Lighthouse tourism is a unique way to experience the joys of travel. Lighthouses are marvels of architecture and gateways to learning about how other humans have travelled around the world. Throw in incredible views and often spectacular coastal walks and what’s not to love. If you’re already a fan or are thinking of making a stop off the beaten travel path, here are 9 amazing lighthouses you simply have to see.

Peggy’s Point Lighthouse

Location: Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

Best Time to Go: May to September

Built in 1915, Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Its iconic white and red profile is set against the classic Atlantic coastline it watches over. The lighthouse’s official purpose was to mark the entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay but it’s become a popular tourist attraction in its own right. Visitors to the lighthouse can enjoy the scenic drive from Halifax, the beautiful walks along the rocky coast and the charm of nearby Peggy’s Cove, a working fishing village. Tourists are advised to be careful on the rocks and to avoid swimming. More information about the area can be had from Peggy of the Cove Museum, a museum and gallery located in the childhood home of local artist Ivan Fraser.

Hook Lighthouse

Location: Co. Wexford, Ireland

Best Time to Go: May to October

Located at the very tip of the Hook Peninsula, Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world. Legend has it that the monks of a 5th-century Christian monastery began lighting fires on the headland to warn sailors of the perilous rocks below. The tower was built in the early 13th century to guide ships around the headland and into Waterford Harbour. Originally, the light was tended by monks. The lighthouse is now automated and draws tourists from around the world with its epic views of the Atlantic and its interesting historical programming. Visitors might be lucky enough to spy dolphins and whales from the balcony, although whale-watching is better in the winter months.

Tower of Hercules

tower of hercules - 9 amazing lighthouses you just have to see

Location: La Coruña, Spain

Best Time to Go: May to October

The Tower of Hercules is the only surviving functional lighthouse from the classical Roman period. Built in the late 1st century CE, the lighthouse was restored in the 18th century by Eustaquio Giannini. According to legend, the tower marks the site of Hercules’ victory over the giant Geryon. Its position at the top of a hill gives visitors a sweeping view of La Coruña and its harbour. Active adventurers can enjoy the view from the top of the lighthouse, which can be reached by a series of 242 steps. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area is rich in history. A Roman building remains at the base of the lighthouse and visitors can also enjoy the nearby Monte dos Bicos rock carvings (which date from the same period), the sculpture garden and a later Muslim cemetery.

Tourlitis Lighthouse

Location: Andros, Greece

Best Time to Go: April to July

This stunning lighthouse stands on its own islet off the coast of Andros. It’s reached by a winding staircase and looks like a wizard probably lives there. Though not a large lighthouse (it stands only 7 metres high), Tourlitis Lighthouse impresses not only with its charm but because it was the first automatic lighthouse in Greece. First built in 1897, the original was destroyed in the Second World War. It was restored as automatic acetylene in the 1990s by the Goulandris family, who dedicated it to their deceased daughter Violanda. Visitors to the area can enjoy Andros’ neoclassical architecture, the island’s sandy beaches and the remains of the 13th century Lower Castle of Andros. The island also provides some excellent hiking.

Maiden’s Tower

maiden's tower - 9 amazing lighthouses you just have to see

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Best Time to Go: March to May; September to November

The Maiden’s Tower (also known as Leander’s Tower and Kiz Kulesi) is located on a small islet at the entrance of the Bosphorus river. Its origins are as shadowy as its legends of star-crossed lovers, although it’s speculated that some form of tower existed here from the 4th century BCE. That tower was replaced with a wooden structure after the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, but that structure burned down in 1719. It was rebuilt in stone, with later additions of a dome and lantern. In 1920, the lantern was replaced by an automatic lighting system. Over the centuries, the tower has been used for defence, tax collection and quarantine purposes, in addition to lighthouse duties. Today visitors to the tower can take advantage of picturesque views, a free museum and a traditional Turkish restaurant, located on the ground floor.

Vizhinjam Lighthouse

Location: Kovalam, India

Best Time to Go: October to February

This striking red and white striped lighthouse was built in 1972 and can be found at the southern end of Lighthouse Beach. The lighthouse itself is on a rise studded with palm trees and can be reached by car or by foot. To get to the balcony at the top, there’s a spiral staircase of 144 steps plus a steel ladder. There is also a lift. Once there, visitors can enjoy a refreshing breeze and incredible views of the coast of southern Kerala. Lighthouse Beach is a thriving tourist area with a vibrant array of hotels and restaurants. The area is especially popular with those interested in Ayurveda and yoga.

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse

les eclaireurs - 9 amazing lighthouses you just have to see

Location: Ushuaia, Argentina

Best Time to Go: December to March

This far-flung lighthouse is the last mainland marker passed by travellers to Antarctica. Situated on a small, rocky islet in the Beagle Channel, it has the important function of marking the entrance to Ushuaia Bay. It was completed in 1920. Today it’s automated and powered by solar energy. The lighthouse can’t be entered but its postcard good looks and stunning setting make it a popular stop on boat tours through the Channel. Tours of the Channel usually include bird, seal and whale-watching along with stops on the Channel’s few islands, home to an array of flora, fauna and archaeological ruins. Ushuaia is a haven for adventure tourists, offering hiking and skiing in the Martial mountains and kayaking, scuba diving and boating for those who prefer the water.

Enoshima Sea Candle

Location: Enoshima, Japan

Best Time to Go: April to July

The Enoshima Sea Candle is a lighthouse, telecommunications tower and observation tower. People have been drawn to its unique structure and to its setting in the beautiful Samuel Cocking Garden since its completion in 2003. From the top of the tower visitors can see across Sagami Bay to Mt. Fuji, Oshima and the Miura Peninsula. On clear days, the Tokyo Sky Tree and the Yokohama Landmark Tower are also visible. The lighthouse features both outdoor and indoor observation decks, perfect for days when the weather is less favourable. After sundown, the tower is all lit up and special lighting displays happen from November to February. The island of Enoshima itself offers visitors plenty of other attractions to explore, including caves, shrines, hiking, surfing and simple lounging on the beach.

Split Rock Lighthouse

split rock lighthouse - 9 amazing lighthouses you just have to see

Location: Two Harbors, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Best Time to Go: May to October

A National Historic Landmark, Split Rock Lighthouse is perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Construction began after a number of ships were wrecked in this isolated and dangerous stretch of coast in a terrible storm in November of 1905. It was completed in 1910. Surrounded by natural beauty and endowed with a lively and interesting history, the lighthouse has been a favourite with tourists since highway construction made it accessible in 1924. Visitors can learn more about its history at the site’s excellent history center and climb to the top for incredible views of the lake and the wooded shores. The State Park offers camping, hiking, swimming and skiing in ruggedly beautiful surroundings.

Happy travels!

featured image: Paul; image 1: Oscar Gende Villar; image 2: Maher Najm; image 3: Javier Vidal; image 4: Pete Markham