The internet has become a modern day essential, allowing us to keep track of friends, family and events all over the globe, as well as order food, stream our favourite TV shows, and (most importantly) read up on other Canstar Blue guides. But when you reach your mobile data limit, keeping up with life becomes a struggle. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to connect to the internet for free around Australia, but where can you get it?
In this Canstar Blue article, you’ll find out where to connect to free internet hotspots and networks in all major Australian cities, as well as what to expect when you come across a free internet network.
Where can I get free Wi-Fi in Australia?
Almost all Australians will have some form of internet connection at home, but what about when you’re in the city and need to log onto free Wi-Fi? Below are a few locations that will generally offer free Wi-Fi access:
- City centres
- Public transport
- Government-owned buildings such as libraries, museums and town halls
- Shopping centres
- Apple stores
- Select local cafés and restaurants
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, if you’re visiting a major or capital city in Australia, you can be sure to find free Wi-Fi if you look hard enough. If you’re looking to visit a specific café, restaurant or hotel, most will provide information online as to whether they have free Wi-Fi, so be sure to check them out before you visit if you’re looking to do some work, or check your social media, while sitting down for a meal.
- Jump to free Wi-Fi in Sydney
- Jump to free Wi-Fi in Melbourne
- Jump to free Wi-Fi in Brisbane
- Jump to free Wi-Fi in Adelaide
- Jump to free Wi-Fi in Perth
What types of public Wi-Fi hotspots are there?
There are a number of different Wi-Fi hotspots available for when you’re out and about in Australia, although not all of them are free to access, or are only available under certain conditions:
- Free and open – free Wi-Fi connections that require no password. These are generally found at your local café.
- Free with conditions – connections that can only be used once you agree to the terms and conditions set out. These are generally found at airports, libraries and on public transport.
- Free for customers – where you’ll receive the Wi-Fi password or connection information once you have purchased goods from a business. You’ll generally find these at places like cafés and restaurants.
- Fee for service – where users have to pay to use the Wi-Fi. These may be found at hotels and other places of business.
How to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots
Finding somewhere that offers Wi-Fi is one thing, but when you do, how do you actually connect to it? Below is a quick guide on how to connect to a public network, whether you’re using a phone, tablet or laptop.
- If you’re on your mobile or tablet, ensure that your Wi-Fi is switched on. This can be found via your settings, with any public hotspots generally showing up as you come into range with them. Simply tap on the network and your phone should connect to it.
- For those on a laptop, click on the connection symbol (which should be at the bottom right for Windows, and top right for Apple), and any available networks will become visible. Choose the network you want to connect to and follow the prompts.
- Most free Wi-Fi networks will generally have words such as ‘Free’, ‘Guest’ or ‘Public’ in the title, making them easier to find.
Things to know about connecting to public Wi-Fi
While we all use the internet for a variety of reasons, there may be some limitations on what you can use free or public Wi-Fi for. Below are a few things you should be aware of before you connect.
Data limits on free Wi-Fi
Having free Wi-Fi may give you the confidence to search to your heart’s content, but doing so could mean your internet session is a quick one. Most areas that offer free Wi-Fi will have a capped amount of data available for each user, meaning it may be best to steer clear of data-heavy sites such as YouTube and Instagram. Data limits will vary from location to location, with the data caps only lasting 24 hours, meaning you can always go back tomorrow.
Restricted access on free Wi-Fi
Not all websites and functions may be available to use or view on free Wi-Fi, particularly on connections that require you to agree to terms and conditions beforehand. If you are not sure about which websites you can and can’t visit, it might be best to read the fine print before connecting.
Cybersecurity on free Wi-Fi
One of the best features of free Wi-Fi is that anyone can join. But at the same time, this means that anyone can join, meaning there is a risk that public connections aren’t safe. While connections and networks owned by businesses or governments are generally monitored to ensure online safety, it’s best to limit how much personal information you deal with while on a free or public Wi-Fi connection.
Free Wi-Fi locations in Australia
So, now that you know how to connect to free Wi-Fi, where exactly in Australia can you find it? Below is an overview of free Wi-Fi locations in major Australian cities.
Free Wi-Fi in Sydney
There are plenty of sights to take in when you visit Sydney, and whether you want to post a photo on social media or you’re looking at how to get to the next landmark on Google maps, free Wi-Fi can be a handy option when you step out the door. Below are a number of areas in Sydney that offer free Wi-Fi:
- Westfield Shopping Centres
- Libraries and art galleries
- Sydney Airport
- Public Transport
- Cafés and restaurants
Beaches in Sydney
If you’re keen to hit the surf, there are a few beaches around Sydney that include free Wi-Fi. While the range might not reach all the way down to the shoreline, you should still be able to upload that beach photo to Instagram. Beaches with free Wi-Fi include Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama in the Waverley area, while Collaroy and Dee Why beaches will also get you connected.
