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Garmin TourGuide

Using GeoTour, you can create and download GPS multimedia tours to compatible Garmin GPS devices using the new Garmin TourGuide POI file format. This page is dedicated to providing more information on the Garmin TourGuide format.

Garmin recently introduced an extension to its POI file format named the Garmin TourGuide. TourGuide POI files play audio when a location is reached. Each location can also display an associated image and text description. When you pass a TourGuide location, the audio begins playing automatically. TourGuide files can be loaded into compatible Garmin devices using Garmin POI Loader. After loading the TourGuide file onto your Garmin device, you can then select one of the tour locations and have the device route you to it. For a detailed description of how the Garmin TourGuide format works and some screenshots, see below.

Compatible Devices

The Garmin TourGuide POIs are currently compatible with the following devices:

  • nüvi (those with MP3-playing capabilities)
  • zūmo
  • StreetPilot c550
  • StreetPilot 2730
  • StreetPilot 2820
  • StreetPilot 7200
  • StreetPilot 7500

Recommended Device

The Garmin nüvi 350 is an extremely user-friendly device. It allows you to easily import and travel to TourGuide POIs and provides full support for the TourGuide format. To learn more about the nüvi 350 or to purchase one, click here.

How it Works / Screenshots

The following screenshots are from a Garmin nüvi 350. Your device may display these screens differently.

Once you've transferred a Garmin TourGuide POI to your device using GeoTour, first go to "Where To?".

Next, go to "My Locations".
TourGuide files reside in the "Custom POIs" category.
Here, you will be able to see all the tours you have loaded on your device.
When you select a tour, the locations are listed in order of distance from your current location (the closet location is first).
Once you select a location, its information is displayed, including the audio, image, and text description.
If you click on the picture, it will enlarge.
Here's a location without an audio file but with an image and text description.
You can select Go! on any tour location to have the device route you to it. Or, if you'd like to be routed to each location, you can route to one location and add the rest as Via Points.
Once you arrive within a certain distance of the tour location, the location is displayed and audio is played automatically. To view the image and text description, simply click the red "TourGuide" bar across the top of the screen.
Note that TourGuide locations are shown on the map as grey dots. See the picture to the right and the picture above it for an example.


Garmin POI Loader (version 2.4.1 or above)

When downloading Garmin TourGuide files using the manual option from the GeoTour, you will need Garmin POI Loader transfer the tour and media files to your Garmin device. Note that POI Loader is NOT needed if download the TourGuide (.gpi) file directly or when using the Garmin Communicator Plugin.

Download here

Garmin Communicator

Using the new Garmin Communicator Plugin and GeoTour, you can quickly and easily transfer GPS tours directly to your Garmin GPS device without the need for POI Loader! For more information on Garmin Communicator, click here.


Here's a list of shortcomings we've identified with the Garmin TourGuide format:

  1. Order of tour locations cannot be transferred to device.

    Thus, tour locations cannot be visited in a certain order.  Rather, the order is left to the user to choose and the locations are shown on the device in order of distance.  Ideally, the predetermined order of tour locations should be carried over when the tour is loaded to the device, with the capability for users to modify the order of locations on the device as well. 

  2. Only one tour location can be routed to at a time.

    You can route to one tour location at a time and add one other tour location at a time as a "via point", but this is a very tedious and "un"user-friendly process.  Ideally, a route would be created for all locations on the tour, which could also be modified by the user on the fly, with the device automatically re-routing.  UPDATE: Some Garmin devices now support importing Routes which allow the user to be guided to each tour location. We've updated our web site so you can download the Route for any tour stored on our site. Currently, routes are supported on the Garmin nuvi 7xx/8xx/9xx/5000, zumo, or StreetPilot 7200/7500.

  3. Not enough text supported.

    Some devices (nüvi 350 and possibly others) only support displaying 9 lines (or roughly 250 characters) of text for each location description.  Instead, at least several thousand characters should be allowed for the location description. 

  4. Image file not automatically shown.

    When a location is reached, the audio file plays, but the image file is not shown.  However, image files can be seen by clicking on the red TourGuide bar at the top of the screen.  Preferably, when a location is reached, the image should be automatically displayed on screen along with the playing of the audio file.  It would also be desirable for the screen to display an indication when a text description is available for a tour location. 

  5. Not all devices play audio files.

    TourGuide audio files can only be played on devices that have MP3-playing capabilities.  We recommend that Garmin make all devices TourGuide capable by making them all mp3-capable, or at least mp3-capable for TourGuide files only instead of fully mp3-capable which would allow users to load mp3 files to the device and play them.

  6. Every time a tour location is passed, its audio plays.

    Ideally, the tour creator could choose the option of only having the audio play when a location is passed in a certain direction, or be enabled to set different audio files to play depending on the direction of the tourist. It would also be desirable if the tour creator (and the tourist) could choose the option of only allowing the audio to play once per location.