Iceland Mag

9 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Travel

Error in Google Maps send foreign travellers into holiday home neighborhood

By Staff

  • The correct location of Svignaskarð Some foreign online maps of Iceland contain errors. When you are searching for locations or addresses in Iceland you might want to double check using Icelandic maps like map.is. Photo/Loftmyndir

A reminder you can't place blind trust in your GPS equipment or Google maps: Locals who have holiday homes in Borgarfjörður fjord in West Iceland have in recent weeks noticed a growing traffic of foreign travellers who seem lost and confused. According to the local news site Skessuhorn the travellers are searching for Svignaskarð farm and summer cottages, which are roughly nine kilometers (5 miles) to the north. 

The confusion is caused by an error in Google Maps, which places Svignaskarð in the farm of Beigalda, rather than at its correct location. 

Some online maps of Iceland contain errors
This is yet another example of outdated or erroneous online maps sending travellers to the wrong destinations in Iceland. While some of the stories of travellers getting lost or ending up at the wrong destination can be explained by human error and confusion, like the story of Noel Santillan, an American traveller who ended up in North Iceland rather than downtown Reykjavík after he entered an extra r in the address of his hotel, others are caused entirely by faulty maps. 

Read more: Entered an extra "r" in his GPS location, ended up in North Iceland instead of a downtown Reykjavík hotel

Some GPS equipment seems, for example, to list mountain roads as regular highways, luring unsuspecting travellers into trouble. Some foreign travel websites also appear to include dangerously incorrect information about roads which are not suitable for normal cars.

Read more: Outdated GPS maps in rental cars lure unwitting travellers onto closed roads

How do you avoid this confusion?
We at Iceland Magazine would therefore like to urge people to research their trip adequately beforehand, and to use local maps. There are two excellent online map sites which allow you to search for place names. Of these two the one operated by the phone book ja.is, where you can enter any destination or address in Iceland, is probably the more accessible as ja.is has an English interface for international users.

A second interactive site, which is less accessible to international users due to the fact that it is in Icelandic, has a far fuller database of place names. This site, map.is allows you to search for any place name, including mountains, waterfalls, rivers or any other major and many minor place names. However, with the help of an online dictionary or google translate map.is can be a great resource. A search of either ja.is or map.is places Svignaskarð at its correct location. 

The easiest way to avoid errors, however, is not to trust your online maps or GPS equipment blindly: Check the road signs and ask for directions!

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