My Review of Maps.me: The Best Offline Map App!

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When traveling internationally (or even domestically!), at some point you will be lost.

Having an offline navigational map is a good idea for any traveler.  The directions aren’t perfect, and you won’t get live traffic updates.  Some roads may even change before your maps update!

But they are much better than nothing!  At the very least, you have a picture of your location (just like a retro paper map!) to help you find your way.

Maps.meMaps.me is my favorite offline navigation app and works where there is no wi-fi or internet!  Thanks to Rapid Travel Chai and Travel is Free for telling me about it!  I’ll give you the details.

What I Like About Maps.me

Link:   Maps.me

Even if you have global roaming with your service provider (like Sprint’s Open World plan, or Google Project Fi) or you pick up a temporary SIM card once you get to the country you’re visiting, you should still have an offline navigation app.  My favorite is Maps.me!

Maps.me works with no Wi-Fi or cellular internet.  All it needs is your phone’s GPS!  It gets its data from OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap is an open source website, meaning users can add or change data.  It’s like the Wikipedia of maps!

Anyone can edit the maps to make corrections and add locations.  As you’ll see, the data is not complete right now.  But as it grows, becomes more reliable.

The app’s user interface is minimalist, which I love!  You can see more of the map on your screen instead of lots of banners and buttons.  And it’s so smooth!

Maps.me

The Maps.me App Is Easy to Operate

1.   Download Maps

If you’re preparing to travel to an area where you don’t expect to have internet connection, tap “Download Maps” and add the area to your offline collection.  You’ll have fully functioning maps, even with NO Wi-Fi or cellular internet – just GPS.  We found it a lifesaver in Djibouti!

Maps.me

I Used Maps.me to Navigate to Lac Assal in Djibouti

This is my favorite feature, because I can download large areas.

Maps.me

Type the Country in the Top Search Bar, or Click the “Add” Button to Browse Locations

Once you find the country you’re looking for, you can tap it to view all the cities and areas inside that country.  You can choose to download just certain areas, or tap “Download All” for the entire country.

Maps.me

Bosnia Is Separated into 3 Areas

After your trip, you can delete any maps you’re finished using to free-up the memory on your phone.  Just long-press the file to bring up a menu, and press “Delete“.

2.   Add Location

This is the tool that makes the Maps.me app useful for other travelers!

By clicking “Add Location“, you can restaurants, hospitals, gas stations, or anything else not yet recorded on the map, so other travelers know about it.  This is the “open source” feature of the app.

Maps.me

Find an ATM not Recorded on Maps.me? Create a Location on the Map by Centering the Area Between the Cross-Hairs, and Type the Information

3.   Share My Location

You can send your location through the menu in Maps.me, and your friends can see your location even if they don’t have the app.  It’s a good SOS feature if you find yourself in an unfamiliar location, or just handy for folks trying to meet up.

4.   Search

You can tap on the magnifying glass at the bottom left of the screen to bring up a search page.  Then you can type your destination in the top search bar.  You can also see your search history, or choose a category to get local suggestions.

Tap where you want to go, and you will get directions from your current location.

Maps.me

Type Your Destination in the Search Bar, or Look Through Categories if You Don’t Have a Certain Destination in Mind

5.   Directions

Tapping the arrow between 2 circles next to the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen will bring up 2 search bars.

You can type in your starting point and ending point and see directions from any area.  You will receive directions from areas other than your current location.  This helps me to choose hotels by viewing the distance to different restaurants and activities.

Maps.me

Find Directions From Anywhere to Anywhere, Including Bike and Walking Routes

6.   Bookmarks

You can also scan the map for places that interest you, and tap the map to get directions.  If you want to remember the spot, you can bookmark it by clicking the icon that appears at the bottom left of the screen.

Maps.me

Touch Anywhere on the Screen and You’ll Get Directions

When you click the icon to the bottom right of the home screen, you’ll be given 4 options:

Maps.me

Clicking the Menu Icon Will Bring Up 4 Helpful Items

What I Don’t Like About Maps.me

Because Maps.me is open source, it relies on users to input its information.  Which I like.  However, there are plenty of areas on the map that have not been added yet.

