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I am about to travel to Cairo. Usually when I tour somewhere I have offline Google maps downloaded on my phone and I mark all places to be visited.

Is there a convenient alternative for a city like Cairo for which offline maps are not available?

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    Snarky comment, take a paper map, there must be many offline paper maps. :) – Willeke Jan 16 '17 at 21:25
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    @Willeke What's this "paper" thing you refer to? Is it like papyrus, so an Egyptian regional thing? – BrianH Jan 17 '17 at 5:32
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    @Willeke Any in particular you recommend? – gerrit Jan 17 '17 at 12:40
  • Any reason not to buy a local sim card instead? Cairo doesn't exactly have a lack of mobile operators. – JonathanReez Jan 17 '17 at 12:46
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    Why would Google not provide offline maps for Cairo? A political thing? – mxmissile Jan 17 '17 at 21:53
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While Google Maps may not provide offline maps for this area, OpenStreetMap has mapped Cairo pretty well.

There is a large number of apps for offline maps based on OpenStreetMap. My favorite so far is Locus Map. Locus Map has different data sources, some allow downloading, some don't. "4UMaps" is one that works for Cairo.

Another app I tested is MapFactor Navigator. This one features good car navigation, but is generally slower than Locus Map.

There are many more apps, but that would be a different question. The bottom line is: look for an app based on OpenStreetMap that allows downloading areas. The ones I named are a good example to start with.

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    I use maps.me/MapsWithMe, and can definitely recommend it. Not much good for route planning etc, but a really good lightweight tool for looking at when travelling on foot, and allows per-country downloading. – Andrew Jan 16 '17 at 21:52
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My favourite app for exactly this purpose is Maps.me.

They allow you to download countries or provinces/states, depending on the area. You can add your own locations.

They recently added driving and walking directions.

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    +1 That's what I use too and even in remote areas I found it extremely accurate, although I have not been into Egypt since the invention of mobile phones ;) – Itai Jan 17 '17 at 14:05
  • Exactly correct. Maps.me is totally awesome. – Fattie Jan 17 '17 at 15:47
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Another answer for OpenStreetMap, but I like OsmAnd~. While less polished than others I find it's more usable in practice than Maps.me, though YMMV. Only trouble is it's a bit of a pain to install - OsmAnd itself costs money in the Play Store but (since it's open-source) there's a free redistribution available through F-Droid, an Android package manager.

  • The standard Osmand map for Egypt is 54 MB (providing vector map display, address search, and routing). Additional Wikipedia data is 45 MB (providing some short info blurbs on Wikipedia entries in Egypt). Contour lines and hill shading data data is much bigger, but can be downloaded selectively for parts of Egypt. – oliver Jan 17 '17 at 12:34
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    If you are referring to this, osmand.net, it seems to be free both for iOS and Android, no? – MastaBaba Jan 17 '17 at 14:49
  • @MastaBaba My information might be out of date. I can see OsmAnd and OsmAnd+ on the play store but I can't figure out what the difference is. – Muzer Jan 17 '17 at 15:35
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    OsmAnd+ is the paid version, which offers unlimited map downloads (and possibly other features; I didn't mind at all the small price tag to reward the amazing development that's gone into this app). – Dan Dascalescu Jan 17 '17 at 23:38
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Yet another great option is the free app HERE WeGo. It allows to download free offline navigation worldwide.

It's available for iOS and Android

The size of the offline map for Egypt is about 350MB.

Unlike most Open Street Map based solutions, the app if a full offline navigation with Car/foot/public-transport routing (depending on location, I am not sure if public-transport is available in Cairo)

You can check the quality of the map on the web version.

  • +1. I highly recommend HERE WeGo. been using it for a while now for all of my trips and it's amazing. – Shai Jan 18 '17 at 8:55
  • "Unlike OSM, it has full offline navigation" Who told you OSM-based solutions can't do that? See e.g. OsmAnd. – Luc Jan 19 '17 at 8:16
  • @Luc who told you to ignore the most in that sentence? And if you ever used OsmAnd, you will probably agree that the routes are not as good as with other navigation systems? – Josef Jan 22 '17 at 13:33
  • @Josef You're right, OsmAnd doesn't give me routes that are as good as other navigation systems: it gives me better routes. It usually has more up to date maps as well because they're free (as in beer and as in freedom). – Luc Jan 22 '17 at 19:44
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Google Maps is quite important in Cairo because of traffic jams. You're best option is to buy a really cheap sim card with internet once you land in Cairo. This will be much more useful than any other option. Getting from Point A to point B in Cairo could take an hour more if you choose the jammed way. A Taxi driver would speculate which route is faster at which time and as another answer said they know the city pretty well. Its really cheap to take a taxi in Egypt(e.g 10min about 3km can cost 0.5 Euro), however for a tourist you might not get those prices.

Another good option however(also via Internet) is uber. Almost all drivers use google maps and can get you to your destination via the fastest route. However they are usually new as uber drivers and do not know the city as taxi drivers do

3

Print off online ones (preferably in colour). Cairo is a big city and something legible to cover all of it that way would not be practical but that should not be necessary since most people would use taxis to get from place to place if far apart. Taxi drivers know the city quite well and will head towards the right area and ask once there if not sure of the exact location of a particular address.

Note that even the best maps may be misleading. I walked hours longer than necessary because Google showed the entrance to my hotel on one street and, though the same block, it was on another. Then a large building I was using as a reference was not the one I thought it was - Google had "vanished" the one I thought into a park, for security reasons. Consequently I was one quadrant out until I found a different landmark.

If staying in a hotel it is quite likely to have a city guide, both a free fold-out sheet and books.

  • Google is very bad at showing buildings. I recommend OpenStreetMap instead, it has superior mapping in most cities. – gerrit Jan 17 '17 at 12:42
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    I have no clue how to change Arabic script to Latin in Openstreetmap. – gerrit Jan 17 '17 at 16:18
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This Cairo city map gets OK reviews on Amazon but it is a bit old (2005).

A review for an equally old map says:

There are no good maps of Cairo. Period. This is probably the best of them but Cairo is a huge city so there are lots of streets that are not shown. Also, despite the cover, this map is English ONLY, which is a real weakness. It is also very large, so you end up folding it into something usable, which ends up tearing the corners.

I usually download maps directly to my Garmin device from http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl. Some companies, such as Everywhere maps and globes in Toronto, Canada, can get the best available topographic and mapping data and print it on demand for you. But you likely won't get anything better than the old paper city maps or Openstreetmap quality.

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On google maps if there is no off-line option you can type "ok google" to save the map.

That being said, it worked for me in Germany where no offline button was given, not in the UK (where there was an offline button) a week later. I have no idea if it goes deeper than just if there was the button there or not.

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I just used maps.me on my iPhone in Cairo (and Luxor) last month (Dec 16). The maps seemed very accurate) although they didn't tell you exactly what kind of neighborhood you'd be getting into). My paper tourist map would have been totally inadequate.

(Interestingly, as soon as I left the tourist areas, nobody bothered (or even looked at) me, and I don't look remotely Egyptian.)

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