5 Free Navigation Apps for Drivers to Help You Stay on Track

Because somebody needs to get you to the closest coffee shop—stat.

Driving directions app - top-rated, best free navigation apps
Photo: Monica Buck

Apps for driving have changed driving a lot. Finding a new destination is less challenging; simply input the address into the driving app and follow the directions. Whether driving somewhere familiar or navigating unknown roads, apps can help you get there with minimal hassle.

The best navigation apps offer extra services, such as driving tips or suggested routes to avoid traffic. Many people use them daily to find the quickest way home, keep an eye on traffic, avoid speed traps, and more—and most of these apps are free.

Whether you're uncertain about the navigation app you currently use or have stuck with the same one for years and are looking for something new, one of these apps might be the change your commute has been waiting for. (Next up: figuring out how to clean the car's interior. Is there an app for that?)

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Waze driving app logo

Waze offers step-by-step instructions and focuses on finding the best possible route and avoiding traffic, potholes, police, and more as much as possible. The app outlines the quickest route and highlights road blockages, accidents, and stopped cars along the way.

Pick this app if you have a tough commute or live in an area with heavy traffic. Just be sure you're aware of your surroundings, even if an app is helping with directions. Your instincts as a driver should take precedence if it comes down to a split-second decision—you know better than the app.

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Google Maps

Google Maps logo

It’s probably already your go-to for checking directions and driving time on your computer, but Google Maps has an equally good app for driving, walking, biking, and transit directions.

The app offers real-time traffic updates plus ways of finding restaurants and activities (with reviews). Pick this app if you want detailed driving directions and help to find a restaurant nearby, all in a single app.

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Apple Maps

Apple Maps logo

If you have an iPhone, you know Apple Maps. It is the default on all iOS devices and a solid option for navigating. It will get you where you need to go with minimal frills—perfect for someone who might get overwhelmed by restaurant pop-ups or traffic alerts mid-drive.

Pick this app if you’re skilled at following an app’s brisk instructions and want an app that will get you to your destination with little to no fuss.

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MAPS.ME app logo

MAPS.ME offers completely offline navigation services, so driving directions are always available without hiked data usage (and the accompanying higher phone bills). Driving, walking, and cycling directions are available, and the maps will highlight points of interest along the way.

A comprehensive bookmarking system allows users to flag places they’ve visited and loved and even share them with friends. Pick this app if you travel abroad often and want help navigating the attractions in new cities.

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Sygic GPS Navigation

Sygic GPS Navigation app logo

Try this app for an incredibly detailed breakdown of your next moves. The Sygic GPS Navigation app offers navigation with a live view of the street or path ahead, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost in the maze of lines and names on an animated app.

Maps are also available offline, so driving in areas without phone service is doable. Pick this app if animated or 3D maps confuse you or if you frequently travel beyond cell phone range.

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