From North to South of Portugal there are 30 lighthouses at strategic points that illuminate the sailors’ nights. Fifteen are on the mainland and the other 15 are on the islands of Azores and Madeira.

They are fascinating, not only for their architecture and long lived historical value but also because they are always in places with panoramic views, that attract many visitors and tourists in search of an inspiring and mystical place.

Visiting a lighthouse is a great solo or group activity that you can do in the Algarve. Children are fascinated by the building, its history and the giant light. The Lighthouse keeper is a mythical character that used to light the tower by hand every two hours but nowadays he is in charge of keeping the equipment and the building and he may even live there.

The lighthouses were opened to the public for visits in 2011 and if you are close to any don’t hesitate to visit several of them as they are all different: for their views, the beauty of the surrounding areas, the building itself and its estate.

Some have exhibitions or displays showing the original equipment used when Marquis of Pombal (Secretary of the Kingdom during the reign of Dom José I, 1750-1777) had them built. Before there was any electricity!

The Algarve has four lighthouses to visit and you can find out more about each one below.

Farol do Cabo de São Vicente (Vila do Bispo Sagres) – GPS 37.023192, -8.996435

São Vicente Lighthouse is in Vila do Bispo, close to Sagres in the far west of the Algarve.

The lighthouse at Cape São Vicente (or D. Fernando lighthouse) was built by D. Maria II has been in operation since 1846. It was lit by olive oil and its light reached almost 6 nautical miles, about 11 kilometres.

Nowadays it has been modernized and recovered and its light reaches 33 nautical miles. It is one of the farthest reaching lighthouses in Europe.

Visits: Wednesdays between 14h00 and 17h00. Free entry.

Cabo São Vicente at sunset
Cabo São Vicente at sunset

Farol de Alfanzina (Cabo Carvoeiro) – GPS 37.086956, -8.442564

In central  Algarve, you have Alfanzina lighthouse, known as Carvoeiro lighthouse amongst sailors and fishermen. Located at the cliff that gives it its name (Ponta de Alfazina), it went into operation in 1920.

23 meters tall, 5 meters of which are the tower, it reaches 20 miles (53km).

Visits: Wednesdays between 14h00 and 17h00, with a guided tour on the inside. Free entry.

Farol De Alfanzina Carvoeiro
Farol De Alfanzina Carvoeiro

Farol de Santa Maria (Ilha do Farol) – GPS 36.975021, -7.864395

Located on the western side of Culatra Island (known to Algarveans as Farol Island/Ilha do Farol), Santa Maria Lighthouse is the main attraction of the place. To get there you need to get a ferry boat form Olhão or Faro and enjoy the trip through Ria Formosa.

Due to its location, building this lighthouse proved to be hard. In fact, years later, in 1929, the tower had to be reinforced due to the sea’s waves.

It was again reinforced in 1997, at which point the lighthouse was modernized and automatic machinery was installed.

Visits: Wednesdays between 14h00 and 17h00. Free entry.

Farol Beach
Farol Beach in Faro

Farol de Vila Real de Santo António – GPS 37.187191, -7.416426

 In Vila Real de Santo António, Algarve’s leeward, you can visit the lighthouse, watch the sea, Guadiana river, Vila Real de Santo António, Spain and the surrounding area with a unique perspective on a tour guided by the keeper.

The lighthouse has been operating since 1923, back then by the hands and knowledge of the lighthouse keepers and now by the precision of automated machinery.

Visits: Wednesdays, between 14h00 and 17h00. Free entry.

Farol Vila Real Santo António
Farol Vila Real Santo António

The Algarve is very rich in lighthouses and as well as these four there are another 2 that cannot be visited on the inside but whose outside views are also very interesting:

  • Farol da Ponta do Altar, Ferragudo (37.106157, -8.519604)

This lighthouse has private views of Praia da Rocha, the cliffs and the spectacular turquoise sea.

  •  Farol da Ponta da Piedade (37.080370, -8.668913)

Built in the place of  Nossa Senhora da Piedade Chapel which was demolished a century ago with great public consternation, but nowadays all has been forgotten and it is one of the places of most pride to the locals and one of the most visited in Lagos.


Opening times can be changed or cancelled without prior warning, due to the lighthouses’ operation as they are fully functioning nautical signalling equipment whose main mission is to ensure navigation safety.

If you wish to visit at different times you can contact the National Maritime Authority by email and check for availability and prices (about €4.50).