Landing Spotlight – Grytviken

July, 2021 | Antarctica Excursions & Sites

Expedition Leader Hannah

Grytviken is a legendary location on South Georgia island that was home to the largest whaling station in the early 20th century. It is located at the head of King Edward Cove within the larger Cumberland East Bay. Present-day Grytviken features the now-defunct whaling station, its rusted equipment providing shelter for wildlife, as well as a church, a graveyard, a post office and a museum.

Though the haunting remnants of the whaling station provide a glimpse into the island’s history, they also provide interesting photography opportunities. First built in 1904 at a time when the waters were teeming with marine life, whalers swiftly decimated the whale and seal populations, and within 60 years had to close the station. Thankfully these populations have been able to make a comeback after being hunted to a point of almost complete disappearance. The corroded ruins of the processing plant have been properly cleaned out, so it is safe for visitors to meander amongst the remains.

The Neo-Gothic church in Grytviken was first built in Norway then erected there in 1913. This beautiful white church is one of the most southernmost churches in the world and people can get married there, though there are rarely services that you can attend. The South Georgia Museum has some wonderful exhibits on Antarctic exploration as well as a life-size replica of the James Caird sailboat. The museum has other exhibits that educate about the Falkland Islands war and the fascinating history of the region. There is also a post office on-site for you to send postcards home.

A visit to Shackleton’s grave is a must-do, and here we respectfully toast the great explorer as well as his right-hand man Frank Wild, whose ashes are buried next to his ‘boss’.

Highlights of a visit to Grytviken:

  • A visit and toast to Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild at the cemetery
  • A stroll around and through the Neo-Gothic Grytviken church
  • Visit the South Georgia Museum, filled with artefacts and historical information
  • Follow Shackleton’s path as you retrace his steps into Grytviken on a hike
  • Wander the ruins of the old whaling station with many great photo opportunities
  • Look for fur seals, elephant seals and a variety of penguins amongst the ruins
  • Send a postcard from the post office

You can visit Grytviken on South Georgia Island on our Antarctica, South Georgia and Falkland Island itineraries. Have questions? You can easily speak with our team anytime.