Famous European Explorers
From the legendary journey of Greek navigator Pytheas, who first reached England more than 2000 years ago, to the legendary 19th-century explorer of Africa David Livingston, explorers from Europe managed to achieve almost every significant discovery in the world. Here are their tales.
Famous English Explorers
Throughout the history of modern world, explorers from the England gained reputation of being one of the best in the world. Their discoveries at sea of Pacific, lands of North America, and in the frozen wastelands South Pole countless important advancements to our knowledge of the Earth.
Douglas Mawson was a famous geologist and adventures who managed to become one of the most famous Australian explorers of the frozen continent. Here you can learn more about his interesting tale.
Exploits of this English explorer proved to be instrumental in the exploration of the Antarctic. One of his most famous missions is the one from 1908, where he managed to get only 102 miles from the pole.
George Everest was famous Welsh geographer and surveyor that is best remembered today by the Mont Everest, the tallest mountain in the world that was named after him. Learn more about his life and achievements here.
George Vancouver was famous British Navy officer and navigator who is today best remembered by the Canadian city of Vancouver which carries his name. Here you can read more about his life, exploratory missions and other achievements.
Early years of 17th century were marked by the discoveries made by several English explorers. One of them was without a doubt Henry Hudson who explored much of eastern coast of North America, finding the entrance to the Hudson Bay and Hudson River.
Best-known exploits of this famous English explorer happened during his numerous journeys in the Pacific. He discovered Hawaii islands, explored western coast of America and mapped the parts of Northwest Passage between Alaska and Arctic.
Publications of the life story of British Royal Navy officer and explorer John Franklin is today regarded as one of the starting points of the so called age of Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Learn more about his life here.
John Ross was a British explorer who sailed toward North Sea more than 70 years before brave heroes of polar discovery started their journeys toward North and South Pole. Today he is remembered for this several trips into Northwestern Passage and for being first man who reached North Magnetic Pole.
John Smith is today remembered as one of the most celebrated figures in the early history of North America. Here you can learn more about his exploits in establishing first English settlement in the United States and other adventures.
Joseph Banks is remembered in the history of World and England as one of the most influential botanists and scientific patrons of his time. During his long life he was invested in both personal exploration efforts and managing several notable scientific institutions.
He is well known British adventurer most famous for his on foot crossing of the Antarctica from one side to the other, via the pole.
For this and many other expeditions, he was awarded with the Order of the British Empire.
One of the most successful English Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott is best known for his second Antarctic mission in which managed to reach the South Pole only five weeks after the Roald Admunsen. Sadly, he and his crew died in the frozen Antarctic on their way
back to home base.
Simon Fraser is today remembered as one of the important figures in the 19th history of Canada, whose exploits as explorer and cartographer formed the modern borders of British Columbia.
Sir George Back is remembered today as one of the most distinguished explorers of the Canadian waters, mapping of unexplored lands and nature. Here you can learn much more about his life and exploits on the sea.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert is today remembered as one of the pioneers of the English colonization of Northen America. Although his journeys to the west did not have great immediate success, his exploits paved the way for the numerous future colonists.
Sir John Hawkins is today remembered as a famous military commander and slave trader that had great impact in the defense of the England against powerful Spanish Armada in 1588, and the numerous fights against Spanish forces throughout his entire life.
The exploits of Sir Martin Frobisher remain remembered today as one of the first tries of English explorers to chart the waters surrounding Canada. Although his gold mining career did not have much success, he paved the way for numerous future explorers.
Sir Richard Grenville is today remembered as one of the most famous naval military commanders of 16th century. During his career he explored the waters of Central America, fought the Spanish in many encounters, and died defending his ship against overwhelmingly powerful Spanish forces, a feat that is immortalized in modern history.
Famous English explorer and military officer Sir Richard Hawkins is remembered today for his adventurous life at the end of the 16th and early 17th century. Exploits of his life were remembered in popular book “Voiage into the South Sea” which set standards for its detailed description of Elizabethan era.
Sir Walter Raleigh is today best remembered as the greatest source of information regarding the stories about mystical Central American city of El Dorado. During his lifetime he reached many highs and lows, eventually receiving death penalty from English crown for a crime that many though did not deserve such harsh punishment.
This famous English explorer was the first man who has deliberately circumvented the Earth in late 16th century. Previous four attempts of circumventions of the globe were not interned as that from their start.
He is very successful English explorers and the first man who successfully led the nine day overland crossing mission of Antarctic in 1958 in which he visited the South Pole.
Famous Spanish Explorers
Explorers from Spain proved to be instrumental in the period that we refer to now as "Age of Discovery". Their efforts to secure viable sea trade route to India brought one of the biggest discoveries of medieval Europe – the continents of North and South America! In the years following that tremendous event, Spain continued to explore the lands of America discovering many unknown lands and civilizations.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado is today remembered as one of the pioneers of exploration of mexico and southeastern United States. During the one of his exploration in mid-16th century he searched for mystical El-Dorado, mapping the large areas of today’s northern Mexico and New Mexico.
One of the most famous Spanish explorers of 16th century was Hernando de Soto, who accompanied conquistador Francisco Pizarro in his destruction of Incan empire and contributed to the modern history by exploring the lands of Florida and discovering the mighty river Mississippi.
He is remembered as a captain of the ship "Santa Maria" that carried Christopher Columbus to his discovery of America in 1492. During his five voyages to the Carribean seas he made several maps of that area of witch most famous is "Mappa Mundi".
History of the exploration of the New World is closely connected with the exploits and military expeditions of Spanish conquistadors. One of the last ones who had a significant impact on the history of Americas was Juan de Onate. Learn more about his life here.
