Saturday, October 1, 2016

Where And How To Find FREE Wi-Fi While Traveling in Europe

One of the most asked questions I get from the readers is: 
do you purchase a sim card in Europe? How do you keep up with your family and friends while on the road? 
Although I used to recommend everyone to sign up for a mobile plan in a foreign country, I’ve had this rule broken when I traveled in Europe for 70 days. I ditched the sim card, and simply relied on free Wi-Fi. I believe every avid traveler will sooner or later turn themselves into a professional Wi-Fi tracker, but for beginners, I’m sharing with you how and where to get online in Europe without spending a dime. 
Free Wifi

Restaurant Chains

If you think free Wi-Fi, think Starbucks or McDonald’s. These two are the most “generous” restaurant chains, very conveniently found in all cities around the world. You don’t even have to purchase anything, just stand outside the restaurant and log in. Their Wi-Fi is normally consistent and strong. If you need to plug into their power sockets (plenty of them available), it is polite to buy something. A refillable cola will do! 

Visitor Centers/ Tourism Offices

Even if they don't provide Internet access to tourists, they can certainly give you good suggestions on where to get them. 


Almost all museum I’ve been to have free Wi-Fi. Some of them require a password to access, but just ask, usually they’ll be generous to share especially if you are polite or appeared to be in need. 

Public Library and College Campus 

When there are students, there are assignments, when there are assignments, there are Wi-Fi. Most public library hotspots don’t require codes but some college networks do. Just sit down and make some friends… double win!   

Main Squares, Parks and…. wait for it……………. Beaches!

These hotspots available in the popular districts are usually hosted by the city. And although it says that there is a 1 or 2 hours limit, it is easy to “hack” it by disconnecting and then reconnecting…. and then viola, you'll have unlimited free connectivity anywhere you go! 


Even if you are not a guest of the hotel, you can easily log into their wifi network in the building. Although some hotels might have router codes, I always get online successfully without keying in anything in a 4-5 stars establishment. And, needless to say, the sofas in their lobbies are really comfortable.   
Hotel Mont Blanc
Disclaimer: I stayed in the 5-star Hotel Mont Blanc in Chamonix. This is only for illustration purpose. 

The Place You are Staying In

When booking a hotel or hostel, check if they provide free wireless Internet. Usually, they do, even the cheapest motel provides this fundamental service… although some of them might be unstable and you eventually need to go to the nearest McDonald’s anyway. 
Seagulls Garret Hostel
I stayed in Seagulls Garret Hostel in Riga, a 5-star hostel. 

Shopping Malls

Some shopping malls offer free open Wi-Fi access points so keep an eye for it. 


Usually time-limited but similar to the city hotspot, try disconnecting and reconnecting. If this doesn’t work, change your device’s MAC address and try again. 
Other than that, Here's a map of WiFi locations and passwords at airports around the world.  You can thank me later. 

Train Stations

The same tactic as the airport and city wifi. In most countries, only the main train stations offer free Wi-Fi. In Switzerland on the other hand, I was able to enjoy free wifi even in smaller stations. You just need to register and that’s it!  
Switzerland Train Station

Restaurants, Cafes or Bars

The largest range of free Wi-Fi comes from the local businesses. Look for the “Free Wi-Fi” logo on the doors or windows. Most of them require a login code, some even print the code on the receipt. In such cases, it is always considered good ethics to buy something. Not totally-free free but if you need to buy lunch anyway, why not?  

The Cloud

If you have a Cloud account, there are several places where you can connect to their free wifi for a limited time daily. 

Need Help? Download the Wi-Fi Finder app

If you need some help finding free Wi-Fi hotspots in the city, Wi-Fi Finder will get the job done. It helps you to locate WiFi hotspots on the go, and most importantly it works offline. Another nice feature of this app is the built-in GPS tracker— not only that it shows nearby free Wi-Fi hotspots, it points you to it. 

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Thank You for Reading! This post is based on my personal experience. 
 If you have more tips to share, feel free to join in the conversation by commenting below!

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