Google Maps is popular and robust enough to have more or less brought on the death of the paper map, and with features like a speed limit checker it feels like it’s getting more and more accessible by the day. But there are still reasons why you wouldn’t want to, or can’t, use Google Maps. Some countries, like China, run a pretty tight ship when it comes to regulation, making Google Maps as good as useless. Or maybe you just don’t want Google algorithms profiting off your data. Whatever your reasons, we won’t pry and instead treat you to the best Google maps alternatives that work similarly well as Google Maps.
When looking for great browser-based open-source Google Maps alternatives that are not going to try and learn everything about you, then OpenStreetMap is a great option. Think of it as the Wikipedia for maps, with anyone able to contribute to its ever-growing database.
It’s easy to use and relatively easy to edit for developers, too. Its maps are highly detailed, and you can do all kinds of things, like save your own routes, get directions, add comments and use different layers like Cycle Map and Transport Map.
While OpenStreetMap doesn’t have its own app, there are many apps (as you’ll see in this list) that use its data for their own apps.
2. Pocket Earth
This iOS-only map app uses the popular OpenStreetMap data to give you up-to-date navigation all around the world. Crucially, you can download maps for offline use, and it has great organizational tools such as pins, which can be categorized into groups.
There are plenty of layers and some extra info you can add to Pocket Earth, and you’re given a lot of flexibility about what level of detail is shown on your maps. A real bonus here is the Wikipedia layer which links to the online encyclopedia for various points of interest on your map.
The basic version is free, but for £4.99, you get topographical maps as well as improved offline functionality and other features.
One of the best features of this robust open-source choice for Google Maps alternatives is the presence of offline maps, which ensures that wherever you are in the world – no matter your signal – you’ll be able to find your way. The maps are very nicely detailed, recalling the aesthetic of Ordnance Survey maps, and frequent updates mean you’re never out of date.
You can really break down what you see on your map, too – from things like toll roads and street lighting to more specific variables like road surface and road quality. You can select roads to avoid and multiple stops, and everything is super-responsive once you’re on the road. The UI isn’t gorgeous, but it’s highly customizable, letting you fine-tune which elements take priority during navigation.
Citymapper is more narrow in its scope than Google Maps but does its sole job better than any app out there. Namely, it’s a public transport app, showing you how to get around many of the world’s top cities using bus, tram, subway and other forms of public transit.
The app keeps an up-to-date database of all public transit routes in its supported cities, showing prices and alerts and letting you keep a list of your favorite locations to travel to.
This is a nice one. Maps.me has all the necessities you’d want from a map app: traffic info, public transport, cycling navigation, you name it. Unlike many other map apps, however, it also has that Google Maps perk of letting you download maps to use offline – handy when traversing foreign cities or if you find yourself Internet-less.
It’s good for all kinds of scenarios. If you’re exploring a city, it shows all the important points of interests and things to see, while hikers in the wilderness also benefit, as it has a regularly updated database of hiking trails all around the world. Once you’ve planned your trip or hike, you can bookmark it and send it to a friend, too.
The Web-based version is excellent, too, letting you pick from dozens of categories, then set up filters to find exactly what you’re looking for.
6. Bing Maps
Did you know that Bing Maps is just as old as Google? Yep, the Microsoft-owned map service was originally known as MapPoint before taking on its more catchy name. It’s packed with plenty of features, including a traffic overlay and 3D views. For you more traditional mappers out there, or people working in town planning, it has the full ordnance survey map of the UK, too.
Bing tends to pick different routes from Google, and when you compare them, Google usually comes out on top when it comes to journey planning. But if you’re looking for neat extra features, like 3D views and OS maps, as well as its own comprehensive answer to Street View, then Bing’s worth a pop.
7. Here WeGo
If a consortium of BMW, Audi and Mercedes were willing to cough up $3 billion to Nokia for this app, there must be something good about it, right? It supports over 200 countries and provides all basic features, like navigation, places to visit and detailed routes, and gives you up-to-date info and prices on all the public transport links around your area, calculating them for you.
Here WeGo offers current route conditions using different information, like police reports, cameras, Twitter feeds, construction sites, speed cameras and other data to keep you informed and provide a faster route if required. Its offline maps support is also amazing with the ability to archive a whole continent and get step-by-step navigation even while offline.
8. BackCountry Navigator
Found yourself in the middle of Lord Knows Where, perhaps on a mountainside or in a dense forest in the Canadian wilderness? Google Maps won’t be much help because it doesn’t detail the topography of land like BackCountry does.
Designed with hikers and outdoorsy types in mind, this map uses GPS waypoints and allows you to do such manual things like enter the longitude/latitude coordinates of your location.
It’s a crucial companion when you’re out in nature, relying on highly detailed topography maps from various established sources like USTopo, OpenCycleMaps, and even nautical maps from the NOAA RNC (should you get shipwrecked or something).
Waze is a community-driven map service that is fast to navigate and very intuitive. Its highly interactive system, which lets you warn other drivers of changes in traffic, speedcams, hazards and so on on the roads, proved so popular, that Google bought the company in 2013. It’s telling that eight years on, Waze continues to exist as a separate entity from Google Maps.
You can get information about the cheapest gas stations near you, under-constructions sites, accidents, speed cameras, police and other information that is updated by millions of other Waze users. You can even track the locations of other Waze users’ and your friends in real time. Bear in mind that it’s designed more for drivers than pedestrians looking to get around a city.
MapQuest is another of the great Google Maps alternatives, especially if you use public transportation for commuting. It will let you compare local transportation services for your route, like Uber or car2go, and also book cars right from the app. It also provides quick updates about all local transportation options near you. If you like walking to different places, it will show you how many calories you will burn, too, which is a nice perk!
Its advanced features include automatic re-routing, real-time traffic conditions, ETA, the ability to detect cameras/accidents/construction sites/slow-downs, location-sharing, weather reports and roadside assistance. It also has some basic features of Google Maps, like turn-by-turn navigation, bookmarking, best route, satellite view, nearby locations to visit, etc.
Most of the above-mentioned alternatives focus on providing the most up-to-date information about your local area, perhaps even better than the great Google Maps itself. What do you think? If you’ve tried any of these (and others) and have some experiences to report – good or bad – let us know!
Any of the above Google Maps alternatives will be a good replacement for Google Maps. If you use Google Messages, then you may be interested to know that you can use the app on your desktop browser. We also have a list of 11 Chrome flags you should check out.