rhode Island
- 5.15 El Faro Lighthouse Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.
- 6 Best Lighthouses in Africa
- 7 Best Lighthouses in South America
Hornby Lighthouse, Sydney
The very distinctive Hornby Lighthouse sits at the South entrance to Sydney Harbour. Build in 1858 after two shipwrecks in under a year took 150 lives; it is the third oldest lighthouse in NSW.
At 30ft (9.1m) high and painted in candy cane stripes it is pretty hard to miss. You can visit the base and the views up and down the harbour are sensational but there is no access to the top of the lighthouse. Read more about what to see and do in Sydney, Australia
Port Fairy Historic Lighthouse, Australia
Port Fairy Historic Lighthouse is on Griffith Island, just offshore from Port Fairy on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Located in a nature reserve, it’s a beautiful walk with amazing sea views all around. From the original design, only two picket fences are remaining, framing the picture in a very charming way.
Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse and Wollongong Head Lighthouse, Australia
By Gordon Arthur of Short Holidays and Getaways
Wollongong is 80kms south of Sydney and is the only place on the east coast of Australia to have two lighthouses virtually next to one another. Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse, or Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse, is an historic lighthouse and Wollongong Head Lighthouse was restored in 2002 as operational and is another heritage site. Learn more about spending 48 hours in Wollongong.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Australia
Standing proudly on Sydney’s most northerly point, this iconic lighthouse was built in 1881 and is still in operation, albeit automatically since the 1930s. Rising 113 metres (371 ft) above the ocean and Palm Beach below, these days Barrenjoey Lighthouse is most famous for featuring in the opening and closing credits of the popular sitcom, Home & Away. It is also a popular viewing spot for the annual whale migration.
Troubridge Island Lighthouse, Australia
by Red Nomad OZ
Troubridge Island Lighthouse once warned boats of a treacherous shoal and notorious shipwreck site 7 km SSE of Edithburgh on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. The lighthouse overlooks breeding colonies of Penguins, Cormorants and Terns – and lucky guests staying in the 160 year old lighthouse keeper’s cottage at its base!
Point Hicks Lighthouse, Australia
Located in East Gippsland, Victoria (Australia), Point Hicks Lighthouse would be considered ‘off the beaten tracks’. It’s definitely worth the drive. Not only hosting gorgeous views, the lighthouse is ‘haunted’ by Kristofferson, a former lighthouse keeper, who is simply a loyal gent still keen to continue his duties. It’s a place worth staying.
Cape Otway Lighthouse, Australia
Cape Otway Lighthouse is a short drive off the iconic Great Ocean Rd through Otways National Park. The best thing about a trip out to the lighthouse is that you will like spot our cute and cuddly native koala. The koalas sit in the trees on the road down to the lighthouse, you know where they are because its where everyone is stopped and out of their cars for a look.
Lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, Australia
by Christine Knight
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Australia
Best Lighthouses in Asia
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
The lighthouse in Galle Fort is located in Galle, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. It was first built by the Portuguese colonizers in 1588 and then fortified by their Dutch successors in the 17th century. It is incredibly well kept, and can be admired on a long pleasant walk along the walls of the fort. Sunset from there is unmissable. Read more about exploring Sri Lanka.
Melville Lighthouse, Palawan, Philippines
Melville Lighthouse is a historic Spanish piece constructed in 1982 to light up Balabac Strait, which separates the Philippines from Malaysia. It’s considered a National Historical Landmark. Melville Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses we’d seen, with fairytale-esque looks complete with wild vines around the tower.
Cape Engaño Lighthouse, Palaui Island, Cagayan, Philippines
Basco Lighthouse, Philippines
Kapu Lighthouse, India
The Kapu lighthouse is constructed on a huge boulder located in an estuary along the western coast of India. Built in the year 1901AD at a towering height of 27m, the lighthouse at Kapu beach has for many years stood unperturbed guiding thousands of sailors and warning the presence of dangerous rocks. Standing on the lighthouse deck, one gets a panoramic view of the mighty Arabian sea along with the pristine backwaters and swaying coconut palms that fringe along the coastal line. The Kapu beach and the lighthouse offer the best opportunities for sunset photography.
