Understanding the complex nature of movement data and integrating it sufficiently into visual analytics tools is largely missing in GIScience. A user experiment assesses quantitatively and qualitatively which path elements contribute to map readers’ ability to identify a moving object and its behaviour in visual displays of movement. Context was added as a control variable by showing the movement path either on a homogenous background or embedded in a terrain map. The analysis shows that participants mainly used the character of the line and the shape of the represented behaviour to interpret the visualisation. Independently of context information, participants use the same path elements. With this approach, we hope to provide a first stepping-stone to identify the key elements that contribute to map readers’ ability to understand and analyse movement behaviour with visual analytics tools.