I'm new in working with QGIS.

I have tried to download an OSM map of Rome and its surroundings into my QGIS. As far as I am concerned, I have followed each step which I could find on various websites. In fact I do see the three layers of my OSM map in the side bar (points, polylines and polygons). However, I do not see the map itself.

Does anyone have an idea what my mistake might be?

In the meantime, I tried another way. I have downloaded the "Isle of Man"-Shapefile from Geofabrik. I was able to import all vectors for all data that are meant to appear in the map. In the end I saw the outline of the Isle of Man, the houses, the rivers etc. However, I do not see the map itself.

I have a new laptop, 64-bit, Windows 8, QGIS 2.4

  • Try using the metro exacts metro.teczno.com/#rome recommend the shape file osm-extracted-metros.s3.amazonaws.com/… 35 MB imposm shapefiles version – Mapperz Aug 20 '14 at 21:15
  • Thank you very much for the two links. They helped me a lot and I can start working now! - However, the map still looks totally different from the map visible on the website of Openstreetmaps. It lacks any common coloration but has violet and simple square houses, a yellow river and so on. - I would like to have a map that is similar to google maps. That is why I thought that an OSM map would be the right to go for. Maybe I have still a wrong display in my QGIS? – Clara Aug 21 '14 at 6:43
  • 1
    This is what you are searching for: anitagraser.com/2014/05/31/… – user30184 Aug 21 '14 at 11:17

If you want to see the same map as on http://www.openstreetmap.org, install the Openlayers plugin and select OSM as a background layer from there.

If you download the raw data, you have to style that data yourself. This is not an easy task.

In many cases, the background map is the easiest solution.


It sounds like what you've done (reasonably enough) has provided you with raw Openstreetmap data, rather than the map pictures which you're familiar with looking at. What you have is a set of points and lines, each with data attached to them - so for example a line might represent a motorway, a river, or a boundary (etc).

This is a good thing - if what you want is the data.

From what you say it's not what you are looking for. You want the pre-drawn ("rendered") pictures ("tiles").

As suggested by AndreJ - the easiest way (by far) to see these in QGIS is to use a QGIS plugin called 'Openlayers'.

Getting this working is very easy - in QGIS go to the menu item 'Plugins'|'Manage and install plugins' and find the one called 'Openlayers'. The installation process should just be a matter of clicking the obvious buttons. Once it's installed (and you exit the plugin manager) look for the available maps under the menu item 'Web' (this changed recently - if you have an older version of QGIS you'll find the maps under the 'Plugins' menu.

Depending what you want to do with the maps you may find that you'll either need the data, or the pre-drawn map tiles. (The words used to describe the difference between these two things are often 'vector' and 'raster' - look these up if you need to).

If you want to see an ordinary map using the data (rather than the raster pre-drawn tiles) you'll need to tell QGIS how you want these to look. QGIS doesn't necessarily know that you want a river to be blue for example. This is what others are talking about when they talk about 'styling' the data. This can be a very big job - but other people may have created styles that you want to use - but they won't probably look anything like the pre-drawn map tiles that you are used to using.

As you'll be able to tell, my answer only scratches the surface of what is a very big subject. Hope it's useful.


The data and the background map come from different sources although the map is made from the data. The data is vector and it can be downloaded and used directly and offline in qgis but the map is raster and is provided by tile servers. to get the background map, you will need to install and activate the Openlayers Plugin in qgis and have an active internet connection. The OpenLayers Plugin offers many tile services from OSM as well as others.

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