Dondra Head Lighthouse, Sri Lanka
Dondra Head Lighthouse was built over a hundred years ago and is located on Point Dondra, the southernmost point of Sri Lanka. At 49 meters (161 ft) high, it is the tallest lighthouse on the island and one of the tallest in Southeast Asia.
Best Lighthouses in Europe
Hook Lighthouse, Wexford, Ireland
by Contented Traveller
As the world’s oldest operational light house in the world, Hook Lighthouse attracts many visitors. Lonely planet referred to it as the great granddaddy of all lighthouses. Monks in the 800’s used to keep a light burning at this place to protect the ships. Then in the 13th century, Knight William Marshal constructed this 36m tall and very wide lighthouse, and the monks continued to man it. It is open to the public to climb on a guided tour, which we did. Discover more about visiting Hook Lighthouse in Ireland
Valentia Island Lighthouse, Ireland
Located on Cromwell Point, Valentia Island, Co Kerry, Valentia Island Lighthouse sits on the site of the 17th century Cromwell Fleetwood Fort, which guarded against the threat of invaders up to the 19th century. On a clear day, you can see the fossilised footprints of a dinosaur are visible from the lighthouse, and views of Skellig Michael (Star Wars) and the remote Blasket Islands. You can also see where the first transatlantic cable that connected Europe with North America made land, for the first time in 1866. Discover more about visiting and staying on Valentia Island in Ireland.
The Gardskagi Lighthouse, Iceland
by Megan Starr
Dryholaey Light House in Iceland
We visited the Dryholaey Light House in Iceland in winter. The steep drive up to it may not have been the best idea but once up there it was forgotten. The view over the black beaches seemed to go on for ever and the setting sun just topped it right off. You can stay here in the summer months and it is a brilliant spot for puffin watching as well. We raced from cliff edge to cliff edge to get as many pictures as we could before we lost the light and the veiws were all as amazing as the last from up high about the sea. Read more about how to do a road trip in Iceland.
South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey, UK
by Adventure Travel Family
South Stack Lighthouse sits 30 metres off Holyhead in Anglesey, the former island home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Working since 1809, the engine was manned by a keeper until 1984; prior to that, oil lamps had to be lowered down the cliffs to the lighthouse.
Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne, UK
Beachy Head Lighthouse sits in the sea at the base of the iconic white chalk cliffs near Eastbourne on England’s south coast. The lighthouse is special to the people of Sussex because in 2011 they raised the funds for it to be repainted with its eye-catching red and white stripes.
The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse is as north as you can go in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. As you stand at the lighthouse and look out, there is nothing between you and the USA and the Arctic. This lighthouse also has a mention in the Guinness Book of Records for being the windiest place in the UK.
Muckle Flugga, Scotland
The Point of Ayre, Isle of Man, UK
At the northernmost tip of the Isle of Man in the UK sits The Point of Ayre lighthouse. It was designed and built by Robert Stevenson the grandfather of novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. It was first lit in 1818 making it the oldest working lighthouse on the island.
Nieuwpoort Lighthouse, Belgium
Lightouse of Ploumanac’h, France
In Brittany, France, on the “Cote de Granit Rose” is the Mean Ruz Lighthouse, also commonly known as Ploumanac’h lighthouse (Ploumanac’h being the name of the nearby town). Made of pink granite like the coast itself, it’s particular colour is what attracts many. The lighthouse itself is in use however, and cannot be visited.
Vilan Lighthouse and Cape, Spain
Favaritx Lighthouse, Menorca, Spain
Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul Turkey
Today Kiz Kulesi, or Maiden’s Tower off Uskudar in Istanbul Turkey, is a restaurant with views over the Bosphorus straits. In the 1800 and 1900’s it was a lighthouse but it’s original Byzantine purpose was to secure a custom’s levy chain across the Bosphorus halting ships from the Black Sea. Discover more about visiting Istanbul.
