Cities: Skylines 2 Maps Guide: Best Starting Maps for Your City

Cities: Skylines 2 Maps Guide: Best Starting Maps for Your City

After a long wait, Cities Skylines 2 is finally released! Bigger than ever before, this sequel by Colossal Order and Paradox aims to replicate the massive success of the first game.

If you’re looking to get into this game, you’ll need to start with one very important decision: choosing the right map for your city. In this guide, we’re taking a look at all the best map options in the game, and helping you choose the right option. Pick the one that best suits your vision, or skill level. Let’s get to it!

List of All Starting Maps in Cities: Skylines 2

The base game, with no additional mods or updates, comes with 10 starting maps. They range from flat sunny paradises, to cold mountainous areas, replicating the world’s most remote cities. Here is the main list, including each map’s buildable area:

Starting Map Buildable Area
Archipelago Haven 16%
Windy Fjords 21%
Mountain Village 21%
Sweeping Plains 31%
Twin Mountain 39%
Barrier Island 41%
Great Highlands 41%
River Delta 42%
Lakeland 49%
Waterway Pass 53%


If you picked up the Ultimate Edition of the game, you will also gain access to two additional maps that come as pre-order bonuses: Tampere (Finland), and San Francisco (Southwest USA).

But in this article, we will mostly focus on the main ten. Let’s break down each of the maps, and see their pros and cons.

Archipelago Haven

Difficulty: Expert

Archipelago Haven is made up from many different islands that you can connect together to make one beautiful, functional city. Replicating some of southern Europe’s most beautiful seaside towns, this map gives you an opportunity to build something similarly special. While the map area is huge and there’s plenty of upside, mountains and islands on either side seriously hamper any of your building efforts.

With only 16% of buildable area, Archipelago Haven is one of the toughest maps to build in, you will need to get creative with your strategy. That being said, this map gives you connections to everything, and allows for easy separation of industrial and commercial areas, making it one of the strong points of Archipelago Haven. Though the rail connections are also pretty far from the most logical starting area. To get the best out of this map, you will need to build a lot of roads. So, prepare for future traffic problems.

Windy Fjords

Difficulty: Expert
Windy Fjords is a Southern hemisphere map, bringing you cold, humid climate and only 21% of buildable area. Building a massive city here might be genuinely impossible, with mountains on either side of the map, plenty of small lakes, and a lot of even smaller islands.

The landscape is incredibly varied, and you can build up all the way to the tops of the fjords, but getting everything to work in one ecosystem is going to be a challenge. While your city might not be the most massive or the most striking out there, Windy Fjords is a beautiful map with limited space that experts will enjoy making the most out of.

Mountain Village

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mountain Village is your classic Alps-style map, with a nice flat starting zone, but only 21% of the total building area. The climate is cold, and there are no shipping connections available – but at least you get plenty of natural resources to build and improve your city with.

It’s a nice little map if you’re looking to build something relatively small. But once you start growing, you will run into some problems due to limited space and connections. Solving them could be a great challenge – which makes this a solid map for all the intermediate Cities: Skylines 2 players looking for an interesting map.

Sweeping Plains

Difficulty: Expert
Sweeping Plains is a map very clearly inspired by the beautiful Canterbury in New Zealand. It’s a challenging one, too – with only 31% of the total buildable area, and one major challenge all throughout the map. The challenge is simple: Sweeping Plains has a lot of rolling hills, making it a difficult map to build in. Terrain management will be key here.

The beginning of the map will be very simple – but the distance to rail connections is massive. Plus, once the winter season rolls in, you’ll be dealing with a lot of the snow, making it even more difficult. But if you’re an expert, looking for a beautiful map to tame, Sweeping Plains is a great pick.

Twin Mountain

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
From the first view, Twin Mountain looks very similar to Sweeping Plains, but it lacks rail connections. And yet, it’s much more beginner friendly. What gives? Well, it’s simple – this map offers a connection to a highway, making it an excellent base for road connections. This will let you quickly develop a road system to transport goods.

Plus, with a lot more building area at 39% and fewer rolling hills, getting your city growing should be relatively simple. There’s still plenty of elevation and a lot to deal with, but it’s a great map if you’re looking for a nice mountainous landscape with fewer deceptive challenges.

Barrier Islands

Difficulty: Beginner

Barrier Islands is a wonderful, beginner-friendly map, loosely based on Brisbane (but also very similar to Vancouver.) It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a location to build a massive city. The buildable area is large at 41%, and you’ll have connections to all the networks, so rail, road, and planes are very easy to reach.

The weather is mild and sunny, and a nice coastline opens up a lot of possibilities for your city. A massive bridge connecting two islands is an excellent place for you to turn into a great city center. It might turn a bit challenging once you get a big city going: but that’s true for every map. If you’re a beginner, Barrier Islands is a wonderful pick.

Great Highlands

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Great Highlands draws inspiration for the wonderful lands of Scotland. This map includes a large and convenient starting area in the center, and the total building area sits at a very solid 41%. With huge mountains at the sides, and two nice rivers, it’s a great canvas for a city of any size.

To get the best out of Great Highlands, you might need a little bit of experience: because the climate of this Scottish map is, well, cold as any Scottish map should be. There are also some major highway connections right from the start, which could be either good or bad, depending on your gameplay. All in all, it’s a nice map to start with, for both beginners and more experienced players.

River Delta

Difficulty: Intermediate

River Delta is a nice and sunny map, with a river spilling into the sea, offering over 42% buildable area. While it’s not clear what real-life location this is meant to be replicating, it feels similar to New Orleans. While on the River Delta, you’ll get access to all major connections, as well as extensive shipping traffic.

With good weather, good connections, and a solid buildable area, this city could be perfect for beginners. But it’s still best suited for intermediate players: with the River Delta, you’ll be dealing with a lot of small islands and the overall awkward structure of the map. If you’re not careful, things could quickly start to turn messy.


Difficulty: Beginner

Lakeland is a simple, varied-weather map with – you guessed it – a lake, with many nooks and crannies for you to build in. There’s no access to the sea, but you get plenty of rail and road connections, plus – a massive 49% buildable area.

You’ll start with a simple road grid that works well if you’re looking to make a classic USA-style city with a lake island serving as the commercial center. But really, this map lets you build just about any kind of city you can imagine, and the terrain won’t be much of a challenge. It’s a great beginner map that can help you build a stunning-looking city without much fuss.

Waterway Pass

Difficulty: Intermediate

Waterway Pass is a North American map, with the most buildable area in the game, at 53%. This map is nice and sunny, but still offers a good amount of weather variations. A river with a small tributary works as a natural separator, letting you adapt your vision to. You can choose to build a few different towns around the rivers, or start building right in the center and build a massive metropolis.

It’s a great beginner-friendly map: its main challenge begins once your city starts to spread, because the big central area is surrounded by the sloping mountains. It starts easy – but will be challenging later on.

Cities Skylines 2 Maps & Themes

Cities Skylines 2 Mods

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