I am planning to go on multiple days hike and used Wikiloc to download GPX tracks. We will use a GPS for our navigation but I always want a printed map as a backup.

Maps for that area are notoriously bad but OpenStreetMap contains most of our trails and Points of Interest.


I loaded the track in QGIS with the OpenStreetMap and this is a good start. The only thing that is missing are contour lines (elevation lines) and potentially hill-shading.

What is the easiest way I could add contour lines and hill-shading to my map (for a printout)? Ideally, I would add a WMS or VectorTile layer and not go through the process of downloading a DEM and creating everything myself.


It is fairly easy to add a mapbox WMTS layer to QGIS. I opted for the Outdoors mapbox style which has both contour lines, hillshading and OSM trails. However this introduced another problem. When printing / exporting the scale of the WMTS layer changes and becomes unreadable.

enter image description here

However when exporting using the print composer this is the result:

enter image description here

similar issue another

  • I already figured it out. you can use a mapbox WMTS layer. mapbox.com/help/mapbox-arcgis-qgis/#build-a-wmts-endpoint-1 You can start with the terrain template and remove unnecessary layers.
    – RutgerH
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:25
  • 3
    consider answering your own question, then (you can even accept it after 24h (or 12h?) ). that would give this post a nice finish and would be sweet sugar to the answered questions ratio on this board...
    – geozelot
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:53
  • It is relatively easy to add the mapbox baselayer but the quality in export is unacceptable. I haven't found a way yet to print out a crisp map using QGIS
    – RutgerH
    Oct 2, 2018 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


Depending on your needs for precision you could use THE SRTM dataset. I found a nice tool, which allows you to download contour lines by selecting the area of interest in a map.

The website OpenDEM provides an easy to use tool to download the data.

  1. Under downloads choose "SRTM as Contours"
  2. Click on the web client and you will see a map as in image 1

enter image description here

  1. With SHIFT + Left mouse draw and rectangle to select the datasets
  2. Download the datasets from the popup window (Botten)
  3. Open them in QGIS you will get your contour lines
  4. Style them to your liking(add Labels as in image 2) enter image description here

  5. Optional: If you don't already use QuickMapServices, use it to get an OSM background map. I made the experience that the maps have better resolutions.

enter image description here

Disclaimer: I am not associated with the website

  • @LaughU, thank you for a source. I have never seen it before. By the way, your solution looks cute.
    – Taras
    Oct 2, 2018 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Taras thanks :) I stumbled over it while searching for the nasa website which also provides the SRTM data and while looking a bit antique its services is still really helpful
    – LaughU
    Oct 2, 2018 at 13:43

You can use the Mapbox Outdoors Style and add it as WMTS to QGIS or ArcMap.


The outdoors style contains hill-shading, contour lines and OSM derived trails.

The export using ArcMap looks quite good (the one below is compressed to 2MB). enter image description here

One caveat when using QGIS print composer is that when you export, QGIS requests the tile layer at the wrong scale. This is a known issue and has not been resolved yet.

A straightforward way to solve this issue is by just taking screenshots of the map.

If you want a more professional map, I would recommend ArcMap that doesn't have this issue.

Althought WMTS gets the job done, it is still not a pure vector implementation of the contour lines. Direct exporting to .pdf in which the contour lines and labels are vectors would be great.

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