Armenistis Lighthouse, Mykonos, Greece
6km from the town Centre of Mykonos is the Armenistis Lighthouse. It was is built in 1891, and overlooks the strait that separates the island of Tinos from Mykonos. The location of the lighthouse offers specatacular views over the ocean and the island. Read more about ways to explore Mykonos here.
Farol do Cabo de São Vicente
Lighthouse of St. Nicholas Fortress, Rhodes in Greece
The lighthouse in Rhodes, Greece stands atop the Fort of St Nicholas in Mandraki Harbour. It dates back to 1863, during the Ottoman period. The Lighthouse was reactivated in 2007 and is undergoing renovations. Read more about how to explore Rhodes here.
We say three lighthouses, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there were more. This is a treacherous area on the Baltic Sea. The largest is 36.9 metres and commenced operations in 1898. The red and the green lighthouses guard the opening to the bay. Read more about Warnemunde here.
Utklippan is a tiny, uninhabited island and lighthouse on the south coast of Sweden. The first lighthouse here was built in 1789, and the island and lighthouse is also used as a birding station. We spent the night in the lighthouse, had a barbecue & snorkelled with seals off this magical island!
Rostral Columns, St Petersburg, Russia
Not all lighthouses are the same. These two columns standing on the Strelka of Vasilyevsky Island. St. Petersburg’s main port was once located here where the River Neva splits in two. The Rostral Columns were there to guide the ships into the correct tributary. Now the flames are lit on special occasions. Read more about what to do in 48 hours in St Petersburg.
The Lighthouse of Capelinhos, Faial, Azores
The Lighthouse of Capelinhos is on the island of Faial in the Azores on a coastal peninsula (38°35′48.45″N28°49′34.04″W). This octagonal lighthouse survived a volcanic eruption on the island in 1957 and today it’s first floor is still buried in ash. This beach and lighthouse represents perseverance of not only a structure but of the people of the Azores.
Texel Lighthouse, Netherlands
The red lighthouse on Texel is located at the northernmost tip of the Dutch island. At 46 m, after climbing the 118 steps, you will have a magnificent view over the Wadden Sea, the neighbouring island Vlieland and Den Helder, on the mainland. The lighthouse was built in 1864.
Pilsum, East Frisia, Germany
Best Lighthouses in New Zealand
Nugget Point Lighthouse, South Island, New Zealand
This remote lighthouse is located on the top of a cliff at the tip of the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a bit of a rough drive to get there, but you’ll feel like you are at the end of the world! From the lighthouse, you have a stunning view over the rough ‘nuggets’ rising from the pounding ocean. And if you are lucky you can see baby seals playing in the rock pools down below.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse, New Zealand
Leave the wineries and cafes of Martinborough in New Zealand and head to the southernmost tip of the North Island. Here you will find the red and white striped Cape Palliser Lighthouse. Climb the 250 steps up the rocky cliff and look down to the turbulent waters the lighthouse has been watching over since 1897. The commanding landscape and seals lazing on the beach make this lighthouse one not to be missed.
Best Lighthouses in North America
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai, Hawaii
On the National Register of Historic Places since 1979, the Kilauea Lighthouse on Hawaii’s garden island of Kauai caps a wildlife refuge. Visitors can look for dolphins and humpback whales off Kilauea Point, and marvel at the hundreds of endangered sea birds in their cliffside rookeries adjacent to the lighthouse.
Cape Spear Lighthouse, St. John’s, Canada
The Cape Spear Lighthouse, is located in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. I first heard about the lighthouse during my “Screeched In”, Ceremony in St. John’s and it has been in operation since September 1836. What makes it the best is that it is located at the Eastern most point of Canada and North America. This means that this Lighthouse is physically where Canada begins…or ends, depending on which way your going.
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse in the quaint fishing village of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s most famous lighthouses. Situated on the south shore, this century-old beauty has become legendary for it’s scenic location and for the crashing waves off its shores.
Garden Key Light in the Dry Tortugas on Fort Jefferson in Florida
Garden Key Light in the Dry Tortugas on Fort Jefferson in Florida is also known as Tortuga Harbor. It was first lit in 1826 and was a brick conical tower. Construction of Fort Jefferson occurred later in 1846. Ernest Hemingway’s 1932 story “After the Storm” is about a shipwreck near Garden Key.
