What is GeoGuessr? It’s essentially a website that places you somewhere on Google maps streetview, and you have to guess where you are. You get points, up to 5,000 per round (5 rounds), based on how far away your guess is.
A world traveler’s perfect game.
This is outside of Coimbra, Portugal. At first glance, I can immediately tell that it is in the Iberian peninsula. This is only after serious training and damage to my eyes from being glued to computer screens. Don’t be like me.
There are several different maps to play: Famous Places, U.S.A., the World, and more. Obviously the most difficult map (but also the most fun) is the world, as it can place you anywhere. However, the easiest way to start out is on Famous Places. Most are touristy locations that you have likely visited or at least know where they are. The Burj Khalifa. The Eiffel Tower. The Great Wall of China.
Once you are proficient at the Famous Places map, you should be able to successfully move on to The World map. You can move around and look at things to help you guess, but here are a few extra tips and tricks to help you succeed.
- Recognize Languages. You don’t have be fluent in a language to recognize what it is. I can tell Slavic languages apart from Romance languages from Austroasiatic languages. And the only foreign language I actually know is Spanish.
- Road Signs. Besides looking for city names, determine commonality in road signs. For example, in Europe all speed limit signs have a number in the middle with a red circle around it.
- Road Markings. After playing GeoGuessr a few times, you will start to notice other countries’ peculiar road markings. If there are white dotted lines on both sides of the road, you are undoubtedly in Sweden or Norway.
- Flora/Fauna. Along with road signs, you will also start to notice the types of trees and plants that flourish in each country. I have yet to see a wild animal, but I’m pretty excited for that day.
- Direction of Traffic. Something I often overlook is the side of the road the cars are on. If you are traveling on the left side of the road, 99% of the time you are in Great Britain, South Africa, or Australia. This can narrow your search tremendously.
- License plates. Although license plates are generally blurred out, you can usually still see the size and color of the plate. If the license plate is long, skinny and has a blue end, you are in Europe. If you know you are in the States, look at the color and think back to childhood roadtrips where you counted license plates of different states (anyone else?), and make your best guess.
- Information on Vehicles. While license plates are usually blurred out, you can often tell the country, city, or state by the information on the side of the vehicle. This includes websites, area codes, etc. For websites, make sure to know the 2-letter country abbreviation that comes at the end of a URL (.ch, .es, .it, etc.)
- KM vs. MI. Try to notice whether travel is in kilometers or miles. You can find this on all types of road signs. If it’s in miles, it’s in the USA. If kilometers, anywhere but the USA.
- Use the compass. When you’ve figured out the country you’re in, and you see a sign for a bigger road (i.e. M4 –> 30 km), find the road on the map, and use the compass to tell which direction it’s pointing.
- Prohibited countries. Think about which countries are likely to prohibit Google. Places like North Korea or Iraq are probably not going to show up. China blocks Google Search, thus probably why I have never seen China in GeoGuessr (besides the Great Wall in Famous Places which, by the way, is impossible to guess exact location. It’s like 13,000 miles long and all looks the same. C’mon.)
- “I’m just looking at Google streetview of our other offices.” Something you’ll learn to say when you’re playing at work and someone walks by.
I would tell you to go forth with gusto and try to beat my scores, but that’s impossible. 25,000 is the highest possible score, and, well, I’m sad to say I’ve gotten that. But go forth anyhow.
The Wayfaring Woman