5 of the Best Mapping Apps for Getting Around
Once you've arrived in a new city or country, smartphone apps can be a great way to help you navigate streets, subways and buses. Apps can also ensure you won't miss a monument, key tourist attraction or great meal in a local restaurant. Below is the TPG-approved list of the best mapping apps for getting around in a strange new city.
I may be stating the obvious, but Google Maps is one of the best apps out there for showing maps, giving directions and laying out routes. The app has been updated to include areas of interest, which aims to make it easier for people to find nearby restaurants, bars and cultural attractions. You can also use the app offline, but make sure to pre-load or cache key locations before you lose your Wi-Fi access to ensure the best possible service. Save attractions you want to visit after you find them on search, and add them to your favorites list. I use Google Maps just as much in my own city as I do while traveling, so it's a great app to have no matter what. The app is free.
If you're planning to visit a city with an extensive public transportation system such as New York City or London, Citymapper is the app of choice, thanks to its clear and easy-to-use interface. Just choose your city, plug in where you'd like to go and Citymapper will find you the best route. The app offers access to all types of rail and bus maps, as well as updated information on delays and line closures; there's even information on ferries and bike- and car-sharing options. Citymapper is quick and easy to to use when you're traveling in European cities, especially if you aren't accustomed to using public transportation or don't speak the local language. The app is free.
Gone are the days you'll have to stroll around a tourist attraction with an embarrassing, brick-sized audio guide. Detour offers cool walking tours around the city you're in, navigating for you while explaining all sorts of interesting tidbits at the same time. You can even sync these tours with friends so you can hear everything simultaneously — and only one person has to pay. Each tour costs approximately $5.50 and Detour is slowly rolling out more city guides. Each tour is narrated by a local and includes theatrical music and sound effects for extra drama and intrigue. I recommend the Illegal Paris tour, guiding you through Montmartre's funky history, or Chicago's Riverwalk tour. The base app itself is free to download.
If you're in need of a city map, HERE's offline navigation might even beat Google Maps in some cases. When in Havana, I had a lot of trouble getting Google Maps to load offline and there just wasn't enough map detail provided. HERE WeGo's offline Havana map helped me many times, especially once when I got lost late at night in a not-so-great part of town. Thanks to HERE WeGo, I found my restaurant quickly and safely. Just make sure to download your offline maps ahead of time and star any places of interest you may want to visit before you lose your internet connection. The app is free.
If you're looking for local restaurants and interesting activities, Localscope is a map guide that will help you find fun things to do wherever you are. You can look up geotagged points around you and save them to your map, read reviews, see photos and get access to logistical information like opening hours. The app integrates seamlessly with social media, too, allowing you to easily share things with friends or followers and see how many likes or comments specific places get. The app costs $2.99.
Download for iOS.
What travel apps do you swear by when you're finding your way around a new city? Let us know in the comments, below.