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Maps: Tourist maps

A guide to finding and using printed and digital maps.

Tourist maps give an insight into changing patterns of tourism in the last 150 years or so, as well as showing how the way tourism is depicted has changed.

“Tourist maps are central tourist devices, especially in urban locales, for planning day activities, finding the way to different sites, identifying major tourist attractions, and so on.” (Farías, 2011)

Tourist maps are often topographic maps with added information (Medynska-Gulij, 2003) eg walking, skiing or cycling routes, mountain huts or watersports facilities.  They may have added pictorial symbols to show tourist attractions eg stately homes, good beaches, theme parks.

This type of map started to develop in the second half of the 19th Century.  Sport and tourism clubs such as the 'Alpine Club' or the 'Touring Club de France' promoted tourism and sponsored maps in selected areas.  Often, when visiting relatively remote areas, it was difficult to plan transport and accommodation, so maps which indicated railways and villages where accommodation might be found were very useful. They tended not to have extra ‘tourist’ information added, but were basic topographic maps marketed for tourists.

Later, pictorial maps showing sites or buildings of interest, which may help the tourist plan their visit became popular.

We have a few pre-World War I maps specifically aimed at tourists:

  • Nouveau plan ou guide de l'étranger dans Paris, 1852
  • Bennett's tourist route map of Norway, 1895
  • Cook's plan of Paris, 1900

There was an explosion in tourism at the start of the 20th Century, despite the interruption of two world wars:

  • Black's large tourist map of Scotland : district 5, Glasgow, Trossachs and Oban, 1930?
  • Übersichtskarte der Staatlichen Postkraft-Fahrlinien in Österreich, 1934 [Overview map of the state postbus routes in Austria]
  • Mürren (Switzerland), 1923
  • Exkursionskarte für das Brüniggebiet, 1946 [Excursion map of the Brünig area (Switzerland)]
  • The Maltese Islands, 1950?

Post 1950 tourism expanded as people in Western Europe (and North America) gained more money and leisure time, and more remote areas of the world started to be opened up to tourism. This created a market for maps of these areas, and these were increasingly published in English or other European languages:

  • Nairobi Royal National Park, 1956
  • Khartoum tourist map, 1963
  • Western Samoa tourist map guide, 1970?
  • Tourism in Peru, 1985
  • Tourist map of Korea, 1989
  • Tourist map of Esfahan, 2002?
  • Everest base camp : Kalapatthar-Gokyo-Renjola Pass -Chola Pass- Kongma La, 2014

The twentieth century also saw the emergence of specialist tourism maps eg maps of waterways, or aimed at cyclists, hikers or skiiers as well as maps for the traveller in general eg road maps, urban plans:

  • Vízisporttérkép : a Duna, Esztergomtól Budapestig, 1958 [Watersports: Danube, Eszertergom to Budapest]
  • Jugoslavenska obala Jadrana = The Yugoslav Adriatic coast, 1959
  • [Monuments de Paris], 1960?
  • Born's kaart van Nederland met de scheepvaartwegen, spoorwegen, schutsluizen, 4000 plaatsnamen en de internationale klasse-indeling van de vaarwegen = with navigable waterways, railways, locks, 4000 names of villages and the international classification of waterways, 1960?
  • Cotswolds cycling map, 1996
  • Dive atlas of the world, 2003
  • South Downs Way, 2005

If you want to see these maps please speak to the Map Librarian – many are not on the Enterprise system, or have only a basic record.


Farías, I. (2011) Tourist Maps as Diagrams of Destination Space Space and Culture 14(4) 398–414

Levet-Labry, E., Schut, P.-O. (2014) Sport and tourism - An effective cooperation: Canoeing and mountaineering in France before the First World War  Sport in History 34 (2), 276-294

Medynska-Gulij, B. (2003) The Effect of Cartographic Content on Tourist Map Users, Cartography, 32 (2), 49-54

Roma : pianta monumentale, 1937

Rome pictorial map extract

This street plan of Rome shows important buildings as pictures within the map.

Shropshire Union Canal

Shropshire Union Canal map extract

This map was published by GEOprojects (UK), with the co-operation of British Waterways, in about 2000, and a scale of approximately 1:60 000.  It shows information for boat users, including locks, turning points, towpaths and mooring points as well as general and tourist information, such as built-up areas, pubs, roads and footpaths. The map is confined to a strip either side of the canal.  It includes enlargements of towns and other useful information eg. marina and boatyard facilities.

Bennett's tourists' route map of Norway, 1895

Norway 1895 map extract

This English language map was published by Bennett's Tourist Office in Christiania (Oslo) in 1895.  It shows major and minor posting roads (solid red lines), steamer routes (blue lines) and bridle paths (dotted red lines) as well as railways.  The text includes information about telegraph and telephone stations and tables of distances and travel times between places.

Kraftwagenfahren der Österreichischen Postverwaltung, 1934

Austria 1934 map extract

 This map shows the network of postbus routes in Austria in 1934, and how they link in to the rail network.  It is lavishly illustrated with photographs of beauty spots, often with a charabanc (an early motor coach) full of tourists in the foreground

Exkursionskarte von Kandersteg

Switzerland tourist map extract

This map of the Kandersteg area, Switzerland, was produced in the 1920s for walkers by the local tourist office, and published by Kümmerly & Frey. The scale is 1:30 000. It is a topographic map with relief, glaciers, roads, railways and built up areas.  In addition it shows marked footpaths and hotels, and there is also an overprint indicating the colours of the route markers. Similar maps were produced for popular areas all over Switzerland, and some also showed ski-routes.

Nairobi Royal National Park, 1956

Kenya 1956 map extract

This extract is from a 1:30 000 map of the Nairobi Royal National Park published in 1956, by the Survey of Kenya. It aims to help the tourist navigate within the park, so shows forests, roads and tracks, signposts landmarks (eg Lion Corner, Warden's Camp) and settlements.  The legend is decorated with a photograph of a lion, and there is an accompanying list of mammals and reptiles, classified by likelihood of observation.