Which wall map is best?

Wall maps are great ways to see things on a grand scale. People can see where they’ve been, where they want to go and places they’ve only dreamed of. Wall maps also often have themes, making them great ways to learn more than geography. You’ll find wall maps that focus on such things as topography, ocean currents and much more. 

Maps are also things of beauty. When framed in ways that complement your map and home, they become works of art. If you are looking for a special foil map made to keep track of places you’ve been, take a look at the Maps International Scratch the World Travel Map.

What to know before you buy a wall map

Scale

  • World: World maps show the entire planet Earth. Their goal is to provide a broad overview with little detail. The big problem with world maps is that the world is round and the map is flat. Map makers continue to refine global proportions with the precise measurements of global positioning satellites.
  • Nation: Maps that focus on a single country provide detail down to small towns and surrounding rural areas. Maps of nations also show where they are situated relative to other countries and what constitutes their borders.
  • City: Maps that focus on a single city provide the greatest level of detail about it, to the exclusion of the surrounding areas. Highways, roads and streets are clearly labeled.
  • Region: Regional maps can be an entire continent or an area such as the Rocky Mountains or the Finger Lakes region. 
  • Interactive: From push pin and dry-erase maps to scratch maps, also called foil maps, some maps are meant to used actively.
  • Specialty maps: There are choices for people who want maps that show the location of state parks, campsites, caves and more. Maps of tourist areas that highlight their attractions are popular as souvenirs people frame, mat and turn into artwork to place on your wall. 

Size 

The bigger the map, the more detail that can be included.

  • Small wall maps measure about 18 by 24 inches. They look good in small spaces but are overwhelmed if placed on a large wall.
  • Mid-size maps are those in the neighborhood of 24 by 36 inches. 
  • Large maps start at 32 by 55 inches and some are as big as 8 feet across. Large wall maps need a lot of space and can easily dominate a room.

What to look for in a quality wall map

Information

How comprehensive do you want your wall map to be? Are geographical boundaries enough, or do you want to know about things like topography, terrain and landscapes? What about climates and ocean currents? Choose a wall map that highlights the themes that interest you most.

Details

Maps that show us the terrain beneath the oceans let us see how ridges formed on the seabed, continents were shoved around on tectonic plates and volcanoes grew so tall they became tiny islands at their very tips.

Design

Choose only wall maps with designs that inspire you. The Earth can be displayed in many ways using many perspectives. Choose a wall map that interests you enough to look at every day.

Scratch maps

These wall maps are interactive. Like scratch-off lottery tickets, they are covered in foil that you scratch off to reveal the map beneath, indicating the places you have traveled to or the countries your company ships to. 

How much you can expect to spend on a wall map

Wall maps cost from $10-$200, depending on the materials used, the accuracy of the information and the quality of the design. 

Wall map FAQ

What is a map scale?

A. A scale is a measurement method used to shrink something in size while maintaining the same proportions. A city map might have a scale where one inch on the map equals one mile in the real, full-sized city. The world is 25,000 miles around, so to fit it onto a wall map, each inch would have to represent hundreds or thousands of miles.

How do world maps show a round globe on a flat piece of paper?

A. The answer is in how the Earth is divided into longitudes and latitudes. These dimensions are measured in degrees from zero to 360 like the arcs of the full circles they are. But the longitudes aren’t completely parallel — they come together at the poles, forming segments that taper to points at the ends.

When longitudes are printed as parallel lines on paper, the curvature of the Earth is lost. The result is that the farther you get from the center, the greater the distortion.​​ This is why Greenland and Antarctica look bigger than they really are on most world maps.  

What’s the best wall map to buy?

Top wall map

Best Maps International Scratch the World Travel Map

Maps International Scratch the World Travel Map

What you need to know: This 23- by 33-inch map is interactive, made so world travelers can scratch off the places they have been.

What you’ll love: This classic scratch map comes rolled in a cardboard tube that protects it from creasing. Along its bottom are facts and figures about some of the cities and countries around the world.

What you should consider: The size and proportions do not fit a standard frame.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top wall map for the money

Best Swiftmaps 24- by 36-inch World and USA Two-Wall Mat Set

Swiftmaps 24- by 36-inch World and USA Two-Wall Mat Set

What you need to know: You get two maps for the price of one.

What you’ll love: Both maps are drawn in a style that emphasizes terrain, printed on heavy 100-pound paper and laminated so you can draw on them with dry ink. The USA map includes parts of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

What you should consider: Some buyers wished there was more detail.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Star Builders Solar System and Beyond Wall Map

Star Builders Solar System and Beyond Wall Map

What you need to know: This 20- by 55-inch poster-size laminated paper map is full of fascinating detail.

What you’ll love: All the planets are portrayed, of course, but so are their axial tilt, orbit inclination, surface temperature, rotation period and all the known moons. The Earth is not only shown from the outside, but also all the way down to its inner core

What you should consider: This map can easily overwhelm its surroundings.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.