Google Earth is unbeatable when finding stuff, looking at the world, finding your route and so on, but it doesn't really give you information on what the places you see are like. Schmap is service I found which tries to bring together Google Maps, and actual information on places to get you valuable travel guide quality info.
I found that the information was quite helpful and detailed, there was even loads of info on Budapest where I live. History was accurate and thorough and although there were only 18 places to see, these were well picked with nice photos and descriptions. Tour suggestions were also well written and show pretty much what needs to be seen when traveling to Budapest for the first time, and even events were accurate and updated.
Schmap also makes a desktop application named Schmap Guides Desktop which contains all this data in a downloadable form. You can download various cities, or choose packs which contain all American, all European, or every single destination available. The desktop software is great if you're traveling somewhere, and it also enables you to print custom guides for yourself, a great way to get to know a place.
The only real problem with Schmap is that there aren't enough destinations. You'll find them if you go to big places like capitols, but if you want to go to a seaside city in Italy, you won't find an entry. I think Schmap would be one of the most useful aps on the net if they manage to build such an infrastructure. Since I'm going to Italy this Summer, I would urge them to hurry up!
Update: The developers seem to have refreshed their data recently. The main focus now lies on cities and locations in the United States, with the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and Asia being represented as well. Cities that were previously available elsewhere are unfortunately no longer available.Advertisement
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