Home to over 85% of the Falkland Islands’ human population (around 3000 people,) the archipelago’s capital of Stanley is a small, colorful port city with a big, BIG heart. From its colorful houses standing on some of its streets to its many war memorials to its unique landmarks and sea views, there’s always a new surprise waiting for you just around every corner of this city.
If there is one place in the Falklands where you’ll get the most bang for your buck for your bucket list, it’s Port Stanley. The city is full of landmarks and historic buildings while also being close enough to the other attractions outside of it.
The Best Things to Do in Port Stanley, The Falkland Islands Capital City
1. See the 1914 Battle of the Falklands Memorial
Situated near the sea wall west of Government House on Ross Road is the 1914 Battle of the Falklands Memorial. It commemorates the sea battle between the British and German fleets during the First World War.
The memorial consists of a wall with plaques showing details of the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands. A small flower garden can also be seen in front, adding to the area’s beauty.
2. Visit the 1982 Liberation Monument
The 1982 Liberation Monument is a war memorial in Stanley commemorating the troops who served and helped liberate the archipelago during the Falklands War. It stands proudly off Ross Road in front of the Secretariat Building.
The Memorial consists of an obelisk surrounded by wall plaques designed by Gerald Dixon, a Falklands-born architect. At the top of the obelisk is a bronze image of Britannia, sculpted by David Norris. Found next to the Memorial is a bust of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
3. Stop at Boot Hill
There are a few odd sights in the Falklands that will make you second guess if you are seeing them correctly. One of them is Boot Hill, located a few miles outside the city, just off Darwin Road.
As the name implies, this small hill is filled with staked boots left, right, and center, put by people who visited the place. No one really knows who, what, or why this all began. However, there was one story where if you stake one of your boots here before you leave the Falklands, you’ll someday return. Stake both boots? Aside from leaving you barefoot, it is said you won’t be returning. Now, no one would want either of that, right?
4. Visit Cape Bougainville
On the north coast of East Falkland lies Cape Bougainville. Named after Louis de Bougainville, a French navigator who built the archipelago’s first settlement in the 1760s, the cape is located inside Salvador Farm (Gibraltar Station.)
Different wildlife inhabits its shores, such as Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins, sea lions, as well as different gull species. And unlike other places on the Falklands, the penguin rookery is found on quite a steep slope.
5. Take a Tour to Cape Dolphin
Named after the HMS Dolphin in 1765, Cape Dolphin is a peninsula located on the northernmost point on East Falkland. From Stanley, it takes about 2-3 hours to get to the farmlands and then an additional hour or so of true off-road cross-country experience via a 4×4 to Cape Dolphin.
Being a National Nature Reserve, it boasts stunning scenery and diverse flora and fauna. You’ll be treated to the sights of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins and southern sea lions at the tip of the Cape. One of the area’s main attractions, however, is the abundance of waterfowls like black-necked swans and yellow-billed pintails on Swan Pond.
6. See the Cape Pembroke Lighthouse
This 18-meter (59 feet) automated lighthouse can be found on Cape Pembroke, on the easternmost end of the Falklands. It was built in 1855 to help ships from the hazardous approach to Stanley Harbour. During the Falkland Wars of 1982, it was put out of operation. And then, during the 1990s, restoration efforts began (which continue to this day.)
7. Visit Cartmell Cottage
Cartmell Cottage is a museum situated on 7 Pioneer Row, part of the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust. The house is a historical treasure in its own right, built in the 1850s, and has bore witness to the town’s growth over the century.
Inside, you’ll find a recreation of the different periods of Falklands history, displaying furniture and household items from the 1840s to the 1970s.
8. Christ Church Cathedral and Whalebone Arch
Regarded as one of the crown jewels of the Falkland Islands, the Christ Church Cathedral along Ross Road in Stanley is the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world. Although it is small and simple by cathedral standards, it boasts beautiful stained-glass windows and a historic air once you get inside.
Adding more to its charm is the whalebone arch right beside it. It is made from the jaw bones of two blue whales to commemorate the centenary of British rule in the islands.
The church also possesses a one-of-a-kind banner on the entire continent of South America: the Garter banner of Lord Shackleton. You can see it behind the choir screen.
9. See the Colonists’ Cottages
Also known as Pioneer Cottages, these prefabricated kit houses were built in 1849 for military pensioners and their families who settled on the islands at the time. You can find them along Pioneer Row and Drury Street, still standing to this day with their red roofs and white walls.
