Famous Lighthouses

Sign says it's a beautiful day to search out famous lighthouses.

Famous lighthouses - would you like to see those most celebrated? We'll try to let you in on that. Not the easiest task, figuring it out. Especially out of all the approximately, close to nearly, 19,000 lighthouses world-wide!

But we'll give it a go. We analyzed what we see lighthouse fans wanted:

  • To visit for getting that fantastic pic
  • To plan to go see, since they're a Must-See, for a bucket list (Do you have one of those? We don't tend to, our style is more winging it for our budget and what strikes us at the moment.)
  • For having the most interest in learning about
  • Because they were most popular for ensuring they're preserved
  • In figuring a consensus of promoting certain lighthouses for increased fame, for how fabulous they are!

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Famed as Most Photographed Lighthouses

  • Portland Head Lighthouse - THE most photographed is what they always say about this one! For sure quite photogenic. Do you think that's true? With it's black gallery and lantern room above the white tower. Alongside the beautifully typical New England styled keeper's house. Plus the rocky shoreline with its crashing waves. There's a museum there, as well. In Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Portland Head Lighthouse by its rocky shoreline with waves crashing.Portland Head Lighthouse and Museum, Cape Elizabeth, ME
  • Peggy's Point Lighthouse - Get to Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia to mail your card postmarked from the post office inside! Unique, yes. But people travel from all over to get a pic of this small lighthouse in a charming Canadian fishing village. The Lighthouse Encyclopedia describes its setting as "a rugged, granite outcropping" with an 8-sided white tower "capped by a red iron lantern... framed by seemingly endless expanses of ocean and sky."1 You can imagine why everyone wants its photo!
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - This statuesque tower on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is famed for being so tall, with so many stairs to climb, plus its history. Its scenic coastline attracts many visitors, with many photographic opportunities. Have you gotten your own pic yet?
  • Tower of Hercules - Many visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spain to see this famous historic lighthouse. In Galicia, built by the Romans, probably in the 2nd century! It's still a working light, though with an older type prismatic lens. But the oldest ongoing in the world!1  Amazing! Thus a reason why it's so desirable to get in a photo with it!
  • St. Augustine Lighthouse - That Florida area had an early concern for marine travel, History Tells Us. Also people like to go to see if they can get any ghostly beings in their photos! Like those infamous orbs. Wanna try it?

Famous Lighthouses for a Must-See Bucket List 

We found the popular ultimates for their unique place in the world. People talk about these because of their truly singular features. You won't regret telling others about having been to these famous lighthouses:

  • Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse - What a cool (literally?!) location, at the "End of the World" in Argentina. In the Beagle Channel, the border between Chile, at the very tip of South America. The lighthouse is on a small rock island, seen by tour boat from Ushuaia Argentina. In Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. Automated, no windows, one door. And it's short, just 36 feet. This is a beacon to see!
  • Slettnes Lighthouse - Try a brisk visit to Norway? For this famous lighthouse at mainland Europe's most northern point. The current one finished construction in 1948. Birders will like it for a chance to view seabird life, including the the Parastic jaeger. Visiting Season runs mid-June to mid-August.
  • Fanad Lighthouse - The scenery from here won't get much better than this! Jaw-dropping, plus why not book a keeper's cottage for a stay? The white lighthouse tower contrasts with the deep blue of the Atlantic. How awesome! Climb to the top for astounding views. This famous lighthouse could be your Ireland Trip of a Lifetime.
  • Old Cape Henry Lighthouse - Quite a history goes along with this famous lighthouse. Why is that? Because it was the first built under the infancy of the United States Constitution, in 1792. George Washington saw to it, and Alexander Hamilton was instrumental in its management when its light was first lit. It doesn't help those sailing into Chesapeake Bay today, because it is decommissioned. 
  1. Its work was replaced by a second Cape Henry Lighthouse. People refer to it as the "new" Cape Henry Lighthouse - although it's hardly new! Construction completed in 1881. But it's this famous lighthouse that is used by mariners today. This newer one is not the one to visit, though you can get a look of it from a distance. 
  2. You'll want to visit this famous Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, which you should prepare for, as it's on a military base. Be sure to know the requirements to enter.

