Lighthouses have been around for centuries and are guides for ships to find their ways and seek help in times of trouble and danger. Lighthouses are universal and can help ships locate the nearest harbor to dock and also send warning signals during tempestuous weather.
These special buildings have captured tourist curiosity in different countries, mainly because of their historic and cultural significancies – most of them are an emblem of the period when they were constructed. Lighthouses now stand as the few relics we have from the past and most of the architecture and design are entirely unique and influenced from the periods of their origin.
Here are some of the top best lighthouses in the world. Each lighthouse is different, uniquely built, and filled with history.
1. Felgueiras Lighthouse, Porto, Portugal
Built during the 19th century, Felgueiras Lighthouse at Portugal stands at the endpoint of an overhanging dock atop the Douro River. Here, the river intertwines with the Atlantic Ocean, thus producing tall and violent waves which come crashing down against the side of the Felgueiras tower, every so often, disturbing the quietness at the dock.
The winds also howl with equal intensity as the waves causing a feeling of excitement for visitors wanting to experience this lighthouse in all its glory. Even though the waters around this lighthouse are not calm, it has other things going on for it. At dawn and at sunset, the sunlight hits the lighthouse and bounces off into the sea, creating the perfect backdrop for beautiful photos.
2. Cape Palliser Lighthouse, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Standing on a 58 meter cliff, this lighthouse in New Zealand is considered to be among the best three lighthouses in New Zealand with a unique stripe color scheme. The lighthouse was built during the late 19th century and it had undergone several modifications and updates to keep itself from turning obsolete.
This series of updates done on the lighthouse included replacing the oil-based lights for an electrical one and making it a completely motorized system. Tourists go to visit the lighthouse not just for the color patterns, but for the fact that it overlooks the wonderful colony of seals who inhabits the waters of Palliser Bay.
3. Kopu Lighthouse, Hiiu County, Estonia
This tower which stands at the highest point of Estonia’s Hiiumaa island, is considered to be one of the must-see locations for tourists visiting the area. Constructed first during the 16th century, this tower has warned countless ships off the course of the rocky shorelines of the island. Kopu Lighthouse also carries a significant historical background, which aptly makes it as a historical architectural monument lying in the eastern peninsula of the Baltic Sea.
During the 15th century, merchants asked the state church to build them a landmark which could guide the travels of their merchant ships. The bishop back then only allowed the construction of a pillar without openings. However, with continuous reconstructions, the building was later transformed into a lighthouse. The remnants of 17th century architecture wraps around the structure while elements of modernity, such as electrical light systems, supply some needed advanced features.
4. Le Creac’h Lighthouse, Ushant, France
The Le Creach’h Lighthouse in France is regarded as one of the most significant coastal structures in the world. Its light visibility stretches out for 37 miles, making it helpful for ships and boats which aren’t within the vicinity of the lighthouse but still need some guidance to enter the English Channel.
This lighthouse was built during the 19th century (1863) and was constructed mainly of stone and rocks. It stands at 180 feet tall with black and white stripes. Migrant birds seem to love this lighthouse making it a great place for birdwatching on the coast.
5. Baishamen Lighthouse ,Haidian Island, Haikou, China
Known as the sixth tallest lighthouse in the world and the second highest in China, the Baishamen Lighthouse is one of the most uniquely built infrastructure you’ll ever see. Starting with a hexagonal foundation, the lighthouse goes three floor up and is a total height of 236 feet.
However, the main attractive feature of this lighthouse is not the height but the mix of triangular, cylindrical and hexagonal shapes that form its lower base. With 21 nautical miles for its light range, the Baishamen Lighthouse serves all the ships which come close as well as those that aim to dock in the nearby port city of Haikou.
6. Vittoria Light (Victoria Lighthouse), Gulf of Trieste, Italy
Standing 60 meters above sea, the Vittoria Light, Italy was built during the 20th century in commemoration of the lives of sailors who died during World War I. While it was initially planned for the lighthouse to be built on the coastal side of Istria, the monument was later relocated to Gretta Hill as the higher elevation offered greater visibility to passing ships.
Tourists and locals often visit the landmark to pay homage to the lives lost in the war, and an Italian inscription beneath the tower marks the structure’s historical significance. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse during certain days to see the beautiful view of the Gulf of Trieste.
7. Cape Neddick Light Lighthouse, Cape Neddick, Maine
The Cape Neddick Light Lighthouse is one of the best lighthouses in the US. It was first built in the late 19th century and donated for the use of the US Lighthouse Service in the year of 1879, five years after its construction.
Cape Neddick Light was celebrated as a significant historical landmark in the US by the National Register of Historic places in 1985. Perched atop a rocky islet beside York Beach, the site makes for great scenic views of the surrounding water and have attracted movie producers eager to find unique settings for their movies.
8. Slangkop Lighthouse, Kommetjie, South Africa
The Slangkop Lighthouse commenced its duty in the year 1919, although construction was supposed to have been completed in 1914. It stands 41 meters above sea with a high range of visibility for nearby ships, regardless of mist or fog.
It is structurally circumferential. The lantern’s white body looks pristine amongst the greenery peeking from behind nearby mountains. The structure of the lighthouse as well as its unique location make it a tourist attraction.
9. Mouro Island Lighthouse, Santander, Spain
Mouro Island Lighthouse has a haunting past which stands in contrast to its beautiful structure. Built during the 19th century when the British captured Napoleon’s army, Spanish ships would often dock at Santander for soldiers to get a break from the war.
From 1865 and for a few years later, many of the keepers of the lighthouse drowned from storms and this made this lighthouse a favorite setting for ghost stories. The lighthouse’s beauty though, still draws a lot of tourists, and in 2014, the Mouro Island Lighthouse appeared on the cover of New York Times. It has also since appeared in so many other notable newspapers.
10. Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Being the lonesome inhibitor of its home island, the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse is popularly known by Argentines as lying at the End of the World. It’s only 11 meters in height and has about a 7.5 nile visibility range for nearby boats and ships.
The light house has no keeper, as this island is chiefly remote-controlled with a fully automated system for its entire operations including the lighthouse. You can visit the place for a short time if you go on boat tours from the nearby area of Ushuaia.
11. Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Portland Head Light is one of Maine’s oldest standing lighthouse and remains on guard at the entrance of the island’s main cargo channel. Despite being built in 1791, this lighthouse has a completely automated system and is run by the United States Coast Guard.
Portland Head Light is considered one of the best lighthouses in the US. With reinforcements from several reconstructions and remodelings, this active lighthouse has maintained its duty to guard and help ships navigate the rocky shores of the island and dock on the shores of Cape Elizabeth.
12. Hook Head Lighthouse, County Wexford, Ireland
The Hook Head Lighthouse in Ireland is said to be one of the oldest lighthouses in existence since it was built during the 12th century. With more than 847 years in operation, the Hook Lighthouse is now considered the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world, essentially making it one of the best oldest lighthouses in the world.
With elements of medieval architecture still clear within its construction, this historical monument allows you to look at one of the most longstanding buildings from the past. Recent remodeling of the infrastructure though, has changed some historical aspect of the building but this lighthouse is still worth a visit.
13. Chania Lighthouse, Crete, Greece
Originally built for the purpose of protecting the Greek harbor against attacks from Turkish forces during their fight against the Venetian, the Chania Lighthouse eventually became a functional light house during the 19th century. It is acknowledged as one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece as well as in the Mediterranean area.
The lighthouse though, is not considered purely Greek but rather a mix of Greek and Egyptian because it was built when the Egyptians captured Crete.With its tall minaret-like brick structure, the Chania Lighthouse features a combination of both Greek and Egyptian elements, making it entirely unique compared to other lighthouses in Europe.
14. Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda
Built in the year 1844, the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses in Bermuda. In fact, the hill on which the lighthouse is built upon is considered one of Bermuda’s tallest hilltops, making the entire structure one of the tallest in the country, and very visible to approaching ships and cargos.
Some airplane pilots have also noted seeing the lighthouse’s flashes from above. The lighthouse has a cast-iron body that is painted completely white and is a famous tourist attraction and can easily visited while hiking the Gibbs Hill.
15. Jeddah Light Lighhouse, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Arabians are notorious for making the tallest infrastructures in the world, and this lighthouse in Jeddah is not different. The Jeddah Light stands at a height of about 436 feet, making it quite possibly the largest active lighthouse in the world.
It is also a popular lighthouse for tourists visiting Saudi Arabia. The Jeddah Light Lighthouse guards the northern side of the Jeddah Seaport where most of the cargo coming into Saudi Arabia unload.
16. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada
Standing as an iconic Canadian infrastructure, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is the top tourist attraction in the state of Nova Scotia. The lighthouse itself is incredibly scenic and offers a perfect landscape photo since it is set amongst big granite boulders which outline the shores of St. Margarets Bay.
However, I advise people against touring this lighthouse due to countless incidents of drowning of visitors at the lighthouse over the past couple of years. This is partly due to its picture-perfect but dangerous location.
17. Mary’s Lighthouse, Bait Island, United Kingdom
Mary’s Lighthouse guards the North England coast over Whitley Bay on the island of St. Mary. Built in 1898, Mary’s Lighthouse was a replacement for an 11th century chapel that resided on the site and was used by monks to help ships pass over the rocky shores of the island to a safer areas.
The lighthouse is no longer actively used but is open for the public to visit and is currently part of a museum. There is a nearby cafe for tourists wishing to visit and spend some time here.
18. Eldred Rock Lighthouse, Eldred Rock, Alaska
Despite not being significantly tall, the Eldred Rock Lighthouse functions as an active lighthouse for ships crossing the Lynn Canal. With an octagonal base and structure, the lighthouse is one of the few remaining lighthouses in Alaska, and one with a clean design as well.
This lighthouse is one of the top lighthouses to visit in the US and has been considered for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places.
19. South Stack Lighthouse, Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales
Standing at 91 feet, the South Stack Lighthouse was the primal tool used by ships for navigating through the tumultuous sea of Dublin, Holyhead and Liverpool. The lighthouse was inaugurated in the year 1809 and has since stood tall and white against the green backdrop of Holy Island’s peak.
The lighthouse is open for the public, and visitors can ascend up to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy amazing views. Guests can also learn a thing or two about how the lighthouse functions by touring the engine room and exhibition area if time permits.
20. Bell Rock Lighthouse, Inchcape, Arbroath, Scotland
With a height of over 115 feet, the Bell Rock Lighthouse stands within the North Sea and guides the ships that wish to dock at Arbroath harbor. Built between the years of 1807 and 1810, this lighthouse is considered one of the world’s longest lasting sea-washed lighthouse and has also been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.
The idea for this lighthouse in Scotland came out of the tragedies that occurred on the shores of Scotland’s harbor each winter in the 18th century. As many as up to six ships wrecked yearly until a Scottish man suggested that a lighthouse to be built. The lighthouse lessened the tragedies until there were none showing that lighthouses can be quite effective. Now, the Bell Rock Lighthouse appears in many works of art and literature, and has a deep significant to the history and culture of Scotland.
Lighthouse all over the world have become tourist attractions. Some of these lighthouses are still functional while some have been overtaken by automation. If you ever visit any coastal country or city with a lighthouse, be sure to make out time to visit as every lighthouse has a story to tell and you can learn so much about the history of a place by touring its lighthouse.