Grand Theft Auto is known for its massive open-world maps. Players have been able to take a ride down the Las Venturas strip, chill out on Vespucci Beach and go bowling with their favored cousin. Since the first GTA game in 1997, Rockstar has made sure they’ve gone bigger and better with every new game entry.
The maps can transport you into the game and have a full-of-life feel to them, especially GTA V. With most of the game’s destinations based on real-life cities and counties, why don’t we take a trip down memory lane and explored the world that is Grand Theft Auto.
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto was the first title to be released and the one that kicked started the franchise. The top-down style of gameplay meant that even though there are three different maps, plus a bonus one with a DLC, you don’t get a big feel of where you are. However, they did introduce some areas that we would see again, later down the line in GTA.
Liberty City and New Guernsey
This won’t be the only time that Liberty City appears on this list. Based on The Big Apple and areas of New Jersey, this map is split into sections that are similar to that of the geographic map of New York City and New Jersey, with the places cleverly renamed so that you can clearly tell where they’re based on.
We have areas named Brocklyn, Tellburg, and Kings out to the east, Island City, Park, and Island Heights in what would be the Manhattan area, and finally, out to the west is Guernsey City, New Guernsey, and my personal favorite named place on this map, Hackenslash.
Not to get mixed up with the county, San Andreas in the first GTA is a re-imagining of San Francisco. This map goes on a different route to that of the Liberty City and New Guernsey one, with the area not being laid out in the same, geographic way. Most notably, the Wharf is to the south of the map, not in the north.
Vice City is based in the Floridian hub of Miami and another area that will make a reappearance later down the line. On the mainland, we have the areas of Miramire, Coral City, Little Dominica, Greek Heights, Little Bogota, Richman Heights, Felicity, Banana Grove, and Vice Shores.
Set off the mainland area is a peninsular called Vice Beach, making the map a close carbon copy to Miami, with is peninsular of Miami Beach set off to the eats of the mainland.
London and Manchester
The only time Rockstar has ventured out of America is for the DLC GTA London 1961. It is also one of the only maps where the city and its districts are named after their real-life counterparts. Split by the River Thames, to the north are Westminster, Chelsea, Soho, Hyde Park, Camden Town, Angel, City of London, Mile End, and Bow. To the south are Southwark, Bermondsey, Battersea, Brixton, and Camberwell.
Manchester also makes an appearance in the DLC but as a multiplayer map. Unfortunately, the map isn’t as developed as that of London and we don’t get to see the Northern England city split into districts. Although, those football fans believed they’ve found Old Trafford, located in the southeast.
Grand Theft Auto 2
Anywhere City, USA
Grand Theft Auto 2, styled with the top-down perspective, had one of the most random maps in the GTA Series. Rockstar didn’t base it off anywhere in particular, instead just naming it Anywhere City. This map design is supposed to give steampunk vibes, something a little had to see in this gaming format.
The beginning intro of the game is filmed as live-action in New York City but no confirmation has ever come from Rockstar to say if NYC was the inspiration for the setting. The map is split into three districts, Downtown, Residential and Industrial.
Downtown is split into 11 neighborhoods. The majority of the areas are similar and don’t have any popular landmarks, barring two. University is an area that houses the university of Anywhere City and Avalon, where the Jesus Saves Church is located.
The Residential district is slightly larger, housing 15 areas. Just like Downtown, the areas are all fairly similar, just with more housing. One area is named Redemption. Was that a hint to the Red Dead series? Finally, we have the Industrial area, and just like its namesake, the district is full of factories.
However, you do sporadically have some residential areas dotted about. There are 15 neighborhoods in total, equalling that of the residential area.
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III was the first 3D entry in the GTA series, meaning we go to fully explore a map in the third person view. This meant the world now had a life-like feel to it, with multiple pedestrians walking down the streets, being able to fully take in the surroundings, and just an all-around better experience for GTA players.
Liberty City is back! And while the map is heavily influenced by New York City, there can be hints of other cities dotted about the map. The map is split into three main areas, Portland, Staunton Island, and Shoreside Vale. Each area is set on an island, with bridges and a railway connecting them.
