Lucerne connects its visitors and citizens to the world, for free.

Not long ago, accessing the Internet while traveling was a cumbersome and costly experience. Travelers paid for Internet service at their hotel or stopped at Internet cafés only if they really had to stay in touch. But these days Lucerne, Switzerland, and many other cities in Europe are making it cheap and easy to send emails and photos back home.

Lucerne has begun offering free wireless local area network (WLAN) service in select parts of its old and new town areas. Backed by the local energy company, the initiative gives visitors free Internet access via wireless connection. Coverage extends to both sides of the river, with a large emphasis placed on the new town and rail stations.

Free wireless Internet is not limited to city services, but other offerings can be spotty, fee-based or simply unreliable. Many cafés, hotels, and other businesses offer free wireless connections. You can locate them through websites such as:

  • Austria's freewave.at/en/hotspots/ which offers lists of free WLAN service areas by location.
  • Munich operates a web site at www.hotspot-muenchen.de that gives you a satellite map of all the WLAN locations in the city.
  • Hamburg claims to operate a similar service at www.hamburg-hotspot.net, but as of press time the website was unreachable.
  • Sites such as wififreespot.com/europe.php list hotspots in a wide range of locations, including Europe.