There are Hyrulian landmarks that appear in every single game. To understand Hyrulian geography, it is vital to know what and where these landmarks are. All compass directions are given in terms of the game compass in LoZ and ALttP, not the true compass given in OoT.
In OoT, Hyrule Field is the large open plain in central Hyrule. In this time period, Hyrule Field is covered with grass and trails. Lon Lon Ranch used to be located in the middle of Hyrule Field. All other landmarks in Hyrule are located around Hyrule Field.
In later times, Hyrule Field no longer goes by that name, since it is no longer a field. Trees have sprung up and the people of Hyrule have built and lived here more. In ALttP, Zora's River (see below) runs through the middle of Hyrule Field, forming a moat around the new Hyrule Castle.
Death Mountain is actually a large range of dry, parched mountains, located to the north of Hyrule Field. An active volcano located within the Death Mountain range, called Death Mountain Crater, constantly spews molten rocks. Goron City is located near Death Mountain Crater.
In OoT, Gorons live in Goron City, an underground city near Death Mountain Crater, harvesting Bomb Flowers (a crop unique to Death Mountain) and feasting on gourmet rocks from the Dodongo's Cavern. Over the centuries they delved deeper and deeper into the mountains, leaving behind a vast network of long, dark tunnels.
Zora's Fountain is a large lake located in eastern Death Mountain, and provides water to Zora's River (see below), and thus to all of Hyrule. It falls down from a waterfall, called the Sleepless Waterfall, to form Zora's River.
In OoT, noble ocean Zoras serve the Royal Family by protecting Zora's Fountain. Their patron deity, Lord Jabu-Jabu, lives in Zora's Fountain. Zora's Domain, the dwelling of the Zoras, is located in a large underground cave by Zora's Fountain. Zora's Domain has a portal leading directly to Lake Hylia.
A Zora in OoT tells Link:
All of the water in Hyrule flows from Zora's Fountain. That water flows through Zora's River, which eventually reaches Lake Hylia to the south.
By ALttP, Zora's River has been taken over by river Zoras, ugly Zoras who are hostile to outsiders. Their leader, Zora, lives in front of the Sleepless Waterfall and sells Zora's Flippers. River Zoras continue to inhabit Zora's River for the rest of known history.
Zora's River runs through all of Hyrule. It's source is in Zora's Fountain. In OoT, Zora's River starts from Zora's Fountain and flows west just south of Death Mountain, protecting Hyrule Castle and Kakariko Village. It flows further west off of the shown map, skirting Hyrule Field, and turns south. It then turns eastward again, flowing across Gerudo Valley through a long canyon until it reaches Lake Hylia (see below).
In ALttP, Zora's River is still fed by Zora's Fountain, but also by a water source that runs right through the middle of a wide pass in Death Mountain. Zora's River no longer flows as far west as it did in OoT, although remnants of the original River remain (note the vertical strip of water east of Kakariko Village). Instead, Zora's River has been made to run through the middle of Hyrule Field, where it forms a moat around the new Hyrule Castle. It feeds Lake Hylia from the north, instead of from the west as before.
In LoZ, Zora's River flows through Death Mountain. It is no longer fed by another water source, but by Zora's Fountain alone. What was once a moat around Hyrule Castle is now a very large lake with two large islands in the middle. From the moat the River flows south into the ocean instead of feeding Lake Hylia. Thus, Lake Hylia is dried up and Hyrule is cut in half by Zora's River.
Lake Hylia is the lake located in southeastern Hyrule. In OoT and ALttP it is fed by Zora's River. In LoZ, Zora's River flows into the ocean, so Lake Hylia is dried up to a much smaller size. In OoT, the owl tells Link:
Beyond this point lies Lake Hylia. It is full of deep, pure water. The Zoras, who live all the way upstream, guard the sunken temple at the lake's bottom, as well as Zora's Fountain.
At the lake bottom there is a Water Temple used to worship the water spirits.
The Lost Woods
There are actually two forests in Hyrule that go by the name of the Lost Woods. The northwestern Lost Woods are located to the west and southwest of Death Mountain. They appear on the in-game map only in ALttP, and are off the map in all other games. In OoT, Hyrule Castle is located in the gap between Death Mountain and the northwestern Lost Woods, and Zora's River flows just to the south of these woods. In ALttP, the Master Sword is hidden in the northwestern Lost Woods. In LoZ, the northwestern Lost Woods are squeezed off the map.