Portland is out in the east and is one of the earlier areas that players can visit. It’s a pretty industrial area, home to the Portland Harbor and Atlantic Quays. However, there is still some popular business located on the island. Luigi’s Sex Club 7, where Claude gets a lot of his early missions from, is here in the Red Light District.
It is also home to Chinatown, Hepburn Heights, and Saint Mark’s, where Salvatore Leone’s mansion is located.
Staunton Island gives real big Manhattan vibes and is the central island of the three areas. Bedford Point seems to resemble Times Square and the Cathedral looks striking like St Patrick’s Cathedral which can be found on NYC’s Fifth Avenue. Located in the center is Belleville Park, with its vast greenery just like Central Park. You can also find Liberty Campus to the north, based on the Ivy League Columbia University.
Last but certainly not least is Shoreside Vale, home to many residents of Liberty City. One of the main areas on this patch is the Francis International Airport. There’s also the highly residential area of Wichita Gardens, Pike Creek which is full of notable businesses, and Cedar Grove, an area for those fancy people.
The weather in Liberty City is typically quite dull. While sunshine is a rarity, rain is almost a given. The area can also be quite foggy, giving the city that extra greyness, and adding to the city’s dreary ambiance.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Welcome to Miami! Sorry, I mean Vice City. Yet again, Rockstar has taken one of the top-down view maps and turned it into a 3D metropolis.
Included are two main islands, Vice City Beach and Vice City Downtown. There are also a few other smaller islands dotted about. The most noticeable one is on one of the roads that connect to two main islands. Vice City gave the players the ability to enter certain buildings, including the iconic Malibu Club and the Ocean View Hotel.
The districts in Vice City also bare a strong resemblance to Miami. Most of Vice City Beach is occupied by, you guessed it, beaches. Most of the strip is located on Vice Point to the north. As you head further south along the beach, you’ll find Washington Beach and Ocean Beach.
Across the pond, officially titled Ocean Bay, is the districts of Little Haiti, Little Havana, Vice Port, Downtown, and the Escobar International Airport.
Starfish Island is a small residential island, located on Ocean Bay. The house there are on the larger side, indicating that you’ll need a lot of dollars to own a property there. The smallest area on the map, Prawn Island is home to a few residents plus InterGlobal Films.Vice City is set in the summertime, so expect warm conditions and even the threat of a hurricane, in line with typical Floridian weather.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Rockstar went one bigger with GTA: San Andreas, adding three large cities across one giant map. San Andreas is based on the Californian coast and parts of Nevada. While San Andreas does exist in the real world, it isn’t a large State like in the game.
Instead, it’s a small ‘town’, near Sacramento in Cali. Due to its location, San Andreas is yet another sunny state, with rain and bad weather conditions a rarity. Snow doesn’t make an appearance at all across the map. Remember to pack your sunscreen!
Across the whole series, GTA: San Andreas is my absolute favorite. Compared to Vice City, it was game-changing. Just the pure scale of the map was almost five times bigger!! I would love to see this version of San Andreas in the same graphics as GTA V but alas, I don’t think it will happen. A girl can dream though, right? Let’s take a look at how San Andreas is divided up.
Los Santos is arguably the main hub of San Andreas. So much so that Rockstar brings it back in a later entry, but we’ll talk about that later.
Los Santos is based on the Californian city of Los Angeles, and translates this but replicating a lot of LA’s famous landmarks. We have the Los Santos Observatory, based on the world-famous Griffith Observatory, Santa Maria Pier, bearing resemblance to Santa Monica Pier, and many, many more.
The family home of the protagonist Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson is located in Grove Street which he proclaims was his home before he’ f*cked everything up. CJs world may be far away from the lavish life people in Los Santos can lead but there is still the opportunity to visit those houses in the hills and see the sights in Vinewood.
After the adventures in Los Santos are over, albeit, just for a little while, the countryside is the next port of call in San Andreas. Out here, you’ll find Red County, with its farms, forests, and small towns. Flint County is set just to the east of Los Santos. Arguably, one of the emptiest areas on the map in terms of residents, Flint County is full of roads, forests, again, and the occasional drug farm.