Juan Ponce de Leon is today remembered as a explorer who operated in central American waters shortly after Christopher Columbus made his historic journey to the west. During his life De Leon made many notable achievements, but today he is mostly remembered for his colonization of Florida and its exploration.
Pedro de Alvarado is today remembered as one of the most important Spanish conquistadors who was involved in several military campaigns in Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the downfall of the Aztec culture.
Knowledge of 16th century Caribbean island Cuba (then known as Hispaniola) expanded greatly with the discoveries of Spanish captain Sebastián de Ocampo who successfully managed to circumvent this island for the first time and enter the gulf of Mexico.
History of exploration will not be complete without mention of this famous Spanish explorer and conquistador. Vasco Núñez de Balboa will remain remembered as the first European who successfully reached Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Panama.
Famous Portuguese Explorers
Under the orders of famous 14th century Prince Henry, Portugal naval explorers are remembered today for their efforts in the discovery of maritime trade route to India, their vast influence in the exploration of newfound continents of Americas, and one of the most famous naval missions of all time – circumvention of Earth by Ferdinand Magellan.
This Portuguese explorer is today known for his exploration of the coast of Eastern and Southern Africa. Dias was first European to sail to the southern tip of Africa, paving the way for future journeys of his compatriot Vasco da Gama.
He traveled several times exploring the eastern coast of Africa paving the way for future Portuguese discoveries. Diogo Cao's discoveries were instrumental in the Vasco De Gama's famous first journey to the India.
This Portuguese explorer will forever remain one of the most famous explorers of all time. He set of on his legendary journey around the world in 1519 with a fleet of 5 ships and 237 crewmembers, but sadly, only 19 of them returned home three years later.
As one of the many explorers that died during his journey, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo will be remembered as the first European that sailed and mapped the coast of California.
This Portuguese navigator's greatest discovery will be the finding of the land of South America. He made his landing on the coast of the today's Brazil believing that he discovered just another island of the New World.
This 15th century Portugese explorer and sea navigator will forever be remembered as the first man who managed to find sea route to India. His discovery sparked new age of sea exploration and expansion of the European civilization to the South and Eastern Asia.
Famous Italian Explorers
Among many famous Italian explorers, Marko Polo and Christopher Columbus will forever be remembered in the history of humankind. Their efforts in the exploration of the world brought great advancement to the human civilization and opened the way for European colonists to spread across the entire world.
This Italian explorer will forever be remembered as the man who first proved New World is not part continents are not part of the Asia but separate new continent. During his journeys, he visited central and south America and was one of the first scientists to map the stars
of the southern hemisphere.
Christopher Columbus is without doubt one of the most famous explorers of all time. His discovery of the American continent marked the beginning of the new era of humanity and expansion of European civilization to all four corners of the Earth.
Giosafat Barbaro was one of the most-traveled members of Venetian state whose travelogues and articles managed to paint a very interesting picture of central and Eastern Europe in 15th century.
Early years of 16th century were marked with great discoveries that were made in North America. While sailing under French crown, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano left his mark in history by exploring much of the western North America coast.
Immediately after Christopher Columbus discovered West Indies, all seafaring European governments quickly formed their exploratory fleets and sent their greatest sailors to the west. The first one who followed Columbus was Italian John Cabot, who while sailing under English flag became second European who set his foot on North America.
Famous French Explorers
France became known for their explorers after the discovery of Americas in the 16th century. Their explorers charted the northern parts of America, most notably by Jacques Cartier, who first claimed the land today known as Canada as a part of France.
In the first half of the 16th century, just few decades after Christopher Columbus discovered America, Cabeza de Vaca and the group of Spanish explorers went to the new world wand experienced troubles like no one before them. Here you can find out his life story of adventure and exploration.
As one of the most famous 16th century explorers from France, Jacques Cartier will forever be remembered for his discoveries in North America. Among his greatest achievements was naming of the land that is today known as Canada.
History of River of Mississippi cannot be told without describing the life of Father Jacques Marquette, Christian priest that accompanied Louis Joliet in his discovery of central America. Here you can find out everything about his life and journey that made his name immortal.
Samuel de Champlain is the most popular and influential French explorer of all time. His discoveries enabled France to take foothold in the North American continent, and his formation of the Quebec City proved to be an ignition for the creation of the country of Canada.
Famous Norwegian Explorers
Explorers from Norway provided many great discoveries over the last one thousand years. After the initial wave of discoveries by the Vikings (Iceland, Greenland, and first trip to North America around 1000 AD), many 19th century Norwegian explorers went on dangerous missions to North and South Pole.
The early years of Great Age of Polar Explorers were marked by the exploits of famous Norwegian scientist and Noble Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen. This two missions to the north regions established base for all future explorations of Polar Regions.
500 years before Christopher Columbus set his foot on the shores of Central America, another European explorer managed to find his way across frozen waves of the northern seas to Canada. He was Nordic navigator Leif Ericson, son of a Eric the Red, and an explorer whose name will live forever.
This Norwegian explorer will forever be remembered as one of the greatest explorers of the earth’s Poles. During his several polar journeys in early 20th century, he managed to be first man of South Pole and was the first to visit both poles.
Famous Scottish Explorers
Here you can read about great Scottish explorers and adventurers and the legacies they left behind. Find out information about John Rae, William Speirs Bruce, and many others.
Alexander Gordon Laing is today remembered as one of the casualties of the early 19th century exploration of Africa. However, before he died he managed to become first European to reach the isolated city of Timbuktu.
Scottish explorer of the North American continent and Northwestern passage became famous when he managed to find the location of the cursed Franklin expedition. Learn more about his life and exploits here.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie is a famous Scottish explorer who managed to become first European who performed overland crossing of North America from East to West Coast above the territories of Mexico, predating the famous expedition of Lewis and Clark for 10 years.