Westfield Shopping Centres in Sydney
If you’re looking to get a bit of shopping done while in Sydney, Westfield Shopping Centres may be the place to go if you’re also looking to score some free Wi-Fi. All Westfield centres around Sydney provide shoppers with a 3-hour connection and up to 1GB of data every day, making it a handy option if you’re looking for a deal online that you can’t find in store.
Landmarks in Sydney
Sydney is home to plenty of world-renowned landmarks, including Luna Park, the Royal Botanic Garden, and the Sydney Opera House, with most big landmarks offering free Wi-Fi as a part of their experience. While you might have to deal with plenty of tourists, if you’re looking for a free Wi-Fi connection with a view, the Sydney Opera House may be the best spot.
Libraries & Art Galleries in Sydney
Libraries can be a good place to visit if you’re looking for a nice quiet area to relax, as well as stay online. The NSW State Library, Customs House Library and Haymarket Library all have free Wi-Fi access, and you don’t have to be a library member to use it. If art is more your style, the Art Gallery of NSW additionally offers free Wi-Fi, as does the Museum of Contemporary Art, Wentworth Gallery and Manly Art Gallery.
If you have a few hours to waste before your flight, or you’ve just landed at Sydney Airport and need to book an Uber, Sydney Airport has free Wi-Fi at both the International and Domestic terminals. Just look for ‘Free SYD Wi-Fi’ on your connection screen and follow the prompts once you’ve connected.
Public Transport in Sydney
Sydney has plenty of public transport options to get around in, including buses, trains and ferries – all helping to get you where you need to go. However, free Wi-Fi is only available at selected stations and on select modes of transport, so be sure to keep an eye out when you’re next catching the train.
Cafés & Restaurants in Sydney
This will come down to the individual café and restaurant, but it’s a growing trend for small businesses to deliver free Wi-Fi with your coffee and food. If you’re not sure that small café down the street offers free Wi-Fi, global brands such as McDonald’s and Starbucks provide free Wi-Fi at all locations. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are a few cafés in Sydney that offer free Wi-Fi to get you started:
- Sugarbean Café
- Joe Black
- Brew Bros
- Oasis Café and Restaurant
- My Sweet Memory
Free Wi-Fi in Melbourne
Home to plenty of cafés and alleyways filled with Instagram-worthy artworks, Melbourne is a popular destination for many Aussies and overseas visitors. But where can you find free Wi-Fi when you really need it?
- Public spaces
- Libraries and art galleries
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
- Melbourne Zoo
- Public transport
- Melbourne Airport
- Cafés and restaurants
Public Spaces in Melbourne
One of the largest public spaces within Melbourne, Federation Square is known for its art and culture showcases, making it a popular spot to visit for both tourists and city workers. If you’ve finished taking in the sights, or you’re just looking to relax for a few hours, Federation Square offers 24-hour free internet connections with no time limits, meaning you can stay online for as long as you like. Other popular spots such as Bourke St Mall, Queen Victoria Market, and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre also offer free Wi-Fi for visitors.
Libraries & Art Galleries in Melbourne
Providing a quiet environment for you to search online, state-owned buildings such as libraries and art galleries sometimes offer free Wi-Fi access. Libraries such as the State Library Victoria, the City Library, Southbank Library, East Melbourne, North Melbourne, as well as the Library at the Dock, all offer free Wi-Fi, with additional details available online.
In addition to libraries, free Wi-Fi is also available through Melbourne art galleries, including the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Heide Museum of Modern Art.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Australia’s largest sporting stadium, the MCG is an iconic ground in Melbourne, with plenty of sporting codes played year-round. In addition to catching a game of AFL, cricket, soccer, rugby union and rugby league, visitors can also access the stadium’s free Wi-Fi.
If lions, tigers and bears (oh my) are on your list to see while in Melbourne, then the Melbourne Zoo would be your best bet. In addition to plenty of animals to see and learn about, visitors will also have access to free Wi-Fi, helping you to share photos and learn a bit more about the animal kingdom.
Public Transport in Melbourne
Those who usually catch the train or bus from Melbourne CBD will also be treated to free Wi-Fi service, although this will only be available at the stations themselves, rather than on the train or bus. Look for the ‘VicFreeWifi’ connection at major stations.
Whether you’re looking to travel overseas or just to visit family in other parts of Australia, you’ll be able to connect to Melbourne Airport’s free Wi-Fi, making any delays or layovers a bit more bearable. Simply look for the ‘Airport Free Wi-Fi’ network and you’re ready for takeoff.
Cafés and restaurants in Melbourne
Melbourne is known for its café lifestyle, meaning there’s a good chance you can log on to a free Wi-Fi network while you wait for your morning coffee. But this will come down to the individual café, as not all places of business will provide the service, so be sure to keep your eye out for the Wi-Fi signal in your phone settings. Here are a few options to check out if you’re looking for some free Wi-Fi along with your cuppa:
- Union St Brewers
- Mr Tulk
- Naughty Boy Café
- The Queensberry Pour House
Free Wi-Fi in Brisbane
There’s plenty to see and do in the Sunshine State, with Brisbane offering plenty for the regular visitor and the first-time tourist. Below are just some of the locations you can find free Wi-Fi while in Brisbane:
- Public spaces
- Shopping centres
- Libraries, museums and art galleries
- Brisbane Airport
- Fast food chains
- Public transport
Public spaces in Brisbane
With plenty of public spaces around Brisbane, including Queen Street Mall, Roma Street, Southbank Parklands and parklands such as the Botanic Gardens and New Farm Park, Brisbane City Council offers free Wi-Fi to help you enjoy these areas. The access is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping you to enjoy these public spaces at any time.
