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

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.

Francis Drake

Known as one of the greatest English naval officers of the 16th century, Sir Francis Drake lived his life on the sea as the privateer and explorer. Fighting his entire life against Spanish, he managed to circumvent the world in 1580.

Thomas Cavendish

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.

James Cook

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.

Vivian Fuchs

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.

Robert Falcon Scott

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.

Ernest Shackleton

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.

Ranulph Fiennes

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.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert

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

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.

Sir Martin Frobisher

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

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.

Sir Richard Hawkins

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

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.

Henry Hudson

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.

Douglas Mawson

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.

John Ross

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.


Famous Spanish Explorers

Famous Spanish Explorers

Explorers from Spain proved to be instrumental in the period of time that we refer to now as "Age of Discovery". Their efforts to secure viable sea trade rote 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.

Juan de la Cosa

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".

Sebastián de Ocampo

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.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa

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.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

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.

Hernando de Soto

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.

Juan Ponce de Leon

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.


Famous Portuguese Explorers

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 naval 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.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo

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.

Pedro Álvares Cabral

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.

Diogo Cão

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.

Ferdinand Magellan

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.

Bartolomeu Dias

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.

Vasco da Gama

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

Famous Italian Explorers

Among many famous Italian explores, 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.

Amerigo Vespucci

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

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.

Giovanni da Verrazzano

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.

John Cabot

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 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.

Jacques Cartier

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.

Samuel de Champlain

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.

Jacques Marquette

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.

Cabeza de Vaca

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.


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.

Roald Amundsen

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.

Fridtjof Nansen

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.

Leif Ericson

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.