As someone who loves maps, atlases, and geography trivia, I was instantly hooked when I first discovered GeoGuessr. The thrill of being dropped into a mysterious Street View location and trying to deduce where in the world you are solely based on subtle visual clues really appealed to the explorer in me.
Over many games and hundreds of hours of playtime, I’ve gone from a complete beginner to a pretty skilled GeoGuessr player. Trust me, it takes patience and practice, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your geo-sleuthing abilities improve with these tips!
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share the key strategies I’ve learned through hard-won experience to help you start winning more consistently at GeoGuessr.
An Introduction to the World of GeoGuessr
For anyone new to it, GeoGuessr is an online geography game that places you in a random Google Street View somewhere on the planet. Using just what you can observe in the 360° view, you try to pinpoint that location on a map.
You earn more points the closer your guess is to the actual location, with a perfect score being 5,000 points each round. Games usually consist of 5 rounds for a total possible high score of 25,000 points.
It’s fun, challenging, and teaches you tons about global geography! I’ve learned so much about architecture styles, license plates, road signage, and landscape clues from different regions around the world.
Let’s start exploring how you too can recognize clues to determine where you are.
Be Aware of Which Countries Have Street View Coverage
An easy beginner mistake in GeoGuessr is forgetting that not every country has full Google Street View availability. Before you start sleuthing for clues, remember to consider the possibility that Street View may not be accessible in that region.
As of 2022, Street View is present in about 100 countries, mainly concentrated in:
- North America and Western Europe
- Parts of South America like Brazil and coastal Chile
- Sections of Australia and New Zealand
- Japan and South Korea
- South Africa
- Parts of the Middle East like the UAE
Large swaths of Africa, Southeast Asia, India, China, and Russia have limited to no Street View coverage.
I’ve found it helpful to study maps of Street View availability so you can eliminate regions early if the geo landscape looks unfamiliar. This instantly narrows your location options.
Pro tip: If you get a blurry or unclear Street View location, it’s likely an area with limited coverage, signaling you may be in a less-mapped country.
Pay Attention to What Side Drivers Are On
One of my favorite early clues to look for is what side of the road drivers are on. Many countries drive on the left side, while the majority drive on the right.
Knowing these tendencies helps you instantly halve your possibilities!
For example, I see cars driving on the left and steering wheels on the right side of vehicles. This tells me I’m likely in a former British territory like Australia, southern Africa, or Southeast Asia.
Some patterns I’ve noticed:
- Left side driving: UK and British Commonwealth countries, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand
- Right side driving: Continental Europe, Americas, China, central Asia
If there are no cars around, look for clues like sun shadows and lane markings. Dividers to the right of the dashed line? Probably a left-side country!
Pro tip: In rural Australia, look for raised reflective buttons on the left shoulder rather than right. This is a giveaway you‘re driving on the left.
Utilize Your In-Game Compass Wisely
One of the first things I check on loading into a new location is the compass visible on the GeoGuessr screen. The red arrow always points north, grounding your bearings.
I’ve found it especially helpful for determining hemispheres. Position the sun dead center at the top of your screen. If the sun is to your south, you must be in the northern hemisphere. And vice versa if it’s north of the camera.
The sun’s height and angle can also give clues as to how far north or south you are within that hemisphere. Experience will help you make smarter guesses based on this.
For example, a sun nearly overhead signals I’m close to the equator in the southern hemisphere. But a lower sun a bit south means I’m likely farther north of the equator.
Pro tip: If you’re in the southern hemisphere, look for clock faces to confirm you’re viewing the northern aspect. Upside down clocks are a giveaway!
Learn to Identify Languages and Scripts
One of the most helpful early clues are languages visible on signs, packaging, advertisements, etc. While similar sounding to the untrained ear, languages have telltale characteristics that can quickly narrow your location.
For example, seeing Cyrillic alphabets usually means I’m in Russia or another Eastern European country like Belarus or Bulgaria. Localization matters too – if I see a lot of English alongside Cyrillic, I’m likely in a former Soviet state rather than Russia itself.
Romance languages like Spanish and Portuguese have slight variances too. Ç and ã point to Portuguese, while ch and ll signal Spanish.
Nordic languages contain letters like ø (Denmark and Norway) and double vowels (Finnish). Brand names can also tip you off – Iskoninternet in Croatia, or Beeline telecoms around Russia.
Pro tip: If totally unsure, you can often match visible words to city names on your GeoGuessr map to confirm language.
Pay Close Attention to Road Signs and Symbols
While road signage differs significantly between countries, some universal symbols and patterns exist if you know what to look for.
I always check speed limit signs first. Kilometers per hour like 100 km/h? Probably not the US with its mph system. Simple but super helpful!
Then look at stop and yield signs. “Alto”? Likely Latin America. “Arrêt”? Probably Quebec, Canada. “Give Way” or “Pare”? Now you’re getting closer.
Lane striping also varies globally. White lines down the middle signify Europe, while North America favors yellow. Dashed side lines? North America. Arrows? More common in Europe.
Pro tip: In California, Interstates 5 and 405 always have pink background shields, not blue. Spot this to quickly locate SoCal!
Arm Yourself with Mental Snapshots of Distinctive Features
Veteran GeoGuessr players seem to magically know locations thanks to mental catalogs of little details that scream “I’m in X country!” This comes with time and experience.
For now, begin consciously noticing distinguishing characteristics as you encounter new locations:
Architecture – Mediterranean tiled roofs, German timberframing, Soviet brutalist towers
Language – Brazilian Portuguese street names, Finnish’s double vowels
Transportation – Distinctive minivan taxis in Israel and Turkey, iconic Danish bikes
Flora – Tropical palms and jungle point to equatorial regions
Street signs – Pink reflective buttons on Australian road shoulders
Brands – Watch for regional grocery store or gas station chains
Terrain – Alpine peaks? Could be the Andes, Alps or Rockies depending on other clues
Build your visual memory bank as you play. Refer back to this list to jog your geo-recall.
Pro tip: Photographic snapshots of locations can also help cement mental images of distinct regional features. Study them later!
GeoGuessr Excellence Requires Patience and Practice
Like any skill, getting really good at GeoGuessr takes time and experience. But you’re already off to an excellent head start now!
Refer back to these tips and examples as you continue playing and learning. Take notes on new clues you encounter to expand your knowledge base.
Most importantly, have fun as you improve! The sense of geographical wonder and exploration is what makes GeoGuessr so great.
Let me know if any of these strategies help you achieve higher scores and win more consistently! What’s your best GeoGuessr pro tip? Share in the comments – I’m always looking to level up my game.
Happy guessing, my fellow geography enthusiasts!