Which places might I visit on South Georgia?

  • Meet the king penguins in the largest rookeries in the world, with hundreds of thousands of birds
  • Pay tribute to explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton by toasting 'The Boss' at his grave in Grytviken
  • Visit historical sites and learn about the island's dark past as the epicentre of Antarctic whaling
  • Take to the zodiacs and explore and breathtaking scenery of glacier-clad mountains rising from the sea
  • Itineraries are always subject to South Georgia's weather and other conditions. Visits to specific locations are never guaranteed

Top landing sites in South Georgia

Best landing sites for penguins

A group of king penguins on the grass in light snow in Fortuna Bay on South Georgia island

King penguins at Fortuna Bay

For understandable reasons, seeing South Georgia's king penguins are at the very top of the list for most visitors.

The largest king penguin colony on the island (and possibly in the world) is at St Andrews Bay and is an extraordinary assault on the senses in every way. The beach here can sometimes make landings tricky however so visits are far from guaranteed. The two other largest colonies are those at Salisbury Plain and Gold Harbour.

Smaller king penguin colonies can be found at Fortuna Bay and Right Whale Bay and in many ways offer more relaxed and intimate viewing.

Other species of penguins are also available of course. Stromness Harbour and Godthul are good for gentoo penguins, and Elsehul for macaroni penguins. Cooper Bay is the only place on the island where you can see a chinstrap penguin colony – in fact it's the only spot where all four species of South Georgia's penguins are known to breed.

Best landing sites for seabirds

A wandering albatross sits on its nest amid the tussock on Prion island in South Georgia

Wandering albatross nesting on Prion Island

Not all birds on South Georgia are penguins. Some of its most enchanting species will have followed your ship from either the Falkand Islands or the Antarctic Peninsula: South Georgia is a place for albatross lovers.

Top of many people's wish-list for a trip here is a visit to Prion Island, where you have the possibility of seeing wandering albatrosses on the nest. Access is restricted: smaller than usual numbers of tourists are allowed per visit, and they must stick strictly to the wooden boardwalk through the nesting area. Prion Island is completely closed to visitors between 20 November to 7 January inclusive.

The cliffs of Elsehul offer another treat for albatross fans. Grey-headed albatross and light-mantled albatross (for our money, the two most beautiful albatross species) nest here, and the skies are full of wheeling birds, as well as many other seabird species. Right Whale Bay is another good spot for a wide variety of nesting seabirds.

Best landing sites for history

A sleeping seal on the shore at the whaling station at Grytviken, with the rusting hulk of a catcher ship in the background

Nature reclaiming the whaling station at Grytviken

While some landing sites in South Georgia overwhelm you with their wildlife, others bring the island's history into sharp focus.

All visitors to the island call in at the old whaling station at Grytviken. Its rusting machinery speaks to a dark past while its reclamation by the wildlife points to a more optimistic future. Be sure to check out the excellent museum as well as raising a toast at Shackleton's grave here.

To get closer to Shackleton, retrace the final leg of his 1916 survival trek across the mountains with the hike from Fortuna Bay to the whaling station Stromness Harbour. It's a rare treat to visit the other side of the island to see where he first landed at King Haakon Bay.

The more modest landing sites at Godthul and Jason Harbour also contain relics of South Georgia's whaling days, as well as offering great wildlife viewing opportunities.

Best landing sites for dramatic scenery

Passengers looking over the bow of an expedition cruise ship looking at the glaciers and mountains at the head of Dryglaski Fjord, South Georgia

Cruising to the head of Dryglaski Fjord

South Georgia is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes you'll encounter anywhere. It could hardly be otherwise when the whole island is a mountain range rising straight out of the sea and topped with snow and glaciers. But some locations remain especially jaw-dropping.

If your ship sails around the southern tip of the island there's a good chance that you'll call at Drygalski Fjord, a long tongue of water surrounded by dramatic peaks and capped with some truly incredible glaciers calving into the sea. Glaciers are also a feature of Gold Harbour, where a large king penguin colony is overlooked by a beautiful hanging glacier that glows in the early morning light.

Sailing between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, look out for the jagged teeth of Shag Rocks erupting for the sea and thick with seabirds.

Main places of interest on South Georgia

Illustrated Guide

Comfort & adventure

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands In Style

Voyage south in Shackleton’s footsteps, exploring the Southern Ocean's highlights as part of this expansive 20-day adventure. A well-balanced itinerary gives plenty of time in each jaw-dropping location. Explore from the comfort of your sleek purpose-built expedition ship, accompanied by…

  • 20 Days
  • $25,495
Ultimate Antarctica: South Georgia & Antarctic Circle

An epic 23-day voyage which packs in an astonishing 7 days in Antarctica, 4 days in wildlife-rich South Georgia and the Antarctic Circle at 66 degrees south. It's very rare to find a trip combining all three places. Limited departure…

  • 23 Days
  • $39,490
Explore Antarctica, South Georgia and Falklands

On a long voyage with so many days at sea, the journey is made more enjoyable aboard this comfortable, well appointed 4* ship with its capacious cabins and dedicated staff. Choice of 17-23 day departures per season, with optional kayaking…

  • 17-23 Days
  • $14,795
South Georgia, Falklands and Antarctica In-Depth

Devised by a team with 50 years of polar expedition experience, from the balance of the time exploring each location, to the wealth of onboard expertise and thoughtfully designed expedition ships, this trip has a real ‘pedigree’. Explore with the…

  • 22 Days
  • $28,020
Destination Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

Join this classic Southern Ocean voyage, with a choice of two 21-day departures in the season. Travel aboard a generously proportioned 134-passenger expeditionary ship, undertake daily landings, with camping and kayaking for the…

  • 21 Days
  • $18,199
Encounter South Georgia & The Falklands

Visit the ‘Galapagos of the Southern Ocean’ on this epic voyage focused on South Georgia and The Falklands only. With a total of 8 full days of off-ship exploring, very few other trips offer such extended time to really immerse…

  • 18 Days
  • $13,595

South Georgia visiting guidelines

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands recognises 49 approved visitor sites on South Georgia, with the most popular covered by special Visitor Site Management Plans to ensure their conservation. This guidance, conveyed to you by the expedition leader on your ship must be strictly adhered to at all times. Some sites are suitable for zodiac cruising only, while others are out of bounds to ships carrying more than 200 passengers.

Our list of South Georgia landing sites is for guidance only. Ship itineraries and visits to specific locations in South Georgia are never guaranteed. While your operator will always do their best to maximise your time in South Georgia, plans can change as fast as the polar weather. Decisions on which locations to visit are always made on the day by the ship's captain and expedition leader. The only exception to this is Grytviken: all ships must call here to undergo immigration and biosecurity procedures.

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What our customers think of South Georgia Landing Sites

Most memorable moment? Walking alone in Fortuna Bay to the foot of the glacier. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Ivett Papista - Hungary

The opportunities to see, hear, and move among the penguins, sea birds, seals, and whales was truly special. We learned so much, experienced so much it is hard to pick a favorite moment. Many truly 'close encounters.' Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Cox - USA

Most memorable moment: the penguin colonies on South Georgia. Each time seeing the massive colonies on South Georgia I was blown away. It was beyond words. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Ron Hart - USA

South Georgia was the highlight with so much wildlife and the history. The museum in Grytviken and the church were also very interesting. All the penguins, thousands of them at a time, was very overwhelming at times. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Gordon Pickering - USA


More about South Georgia

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