10. Step Inside the Falkland Islands Museum
What better way to dig into the Falkland Islands’ history and heritage than at the Falkland Islands Museum? Originally located at Britannia House at Ross Road West, it has since been moved to The Historic Dockyard in Stanley in 2014.
The museum features different galleries and approximately 5000+ fun artifacts in its collection, such as pictures, outfits, photographs, and more. Don’t miss the display of scary sea spiders!
Outside the museum, you’ll find four historical buildings where you’ll have a glimpse of some of the things the Falklanders used back in the day, like an old gear shed and printing office.
11. See the Falkland Islands Totem Pole
Another one of the Falkland Islands’ most peculiar sights is the roadside attraction called the Totem Pole. Situated along Airport Road to the east of Stanley, it was started by British Troops as a tribute to their hometowns at the end of the Falklands War.
The soldiers used mockup signs where they put the name of their hometown and its distance to the Falkland Islands. They then attached it to an old power line pylon. Since then, tourists from different countries have added their own mockup signs to the ever-growing Totem Pole.
If you do any island hopping while staying in Stanley you will be passing by this on the way to the airport.
12. Photograph the Government House
The Government House is the seat and home of the Governors of the Falkland Islands, dating back to the mid-19th century. It is situated along Ross Road, and is regarded as the most photographed building in Stanley. And for good reason—it’s a beauty.
One of its most notable features is the large conservatory (greenhouse) on the north side of the building. Different fruits and vegetables are produced here, including one of the world’s southernmost Black Hamburg grapevines.
Unfortunately, entry is by invitation only, but they do allow tourists to take pictures of the exterior.
13. Walk the Beach at Gypsy Cove
Gypsy Cove is a small but beautiful bay with a white sandy beach located 4.4 miles (7.1 km) northeast of Stanley. Due to its proximity to the capital city (only a 15 min drive), it is also the most accessible of the wildlife sites.
Here, the nesting Magellanic penguins and other animals ensure there is no shortage of wildlife activity. There are also remains of some old WWII guns on the nearby Ordinance Point, which also makes for a scenic walk, especially during sunsets.
14. Hike at Mount Tumbledown
Named after a time when the early settlers drove horses over the hill’s steep rocky edge, Mount Tumbledown was the site of one of the last battles of the Falklands War. A large cross overlooks the surrounding area from the summit, with many memorials, hand-made items, and little wooden crosses adorning the spot just below it.
The hike is relatively easy, although some parts of the route can be steep. At the foot of the hill, you’ll see the model of the now-dwarf planet Pluto, which is part of the Solar System Sculpture Walk.
P.S. This one is also part of the Mountain and Battlefield walking tour.
15. See the Jubilee Villas
The Jubilee Villas were built by the Dean family in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. What makes these villas stand out is their 19th-century English flair compared to the rest of the city’s more modern architecture.
You can find them on the corner of Ross Road and Philomel Street, near the Falkland Islands Tourist Board/Jetty Visitor Centre and Christ Church Cathedral.
16. Take a Kayak Trip with Falklands Outdoors
Since most of the adventures in the Falklands are either by land or air, why not try something different and explore the surrounding waters instead? Falklands Outdoors does just that, and more.
This family-owned business from Stanley will take you on a guided kayak tour where you’ll experience Falklands’ great outdoors from the sea. On our tour we glided near the water’s edge spotting dolphins and other wildlife, then stopped on the white sand beach for a cup of tea with a penguin view!
17. Explore Kidney Cove
Located a couple of miles northeast of Stanley is Kidney Cove. It is part of the privately owned 10,000-acre Murrell Farm, a sheep farm owned by Adrian and Lisa Lowe.
The owners will be happy to introduce you to the cove’s resident wildlife, which includes 47 different species like Falkland skuas and turkey vultures and four penguin species (Rockhoppers, Gentoo, Magellanic, and King.) They also offer fishing trips and 1982 battlefield memorial tours if you fancy doing something different.
18. Stroll Through Memorial Wood
The 1982 Memorial Wood, located near Stanley Cemetery, offers a quiet and peaceful break from the crowds of tourists who travel to the islands. The area serves to commemorate the members of the British servicemen and civilians killed during the Falklands War.
