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Find Your Way Without the Internet: 7 of the Best Offline Maps Apps

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Whether you’re getting off the grid, don’t have a local SIM card or eSIM yet, or just prefer not to be connected all the time, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself traveling without an internet connection at some point.

The good news is that being disconnected, by choice or otherwise, doesn’t mean being lost. Many navigation apps work entirely offline, and the GPS in most smartphones and tablets also doesn’t need a data connection to work. There’s no need to break out the paper maps quite yet!

Can I Use GPS Without an Internet Connection?

Yes. On both iOS and Android phones, any mapping app has the ability to track your location without needing an internet connection. Without getting too complicated, the GPS system inside your smartphone works in two different ways.

When you have a data connection, your phone uses Assisted GPS, or A-GPS. This uses the locations of cell phone towers and known Wi-Fi networks to figure out roughly where you are. 

When you first load your navigation app, you’ve probably seen your location go from a big blue circle to a smaller, more precise circle.

That big circle comes from the cell tower and crowd-sourced Wi-Fi information, while the smaller, more precise circle comes once the information from GPS satellites gets added to the mix.

A-GPS doesn’t work without data service, but the GPS radio can still get a fix directly from the satellites if it needs to.

Finding the initial location will take longer with this method, and the accuracy will be more dependant on things outside of your control like terrain and surrounding buildings, but it does work.

What About My iPad? Does That Have GPS?

In its infinite wisdom, Apple decided long ago to only put physical GPS chips into its higher-end iPads. Models with cellular data include a GPS chip, but the Wi-Fi-only models don’t.

Those cheaper models rely entirely on Wi-Fi triangulation, meaning they’ll track your location somewhat effectively if you have a Wi-Fi connection, but not at all otherwise. As a result, they’re not much good for navigating offline while traveling.

Does Using Airplane Mode Turn Off GPS?

Most people assume that putting their phone into airplane mode disables all radio services, but that’s not entirely true. While Wi-Fi, cell service, and Bluetooth all stop working in flight mode, there’s at least one important exception: GPS.

Because the GPS radio can only receive, not transmit, it’s not necessary for it to be disabled during flight. As a result, GPS doesn’t automatically turn off when you enable airplane mode on recent versions of either Android or iOS.

That’s a benefit for travelers, especially those without affordable cell data overseas. Keeping your phone in flight mode lets you avoid roaming charges, while still being able to effectively use it for navigation.

If you’re paranoid about being tracked by GPS when you don’t want to be, however, you can still turn the GPS radio off manually.

To disable GPS tracking on iOS, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. On Android, you’ll find equivalent settings for turning off location tracking under Settings > Security & Lock Screen > Location on older versions or Settings > Location on newer ones.

Which Are the Best Offline Maps Apps?

There are many different offline navigation apps out there, but not all are created equal. We’ve tried literally dozens of them and covered seven of the best below, but since they all have somewhat different features and specialties, you may find yourself using more than one during your trip.

Note that no matter which app you go for, offline maps for the entire world won’t be automatically available on your device. Make sure you download the necessary map data for the country or region you’re going to ahead of time.

These maps are often quite large (hundreds of megabytes), so they’re best downloaded in advance over Wi-Fi rather than using a limited cell data allowance.


MAPS.ME screenshot

With well over a hundred million downloads, MAPS.ME has easily proved its offline navigation credentials. The app gives you walking, cycling, or driving directions at any time, with real-time public transport and traffic information available when you’re online.

Maps are taken from OpenStreetMap’s extensive database, and there’s a wide range of points of interest including restaurants, cafes, and much more. The company has also put together custom itineraries for 600+ cities around the world, which are also available offline.

If you do happen to be connected, there’s a useful location-sharing feature that lets you send a link to a travel companion, or anyone else who wants to see where you are in real time.

All features of MAPS.ME are free to use as long as you’re happy to see a few ads. If not, you can pay for a weekly, monthly, or annual subscription to remove them.

Android and iOS, free (with ads)


CityMaps2Go screenshot

Covering 150+ countries both online and offline, CityMaps2Go (iOS/Android) offers detailed city guides as well as the standard navigation features. You can choose to download both, or just the map data.

You can save any number of locations in advance, letting you create a custom itinerary of places to visit and things to do. Usefully, your saves sync across all of your devices.

All of the usual points of interest are included, along with short reviews written by other app users. Public transport information is also available for many cities.

The free version of the app is ad-supported and lets you download a single offline map at a time. Upgrading to the Pro version removes both the ads and the map limit.

iOS and Android, free or from $10.99 for Premium.


GuruMaps screenshot

If you’re interested in recording your journey while you explore, check out GuruMaps. Formerly called Galileo Offline Maps, the app lets you track where you go, monitor real-time stats like distance covered and average speed, and share the resulting file in the common GPX and KML formats.

You can download maps for an entire country with a single tap, which is much more convenient than selecting individual areas or regions. Bookmarking and offline searching are also included.

You can use GuruMaps for free in a limited fashion, downloading up to three maps and recording up to 15 tracks. That’s enough to see if you like it, but you’ll need to stump up some cash if you want to keep using it. It’s $2.49/month, $22.49/year, or $49.99 for a lifetime license.

