How to Choose the Right European Map

When it comes to European maps we are spoilt for choice. There are maps for the continent, countries, cities, and regions. Your map can make or break your day when you’re travelling but choosing the right one can be a minefield. Consider what you want to explore and how you will get around and then with a little research you can select the maps that best suits your trip.



As soon as you decide on your mode of transport, find a map so that you can start planning your trip, particularly if you are travelling by car.


Driving Across Europe 

If you intend driving through Europe visiting major cities and far-flung regional areas you will need maps that are detailed enough to help plan your trip in advance. Knowing how many kilometres you will travel and a rough idea of the main roads you will take will give you a good idea of the time you need. Don’t rely on the maps that come with your rental car; they may not be detailed enough for what you need. Michelin road atlases are available for each country and they are easier to use for drivers and navigators than a big fold out map that can obstruct your vision.


European countries (except the UK) use kilometres, so there’s no need to convert to miles to estimate how long a drive will most likely take.

Before you travel, study the road naming conventions to help with navigating. In Britain, the more digits the road number has, the smaller the road is. For example, the M-1 is a freeway, A-33 is a major road and B-4061 is a secondary road. In Europe, expressways begin with an E. Road numbers can change along a main route so navigate by town names as a back-up.


Europe by Rail


Rail travel across western Europe is a popular way of seeing the countryside from a comfortable modern train. There are maps of Europe’s railways from Moscow to Lisbon. Major cities with multiple stations such as Paris and London usually have additional city maps. Important tourist highlights are also included in most rail maps. Motorways, main roads and secondary roads are also shown for travellers wanting to do a mix of ‘ride and drive’.




If cruising is more your style, there are multi-country cruise guides to help navigate your way around the Mediterranean and the 70 or so ports Europe has to offer. For those who prefer a smaller vessel, pick up a book on cruising along Europe’s rivers and waterways admiring the amazing scenery.



The type of map you need will depend on what you like to do when you travel. If you are on a genealogy trek and you’re trying to find your great great grandfather’s 150-year old country property you are going to need the most detailed regional road map you can find.


If you like to spend your time traipsing around the cities on foot, you will want a good guidebook and city map. Quite often the maps inside guide books aren’t detailed enough so check if you need a separate one. The Crumpled City Maps are a good option if you want an easy to read map that you can shove in your pocket instead of trying to fold a large map on a street corner.

If you are going to use public transport to move around the city, look for a city centre map that shows subway stations, bus and tram lines.


If you are looking for a specific European map, ask our experienced team at the Chart and Map Shop in-store or online.