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52 Beautiful Compass Tattoos with Meaning

A compass is a navigation tool and a meaningful symbol. From small to big, simple to intricate, these compass tattoos will inspire your next ink.

One of the most meaningful tattoos an individual may get is a compass tattoo. It may represent direction, protection, and passion. But its symbolism is so rich that almost everyone will find something they relate to.

On top of that, the design of compass tattoos is also versatile. You can have an intricate compass with every component drawn to perfection. Or you can have a minimalist one made with simple shapes and lines.

There are many options when it comes to getting a compass tattoo, along with the various meanings. So it’s not easy to pick a style that fits you.

That’s why we’ve gathered a collection of compass tattoos for your inspiration. From small to big, simple to intricate, these gorgeous and meaningful compass tattoos may well be your next ink.

The meaning of compass tattoos

A compass is a navigation tool used to point the direction. Before mobile phones and GPS, compasses were a must-have for sailors and travelers. Without one, exploring the world without losing one’s way is impossible.

That’s why compass tattoos are seen as a token of protection and direction. As a tattoo, it may not have the same practical function. But it serves as a permanent guiding light for the wearers.

Depending on the design, the meaning of a compass tattoo may include:

  • Protection, as it helps adventurers to navigate.
  • Guidance and direction, as it always points north.
  • Courage, as a physical representation of the adventurer spirit.
  • The life journey, because it used to be a necessity for traveling.
  • Family, for it shows the way home.
  • Protection, as it helps adventurers to navigate.
  • Guidance and direction, as it always points north.
  • Courage, as a physical representation of the adventurer spirit.
  • The life journey, because it used to be a necessity for traveling.
  • Family, for it shows the way home.

Disclaimer: This collection of compass tattoos is for inspiration only. Please do not copy the artwork. If you love these tattoos, follow artists and show them some support.

Stunning compass tattoos with meaning

Rose and compass tattoo ideas

Compass tattoos are the perfect accessories for anyone who enjoys adventure. There are various designs to choose from, including the rose compass.

The rose symbolizes pure love and passion. And it adds femininity and softness to a compass tattoo, making it a beautiful statement.

A rose and compass tattoo is perfect for those with someone they care about at heart, such as a partner or family. It is a reminder that wherever you are, you always have someone to return to.

Purple rose and compass watercolor tattoo

Watercolor rose compass tattoo by @tattooist_greem


Mandala rose compass tattoo

Mandala rose compass tattoo by @pimoosink


Rose compass tattoo on the thigh

Rose compass tattoo by @tattoo_art_elisa


Compass tattoos often entail complex components. Thus they can take up a lot of space. Thigh tattoos, in this way, are a perfect placement for the compass symbol.

It has a large flat surface to work on. And you can tattoo it on the front, side, or back of the thigh, depending on the design.

Simple compass tattoos

A compass consists of many parts. If a tattooist has to draw all of them, a compass tattoo would be pretty complicated. However, you can keep the basic form of a compass and turn it into a tattoo.

The symbolic meaning would not be reduced because of the simplification. Instead, a simple compass tattoo will reflect the wearer’s minimalist aesthetics.

If you want a subtle reflection of your life choice, these small, simple compass tattoos are for you.

Compass rose upper arm tattoo

Simple compass tattoo by @dal.minii_


It’s easy to confuse rose, and compass tattoos with compass rose tattoos. A rose and compass tattoo are designs that incorporate the two elements.

Compass rose, on the other hand, is the circle and the two pointers in the center of a compass. As the core, the compass rose symbolizes direction and the right path in life.

Simple compass tattoo

Simple compass tattoo by @bazictattoo


Abstract arrow and compass

Abstract arrow and compass tattoo by @chloemickham


Arrow and abstract compass

Arrow and abstract compass tattoo by @noamyona__


Tiny minimalist compass

Small simple compass elbow tattoo by @albatattooi


Nautical compass tattoo ideas

The nautical compass, also called the marine compass, is the steering wheel used to navigate the sea. As a standard installation on boats and ships, nautical compasses often symbolize the love for the ocean and the pursuit of freedom.

That’s why nautical compass tattoos are perfect for travel enthusiasts or those with a strong love for the sea. But they may also remind you to find your own way and make your dreams come true.