That’s a change from previous years, where you got a basic version of the app for free and paid a few bucks to unlock various features. We preferred that approach, but even so, GuruMaps remains a useful and functional app for many people. It’s just more expensive than it used to be!

iOS and Android, free for limited use,

Here WeGo

HereWeGo screenshot

One of the pioneers of offline navigation, we’ve been using Here WeGo for several years (and reviewed it in the past). It remains an excellent choice, despite a new name and changes of ownership over the years.

Downloading maps for entire US states or 100+ countries can be done with a couple of taps, and includes walking, cycle, and vehicle-based navigation. Driving instructions are particularly strong, including turn-by-turn directions.

When you’re online, you’ll get public transit directions in 1300+ cities, and you can even book a taxi if needed.

Here WeGo is available for Windows and in a desktop browser as well as the mobile apps. Plotting out itineraries and bookmarking points of interest is easier on a big screen, and can be saved as “collections” that sync across devices.

iOS and Android, free (ad-supported)


OsmAnd screenshot

If you like the idea of open-source, community-driven mapping, OsmAnd will be right up your alley. Using data from OpenStreetMaps and Wikipedia, and with viewing options ranging from roads and hiking trails to public transport and waterways, this is one of the most flexible offline navigation apps we’ve come across.

You’re able to download offline maps by region or country, choosing between the complete (larger) file or just the (smaller) road network information. The free app lets you download seven map files, with no limit in the Plus version.

Unlike (eg) Google Maps, you get full walking, cycling, and driving directions offline, with a specific navigation mode for those on foot or bikes. You’re even able to add a plugin that shows contour lines and hill shading to help avoid (or seek out!) steep climbs.

You’re able to record your trips and save them as standard GPX files, and quickly gauge distances via concentric circles overlaid on the map. If you encounter any changes or errors along the way, an editor is built into the app to provide updates back to Open Street Maps.

iOS and Android, free with ads or $7.49/year for Plus (other paid options also available)

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For something entirely hiking-focused, check out AllTrails. With the details of 400,000+ trails across basically every country and territory on the planet, it’s a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to lace up their boots.

The free version of the app lets you search for, bookmark, and view trail information online. Results can be filtered by length, user rating, or difficulty, and you can even find those that are child or dog-friendly.

Detailed route information is available, often including photos and reviews, along with driving instructions to the trailhead. You can also record any trails that you walk or cycle for your own use or to share with others.

The free version is ad-supported, and doesn’t include offline access. To get access to that, plus wrong-turn alerts and other features, you’ll need to pay for Plus. I used the free version for years, but the offline mode makes a big difference when you’re in the middle of nowhere, so eventually I stumped up the cash.

iOS and Android, free, or AllTrails+ (free for a week, then $29.99/year)

🚶‍♀️Looking for more hiking apps? I covered a wide range of them here.

Google Maps

London - Google Maps

Google Maps is easily the most well-known navigation app out there, but many people aren’t aware it also works offline.

While you used to have to mess around typing “secret” codes into the search box to enable offline support, it’s now baked directly into the app. I covered how to do it, along with many other Google Maps tips, here.

Offline features are more limited than some of the other apps listed here, with directions only available for driving, not walking or cycling. You can still search for addresses and landmarks, and see where you currently are, however, regardless of what method of transport you’re using.

Not every country in the world has offline maps available, but most do.

How do you stay on course without an internet connection?

All images via their respective companies

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  1. Avatar Ben Southall says:

    Have you tried [removed] ?

    One of the best ways for downloading infinitely detailed maps that are available offline. Will be using this for my drive from Singapore to London next year for sure!

    1. This postneeds to be removed…the link appears to go to a spam website.

      1. I’m not sure it’s a spam site, but since the link no longer goes to the app that was being discussed (and I don’t think the app exists any longer), I’ve removed it. Thanks for pointing it out!

  2. Avatar Tony McKay says:

    I use Pocket Earth. Once purchased you can download any country. Routing and tracking…. Great for getting lost then following your breadcrumb track back to your hotel.

  3. I love OsmAnd+ on Android. Uses the same map data as Maps.ME but I find it much more fully featured and far more configurable in the info that can be displayed. I used to use Maps.ME all the time, now I wonder why I keep it installed. I never use it anymore.

  4. I use an iPod touch 7th generation for my gps. Seeing that it has no GPS chip in it I bought a Garmin GLO 2 which is a GPS that connects via Bluetooth and works great with Google maps and Sygic maps.

  5. Avatar Kathy Cusimano says:

    I am moving to Pennsylvania
    I will need to disconnect my WiFi from Alabama Will I still be able to use my Google map for navigation to get there on my iPhone / car play

  6. I am looking for an offline map, that when riding out bush will follow me so I can see exactly where I am at all times.
    Is there such an app??
    We had OsmAnd maps but it doesn’t follow you. Otherwise it is great! I am after an app for

  7. I tried to leave a comment but not sure if I left the comment properly.

    I am after an app that I can use offline that follows me as a ride (without a route or track set) so I can see where I am at a glance.
    Is there such an app?
    We currently have OsmAnd maps but unfortunately it doesn’t follow you as you ride (the map doesn’t move as the arrow moves) Otherwise this is a great map app!

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