10 Best Cities Skylines Maps For New And Experienced Builders

10 Best Cities Skylines Maps For New And Experienced Builders
Images via Colossal Order

Written by 

Harry Boulton


11th Jul 2022 12:00

Deciding the best Cities Skylines maps is a tricky task as there are so many different variables to consider, that also differ when considering what type of city you're looking to build and the level of challenge you're used to. Each city in Cities Skylines can offer a different experience depending on its specialities, so knowing which one to pick can really define the direction of your save. So, if you're wondering what the best Cities Skylines maps are for both beginners, and more experienced players, make sure to keep on reading.

What Makes A Good Cities Skylines Map?

best Cities Skylines maps explained
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While each map can suit a different playstyle and direction, there are certain aspects you're going to want to be looking for in each map you consider, and they will play heavily in deciding what the best Cities Skylines maps are. 

Firstly, the percentage of buildable area is a feature that you're really going to want to pay attention to. Unless the non-buildable areas are of particular visual interest, it makes sense that more space to build on makes a better map. It's no use having a map that becomes incredibly restricted at a certain point due to simply running out of space.

On the same line of thought, the amount of flat land is also a point to consider, but this largely depends on your skill level. For new players, maps with lots of flat land are great because they create clean and consistent cities where minimal terraforming is required. Experienced players might welcome the challenge though, or have ideas of their own that play into the irregular ground.

The availability of natural resources is also a feature you're going to want to think about, depending on how much emphasis on industry is in your plans. Furthermore, the positioning of these natural resources relative to the starting square, and also how close they are to any areas you wish to build residential areas in can also be important to your city.

Finally, the access to outside connections is the other main aspect to consider when picking your new Cities Skyline map. While it is not too important when starting out, the bigger your city becomes, the more you're going to want to draw from the outside, so having a streamlined export and import system is really handy.

  • Want to build on one of these maps with no restrictions? Check out this list of Cities Skylines cheats for an unlimited experience.

Cities Skylines Best Maps

#10: Snowy Coasts (Snowfall)

best Cities Skylines maps Snowy Coasts
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While the Snowy Coasts map might not be the best map from a statistical point of view, it is undeniable the appeal of playing on a winter map - at least for some people. You will need the Snowfall DLC to play this map in the first place, but it is well-equipped to show off every new feature of the content pack. You do have mostly flat terrain, a respectable 68% buildable area, and a fairly sizeable amount of forest resources, but the main reason you'll be picking this map will be for the unmistakable looks.

#9: Pearl Bay (Industries)

best Cities Skylines maps Pearl Bay
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Pearl Bay is the map you're going to want to choose if you're putting a focus on industry. It makes sense, as this is part of the Industries pack, but the map is filled to the brim with resource hotspots. You have multiple areas to draw from for every type of resource, so you're not limited to building in one spot, and additionally you're not stuck if your industry dries up either. This map is quite challenging for expansion though, as there is a lot of raised terrain that would be difficult to deal with if you're not an experienced landscaper.

#8: Grand River (Base Game)

best Cities Skylines maps Grand River
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You can't really go wrong with Grand River - especially as it is a base game map, so no additional purchases are required. Defined by the obvious huge river that splits the map down the middle, Grand Rivers is just a really simple map that allows you to do your job well.

It features excellent outside connections throughout that allow for really great traffic management, and a mighty 84% buildable area that will keep you going for a very long time. Outside of ore, however, you might struggle with your natural resources, but there is always other means of industry after all.

#7: Green Plains (Base Game)

best Cities Skylines maps Green Plains
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While not as buildable as Grand River - and perhaps a bit more difficult too, it is undeniable how nice the Green Plains map can make your city look. Sprawling rivers, surrounding mountains, and a big old lake define the natural environment of this map, making a really great backdrop for whatever direction you choose to take.

There is also a fair amount of forestry available, which can make home industries really thrive if you choose to opt toward that.

#6: Azure Gulf (Sunset Harbour)

best Cities Skylines maps Azure Gulf
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You'll have beaches galore with this tropical map, which is perfect if you're aiming for a more tourist focussed city, or just somewhere nice to relax with a summer theme. There are over twenty different beach areas to build with on this map, and each one is surrounded by beautiful hills and cliffs to compliment whatever you're building.

Furthermore, this map has a cluster of islands off to the left, which can prove a real challenge to aspiring terraformers, but well worth the effort if you can make it work.

#5: Lavender Lake (Green Cities)

best Cities Skylines maps Lavender Lake
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The first of the Green Cities maps on this list, Lavender Lake offers just a really pleasant building experience to all players. You have a huge amount of flat land to work with, alongside convenient access to all the water resources you might need.

Furthermore, this is a very strong map for wind based power, which is perfect if you're wanting to take the more environmental approach that the Green Cities DLC encourages.

#4: Murky Coast (Campus)

best Cities Skylines maps Murky Coast
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Once again it is a set of gorgeous rivers that will define your experience if you play on the Murky Coast map. The main stream snakes down from the north-west, and it is what you will most likely be basing a lot of your city around - or at least trying to. Murky Coast is great for more experienced players looking for more of a challenge, as there is a decent amount of flat land and a 71% buildable area, but there are lots of inconsistencies in the terrain that can prove quite tricky if you don't know what you're doing.

Also, being able to make any transport links that go across the river look good is also something only experienced players will be able to achieve, but Murky Coast can definitely look incredible if moulded by the right hands.

#3: Eden Valley (Green Cities)

best Cities Skylines maps Eden Valley
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Potentially the single flattest map in the entire game, Eden Valley is a veritable playground for anyone wanting a clean slate to build their city on - with immense potential for expansion too. There are a couple of really nice looking mountains that can make any use of the Cities Skylines first person mod worthwhile, alongside a decent amount of natural region splitting if you need a bit of help with defining your expansion.

Perhaps the only downside is the relative lack of outside connections on the right-hand side of the map, but this can be easily amended and crafted to better suit your needs.

#2: Riverrun (Base Game)

best Cities Skylines maps Riverrun
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The title for the best base game map handily goes to Riverrun, with its large buildable area, excellent outside connections, and generally pleasing landscape.

There's generally not a lot wrong with this map, offering a welcoming experience for new players, while simultaneously presenting a challenge in other areas for more seasoned mayors. 

#1: Garden Rivers (Green Cities)

best Cities Skylines maps Garden Rivers
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The final Green Cities map on this list, and ultimately the best Cities Skylines map, very much follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, with lots of flat land and a whopping 80% buildable area, despite the massive river down the middle. There's just a little bit of everything in the Garden Rivers map, that makes it an all around excellent choice for pretty much every build goal. There's even a decent amount of natural resources too, which the other Green Cities maps are a bit lacking on.

So, that wraps up our list of the ten best Cities Skylines maps, going over all the greatest choices to make at the beginning of your Cities Skylines journey. Of course, you could opt for some Cities Skylines mods to get maps better suited to your specific needs, but the base game maps are certainly good enough to get you started. If you're running into the Cities Skylines 'not enough workers' problem when you're starting out, make sure to read our guide for all of the causes how to solve the problem.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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