17 Incredible Lighthouses Worth Planning a Trip Around
Every bucket list needs a good lighthouse. Or two. Or 17. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from around the world, whether you’re looking for a European getaway with a panoramic seaside view or a domestic adventure that takes you back in time.
There are even lighthouses that have been transformed into hotels, which offer enthusiasts the novelty of bedding down in a piece of seafaring history.
Intrigued by the possibility of living inside an impressionist painting? Read on for our 17 favorite lighthouses around the world.
Portland Head Light, Maine
George Washington called for the construction of the Portland Head Light in 1787, and also established a $1,500 fund for the project. Whale oil lamps were originally used to light the beacon, but a Fresnel lens was later installed. Today, you’ll find an aero beacon in its place.
Tourlitis Lighthouse, Greece
This lighthouse, atop a stone spire near the Greek isle of Andros, was initially built in 1897. The original lighthouse was destroyed in World War II, but a new beacon was constructed atop the rock in the early 1990s.
Eldred Rock Lighthouse, Alaska
Eldred Rock Lighthouse was built in response to the shipwreck of the Clara Nevada back in 1898. The ship—which was filled with an illegal shipment of dynamite and gold, plus around 100 passengers—ran aground and burst into flames.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Washington
This lighthouse earned its name after Captain John Meares failed to find shelter from a storm in 1775, penning, “Disappointment continued to accompany us…we can safely exert that no river San Rogue exists.” This tower was actually built twice; its first Fresnel lens, which it got in 1854, turned out to be way too bit. They rebuilt the tower to better fit it, finally turning its light seaward in 1856.
Thomas Point Shoal Light, Maryland
Thomas Point Shoal Light is one of the most well-known lighthouses in Maryland. It’s the only screw-pile construction—a type of lighthouse that is built on top of piles that are screwed into the sea or river bottoms—in the Chesapeake Bay that remains in its original location.
Fastnet Rock Lighthouse, Ireland
Fastnet Rock Lighthouse is known as the Teardrop of Ireland because it was the last bit of Ireland emigrants saw when sailing for America. Six keepers were in charge of the lighthouse—four were onsite at any given time. Two men were swapped out twice a month, meaning each keeper did four weeks on and two weeks off.
Grotta Lighthouse, Iceland
Most of the time the surrounding North Atlantic Ocean prevents visitors from being able to walk up and explore this lighthouse—when the tide is low, however, a sandy bank makes it technically possible, if not really advisable. Regardless, the Grotta Lighthouse makes for a stunning photo of the bay. Fun fact: there’s a man-made geothermal pool located right by Grotta, a popular spot for locals to warm their feet after a walk around the inlet.
Tower of Hercules Lighthouse, Spain
This landmark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mostly in part to its incredible age: it has served as the entrance of La Coruna Harbor since the 1st century A.D. Aside from the Tower of Hercules, you’ll find a sculpture park, rock carvings from the Iron age, and a Muslim cemetery.
Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon
Built in 1894, the Heceta Head Lighthouse still functions, its beams shining up to 21 miles out into the sea. The tower is known as the brightest light on the Oregon Coast (and one of the most photographed).
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
A leisurely drive up the Lighthouse Trail ends at Peggy’s Point Lighthouse. Be warned: adventurous visitors are swept off of the surrounding rocks by large waves every year.
La Matre Lighthouse, Quebec
This 1906 lighthouse still keeps time using the original cable and weights. The tower is not automated during the day, meaning visitors can witness the Fresnel lens rotating in a mercury bath.
Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota
Designed by famous lighthouse engineer Ralph Russell Tinkam in 1910, the Split Rock Lighthouse was built after 29 ships were lost on Lake Superior during the Mataafa Storm in 1905. You can still visit one of these shipwrecks, the Madeira, north of the tower.
South Stack Lighthouse, Wales
The South Stack Lighthouse is known not only for its incredibly scenic siting, but also for its haunted history, Popular British TV show “Most Haunted” visited the landmark as the premiere of its ninth season, digging into the history of “The Royal Charter Storm,” which sank 133 ships in the area.
Phare du Petit Minou Lighthouse, France
Located near the plateau of les Fillettes, or “the girls,” sailors would remember this lighthouse by using the mnemonic phrase, “the Minou blushes when he covers les Fillettes.”
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Argentina
Les Eclaireurs translates to “the Enlighteners” or “the Scouts,” a pretty perfect name for a building intended to light the way for many passing ships. Locals know this tourist hotspot as the “Lighthouse at the End of the World.”
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine
Today, the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a private residence for the local Coast Guard member and his or her family. You can still get relatively close to the structure by following a set of wooden steps that bring you down to a nearby granite boulder. The spot offers a perfect view of the harbor and lighthouse.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California
Keeping watch over the Pacific coast of California, Pigeon Point is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. Today it functions as a hostel, where you can book a night in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters.