Hook Lighthouse: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

Overlooking the Celtic Sea, this magnificent lighthouse in County Wexford is a sight to behold. Here is everything you need to know about Hook Lighthouse.

The breathtaking Hook Lighthouse is situated on the tip of Hook Head Peninsula in County Wexford. While the lighthouse overlooks the Celtic Sea, this majestic beauty also lies at the entrance to Waterford Harbour.  

Built in 1172 over 800 years ago, Hook Lighthouse is the world’s oldest operational lighthouse. It was built by the most famous Knight of his time, William Marshal, and the lighthouse is still fully functional today. 

A beacon has stood on the site of the lighthouse since the 5th-century.

During this time a Welsh monk founded a monastery here, and it is said that he established a beacon here by burning timber. This beacon was invaluable as it acted as a navigational light for vessels seeking a safe haven from the wild sea. 

The lighthouse was lived in up until 1977 by the lighthouse keepers and their families. It was then converted to electric operation before being fully automated in 1996. Since its establishment, in the 12th-century, the lighthouse has played a vital role in maritime safety. 

Hook Lighthouse was described by Lonely Planet as being “the great-granddaddy of lighthouses”, and it was voted as being one of Ireland’s favourite attractions. Every year approximately 200,000 people visit this lighthouse. 

When to visit – Hook Lighthouse is open all year round

When to visit Hook Lighthouse.
Credit: Fionnán Nestor

The visitor centre at Hook Lighthouse is open all year round. The busiest times to visit the lighthouse are during the afternoon on weekends.

If you are visiting during the summer months (June to August), we recommend heading here in the morning to get a more intimate experience. 

Be aware, guided tours of the lighthouse tower may be restricted due to dangerous weather conditions. We recommend checking the weather before heading to this beautiful lighthouse to ensure that you get the full experience. 

What to see – top sights

What to see.
Credit: Luke Myers

A visitor centre was established in the old lighthouse keeper’s house at Hook Lighthouse in 2001. They provide guided tours of the lighthouse offering fascinating insights, stories, and facts about this historic attraction.

The experience is enjoyed by both young and old, with highly interactive elements. With holograms and life-sized figures, the history of the lighthouse is truly brought to life. 

Inside the lighthouse, you will see the original medieval fireplaces, doorways, and windows. In the past, a coal-fuelled fire was used as the beacon.

Some of the walls and ceilings that you can view are still stained with coal soot. We guarantee that you will become mesmerised by how lighthouses were operated in the past.

For the most incredible views, head up the 115 step spiral staircase of the 36-metre high lighthouse tower.

From the balcony of the lighthouse tower, you will enjoy spectacular views of the sea and Hook Head Peninsula. On stormy days you may even get splashed by sea spray, which really adds to the experience!

After you experience the inner workings of Hook Lighthouse, be sure to wander around the outside. Relax by the sea and enjoy a homemade scone while taking in the sight of this black and white striped lighthouse. 

Keep an eye out for seals and dolphins who frequent the area. During the winter months, humpback and fin whales visit the nearby waters to feed, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled if visiting during this period!

Things to know – important info

Hook Lighthouse looks amazing at sunset.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The guided tour takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. However, to fully enjoy the lighthouse, it is best to give yourself two hours here. This gives you enough time to explore the lighthouse at your own pace while discovering the finer details of the lighthouse. 

A guided tour is €10 per adult, €9 for a concession, and €6 for a child. There are also family deals.

Everyone visiting Hook Lighthouse must book a free Grounds Access Pass in advance, and if you are looking to book a tour, you must call them in advance. 

There are toilets, a café, and gift shop at Hook Lighthouse.

The café provides a selection of homemade cakes and pastries along with delicious soup and sandwiches. The gift shop is the perfect place to pick up some nautical gifts or local craft items to keep as a memento of your visit. 

There are sunrise and sunset tours that offer a once in a lifetime experience. You get to enjoy a selection of drinks, homemade canapés, and desserts while watching the sun dance across the sky.

The experience is from the balcony of the lighthouse tower, and it truly is one for the Irish bucket list. These tours need to be organised in advance by calling up the visitor centre. 

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