The best travel apps: Maps

Updated over 1 year ago

20 years ago there was no way to hide the fact you were a tourist: you had to use fold out paper maps. Not sure Beyoncé can even make that look cool (okay she can). Now, we can now hide our poor sense of direction and lack of spacial awareness with amazingly detailed and accurate maps right on our phones. Suave new world indeed.


GPS works on smartphones without signal, so you can keep airplane mode on even while using your maps offline and save yourself from roaming if needed.

Did you know?

The size of countries you see on typical maps is wrong. Say whaaat? They're distorted so our spherical world (ahem flat earthers) can fit onto a flat piece of paper (called Mercator projection). For example, Africa is actually much bigger than our maps give it credit for. See for yourself. Something to keep in mind when guesstimating distance and travel time.

Think a product deserves to be listed here? Suggest it

Google Mapsworks offline

Best overall mapping app for travel

Google Maps is the king of maps and deservedly so. It's fast, constantly updated, accurate, and can be used across the vast majority of the world. They also have specific features that make traveling easier: offline maps, accurate public transportation for most cities, and a lot of content for finding interesting local attractions (see its sister app Google Trips).

Where it falls short: certain areas can't be downloaded offline (like Japan), for which we then recommend (below). Furthermore, despite Google's ubiquity, there are specific countries where a local company's maps works better:


Maps.meworks offline

Great backup you should have just in case was the go to mapping app for travelers until Google Maps added offline features. However, we still recommend having on your phone for a few reasons:

  • Walking and biking routes still work offline, they don't on Google Maps
  • Offline maps can be downloaded for anywhere, including areas Google Maps won't let you
  • It's well made, fast, and includes useful features like Uber integration

Basically, can competently fill in where Google Maps is lacking.

Citymapperworks offline

Best for public transit in big cities

If you're traveling to a big city with a widespread but complex public transit system like Tokyo or NYC, you have to download Citymapper. Google Maps isn't bad for public transit, but Citymapper takes it to a new level with real-time updates on arrival times and disruptions with convenient features like notifying you when to get off, all wrapped in a pleasant and clear design.

They're in most big urban cities and are always adding more. They even launched a new bus route in London by using their data to find underserved areas.

Wanderprep curates the best travel gear, apps, and tips. Our goal is concise recommendations that respect your time and help you travel better and more responsibly. To fund these guides and our giving back goals aka make money, we sometimes use affiliate links. Learn our story and approach. We believe great apps give us superpowers that make traveling easier. See what we evaluate besides design, features, and coverage.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.