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GPS to use in Europe

I am trying to buy an updated GPS to use in Europe. My old Garmin is really old. It does not do Europe well anymore. I am looking at Tomtom and Garmin. Any suggestions?

Posted by
4249 posts

I have two suggestions. 1. rent a GPS from the company you rent your car from. We used Autoeurope and we rented a GPS from them. It was mailed to us at home before we left. It was all up to date for the country (France) that we visited. It was a cheaper option than renting the GPS when we picked up the rental car. OR 2. On our last trip we rented a car for a couple days in Spain. I used the app,, all you need to do is download the map for your country (ies) when you have wifi. Then the app can be used offline just like GPS. I recommend using it a bit at home to get used to it.

Posted by
759 posts

Why not just buy a new Europe map card for your Garmin? Both of my Garmins have ports for map cards and that's what we use.

Posted by
184 posts

I have used a tomtom in the past. It is an older model and worked well. It is my understanding that tomtom is more European centric. I suspect any brand with up to date maps will work well.

Have a good trip.

Posted by
838 posts

Opportunity to buy a new toy! Most folks just use their phones so if you want or need a dedicated handheld or auto unit, just pick a form factor you like and start looking at reviews.. it is difficult to buy a bad GPS device these days.

Posted by
5561 posts

Look on, look on You can get a new GPS for crazy cheap.

A few years back my old Garmin, which I liked, was just too old to update. I found a brand new one, with high-rez screen, fancy features, with included lifetime maps/data for both North America and Europe, compact and lightweight, a bargain. I've used it all over the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, even Japan and Australia (I did have to buy maps/database for those Asian countries). It's a wonderful little unit.

I always still have a phone and a tablet -- and of course, a good map -- and (most importantly a general idea of where I am and where I'm going) but bringing along your own GPS from home, that's familiar and tested is a great thing.

Posted by
4924 posts

When I finally got a decent smart phone a few years ago, I realized how far superior it was to my old Garmin that I got rid of the Garmin as fast as I could. Google Maps for example is constantly updated; who knows how recently the latest map card from Garmin was updated? I found plenty of inaccuracies in Garmin maps (mostly for name places not the maps themselves) even in the ones that were supposedly recent on my last driving trip to Europe with a Garmin.

A smart phone can be used as a GPS without using ANY mobile data (you don't even need cell service in Europe - take the SIM card out if you want). But you need to download the maps ahead of time "offline" - e.g. Google Maps "offline" maps - on WiFi or something. Otherwise, your phone will work as a GPS without any mobile data. But having mobile data does give you extra features like traffic info, etc. And if your phone is unlocked, buying a local SIM card is usually cheap.

Posted by
4249 posts

I have to agree with Andrew. My app used as GPS is more accurate than my Garmin. I've experimented by using both at the same time.

Posted by
703 posts

after what others have said about phones and you decide to buy a GPS, look at a TomTom. we have used ours for many thousands of klms in numerous european countries. we used it again just a few weeks ago, in germany.
we extensively use the 'mapcode' feature. ( which I believe is a TomTom designed feature, that only consists of a small number of digits for each address )
rather than fuss with trying to input a correct ( often long) address, I find the mapcode for each accomodation etc, input it in and it works great.
hope this helps.

Posted by
7669 posts

We own a Garmin GPS with a European map but left it home this past fall as Google maps works better. It works offline.

Posted by
16883 posts

As newer cars start to build in GPS, it's possible that your rental car will come already equipped, as I experienced in October (on a Ford Fiesta from Hertz in France). See also the recent thread about speed limit recognition.

Posted by
1218 posts

As Laura noted, you may receive a GPS with your rental. On a couple of my rentals years ago I received a built-in GPS without asking. I since have ordered a GPS with my rental just in case, about 60 euros for three weeks, and once I used Sygic maps off line, which worked very well - about $15 Canadian?

Posted by
6 posts

Before going to Italy 3 years ago, I had downloaded, onto my smartphone, Google Maps for the areas where we'd be traveling and it was more reliable than the car rental's GPS that we paid extra for. The rental GPS lost signal in the mountainous areas of Tuscany but my downloaded Google Maps of course worked perfectly since it didn't need a signal. This fall I did the same for Montreal and Quebec and again, Google Maps came through fine. Planning on downloading Google Maps for Northern Ireland and Scotland for this summer. As you can tell, I swear by it.

Posted by
14881 posts

2 years ago I bought a Garmin on Amazon with lifetime European maps. It was helpful in Italy and Spain, though in Italy, my rental car had built-in GPS. Last summer I finally broke down and bought a smart phone and I've been using Waze since then.

I'm considering taking my Garmin with me and comparing it with Waze on my March trip to southern France.