Looking for a unique challenge, a cool new world to explore, or an interesting twist on survival mode? Here are some of the best Minecraft custom maps for exploration in survival mode!

Best Minecraft Custom Maps for Survival Mode

Looking for a unique challenge, a cool new world to explore, or an interesting twist on survival mode? Here are some of the best Minecraft custom maps for exploration in survival mode!

Minecraft offers a lot of variety, even for experienced players, with mods, challenge maps, adventures, and all kinds of other unique ways to play, but the heart of the game remains Survival Mode – testing your ability to survive and thrive in the open world, to build with limited resources, and to stand up to the nasty mobs you encounter while exploring.

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After a while though, random seeds might start to get stale, and for the seasoned Minecraft player, there are a growing number of challenging, interesting, and unique maps built specifically for survival. Here are some of the best downloadable survival maps for players looking to challenge themselves, explore a pre-made world, or just expand their horizons.

World in a Jar

This map is a really neat experiment in changing the Minecraft paradigm – instead of infinite space and room to expand, you’re put in a tiny bottle floating in the air. With limited resources and space, you have to figure out how to make the best of what you’ve got. Great for experienced builders looking for a unique challenge or for anyone who wants to narrow their scope and mix things up.

Eldaria Island

Vast, beautiful, and lovingly made, Eldaria Islands is perfect for players who love survival mode but want something more than what random seeds can offer. Eldaria Islands gives you tons of natural features to explore, a huge variety of handcrafted landscapes, and lots of features that you won’t find in a random map, like tiny streams, cave systems, and unique forest and biome designs. Great for any fan of exploration, Eldaria Islands is worth checking out just for the craftsmanship and detail that has gone into the map.

Rainforest Valley

There’s nothing especially unique or groundbreaking about Rainforest Valley, but it is one of the most beautiful, interesting, and detailed survival maps you are ever likely to play. With unique trees, waterfalls, caves, and more, this is a truly exceptional survival experience if you are looking to build and explore in a whole new kind of world.


A classic but often overlooked map, Skylands is great for the explorer or builder who is looking to discover an epic map with a dangerous twist. Skylands gives you a huge world with tons of variety, all placed on islands floating in the sky. There are dungeons, adventures, goodies, and more waiting for you, all with the added excitement and risk of a very long fall around every corner. Very well made and just as much fun as it was when it was first created.

Lands of Reminiscence

Another open world with custom terrain, Lands of Reminiscence adds a lot of interesting content aimed at the seasoned explorer – custom dungeons and villages, hidden places, and awesome unique items for you to find. If you want to play a survival map with an expanded open-world adventure feel, Lands of Reminiscence has you covered.

Survival Island

This map is so iconic and classic that it’s spawned a whole genre of maps, the original survival island remains fun and challenging to this day. The player spawns on a small island with limited resources and is faced with the not inconsiderable task of surviving. If that’s not enough for you, the mapmaker has included a list of challenges for you to work toward that grows increasingly difficult as it goes on. Minecraft players who like to challenge themselves will want to test their mettle here, with one of the mainstays of survival mode.

Recreation of the Earth (1:1500 Scale)

A truly epic undertaking, this map faithfully recreates the surface of the Earth, so you can explore, build, and even conquer our own planet. At 3.4 GB, it is truly a massive map, but there can be no greater challenge for the master explorer and master builder. If you ever wanted to literally leave your mark on the world, this is the map to do it on.


Yet another classic map, and an awesome one for creative types who want to truly challenge themselves, Skyblock starts you out in the middle of the air with practically no resources but the potential to create something amazing for yourself. Skyblock requires outside the box thinking, serious Minecraft chops, and lots of patience, but anything you manage to create will end up being that much sweeter for having been earned.


Like Skyblock on steroids, Skygrid is made up of environmental blocks linked together into a grid. With no rules, lots of hidden goodies, and tons of potential, Skygrid adds a whole dimension to the survival game, and is one of the most downloaded Minecraft maps of all time. Explore, build, or make up your own challenges, and try to find the rewards and spawners hidden around the map. 

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Robert Guthrie
Writer, freelancer, historian. www.robertwguthrie.com