Famous Adventurers and Explorers

A selection of famous explorers and adventurers throughout history. Including Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Neil Armstrong.


Leif Eriksson ( 970-1020 ) Eriksson was a Norse explorer who made the first European journey to North America – 500 years before the more celebrated Christopher Colombus.

Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) Polo was a Venetian traveller and explorer who made ground-breaking journeys to Asia and China.  Becoming one of the first Europeans to travel extensively in Asia.

Christopher_ColumbusChristopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) An Italian born explorer, Columbus made four ground-breaking voyages to the Americas. Sailing in uncharted seas, Columbus’ voyages across the Atlantic and paved the way for others to follow.


Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) Portuguese sailor and adventurer who led the first expedition to make a successful circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan also made the first crossing from the Atlantic into the Pacific and also the first successful crossing of the Pacific Ocean. He died before the expedition reached Europe.

Sir Francis Drake (1540 – 1597) Drake was an English explorer who made the second successful circumnavigation of the world in 1577-1580. He also fought the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Sir_Walter_RaleighSir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618 ) Raleigh was an English explorer who made several journeys to the Americas and also led expeditions in search of the legendary ‘El Dorado’.

Captain-cookCaptain James Cook (1728 – 1779) Cook was a British explorer who made groundbreaking voyages to the Pacific Ocean. He made the first European contact with Eastern coast of Australia and he chartered several islands in the Pacific.

David_LivingstoneDavid Livingstone (1813 – 1872) Livingstone was a popular Victorian missionary who explored the continent of Africa. He sought to find the source of the Nile and spent years travelling through the inner heart of Africa.

roald-amundsenRoald Amundsen (1872 – 1928 ) Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer and a key figure in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole in 1912. In 1926, he led the first successful expedition to reach the North Pole.

Vasco_da_GamaVasco de Gama (1469 – 1524) Vasco de Gama was a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to reach India by sea. De Gama made a direct voyage to India – travelling around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa – arriving in Calicut in 1498.

Ernest Shackleton (1874 – 1922)
Anglo Irish polar explorer. Shackleton made many ground-breaking expeditions to the Antarctic.

Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937) American aviation pioneer and author. First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amy Johnson (1903 – 1941)
Pioneering English aviator who set numerous long-distance flying records in the 1930s.

Donald Campbell (1921 – 1967)
British speed record holder on land and water. Campbell set both land and sea records in 1964.

Wright Brothers
American brothers, Orville and Wilbur pioneered the first powered aeroplane, succeeding in 1903.

armstrongNeil Armstrong (1930 – 2012) US Pilot and astronaut. In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to successful land and walk on the moon.


Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous explorers”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. Published 18 Feb. 2012. Last updated 4 July 2019.


Great Explorers
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Great Explorers – at Amazon

Christopher_ColumbusFamous Explorers A list of famous explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama and John Cabot.

Ferdinand_MagellanAge of Discovery (15th – 17th Century) A period of exploration and maritime journeys across the world’s oceans to discover new land. The Age of Discovery led to increased trade and European settlements in Africa, Americas and Asia.

scientisFamous Scientists – Famous scientists from Aristotle and Archimedes to Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin. Including mathematicians, biologists, physicists and chemists.