Portland Head Light in Portland, Maine
Portland Head Light is located on the breathtaking shores of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine just a few miles outside of Portland. It is the oldest lighthouse in the state dating back to 1791. The history of this lighthouse with all of the stories of shipwrecks along the primary shipping canal into Portland Harbor makes this an incredible experience for anyone visiting the area. Learn more about visiting Maine.
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
by Pure Wander
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Jupiter, FL
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA
Sanibel Island Light, Florida
The Sanibel Island Light sits at the far eastern end of fish-shaped Sanibel Island, Florida, a simple iron skeleton structure that reflects the island’s natural rustic feel. First lit in 1884, today it’s one of the most popular spots on Sanibel for shelling and watching a fabulous sunset.
Owls Head Light, Camden, Maine, USA
By Paula McInerney of Contented Traveller
Owls Head Light is a short 30-foot cylindrical tower with a 16 mile beam of light in the Camden area of Maine, in the New England area of the US. The Owls Head State Park consists of one main trail head that splits into two separate paths. One path heads down to the beach, while the other heads up to the Owls Head Light. Nearby is the Owls Head Transportation Museum
New London Ledge Lighthouse, Connecticut, USA
New London Ledge Lighthouse, (1909). This lighthouse in Groton, CT is haunted apparently by Edgar the ghost. The wealthy homeowners on the nearby shore wanted the new lighthouse to match the elegance of their residences, and so it was built in the French Second Empire style. The Coast Guard took over manning the lighthouse in 1939, and it was automated in 1987. New London Harbor Lighthouse (1801). Read more about Mystic County in Connecticut, here
Marshall Point Lighthouse, Maine, USA
You might remember this lighthouse from the long long run in the movie Forrest Gump. Run, Forrest, Run!
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine, USA
Point Judith Lighthouse, Narragansett, Rhode Island
El Faro Lighthouse Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Best Lighthouses in Africa
Cape Point Lighthouse, South Africa
The Cape Point Lighthouse sits high on a jagged peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. To access the lighthouse, visitors need to take a funicular train up a mountain to the lighthouse base, and then hike the rest of the way. This lighthouse towers of the peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope, where sailors used to make the turn north heading for home. It’s a beautiful setting!
The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, South Africa
The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse has stood for over 150 years at the most southern tip of Africa where Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The design of the oldest lighthouse in South Africa is based on that of the ancient lighthouse of Pharos and has been guiding ships through this treacherous water since 1849.
The Swakopmund lighthouse was built in 1903, only 11 years after Swakopmund being funded by the Germans as a Seaport city of their African Colony. This lighthouse is a 28 meters high masonry tower located at “the mole”, opposite to the Municipal Gardens. It is still working today as a navigation aid to Walvis Bay seaport and features a restaurant in its premises. The Lighthouse is integral part of Swakopmund’s skyline and one the most prominent its landmarks.
Best Lighthouses in South America
Faro la Marina, Lima, Perú
Placed on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this lighthouse is the most famous one in Perú. It was originally constructed in southern Perú, but then got dismantled and moved to its current home in the popular Miraflores neighborhood in Perú’s capital city. The design is by Gustave Eiffel.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Ushuaia, Argentina
By Surfing the Planet
One of the most memorable places to visit in Argentina is the Beagle Channel in the Tierra del Fuego, where you can see the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, referred to as the lighthouse at the End of the World. Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse has guarded the sea entrance to Ushuaia in these hostile waters for almost a century now.
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse, Falkland Islands
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse is 7 miles east of Stanley in the Falkland Islands – the most easterly point in the southern archipelago. Built over 150 years ago, it’s been ravaged by weather and war over the years. Grab a key from the Stanley Museum and scale the stairs for breathtaking views.
Street Art, a Pub and a Lighthouse
Because we are in Ireland as we do this post, what better way to finish this than by this photograph taken at the picture postcard perfect village of Alihies on the Ring of Beara. Read about the mystical and magical Ring of Beara in Ireland.