As a test, I typed in easy locations, like Starbucks and Panera, and the map would find plenty of locations.  However it would also miss plenty.  The closest Panera according to the app was 15 miles away, when there was really a Panera ~2 miles away!

Maps.me

This Is NOT the Closest Panera. Plus, There’s an Easier Way to Get There!

The point is, it’s not perfect.  If you want to find a Starbucks, it will take you to Starbucks.  But you may pass another Starbucks along the way!

That’s where you and I come in!  We can tag the closer Starbucks for other users.

If you want to find popular tourist destinations, like a national park, a zoo, a museum, etc., it’s most likely already in the app, and will work like a charm.

How Does it Compare to Other Offline Maps?

There are plenty of offline navigation apps, but I especially like Maps.me.  Other popular apps are:

1.   HERE WeGo Maps

HERE WeGo maps, (previously HERE Maps) is another one of my favorite offline navigational apps.

With HERE Maps, you must download an entire country at a time.  You won’t be able to download a specific city, like you can with Maps.me.  Also, some countries aren’t available (like Pakistan, for example), so depending on where you’re wandering, this might not be the app for you.

2.   Google Maps

It is possible to use Google Maps offline.  Similar to Maps.me, you can download custom areas of a map to your phone, instead of entire countries.

That said, it’s still a perfect app for folks who are aware of these limitations and okay with smaller maps.

Maps.me

Zoom in or Out to FIll the Box With the Area You Want Available Offline

Also, your offline maps will expire in 30 days if you don’t update them.

3.   MapFactor GPS Navigation Maps

I haven’t personally tried MapFactor GPS app, but it’s rated highly, and I’m anxious to compare it to the Maps.me app!

Bottom Line

There is still plenty of work to be done on the Maps.me app, but I love how easy it is to download maps, the smooth and uncluttered user interface, and the idea of travelers collaborating to improve it.  I find it invaluable to use in places where there is no cellphone or internet service because it will still work with GPS!

It has been downloaded 10 million times, and I don’t think it will take long for the travel community to record popular locations to the app.

Which offline navigation app do you recommend?

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8 responses to “My Review of Maps.me: The Best Offline Map App!

  1. T-Mobile, with the free data, google maps has worked great in Paris, Lisbon and Bordeaux. Hopefully, it will continue in Rome, Florence and Venice 😉
    It also has the walking option, where it shows you the metro lines etc for your route.

  2. Google maps download limited to 19 square miles? I just downloaded a map covering a 190 mile east-west route and the north-south extent was more than 40 miles.

    Google maps appears to limit the size of the download based on the amount of free space on your device. Were you testing on a device with limited storage?

  3. Second Richard’s reply. I have downloaded most of Central and South Florida on Google Maps. It saves data when playing Pokemon Go

  4. Hey Darius,

    Literally just got back from Iceland today, we used maps me and it worked great! Another great tool with maps me that I don’t think you mentioned above is the ability to import your google maps saved maps/locations. The interface of adding locations and spots you want to see is much easier in the computer through google maps. I then exported my map as a kmz file and opened it through maps me, all locations are loaded making routing super simple. Maybe you mentioned this I am on a 7 hour jet lag…

  5. @richard @Odojoe – Thanks for sharing. I remember the last time I downloaded the map of Mumbai, it didn’t download the entire area. I’ll try again!

    @Steve – I didn’t know that you can import saved Google maps, which makes it much easier to mark places on maps!

  6. I used offline Google maps for the entire Paris region this past spring. Per the Google website: “The biggest size for an offline area is 120,000 square kilometers.”. Which would be an area of 400km X 300km. I believe the other limitation is storage space, which seems to be plenty big.

  7. Thanks for sharing. Last year my wife and I traveled to Europe three times and we used Here (Here we go) maps. We found those to be the best and most accurate. It had accurate public transportation directions as well and showed 3D maps too. We would download an entire country, use it and then delete before moving to the next country. We simply loved it.