How to find free Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK

How to find Wi-Fi hotspots

Finding free Wi-Fi hotspots can save you money on your monthly phone bills - as well as providing a useful way to get online on a laptop if you need to work on the go.

There are lots of ways to get your hands on free Wi-Fi - ranging from using an Apple Store's free network, to sitting at a bus stop and hooking up to a BT Wi-Fi hotspot.

There are over 4.5 million public Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK and Ireland, all waiting for you to get connected. Here’s how to do it.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones]

Use an app

The quickest way to find yourself a hotspot is to use an app. For iOS, a safe bet is Wifi@, which we particularly like due to the fact it has an offline database, so you don’t need to be connected to the web to find Wi-Fi.

Android users should fire up Wi-Fi Finder , a clever app that can use a phone call, rather than data, to show you nearby Wi-Fi hotspot locations. Both are iOS and Android versions are free.

Alternatively you can search for hotspots via your phone’s browser at This website lists hotspots via town and city, making searching even easier.

Find free Wi-Fi on the High Street

Pretty much any major high street franchise has free Wi-Fi on offer. Right now, McDonalds, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Costs and plenty of others, all will give you free internet while you eat.

If you don’t fancy eating, then hotel chains like Premier Inn offer 30 mins of free Wi-Fi to guests. Or if you are really in the mood for saving cash, you can always use any Apple store’s Wi-Fi connection.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones]

Use your phone contract’s Wi-Fi allowance

O2 includes unlimited BT Wi-Fi access with most of monthly contracts. This means you can take advantage of its 4 million plus network of Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK for free. Vodafone also uses BT’s network and includes 2GB of usage with most pay monthly contracts.

BT Wi-Fi is particularly good for those living outside major cities, as a lot of its hotspots are based at bus stops, where you might not have any 3G reception on your phone.

Virgin is offering free internet access on London underground to Virgin Mobile, Virgin Media, EE and Vodafone customers, but will also let non subscribers join for a small fee. The Cloud is another favourite, which will give you 30 minutes of free connectivity in most restaurants and public places. O2 customers get unlimited Cloud usage.

Sign up for a Wi-Fi subscription service

Even subscription services such as Boingo offer freebies - if you sign up to a Boingo hotspot in airports such as Gatwick, Heathrow, Edinburgh and Glasgow, you get 15 minutes free.

Failing that, you can, of course, cough up - it's far cheaper going with a large worldwide service such as Boingo, than paying a lot of smaller companies. Boingo offers up Wi-Fi worldwide from over 600,000 hotspots. Pricing starts at around £1.50 for Pay as You Go internet minutes and go up to around £40 monthly for unlimited global access. It even includes a Wi-Fi finder app to help you locate Boingo hotspots.

BT Wi-Fi also allows non O2 and Vodafone customers to use its hotspots. Handy if you are in the UK as its network is extensive. 90 minutes is £5.99 or you can pay 18p per minute.