So Interesting to Know

  • Hook Lighthouse - Ireland's oldest, still working light. As well one of the oldest in the world, from 1172.1 What's so interesting? It's legendary! A medieval lighthouse, quite different with the influence of monks and knights. Certainly a transcendent tour that takes you back centuries! Some stories, even, about hauntings! Open every day except Dec. 18 through Christmas Day. At Churchtown, go to Hook Head in County Wexford.
  • Lanterna di Genova - The Lighthouse of Genoa in Italy is a beautiful place to visit. Plus the Lanterna Museum fills you in on so much of its interesting history. The predecessor watchtower with olive oil lamps in this prime site gave way to its renewed construction in 1543. (Legend says the townspeople threw its builder from the top, into the sea!) Other noteworthy events: became a prison, visited by Leonardo Da Vinci, a fortress was attached, numerous wars caused it damage. It's a famous lighthouse for being the tallest beacon in the Mediterranean and the 3rd oldest in the world.4 If you get to Italy, you can't miss it! 
  • Sambro Island Lighthouse - In Nova Scotia. The oldest working light in the Americas. Operational since 1759. Its beginning history was problematic, not helping shipping safety. The keepers had difficulty keeping the light lit and the lens clean. Fog also hid the lantern. Attempts were half-hearted in solving the problems. Finally height was added in 1906. Other improvements continued over the years. A superb Heritage Society has its best interests continually in view now. It's famed for its select architecture. You don't want to miss a visit here, by boat.5 It's a beauty.
  • Kullen Lighthouse - Visit Sweden to see this most famous lighthouse in all of Scandinavia, and of course loved by Swedes, too. Accessed from the harbor town of Mölle. Some reasons for its fame6
  1. A can't miss landmark along Sweden's southwest coast
  2. Even though the tower isn't very tall, it's on a cliffside, so the lantern reaches farther heights than any other in Sweden
  3. The light is the most powerful in Scandinavia 
  4. The views there are spectacular out over this vastly traveled sea
  • Point Sur Lighthouse - At Big Sur, California, it's now a state historic park. The distinctive feature of this famous lighthouse is its use for a top secret mission during the Cold War. A Docent Tour will tell you about it. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But it still guides ships on the California coast. Quite a scenic area to visit!
Point Sur Lighthouse photographed by the Coast Guard in black & white.Point Sur Lighthouse Photo by the Coast Guard - Earlier Times
  • Bell Rock Lighthouse - Surrounded by the sea, off the coast of Scotland. It's 11 miles out! How has it survived? Completed in 1811. It's been termed one of the "Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" - a marvel of construction. Held together against the sea's strength by specialized dove-tailed format. Sits on a reef. An amazing story. It's one for the ages, for sure. No access, but get a boat tour for views.
Bell Rock Lighthouse in the Sea off the coast of Scotland.Bell Rock Lighthouse on a Reef in the North Sea off Angus, Scotland

Lighthouses - Preservation Needed!

  • Gay Head Light - The very first lighthouse built on the island of Martha's Vineyard in 1799. On the Westernmost point. Then it was replaced in 1856.3 Quite a history here. Becoming a more famous lighthouse with a part in 1975's Jaws!4 What's worrisome, is that every year the sea is encroaching closer and closer.
  • Elbow Reef Lighthouse - Also called Hope Town Lighthouse. On Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. None like it: the last light powered by hand-cranked kerosene fuel system. No other in the world. Every two hours the weights for it are hand wound. Another unique feature is a Lighthouse Keeper is employed to do that. It's still a navigational aid. But it also is troubled, because the Bahamas were directly hit by 2019's Hurricane Dorian. You can help if you wish:
  1. Any amount toward Preserving Their Famous Lighthouse is appreciated
  2. Info on U.S. Taxpayers $250 or more Tax Deductible Donations>

Attention! These Are Up & Coming

  • Isla Mujeres Light - Just Northeast of Cancun Mexico, on the small island of Isla Mujeres (Women Island). The island is more laid back than Cancun. We loved it! The beacon is actually named Punta Sur Lighthouse. In English that means South Point. Makes sense! As it is at the very southernmost part of the island. A museum visit is along with it. Get there from Cancun by ferry.
  • North Queensferry Light - In Scotland, built in 1817. At the entrance to the River Forth, it's the Harbour Light, on the town pier. Visit Scotland calls it "one of Scotland's unknown treasures."2 Unique for two reasons: 
    1. It's the smallest working light in the world.
    2. You can light the lamp and become an Honorary Keeper of the Light!2
  • Los Morillos Lighthouse - A gorgeous spot at the rosy cliff top at Cabo Rojo on the West Side of Puerto Rico. On the National Register of Historic Places, it was completed in 1881. It has a different look to it, from many - but the views are captivating. Route 301 all the way to the end gets you there.7
  • Jeddah Lighthouse - Not at all old. But different looking, and they've built it so tall! It now has the claim as a famous lighthouse for being the tallest in the world. At 436 feet high, it monitors the harbor of Jeddah. Positioned at the end of the outer pier at the harbor.8

Seen these yet?