How to explore near you on Google Maps

Whether you're in a strange town or just want to discover something new near you, Google Maps Explore lets you search for restaurants, cinemas, shops and more.

Google Maps is an incredibly powerful mapping tool. It can help you find your way somewhere, tell you more about businesses and landmarks, and show you what a street looks like using Street View. And all for free.

It can also help you explore your local area, helping you find hidden gems that you otherwise might have missed. We’ll show you how.

[Read more: 8 of the strangest sightings you can see on Google Maps]

What is Explore on Google Maps?

It’s a mode that helps you find what’s nearby, from coffee shops and restaurants to hotels and pubs. Each listing includes the name and address of the location, opening hours, directions, a price scale, and even user reviews so you can see if it’s worth a look. And the good news is, it’s simple to use.

How to use Google Maps Explore on a computer

Google Maps Explore PC

In your web browser, open Google Maps. Search for somewhere – it can be a landmark, a shop, a business, a train station or pretty much anything. Just type your search term in the search bar in the top left of the screen.

Press Enter or click the magnifying glass icon. The left-hand pane should now show either what you searched for, or a list of suggestions. If it’s the latter, click one of them.

You’ll now have lots of information about what you searched for, like opening times, directions, and a star rating based on user reviews. Click Nearby (it’s just under the blue bar containing the name of the place in the left pane).

You can now search again. Type in a search term (like 'hotels' or 'airports'), then tap Enter or click the magnifying glass icon.

You’ll now see a load of red dots and red mini-pins on the map. The mini-pins are the top results (i.e. those that are most relevant), and the red dots the less relevant ones. The purple ones are adverts.

To return to your original search term, click the cross next to the search bar.

How to use Google Maps Explore on a phone or tablet

Google Maps Explore smartphone

Open the Google Maps app. It comes preinstalled on all Android devices, and is free to download from the App Store.

At the bottom of the screen, tap Explore. To see more information, drag the Explore tab up from the bottom of the screen.

You can scroll through the suggested cards, or search for a different term by typing in the search bar.

But remember, this feature isn’t available everywhere.

And that’s all there is to it. Happy exploring!

[Read more: How to download Google Maps to use offline]

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