Unlike the rest of the islands, this is also one of the rare places here where you’ll see trees in abundance. A total of 258 Beech trees were planted in memory of the fallen, 255 for each British soldier and three for the Falkland Islander women.
19. Royal Marines Monument
Situated near the Government House along Ross Road, the Royal Marines Monument is a small historical monument that serves as a tribute to the island’s long-standing relationship with the Royal Marines, which dates back centuries ago.
20. Sapper Hill
Sapper Hill is a 453-foot hill on East Falkland. It is one of the three areas where the Battle of Mount Tumbledown took place and is named after the sappers who were once stationed there.
Visitors can either go on an easy hike to the summit or drive on a rocky track. Near the hilltop stands a memorial commemorating the fallen Royal Engineers and stunning landscape views. A mile northwest (around 17 mins of walking) from the hill is Mount Tumbledown, which is also something you should not miss out on.
21. Solar System Sculpture Walk
Do you ever have one of those shower thoughts about how vast our Solar System is? Well, the city of Stanley might just have the thing for you (albeit on a smaller scale.) Built by local sculptor/artist Rob Yssel, the Solar System Sculpture Walk is one of the city’s unique sights.
Please note that the solar system walk is temporarily missing Earth due to road work.
It features a 1:1 billion scale model of the Sun and the planets in our Solar System, giving you a space-bird’s eye view of the distance and what they would look like from each other out there in space.
The walk starts from the Sun model, near the Battle of the Falklands Memorial, and ends at the base of Mount Tumbledown outside town.
22. St Mary’s Catholic Church
Standing on 12 Ross Road is the only Catholic church in the Falkland Islands, St. Mary’s Church. It was constructed in 1899 using wood and sports a Victorian design. Inside, oil murals by local-born artist James Peck can be seen on the church’s West wall.
23. Shop & Stroll Around the Town
Looking to surprise yourself with Stanley’s sights? A stroll and weave through its streets will do just the trick. From 19th-century buildings to memorials to seaside views and more, you’ll have plenty of chances to acquaint yourself with the city’s charm, not to mention the photo opportunities along the way.
Stanley also boasts different shops that will fulfill your shopping needs. From taking home your very own penguin (albeit a hand-made one :p) at The Harbor View Gift Shop to Falklands-inspired clothing and items at the Capstan Gift Shop to something more artsy at Studio 52, you will surely be bringing a piece of Stanley with you back home.
If you like to plan your stroll, you can get a map from the visitor center. Or, for a truly immersive experience, you can take a tour with one of the friendly and knowledgeable local guides.
24. Take to the Waves at Surf Bay
Just a 10-min drive east of Stanley is one of the two great surf spots in the Falkland Islands, Surf Bay. It features sugary white sands and super consistent fast waves surfing enthusiasts will surely love. It also makes for the perfect spot for some swimming and paddling.
Some nugget of information about the bay is that it was once one of two of the most heavily mined areas in the Falkland Islands. Due to demining efforts, Surf Bay was declared clear in 2010.
When it comes to wildlife, it is pretty much alive, like most places in the Falklands. During the summer and autumn, you’ll see many penguins waddling about!
25. Take a Peek at Tabernacle Free Church
The Tabernacle Free Church is a historical church at Barrack Street in Stanley. This humble church is one of the five congregations of the United Free Church in the Falkland Islands, built in the 1890s from a Victorian kit building sent by Victorian Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon.
26. The Shipwreck of Lady Elizabeth
A relic of the past that still stands to this day, the Shipwreck of Lady Elizabeth is one of Stanley’s most iconic sights. This 1155-ton iron vessel suffered severe damage in 1912 from a hurricane which forced it to dock in Port Stanley for repairs and was ultimately deemed unseaworthy. In 1936, a storm broke the ship’s mooring lines, causing it to drift into its final resting place at Whalebone Cove in Stanley Harbour.
27. Relax at Victory Green
Along the harbor wall is a small but lovely stretch called Victory Green. With some wooden benches, green grass, and views of Stanley Harbour, it is the perfect place to rest, go for a stroll and admire the city’s beauty. Different geese and ducks, such as kelp geese and Falkland’s flightless steamer ducks, frequent the Harbour’s waters, especially during low tide.
Some of Victory Green’s famous attractions include the large mizzen mast from the SS Great Britain to the area’s west end and the array of cannons facing the sea.