Despite being smaller, Whetstone has more action, thanks to the small town of Angel Pine and the tourist hook of Mount Chilliad. The Countryside can be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the San Andreas cities, but that doesn’t mean the quietness doesn’t have its crime.
The next big area comes in the form of San Fierro, based in the hilly city of San Francisco. Each neighborhood in the city replicated that of a real-life district in San Fran.
We even get to explore some of the famous landmarks such as Lombard Street, which is amply named the Windy Windy Windy Windy Street. Take a driver over Gant Bridge, based on the Golden Gate Bridge, and visit Pier 69, just like Pier 39.
The only popular landmark we seem to be missing is Alcatraz. Unfortunately, there’s no prison island in San Andreas. Compared to the rest of the areas in San Andreas, San Fierro is one of the cooler areas if you want to get away from the constant sunshine.
Just across from San Fierro is the region of Tierra Robada. While it starts off being nice and green, Tierra Robed slowly blends in with the desert land of Bone County. Tierra Robada is home to Mike Toreno, the only person of notability besides one of the CJs girlfriends.
The area does have a few towns dotted about. We have Bayside, set at the foot of Ganton Bridge and home to the Boat School. There’s also Aldea Malvada, El Quebrados, Las Barrancas and Valle Ocultado.
To the east is Bone County, the main desert part of the map. There are two towns but the whole area is largely inhabited. The best landmarks are La Bruja, a ghost town in the northwest, Area 69, GTA’s own version of Area 51, and Verdant Meadows, home to the airfield and one of GTA’s hardest missions to date.
Being in a desert environment, it hardly rains out in Bone County, with the sun commonly out. Be careful when exploring the desert though, you may find yourself caught up in a sand storm.
The final area you will visit in San Andreas is Las Venturas, which showcases all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. One obvious main attraction of this land is The Strip, which is full of casinos and hotels, some of which CJ can enter.
A lot of the casinos are similar to those on the Las Vegas Strip including The Visage, based on The Mirage, Come-A-Lot, just like the Excalibur and Caligula’s Palace, which is Caesar’s Palace.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV brought back Liberty City but made it bigger and full of more life. They also added a new area called Alderney, adding more to the already quite large map. More qualities of New York have been added, making this map truly feel like you’re in the Big Apple compared to those versions of Liberty City that have come before.
Despite LA Noire, another Rockstar title, coming out in 2011, GTA IV always gives me the same vibes. Gritty with the noir feel. Out of the 3D/HD generations, you could say that GTA IV has been left in the dust a bit. Fans are calling out for a revamp. I don’t want to keep having to bust out my PlayStation 3 to play it.
Algonquin is the central island in Liberty City. Each aspect of the island makes you feel like you’re in Manhattan. Central Park has returned with it being titled Middle park in-game. We also have Star Junction, a near-perfect replica of Times Square. Columbia University has now been renamed Vespucci University, after being called Liberty Campus in a previous title.
There’s even a Statue of Liberty, which you would have thought would keep the same name as the area’s namesake right? Nope! The island is dubbed Happiness Island, meaning we have a Statue of Happiness, with a huge smile planted across her face.
The amount of famous Manhattan landmarks is just endless on this part of the map. If you’ve never been fortunate to go to NYC then throw yourself into GTA IV. Yes, it may not be the same thing but Algonquin makes it pretty damn close.
Bohan is the smallest of the islands in the game and is nestled in the northeast, just to the north of Dukes. Carrying on with the New York City theme, Bohan is based on The Bronx, which sits just above Manhattan. Being the smallest area, it isn’t packed with neighborhoods, with just seven in total being located there.
Most of the area is full of residential buildings and can be a bit of a crime haven. However, Bohan isn’t utilized as much as the other districts, with Niko hardly visiting there.
Broker is set on the same island as Dukes, situated in the south. Broker is a replica of Brooklyn, even down to the Brooklyn Bridge. Sorry, I mean the Broker Bridge. Just like Brooklyn, think Brownstone houses and small community hubs.
You can also find Firefly Island, a rendition of Coney Island, here. However, Firefly Island is unfortunately closed for the duration of the game as it only opens in the summer, how boring!
