Free Wifi Hotspots are probably the most convenient way of going online in Berlin. And the good news is: there is even a fair number of free WiFi Hotspots available – at least in the inner city areas.
First of all many cafes and also some restaurants are offering free internet access for their customers. Even if there is no sign or sticker saying “Free Wifi” or the like, chances are that free WiFi is offered anyways. I would recommend you just ask the service staff for “internet access” since “WiFi Hotspot” is still not a common expression in German.
You may however have to ask for a password to actually access the hotspot. But in most cases that should not be a problem. Here is an interactive map listing various cafés, restaurants and hotels offering Free WiFi: www.freewifiberlin.com
Free WiFi for 30 Minutes by mabb
Another free internet option is provided by an Initiative of the mabb – the “Medienanstalt Berlin Brandenburg“. Since 2012 a growing number of free public internet hotspots is available throughout Berlin and Potsdam. The initiative is a collaboration between the public mabb and the private Kabel Deutschland and it lets basically everybody surf the internet for free for a time period of 30 minutes.
You can find an interactive map with all free WiFi access points on the project’s website at www.publicwifi.de. You will recognize the free access points by their name: it’s either called “30 Min Free WIFI” or “KD WLAN Hotspot+”. See also mabb.de/information/digitale-welt/public-wifi.html for further information in German.
Free Wifi at Public Libraries
Many public libraries are now also offering internet access. As far as I know the majority is actually are also offering free Wifi hotspots, some don’t. To use the libraries free Wifi hotspots you will probably have to be a registered member of the library and/or of the Berlin Association of Public Libraries “Verbund der Öffentlichen Bibliotheken Berlins” (https://www.voebb.de/).
Free WiFi at Berlin Churches
A quite new Free Wifi option “godspot” coming in 2016 is an initiative by the Evangelical / Lutheran / Protestant Church of Berlin and Brandenburg. Currently you will only find godspot hotspots at only a few churches across Berlin – but the goal is to have over 3.000 godspots installed by 2017. Access is free and secure, according to the project’s website: godspot.de
Free Wifi in Public Transport
As of this writing (June 2016) there is virtually no Internet access in public transport – at least no free WiFi access like in Tallin or Helsinki. The Berlin’s public transport provider BVG finally recognized the necessity and tries to address the problem. Currently they are testing a free WiFi access point at one U-Bahn station: at U9 station Osloer Strasse you can currently login to “BVG Wi-Fi” and surf the internet for free while waiting for the next train.
Free WiFi Berlin
Last but not least, after more than 7 years of planning and negotiating the City of Berlin is now finally working on free Wifi access points across Berlin. The first 100 hotspots were supposed to be up and running before the Football Euro Cup 2016, but there were actually some difficulties – of course.But it seems that at least some of the hotspots are now working.
Free WiFi Berlin is basically another public/private joint venture. The hotspots will be run by ABL Social Federation from Fürth and subsidized by the City of Berlin. Main sponsor / content partner is audible. There will also be some advertisement, when you login to Free WiFi Berlin. So before you can access the internet, as far as I know some advertisement screen or actually a short video advertisement is shown. But after that there should be no time or bandwidth limit – at least theoretically.
Update: since 1st January 2022 Free WiFi Berlin is offline. I can’t really explain why, at least not in five to ten words. As far as I understand the responsible politicians decided that a free city wide mobile internet access is not any more, what the city needs. Instead the city should concentrate on 5G access and other “future” technologies. Read more about it over here: “Aus für „Free Wi-Fi Berlin“ Senat will kein flächendeckendes kostenloses Stadt-WLAN mehr” (Berliner Woche, article from 5th October 2023 in German).
- www.hoerbuecher-blog.de/wifi/ – homepage of the main sponsor audible with a map of all WiFi hotspots
- Public WLAN in Berlin (berlin.de, currently German only).
- Internet in Berlin – Going Online (nuBerlin.com)
Do you have and thoughts, suggestions, additional recommendations or comments? Please feel free to leave your comment below. Thank you!