Below is a map of free Wi-Fi hotspots located around Brisbane from the Brisbane City Council:
Shopping Centres in Brisbane
Besides Queen Street Mall, Brisbane has a number of shopping centres with free Wi-Fi access, allowing you get that second opinion on your clothes purchases. Shopping centres such as Westfield Chermside and Westfield Carindale offer 1GB over three hours for visitors, with Stafford City Shopping Centre and Indooroopilly Shopping Centre also offering some free Wi-Fi.
Libraries, museums & art galleries in Brisbane
Similar to other capital cities, Brisbane offers free Wi-Fi access across a number of art galleries, libraries and museums for visitors to use. The locations include the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane Square Library, Queensland Museum and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.
Having free Wi-Fi can help make those waiting times at the airport a lot more bearable, particularly if your flight has been delayed. Offering free Wi-Fi at both the domestic and international terminals, you can use Brisbane Airport’s connection by connecting to the ‘BNE Free Wi-Fi’ network.
Fast food chains in Brisbane
If you’ve got a craving for fast food, but also need to check your work emails or social media, then visiting these fast food outlets may be the right move. Food chains such as McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Starbucks and The Coffee Club offer free Wi-Fi at select locations.
Public Transport in Brisbane
Catching public transport to your next destination? Chances are you’ll be able to connect to free Wi-Fi on select services. Newer trains will offer free Wi-Fi, as does the entire fleet of Citycat ferries, although the Citycat network will only offer select websites, including the Translink and Brisbane Council sites.
Free Wi-Fi in Adelaide
If you’re heading down south to visit the City of Churches, here are some of the locations where you’re likely to find free Wi-Fi access:
- City Centre and public spaces
- Adelaide Airport
- Public Transport
City Centre and public spaces in Adelaide
The Adelaide Aquatic Centre, Adelaide City Council Library, the National Wine Centre and the Royal Institution of Adelaide all offer free Wi-Fi. Popular tourist spots such as Rundle Mall, Adelaide Central Market, Adelaide Zoo, as well as certain areas of the Botanic Gardens, also offer free Wi-Fi access, to help make your day out more enjoyable.
Similar to other airports around Australia, both the domestic and international terminals at Adelaide Airport are equipped with free Wi-Fi, making it easy to check-in, download your ticket, or post about your travels on social media.
Public Transport in Adelaide
Adelaide provides a number of public transport options for visitors, including buses, trains and trams. While free Wi-Fi is available at major train stations, trams are currently the only mode of transport in Adelaide with free Wi-Fi onboard.
Free Wi-Fi in Perth
If you’re heading to the west coast of Australia, chances are you’ll be spending some time in the capital, Perth. Below are some of the locations and landmarks that offer free Wi-Fi:
- City Centre
- Libraries, museums and art galleries
- Cafés, restaurants and fast food outlets
Perth City Centre
Perth City Council provides free Wi-Fi around the CBD and other major public areas, including East Perth and Northbridge, available under the ‘Perth Wi-Fi’ network. The free connection around the CBD brings a data limit of 400MB per user per day, with the limit resetting after midnight.
Below is a map of free Wi-Fi locations within Perth CBD:
Libraries, museums and art galleries in Perth
Including South Perth Library, the State Library of Western Australia and the City of Perth Library, each library provides free Wi-Fi for visitors to use, even if you aren’t a member. The Art Gallery of Western Australia also offers free Wi-Fi, as does the WA Maritime Museum and Western Australian Museum.
Cafés, restaurants and fast food outlets in Perth
As with many cities around Australia, both small, locally-owned cafés and the larger, global brands offer free Wi-Fi for customers. Larger brands such as McDonald’s generally offer free Wi-Fi at all locations, while you might have to double check with smaller cafés. If you’re looking for that Sunday morning coffee, here are a few cafés in Perth that also offer free Wi-Fi:
- Timber Café
- Cranked Coffee
- Brushfoot Café
- Foam Café
Should I use free public Wi-Fi?
Considering how much there is to see and do in Australia, spending most of your time outside seems like an easy decision to make (don’t forget the sunscreen!). However, spending time outside also means that you will be out of range of your home internet, meaning you might have to go without social media for a few hours…
Thankfully, free Wi-Fi in major cities can take the stress out of being away from Facebook and Instagram, as well as offering a helpful way to check maps to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. Regardless of whether it’s your first time in Australia or you’ve reached your data limit, free internet can be the difference between enjoying a day out or stressing over your next phone bill. Just be sure to follow the instructions and conditions of your chosen network carefully.
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