Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps

Cities: Skylines 2 launched with ten starting maps based on a range of locations around the world. From the snow-capped hills of Mountain Village to the intriguing islands of Archipelago Haven, there is something for every aspiring city builder in the base game maps.

But what are the best starting maps in Cities: Skylines 2? I have spent the last week exploring the different maps, weighing up their pros and cons, and finding out what maps will be my go-to for new cities.

Whether you are a new player looking for the best map for beginners or a long-time fan excited to explore the latest game in the franchise, we have you covered. Let’s check out the best starting maps in Cities: Skylines 2.

Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps

How to Pick a Map in Cities: Skylines 2

Before starting your city, it is helpful to reflect on the different aspects of the game and what you want from your city. Each map has its own unique climate, with some being more prone to rain and snow than others. It is also helpful to consider what style of city you want to create. Do you want to make a coastal city or a town in the mountains? Each map has a distinct vibe, which is reflected in what you create.

All maps have natural resources, but the amount of the different natural resources differ. Some maps have more fertile land, whereas others have more oil and ore. Creating specialized industries is a huge part of the game and affects the type of city you create. I love creating farmland in my towns (I grew up in the countryside, and, as we know, you can leave the countryside, but the countryside never leaves you), so I always try to work with maps that provide me with fertile land to add farming.

You must also consider your skills when it comes to city building. If, like me, you are terrible at terrain tools, opting for flatter maps makes things so much easier. But, if you are good at designing cities around rivers, select a map that will allow you to do this.

MapThemeBuildable AreaKey FeaturesBest for 
Sweeping PlainsNorth America31%Flat land, all outside connections available.Beginners
Barrier IslandNorth America41%Interesting coastal map, all outside connections available, flat land.Beginners
Waterway PassNorth America53%Abundance of fertile land, flat land, winding river, all outside connections available.Beginners
River DeltaEuropean42%Two highway connections, all outside connections available, small islands and flat lands, abundance of trees.Intermediate
Archipelago HavenEuropean16%Clusters of islands, large areas of ore and fertile land, all outside connections available.Expert
Mountain VillageEuropean21%Stunning mountain backdrop, highway, railway, and plane connections, abundance of trees.Expert

Best Starting Maps for Beginners

The best starting maps for beginners offer flat terrain with an abundance of buildable areas. They also have every available connection, allowing you to explore the different import and export mechanics of the game.

Sweeping Plains

Buildable Area31%
Base ThemeNorth America
LatitudeSouthern Hemisphere
Climate-4°C to 23°C
Fertile Land7.8 km²
Trees209 kt
Ore7959 t
Oil10.9 kt
sweeping plains Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
This map is based on the Plains of Canterbury, NZ. Image by Lou Siday

Sweeping Plains is my first pick for beginners. It is a stunning map with rolling flat lands and a beautiful mountain backdrop. For this map, the city can be built between beaches and mountains, following a highway that runs through the plains. The flat land that comes with this map is perfect for beginners who don’t fancy dealing with the terrain tools. If you build out towards the ocean, you will need to use the terrain tools. However, there are many different options for expansion on this map.

The starting square provides you with a great place to begin your city. Running through the starting square is a small stream, but there are also a few options for groundwater pumping. In one corner, there are high wind speeds that are great for turbines. The highway that enters the starting square is in the middle, making it easy to divide your new city into zones, keeping residential away from industrial.

As you expand the city, there are a lot of areas for the forestry industry and small patches of fertile ground. I don’t think there is enough fertile ground, but I have found this to be the case in most maps. There are also small patches for stone, coal, oil, and ore industries.

Sweeping Plains has all outside connections on the map for you to explore the different mechanics as you grow your city.

Barrier Island

Buildable Area41%
Base ThemeNorth America
LatitudeSouthern Hemisphere
Climate10°C to 29°C
Fertile Land12.4 km²
Trees146 kt
Ore8944 t
Oil12.7 kt
barrier island Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
That’s reminiscent of Long Island, NY. Image by Lou Siday

Barrier Island proves that flat maps do not equate to boring maps. This exciting map offers you tonnes of flat terrain for you to build on while allowing you to create a unique city along the coast. Consisting of a range of islands running alongside the mainland, Barrier Island has all outside connections and a whole lot of potential for beautiful cityscapes.

The starting square is on the largest island on the map and provides you with a flat starting point for your city. I won’t lie; I would prefer the starting map to be on the mainland, as I feel like the biggest island would be a great place for the city center and high-density zoning. But this is my personal preference, and I will wait for an unlock-all-tiles mod before really throwing myself into this map.

The starting square has a few areas for groundwater, but low winds mean you will not be able to place wind turbines. When working with this map, I decided to place the coal power plant on the small island to keep it away from residential.

Regarding industry, the Barrier Island map has a decent amount of fertile land and forests. There are limited stone, coal, oil, and ore resources, and to get to them, you do need to expand further inland.

Waterway Pass

Buildable Area53%
Base ThemeNorth America
LatitudeNorthern Hemisphere
Climate-5°C to 36°C
Fertile Land15.5 km²
Trees236 kt
Ore12000 t
Oil10.2 kt
waterway pass Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
Designed in accordance with American Northwest. Image by Lou Siday

Waterway Pass is a fun map consisting of a meandering river and flat land. Small hills provide the city with a nice backdrop, and a highway and railway run on either side of the river. The twists and turns of the river offer you a little bit of challenge and opportunity for interesting cityscapes.

The starting square is at a great location, sitting in the middle of the map along the river. It has areas for groundwater and medium wind for wind turbines. I found this map easy to work with when expanding my city and sectioning it into industrial and residential zoning. There is a decent amount of specialized industries dotted around the map, mainly near the hills. This creates a natural-looking city with industry separated from residential and commercial, yet not too far away.