Small nautical compass shoulder blade tattoo

 by @tattooist_dante


Nautical compass tattoo with a quote

Nautical compass tattoo by

Sometimes a tattoo motif could have different meanings. Putting a quote on it allows it to be more specific.

Take this sleeve tattoo as an example. The quote on the side says, “we grow through what we go through.” It emphasizes the importance of experiences.

From the wearer’s point of view, life is a journey that teaches the best lessons. And this quote tattoo is a constant reminder of such truth.

Compass and anchor tattoos

Both the anchor and the compass can be a symbol of the ocean. But besides that, an anchor may refer to a person or a place that keeps one grounded. Thus, some people may pay tribute to their hometown or family with anchor tattoos.

Geometric compass and anchor

Geometric compass and anchor tattoo by @chenjie.newtattoo


A bold anchor tattoo

Anchor and compass tattoo by @min_tattoo


Viking compass tattoos

A Vegvísir, sometimes referred to as the Viking or nordic compass, is a mythical Icelandic symbol with deep meanings. Although the symbol was often associated with Vikings, there is no evidence proving such a correlation.

Initially, the vegvísir was a magical stave that provided guidance to sailors and travelers amid rough weather. It is believed that the ones who carried the stave would not lose their ways. Therefore, a nordic compass tattoo has embedded the same symbolism of protection and guidance.

Nordic compass and wings

Nordic compass and wings tattoo by

Viking compass mountain tattoo

Viking compass mountain tattoo by @reykjavikink


Nordic compass wolf chest tattoo

Nordic compass wolf chest tattoo by @tattoobyrosie


Many people identify wolves as their spirit animals. And it’s not hard to see why.

Wolves are loyal to their family. They value teamwork but are great hunters on their own. A wolf tattoo, in this way, honors good qualities like honesty and loyalty. Or it may reveal the wild side of the wearer as well.

Geometric Viking compass tattoo

Geometric Viking compass tattoo by

Watercolor compass tattoo designs

Watercolor tattoos are stunning because of the fluidity of colors. Without specific borders between shades, the smooth transition and color mixture add fun to a compass tattoo.

If you want a color tattoo but don’t want to overdo it, consider adding watercolor to the background. And these watercolor compass tattoos below may give you some inspiration.

Watercolor compass nape tattoo

Watercolor compass tattoo by @chenjie.newtattoo


Blue watercolor compass tattoo

Watercolor compass tattoo by @wenjie_tattoo


Compass and map tattoo ideas

Map tattoos often represent the wearers’ passion for exploring the world. They may also tell the story of where the wearers come from and where they are going.

On the other hand, a compass carries the connotation of guidance and direction. When you put the two together, the tattoo will be a reminder to never lose your heart when exploring the outside world.

Map and nautical compass tattoo

Map and nautical compass tattoo by @firstjing


Map and compass tattoo with constellation and birds

Map and compass tattoo by @linawhitetattoo


One thing you can do to make a tattoo more personal is by adding your zodiac sign to it. 

Take this arm tattoo as an example. The Capricorn constellation on the top reveals the wearer’s zodiac sign. This final touch is both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful.

Geometric compass and map tattoo

Map and compass tattoo by @takacs_miklos


Bird tattoos can carry deep meanings on their own. As an add-on to the map and compass tattoo, the birds reveal the wearer’s free-spirited side. Plus, they bring movements to the ink and make it more lively.

Compass mandala tattoos

The mandala is a spiritual symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. But it can also be found in many different cultures.

In Buddhism, it is held as a representation of the Universe. The circular shape and repetitive pattern signify stability and wholeness.

Many people combine the mandala with a compass because their meanings are cohesive. A compass is a tool that helps us to find the north. When put together with a mandala, it represents the ability to stay grounded and connect with the Universe.

Ornamental mandala compass tattoo

Ornamental mandala compass tattoo by

Compass mandala wristband

Compass mandala wrist band tattoo by @charlodarko


Compass and arrow tattoos

As a tattoo motif, an arrow can mean all sorts of things. Besides being a symbol of the Sagittarius sign, an arrow represents one’s inner strength to steer their life in the right direction.

When added to a compass tattoo, arrows show that the wearers have thoughtfully evaluated different paths. And they have decided to pivot and move forward in life.

If you are in such critical transitions, an arrow and compass tattoo may empower you to make the right decision.

