As we traveled in Europe, I experimented with different GMAPSUPP.IMG files (custom user maps) on my Garmin nĂ¼vi GPS handheld device. As I found ones that were of particular use, I added them here.

These free maps originate from the OpenStreetMap project, an effort analogous to Wikipedia that allows anybody to edit a world map. At least in the parts of the world that concern me, I’ve found OSM to be very accurate and much more detailed than Google Maps, largely because it allows people with specific local knowledge to add their own minute details, while Google relies on map data licensed from big companies with headquarters perhaps thousands of miles from the place they’re providing data about.

There are ways to extract your own maps for use on a Garmin GPS. However, I’ve found it easier to use maps that other people create. Routability (i.e., allowing the GPS to create turn-by-turn directions from the maps) and details appropriate to walkers (e.g., elevation lines, stores and services) are the most important features in the maps I select. I’m linking to my favourites below.




Camino de Santiago de Compostela (France, Spain, and Portugal), and anywhere in the rest of the world

  • OpenStreetMap exporter – pick the area(s) of interest to you, wait in the queue for a few days, and get a downloadable *.IMG file ready to load onto your device. Best settings: Generic Routable (new style), no TYP file.


By the way, OSM lists some sources of Garmin maps here. That’s usually where I discover the maps I like.

Venetian drinking fountains

If you’re looking for my Venetian drinking fountain data layer for your Garmin GPS or Google Earth, visit this blog post.

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