One of the more common questions I receive relates to international (non-U.S.) maps — where can I find maps of a particular country? There are actually many options, and I suspect that most people aren’t aware of them all. Some are even free. I’m going to focus on Garmin in this post, which has the greatest variety of international maps readily available, at least for any of the top selling GPS receiver brands in the U.S.
Lets go through the options one by one…
Garmin City Navigator international maps
Created by Garmin, these products provide turn-by-turn routing. Some come in two versions, City Navigator or City Navigator NT. The NT maps use a different compression method and are generally compatible with newer units. A compatibility tool , to see which units they work with, is available on Garmin’s “On the Road” cartography page. Unfortunately, it isn’t always up to date.
Each page below has a link to a coverage map; the image on the right shows the European coverage map. There is also a MapViewer tool on the cartography page, allowing you to
zoom in and view any area covered in each product. These maps are one of the best options for the countries and regions for which they are available:
- Brazil NT
- Europe NT
- Mexico (City Select)
- Middle East NT
- Middle East
- New Zealand
- Singapore / Malaysia NT
- South Africa
- Thailand NT
Garmin MapSource WorldMap
WorldMap is a very general map designed for areas for which Garmin has no other coverage. A pretty weak offering, even Garmin says it “is generally recommended only if no other coverage is available for the area.”
Garmin international topo maps
Third-party international maps
These are created by vendors that have established a relationship with Garmin. They may or may not include turn-by-turn routing. These third-party international maps are listed on the Garmin website:
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Republic of Turkey
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
This is a special, “close to home” case, that has a attracted a number of developers. In addition to the Mexico City Select maps above, I’ve covered several offerings in previous posts:
Other sources of international maps
EDIT: I was just reminded that there are maps for sale of other countries too. I’ll add more as I become aware of them:
- Afghanistan (UPDATE: This looks like a greatly improved Afghanistan topo)
UPDATE: I’ve also been reminded that TravelByGPS.com has routable maps of Africa, Costa Rica, Iraq, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan and Panama.
A word about Garmin nuvi x70 models
If you are planning a trip to Europe, you may want to consider purchasing a Garmin nuvi 270, 370, 670 or 770. All of these units have pre-loaded maps of the U.S., Canada and Europe (see coverage map above). Generally, it is cheaper to buy these units with pre-loaded maps rather than buy a model without them and purchase the maps separately. Check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart to see the differences in other features in these transatlantic units.
Free international maps
Be sure to check out the followup post on obtaining free international (and U.S.) maps for your Garmin GPS.