The eastern Lost Woods are located north and northeast of Lake Hylia, and south and southeast of Zora's Fountain. In OoT, Kokiri Forest is located within these woods. In this time, the eastern Lost Woods have an enchantment on them that makes exploring them very difficult, and hides Kokiri Forest. The Sacred Forest Meadow and Forest Temple are located in these woods.
In ALttP, the Eastern Palace is built over the western part of the eastern Lost Woods, the part north of Lake Hylia and south of Zora's Fountain. In LoZ, most of the eastern Lost Woods have grown back, and have spread westward to the large lake in the middle of Hyrule Field.
The Forest of Maze
This forest is located south and southeast of the ALttP Kakariko Village and north of the Desert of Mystery. In ALttP there is nothing special about this forest. In LoZ, however, it is called the Forest of Maze because an enchantment is upon it, keeping adventurers from going through the forest unless they follow a certain path.
The Kokiri Forest
This small forest is located in the middle of the eastern Lost Woods. It is the home of the Kokiri, the ever-young forest elves. In OoT, it is guarded by the Great Deku Tree, and the eastern Lost Woods are enchanted to make finding Kokiri Forest more difficult. In ALttP, Kokiri Forest is off the map, to the east of the Eastern Palace. In LoZ, Kokiri Forest is completely hidden by enchantment, or is gone.
The Desert of Mystery
This desert is located in the southwest of Hyrule, and is surrounded by dry mountains. In OoT, a portion of this desert is called the Haunted Wasteland by the Gerudos because of the Phantom Guide that haunts this part of desert. An enchantment kept one from wandering from the Haunted Wasteland into the rest of the Desert of Mystery. The Desert of Mystery is guarded by Gerudo's Fortress, and the Desert Colossus and Spirit Temple lie on the far side of the Haunted Wasteland, in the southwest of the Desert of Mystery. Between OoT and ALttP, Zora's River stopped flowing through Gerudo Valley, so the Gerudos moved away. The sandstorms died down and the Phantom Guide disappeared, so the Haunted Wasteland became indistinguishable from the rest of the Desert of Mystery.
In OoT, this is the name given to a valley that cuts through the mountainous region north of the Desert of Mystery, which leads to Gerudo's Fortress and the Haunted Wasteland. Perpendicular to this shallow valley cuts a deep canyon, through which Zora's River flows to Lake Hylia in southeast Hyrule. In ALttP, Zora's River no longer flows through this canyon, and the Gerudos are gone, so this valley is either hidden or merely indistinguishable from the many other ways through this mountainous region.
This is the area that is shown in AoL. Northern Hyrule consists of two large continents, one north of Death Mountain and the other an island northeast of Death Mountain. For a more thorough discussion of the AoL map and the mysterious "Death Mountain Area," see The AoL Map section.
There are four Hyrulian cities of note: Hyrule Castle Town, Kakariko Village, Zora's Domain, and Goron City. In OoT, Hyrule Castle Town and Hyrule Castle are located in the gap between the northwestern Lost Woods and Death Mountain. Kakariko Village, founded long before by Sheikahs, is located in the gap between the western and eastern Death Mountains. Both cities are protected by Zora's River to the south.
In ALttP, both have been moved. Hyrule Castle is located where Lon Lon Ranch used to be. Kakariko Village has been moved to the south of the northwestern Lost Woods, north of the Desert of Mystery. Where Kakariko used to be located, water now flows from the north to feed Zora's River. In LoZ, Hyrule Castle is gone, and Kakariko Village is off the map.
Zora's Domain is a large underground cave fed by Zora's Fountain. In OoT it is the dwelling of the noble ocean Zoras and their King Zora, longtime allies of the Hylian Royal Family. It is accessable only by those who have some connection with the Hylian Royal Family. By ALttP, river Zoras have taken over Zora's River, and the noble Zoras have relocated.
Goron City is located in Death Mountain, near Death Mountain Crater. A secret entrance in the City leads directly into the Crater. The inhabitants feed on high-quality rocks from Dodongo's Cavern. Goron City is north off the map in ALttP and LoZ.