The main downside of this map is that you cannot unlock the coastal area. A lot of players like to build around the coast for industrial ports and recreation, but you cannot do this with Waterway Pass. Still, it is a decent map for beginners who are looking for something a little bit more interesting.

Best Starting Maps for Experienced Players

Some maps included in Cities: Skylines 2 provide a little bit of challenge to your gameplay, perfect for more experienced players. I picked these three best starting maps for experienced players based on their individuality and intrigue. These maps are set in beautiful locations but have more challenges than those I selected for beginners.

River Delta

Buildable Area42%
Base ThemeEuropean
LatitudeNorthern Hemisphere
Climate-4°C to 34°C
Fertile Land13.4 km²
Trees369 kt
Ore12900 t
Oil4.315 kt
river delta Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
Image by Lou Siday

As the name suggests, this map provides you with a meandering river that spits off into smaller streams before reaching the coast. Hills surround the map, but there is a load of flat, buildable space to explore. It has every outside connection available and two highway connections, one running alongside the coast and one running down the valley.

The starting square is near the coast, with a few spots for groundwater. If you want to create a green city, this map may not be the best as the starting square has low wind speed, meaning you cannot place any turbines straight away.

The small islands and flat land mean this map has loads of potential for complex and unique cities. However, I recommend planning your city a little before building to make sure you are making the most of the different types of space. Like Barrier Island, I do wish the starting map was in a different location, perhaps a little bit further back. But still, it is a pretty good starting point for expanding your city.

Regarding resources and specialized industry, River Delta has a decent amount of trees for forestry and enough fertile land dotted around the map. It doesn’t have as much oil as other maps, but there are a few different areas with ore across it.

Archipelago Haven

Buildable Area16%
Base ThemeEuropean
LatitudeNorthern Hemisphere
Climate8°C to 30°C
Fertile Land11.4 km²
Trees234 kt
Ore16000 t
Oil6.859 kt
archipelago haven Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
Image by Lou Siday

Archipelago Haven only has 16% buildable area, so creating a city here can be difficult. However, the fascinating cluster of islands, lagoons, and atolls makes it a very attractive map. The starting tile begins on one of the larger islands and contains two roads off an intersection. There are loads of places for wind power and a few spaces for groundwater on the starting tile. This map provides a challenge for more experienced players who must grow a city spread over islands.

Again, with this map, planning is key. Before placing anything down, consider how you want your city to grow and what islands you want for high-density buildings. It isn’t that flat, so you may need to get out the terrain tools when expanding your city. The starting island has a small hill where you can find the ruins of a castle, which I really love. I am already hoping for a Parklife type of expansion pack for City: Skylines 2 to make that space into a nature reserve!

There are large areas of ore and fertile land on two bigger islands, with dots of oil spread across the map. It has a decent amount of trees for forestry and every outside connection.

I have to be honest, though: Archipelago Haven makes me miss the tropical climate maps from the original game. The four climates in Cities: Skylines meant a more diverse range of maps, and I would tend to go for a tropical theme. Where are the palm trees and white beaches? I loved living vicariously through my game and creating cities that looked nothing like rainy England. Hopefully, more tropical climates will come in time.

Mountain Village

Buildable Area21%
Base ThemeEuropean
LatitudeNorthern Hemisphere
Climate-12°C to 27°C
Fertile Land11.8 km²
Trees263 kt
Ore7732 t
Oil11 kt
mountain village Cities Skylines 2 Best Starting Maps
I would say it’s reminiscent of Alps in Europe. Image by Lou Siday

With snowcapped mountains and small, meandering streams, Mountain Village definitely feels different from all the other maps in City: Skylines 2. The high mountains and forests give you that off-the-beaten-track vibe, and it really inspires you to build and create! The sloping hills trail down to a valley where a small river runs through. On one side of the river is the highway, and on the other, a railway line.

The starting tile is on the side of the railway line, with a highway intersection running over the river and into the tile. It is a perfect place to start, with flat land and groundwater access. However, there is no high wind on this starting tile, so you won’t be able to place wind turbines down straight away.

Once you expand your city, you have a few options. You can build upstream or downstream alongside the river or expand towards the mountains. If you choose the latter, you will face terrain issues that will be difficult for beginners. There is a lack of buildable land, so the expansion of the city will take time and effort. Despite this, Mountain Village has a lot of potential for smaller cities and towns.

There is a decent amount of trees and fertile land to make the most of on the map and an abundance of oil and ore spots. However, there are no ship connections to use when exporting or importing goods. Thankfully, the train line runs through the map and can be used for this.


Question: How Big Will the Map Be for Cities: Skylines 2?

Answer: The map in Cities: Skylines 2 is 159 square kilometers with 441 unlockable tiles. This means that it is five times bigger than the original game.

Question: What Is the Max Population in Cities: Skylines 2?

Answer: There is no maximum population in Cities: Skylines 2.

Question: Will Cities: Skyline 2 Be on PS5?

Answer: Yes, Cities: Skylines 2 will be released on PS5 in spring 2024.

Which Cities: Skylines 2 Map Is Your Favorite?

the favorite map in cities skylines 2

Cities: Skylines 2 offers you ten unique maps to start your city with, all with their own pros and cons. Whether you want to build a cozy town up in the mountains or a sprawling city along a riverside, these maps are sure to inspire creativity!

Before picking your map, think about what your dream city will look like and what map is best for your plans. Each map has so much potential, with unique qualities and its own climate.

Which map is your favorite for building?

Continue reading:

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