Trust me - after walking around the streets of endless cities, moving in between many countries and searching out public transportation options in countless areas, we've gathered a pretty extensive "getting-around-toolkit" of apps on our iPhones. I personally have one folder on my iPhone called "Transportation", one called "Maps" and another one called "Travel".
Getting around means a lot of of things - it means walking (with no wi-fi) through the labyrinth-like streets of a new city to find that coffeeshop, figuring out which tube(s) to take in London, finding the best way to cross a continent at a low cost or even watching your map secretly while hitchhiking or taking a taxi to make sure you're not being scammed.
So here it is, a breakdown of the very best maps apps for finding your way around the globe. We have tried them all and these are the ones we kept.
Offline Maps - Walking and Driving
We no longer have to carry around lage awkward maps to find our way around new cities. Actually we don't even need WiFi or cell signal to get a car-like GPS guidance or to search out the closest ATM or Coffee Shop.
Walking routes and businesses around you -offline
ForeverMap provides a great app for travelers that walk a lot and want to know what's around them. For each place you go, your can save the maps for the city/country. Your location will always be shown with great accuracy (as long as GPS is turned on), even if you don't have any cell plan, wifi or data available. The offline access will include points of interest and businesses around you, and you can click any area on the map and get a car, walking or bike route to get there. It is possible to save locations.
S. This is the only paid app on the list.
- Full detailed maps with your locations shown with great accuracy
- See the best route to get anywhere in car, walking or on bike - click to select location
- Explore sights and businesses around you in different categories such as ATM, shopping, ect.
- Save unlimited amounts of favourites
Other Features Available Online:
- Travel Guide - search a location and get information on sights ang highlights
- See the best route to get anywhere in car, walking or on bike - search for a specific address
- See and search in maps outside of the downloaded cities/countries
- TripAdvisor, and Foursquare integration
Price: $3 (though it is often FREE as a limited time offer)
Full Navigation Offline - Perfect for drivers
"Here" is our current favourite - it gives you real-time navigation from A to B with each turn explained on screen - completely offline! Well, if you have a car, this FREE app is the ultimate GPS. Download maps from the country you're traveling to, and you'll be guided anywhere you want to go walking or in car - you can even turn the GPS speaker voice on if you wish. Also, it includes navigation with public transportation. However, the map doesn't save points of interest or businesses around you, so you need to know where you want to go. But as opposed to ForeverMap you're able to search for a specific address offline.
- Full detailed maps with your locations shown with all right accuracy
- Complete offline navigation in car or walking - with explained steps and speaking navigation
- Offline Address search
- Public transit (however, we've found the offline suggestions for public transit aren't as reliable as some online maps - see the public transit section)
- Save favourites in customised collections
Additional Features Available Online:
- See and search in maps outside of the downloaded cities/countries
- Faster Search
- Improved accuracy for public transit navigation
Local Public Transportation
Reliable Local Public Transit - Worldwide
If you have an iPhone, it comes with the Apple "Maps" app. Well newsflash - the "Maps" app is in a lot of ways inferior to the Google Maps app. Especially when it comes to public transportation. Supporting all types of transit and displaying departure times, alternate routes and a great overview it works all right in most of the world - however, the app is not made specifically for public transit, and therefore it doesn't work as well as specialised apps for larger cities.
Google Maps is a great transit guide - as long as you have wifi. If you want a general maps app that supports most public transit routes and search offline, then take a look at the "Here" app mentioned above.
Public Transit in major cities
Citymapper is the very best app for getting around larger cities with complicated city-wide public transportation. With a great design and advanced transit options, it is the most efficient and user friendly app for public transportation in bigger cities. You can search your transit while offline and then save it for offline use. You can only save one route for offline use at a time.
The app also features tube maps, bus route maps ect. for you to look over without having to search a specific route.
Citymapper is currently supporting following cities (and is always expanding):
- Germany: Hamburg, Berlin
- The Netherlands: Amsterdam
- France: Paris, Brussels, Lyon
- Great Britain: London, Manchester, Birmingham
- Italy: Rome, Milan
- Spain: Barcelona, Madrid
- Portugal: Lisbon
- United States: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles
- Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver
- Others: Tokyo, Mexico DF, Singapore, Sao Paulo
How to get from anywhere to anywhere
Okay, here's a big one. Do you ever wish you could just sit down and search how to get from one spot on the globe to another? Using all means of transportation? Well, Rome2Rio does exactly that. It includes rail, air, road and sea ways to find the best routes to get in between different parts of the world. It's the first app we've found that can walk us through all links of transportation from a little city somewhere in europe to another little city across the world - including local busses as well as international flights.
It shows the results with estimated prices too, which is probably the biggest plus. Although the prices are not very accurate, it's a great indicator when deciding whether to take an airplane or a train when traveling a far distance. The search results usually also link to the official websites for the different bus companies, airlines or railways so you can look further into the prices and book your tickets.
Finding the best flight tickets
There are several big flight finding apps out there - I was long a fan of Kayak but finally converted to SkyScanner - it has the most results, includes the most fares and lines and it provides the best search functions when looking for flight tickets.
The biggest difference in between SkyScanner and other major flight search applications, is the monthly overview function, letting you see indicative prices for your trip for a whole month - there are often those few days that are for some reason a lot cheaper, and SkyScanner helps you search them out.
Includes a price alert and Explore function, making it even easier to figure out how to get the cheapest tickets and where to go!