How to access the internet in London

Get online quickly and easily by learning how to connect to the internet in London.
A man with black coat and grey scarf looks down at his phone in front of Big Ben
Access the internet in London with a few easy steps. Credit: Shutterstock.

Connecting to the internet in London can be done in several different ways. Discover how to gain access throughout the city, including through your existing mobile contract, with a local sim card or using free wifi.

Whether you’re visiting for a week or enjoying a day trip, explore how you can get online during your visit and choose the option that best suits you.

Free wifi in London

Get online with London’s free wifi, a quick, easy and reliable method that can be found across the city.

How do you get free wifi in London?

Free London wifi is accessible all over the city via specific areas such as the City of LondonTube stations or in retailers and venues that offer it, such as coffee shops and hotels. 

Usually, each free wifi network asks you to sign up using your email but should then recognise you and automatically connect each time. Don’t worry if you lose connection at any point, simply reconnect or find a new free wifi hotspot.

Find out how to access the internet near you using this handy map of free wifi hotspots in London

Data roaming

Use your current mobile provider to quickly and easily connect to the internet in London. This is a great option if you’re looking to get online quickly.

If you have a monthly contract, many providers include free international roaming. However, there may be additional charges to use your mobile data in London. If you are a pay-as-you-go customer, you may wish to consider alternatives such as a local sim card or eSim card.

Be sure to check data roaming charges with your mobile provider before you visit to ensure you’re aware of the costs and don’t get caught out with any unexpected charges.

Local sim card

Purchase a pay-as-you-go UK sim card that you can pop into your phone and start using instantly.

You can usually get a sim card for free from many local retailers including at the airport, in supermarkets and at mobile phone shops across the city. Some well-known retailers include Carphone Warehouse, O2, Boots, WHSmith and Tesco.

Sim cards are usually capped at a set allowance of texts, calls and data, and are more expensive based on how much credit you want, so make sure to choose a suitable amount for your visit.

If you do run low on data, head to a mobile phone shop or the Post Office to add more data – this is often pricier than the original prepaid deal.

Local sim cards only work on mobiles that use the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard. While most UK and European mobile phones use it, some international phones don’t. Phones that don’t follow the GSM standard need to be unlocked in the UK or you’ll need to consider buying a UK phone during your visit.

eSim card

Activate an eSim card on your phone with a data plan from your network provider. An eSim card is like a digital version of a physical sim card, without the need to buy it from a store.

Make sure your phone is compatible and that you’re buying the eSim from a reputable company. Most phones manufactured since 2018 are eSim-compatible, although this may vary depending on your carrier and location.

As with a physical sim card, you have to top up if you run low, but once you’re set up, it can usually be done from your phone in a few simple steps.

Mobile wifi device

A mobile wifi device, also known as mifi or portable wifi, is a small portable device that allows you to access wifi on the go.

It acts as a mobile hotspot for anything that connects to the internet, including phones, computers and tablets, making it a great option for big groups, families or people with multiple devices.

Mifi devices can be bought from phone shops, supermarkets or online, and usually charge a set monthly price for a data plan. Make sure you choose the right amount of data that suits you for your trip.

Looking for more tips for your trip to London? Explore more traveller information or discover the answers to all the top London frequently asked questions.