Dukes is the final area of Liberty City and it is just like Queens. Set to the north of Broker, Dukes is full of homes and parks, making it a good place to make a home. Yet, Niko sadly can’t buy a Safehouse here and settle down from his life of crime. It is also home to the Francis International Airport, which hasn’t changed its name from previous games, just its location now being out in the east instead of in the west.
State of Alderney
Alderney hasn’t previously made an appearance in a GTA entry but being based in New Jersey, GTA did try and add a similar area with their New Guernsey in an earlier entry. Alderney is situated in the far west of the map and is its own state.
It is a mixed bag when it comes to what it offers. Some areas are small cities, with others being industrial. There’s also a range of residential, some with dollars aplenty up in Westdyke and others struggling in Acter.
The weather in GTA IV can be quite mixed. You’ll get some cycles that are rainy, cloudy, and downright depressing. However, the sun does sometimes come out and we can often be treated to some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto brings back San Andreas and Los Santos, but as usual, it’s not the same and Rockstar games have decided to mix things up from GTA: San Andreas. The whole map has more personality, more to visit and so much more chaos to cause.
Now nine years old!!! It’s the most recent entry in the GTA world and isn’t it a stunning one. I love how the map is kinda split into two worlds. The luxurious life of Los Santos compared to the run-down, drug den world of Sandy Shores. You can really tell that Michael is out of place when he’s exiled to Blaine County.
The first port of call is North Yankton, particularly the town of Ludendorff. The whole area is snow-covered and quite a small residential area. Unfortunately, North Yankton only makes an appearance in the introduction mission “Prologue” and “Bury the Hatchet”, which happens towards the end of the game. Players can’t travel back to North Yankton after these missions.
Here we go again. For the second time in the GTA Series, Los Santos is used as the main hub of activity. However, this time, newer places have been added and Los Santos has a fresher feel to it. Los Santos is located on the southern part of the map and is largely a sprawling city.
While we have the main hub of Los Santos, based in LA, there is also Chumash, GTA’s Malibu, Davis which is straight out of Compton, Del Perro acting as Santa Monica plus Rockford Hills as those luxurious Beverly Hills all replicated.
Vinewood has been brought back alongside Richman, but unlike GTA: San Andreas, these areas are now full of the hustle and bustle they should have. The weather is generally sunny and warm in Los Santos but that doesn’t mean that there’s the occasional rainfall.
Smog can also be present, which could be down to the pollution of a dense city. Snow has appeared but only on GTA Online as part of seasonal events.
Blaine County takes up the northern half of the map and it’s the first time it’s made an appearance in GTA. Blaine County gives you a massive desert land, stunning mountain vistas, and lush forestland, making it a completely mixed bag.
There are only a few towns dotted around the land, with the main ones being Sandy Shores in the Grand Senora Desert, Paleto Bay in the north, and Grapeseed, which isn’t too far from Sandy Shores.
Mount Chilliad makes a return as one of the most noticeable landmarks across the whole map, largely due to its massive size. The weather in Blaine County can be similar to that of Los Santos, with some small sand/dust storms appearing in the deserts.
Cayo Perico only makes an appearance in GTA Online during the Cayo Perico Heist, but I thought it deserved a small shoutout. Cayo Perico is a small, tropical island, situated just off the coast of Colombia in the Caribbean. The island is home to Juan Strickler, an infamous drug dealer, and is completely private. Added in 2020, it was the first map to be added to GTA in seven years.
GTA Universe Geography Guide: FAQs
Question: Which map is the biggest?
Answer: Just by looking at the map, you would have thought that GTA: San Andreas would have the largest map but actually, that title goes to GTA V. Bigger may not always be better but that’s certainly not the case in GTA V.
Question: How many times does Liberty City appear?
Answer: Liberty City makes an appearance four times across the GTA franchise, albeit with different designs. While it’s either the main map or one of the main maps in three games, Grand Theft Auto, GTA III, and GTA IV, CJ also take a flight to the NYC wannabe during the mission “Saint Mark’s Bistro” in GTA: San Andreas.
Question: What map is going to be used in GTA 6?
Answer: The rumor mill is always running when it comes to Rockstar titles and yes, a further GTA is in development, but no further information has come out as to where it is set. Like most fans, I’m just sitting around, awaiting further details.