Is there any internet map source (zoomable, tiled, i.e. "google like") with good display of rivers? I.e. well labelled even on larger scales? So that I'm for example able to track Danube river (with label or highlighted somehow) on scale like this.

Google search for river names usually highlight the whole river path, like in the image below.

Google search

However, Google Maps simply lacks the same feature.

  • Basic Google Maps is just terrible, rivers are not well displayed, often lost on larger scales, and in 90% cases not labelled.
  • OpenStreetMap - similar, furthermore they denote roads as blue (!!!) which is even more confusing! (really bad practice)
  • OpenCycleMap - even worse...

4 Answers 4


With your requirements being 'google-like' I would recommend taking a look at The National Geographic basemap, available via ArcGIS Online.

Although the basemap is not designed specifically with hydrology in mind, it has more emphasis on natural terrain and also has good labelling (including rivers). Maps like Google/Bing/OSM usually have more focus on features such as urban areas and roads.

Take a look to see if it meets your needs.

enter image description here

Cannot be argued that National Geographic do some sexy cartography.


Maybe you could do this with a custom styled google map (via http://gmaps-samples-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/styledmaps/wizard/index.html) :

enter image description here

or you create a custom OSM map via http://maps.cloudmade.com/editor (you need a login for that).


I think the best option would be to try and find a WMS service that has world rivers on it and use that in a GIS (i.e. QGIS, gvSIG, uDig etc) overlaid with other general mapping provided by either another web-service or your own local data.

Some possible starting places (I've not tested them myself) might include:

Etc. A search for "WMS world rivers" should probably work (where I got those from).


You can also check this one (but to see the name you'd have to zoom in): https://www.internationalrivers.org/sites/default/files/worldsrivers/


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