28. Go Island Hopping
There are hundreds of beautiful islands within the Falklands, which is why you can never go wrong with going island hopping here. While taking a boat or going on a cruise might just do the trick, in the Falklands you usually do it on a puddle jumper plane with FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) Airlines. And boy was it one of the best ways to experience it—the views can’t be beat!
Here are just some of the many islands you can hop into:
- Pebble Island: Falklands’ third largest offshore island and home to its longest beach, Elephant Beach (perfect for beachcombing.)
- Bleaker Island: famous for its sheep/cattle farms, beaches, coves, and bird life (like gentoo penguins!)
- Carcass Island: a small but enchanting bird watchers paradise found northwest of West Falkland.
- West Point: a sheep farm boasting beautiful coastal scenery, hilly terrain, and diverse bird species, including black-browed albatrosses and Rockhopper penguins.
- Port Howard: home to the 200,000-acre Port Howard Farm (lots of sheep!) and a museum with fascinating war memorabilia.
29. Volunteer Point
Named after a sealing ship back in 1815, Volunteer Point is a privately owned Nature Reserve and Important Bird Area, part of Johnson’s Harbour Farm in East Falkland.
The area houses the largest King penguin rookery in the archipelago and boasts a stunning 2-mile-long white sandy beach that attracts different birdlife and tourists alike.
It is accessible by road, and once you get to the farm, it switches to an off-road drive. Local tour operators in Stanley, like Derek’s Tours and Adventure Falklands, can take you there on a day trip in a 4×4. For a more epic bucket list experience, however, you can take to the skies and fly there on a helicopter with the Falklands Helicopter Services. This is the route we chose and it was an EPIC experience!
30. Taste Some Gin at Falklands Islands Distillers
Going on a holiday at Stanley is certainly no excuse to miss out on gin o’ clock, and the Falkland Islands Distillers just have the perfect drink to go with it: Darwin’s Botanicals Gin.
Made from locally sourced ingredients that give it a distinct flavor, their gin is definitely a one-of-a-kind Falklands drink. You can grab yourself a bottle at the small yellow building just beside the Falkland Islands Tourist Board/Jetty Visitor Center.
P.S. As their operating hours may vary, be sure to check their Facebook page first. They also have a limited stock, so keep your fingers crossed. I was lucky enough to walk away with a bottle of the Darwin’s Botanicals Gin!
31. Whalebone Display
The Whalebone Display is an impressive exhibit of reconstructed whalebone skeletons by anti-whaling campaigner Mike Butcher. He carefully collected and pieced together bones from different whale carcasses that washed ashore and mounted them across his front lawn along Dairy Paddock Road.
The display aims to educate and show the whales’ magnificence to people, as well as to bring about a ban in whaling.
Where to Stay in Stanley
And because of how conveniently close the hotel is to the city’s attractions and amenities, it is the perfect place to rest and recharge for your travel around the Falklands.
The Waterfront Boutique Hotel
The Waterfront Boutique Hotel is a small boutique-style hotel located close to the visitor center, facing Stanley Harbour. They have six bedrooms, divided between Luxury Rooms and Junior Suites (these ones have sea views), as well as a popular in-house kitchen cafe that offers a relaxed and welcoming dining experience. Don’t confuse being laid-back to mean it lacks in deliciousness. We enjoyed our first lunch and last dinner in the Falklands here—the food is fantastic!
For an added bucket list experience, don’t miss out on trying their “Falklander’s Board” that has lamb pie, goose pate and beetroot chutney!
Malvina House Hotel
Stanley’s premier hotel, Malvina House Hotel is just down the road from The Waterfront, located across the street from the Falkland Islands Museum. They have spacious and comfy modern-style rooms, with the executive and suite ones offering the best sunset and sunrise views of the harbor.
Different amenities like their state-of-the-art cinema and private spa, coupled with friendly staff and excellent service, will surely make you feel relaxed and pampered during your stay. And the eats? Lots of delicious varieties to choose from. We indulged in the crispy calamari, rabbit ravioli, and a baked Alaska for dessert.
PS: The Falkands is known for their delicious squid, and Malvina’s restaurant has one of the best versions: its Signature Chilli Salt Squid.
A small city with a charm that captures the hearts of tourists and locals alike, the Falkland Islands’ capital city is one place definitely worth visiting.
Every turn in and out of this city reveals a new surprise, so pack your bags and let Port Stanley take you in for your next big bucket list journey.
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