Arrow and compass back tattoo

Arrow and compass back tattoo by @tattooer_jina


Rose and compass tattoo

Rose and compass tattoo by @tomstattooeckla


Compass arrow tattoo

Compass arrow tattoo by @woongbi_tattoo


Geometric compass tattoo ideas

Geometric tattoos have been trending for a long time, and for good reasons. First, they are unique and intriguing. With highly balanced structure and shapes, geometric tattoos transform your skin into a piece of art.

Though geometric tattoos don’t have specific meanings, you can always add elements you resonate with, such as a compass. And the complicated components of the compass make it a natural fit for tattoos in such style.

Geometric compass tattoo

Geometric compass tattoo by @blindreasontattoo


Intricate geometric thigh tattoo

Geometric compass thigh tattoo by @mini_moondal_tt


Sleek moon and compass forearm tattoo

Sleek moon and compass forearm tattoo by @boratattoo


Elegant compass tattoos for women

The compass is a unisex tattoo element. With that said, many traditional compass tattoos used to be masculine because they were for sailors.
These days, however, many compass tattoos take on a modern, feminine look.

These tattoos are usually drawn in fine lines with elegance in mind. When paired with decorations like flowers and the moon, these gorgeous-looking compass tattoos not only show the wearers’ grounded nature. They also highlight their beauty and femininity.

Jasmine and compass tattoo

Feminine floral compass tattoo by @sukza__art


Lunar compass tattoo

Lunar compass tattoo by @tattooist_giho


Realism compass and birth flowers

Realism compass tattoo for women by @tattooist_bae


Butterfly and compass

Butterfly and compass tattoo by @sallystattoo


Butterfly tattoos represent transformation and different stages in life. A butterfly has to go through metamorphosis before spreading its wings.

The butterfly is a beautiful decoration when paired with a compass tattoo. It gives the overall design an elegant retouch.

Intricate compass tattoo for women

Intricate compass tattoo for women by @carolsanatattoos


Flowers and compass tattoo

Flowers and compass tattoo by @mini_tattooer


Depending on the species, a flower tattoo may have different meanings.

For example, roses represent love and romance. Cherry-blossom tattoos, on the other hand, may signify the passing of time and the value of life.

So if you want to glow up a compass tattoo by adding flowers, pick a flower that is meaningful to you. This way, you will have something that will stand the test of time.

Floral compass

Floral compass tattoo by @stephanie_tomschitz


Fine line compass forearm tattoo

Fine line compass forearm tattoo by @tattooist_bae


Tiny compass ankle tattoo

Tiny compass ankle tattoo by @noul_tattoo


Bold and stunning thigh tattoo

Compass and flowers thigh tattoo by

Creative compass tattoo ideas

So far, we have covered the most common compass tattoo ideas, such as rose and arrow compass tattoos.

But some tattooists take one step further and think outside the box. They inject creativity into their designs and come up with something new. Below is a list of creative compass tattoos to dig in before you make up your mind.

Flames and compass tattoo

Flames and compass tattoo by @222_tattoo


Pointing directions

Creative compass tattoo by @danielnijveld_com


Whale and compass fantasy tattoo

Compass and whale tattoo by @xiso_ink


Abstract compass

Abstract compass tattoo by

Compass and feather tattoo

Compass and feather tattoo by @tattooist_bae


A broken compass

Broken compass tattoo by @oztattoom


Snake and compass

Compass and snake tattoo by @tattooer_jp


King and queen matching tattoos

Crown and compass tattoo by @ian_tattooer


Intricate compass and globe

Intricate compass and globe tattoo by @min_tattoo


Landscape compass tattoo

Landscape compass tattoo by @annesolvt


Landscape tattoos are mostly horizontal. This one, however, uses the compass as a frame and fills it with mountains, which may stand for the wearer’s hometown. Together, the tattoo sends a message to never forget one’s roots.

Sword and compass tattoo

Sword and compass tattoo by @modoink_simon


Realism 3D compass

If you want to add a little more fun and visual impact to your design, think about making it 3D.

Compared to a 2D design, 3D tattoos stand out on the skin almost immediately. And it also provides a multi-dimensional canvas for creative ideas.

A 3D compass on the hip

3D compass tattoo by @mireiamateostattoo


Whimsical rose and compass calf tattoo

3D rose compass tattoo by @peter_szalay_tattoo


Which of these compass tattoos is your favorite?

Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts!