Over four workshops, we collected community input on what people considered as persistent challenges in geovisualization with the participation of 72 experts from various sub-domains of geographic information science and technology. We categorize and analyze this bottom-up input, and contrast it with the previously published research challenges based on five research agenda papers (top-down). We observe certain overlaps but also some interesting differences between the top-down and bottom-up approaches. A synthesis of the two suggests three major issues as persistent challenges: (1) a better understanding of the scope of our domain, how it interacts with other domains, and how to make this happen, (2) a systematic understanding of human factors, (3) a ‘practicable’ set of guidelines that matches the visualization types to task types, and guides the practitioner to design geovisualizations that are appropriate and helpful to the user. Distinguishing persistent from important, we discuss why the identified challenges are persistent, and draw recommendations for action based on our observations and interpretations. We believe these findings will help building a stronger, better-grounded research agenda for our community.