So, you're in the city center, have run out of data on your phone or never had it in the first place, and urgently need to get online for whatever reason. Consider those 5 options that you can use to get re-connected for free.
From most to less accessible:
1) State History Museum
It's the closest geographically place to Red Square where you satisfy your Wi-Fi needs. It's their local museum's network that's not a part of any big operator or global chain of hotspots designed to bombard you with ads. No or little registration - and it simply works (as of early 2019 at least).
Don't need to buy tickets and get all the way past the metal detectors. Just get to the lobby and connect to it there. Here's the main entrance:
Network Name: SHMuseum
2) Free City Wi-Fi
It's the result of the latest initiative of the government of Moscow that started just before the World Cup to gradually cover all of the city center and beyond with a single free Wi-Fi network. Never thought I would ever say it, but kudos to the government of Moscow. They've done something really impressive in almost no time whatsoever.
According to the latest map of their hotspots, there're 1429 of them within the area of the Third Transport Circle, each with the coverage radius of 50 meters. Which means that in areas around Red Square in particular it's now easier to find places that are covered by it than not.
Most of their hotspots are hidden within special white tall boxes that themselves function as direction signs:
They're right outdoors, in the middle of pedestrian and along the sides of major car roads. And here you can find the latest location map of each and every one of them.
The reason why it's second on the list is because it's absolutely merciless to your time, your nerves and your inner calm. It takes, without exaggeration, about 1,5-3 minutes of real time to watch all the videos and close all the still banner ads before you can get to the coveted button 'Connect'. Plus, it requires you to provide your phone number for a one-time registration. And all internet sessions are time-limited to 30 minutes, after which you can reconnect, watch all the ads again, and continue using it.
But since after all of this it works and works great, it's not that high of a price to pay for all the endless joys of having an internet connection.
Network Name: MT_FREE
3) Lobby of any big 5-star hotel in the center
Specifically, National and Metropol should work great for that. Most of big hotels have two Wi-Fi networks inside: one with the name of the hotel and another - name of the hotel plus the word 'Guest' or 'Free'. The first is usually unlimited and password protected for people staying there. The second - works with some restrictions but for everyone else just waiting in the lobby.
See pictures of National (left) and Metropol (right) below:
It'll be a limited 20-30 minute session. But as a benefit, you'll get to sit in the calm and comfort of a 5-star lobby. In the big ones in the center, there are usually so many people, including random ones just waiting for someone, that no one would ever try to ask you whether you're actually living there. Unless, of course, you totally abuse their patience and sit there for several hours straight. Plus, especially if you're a tourist from a developed western nation, every 5-star hotel employee would assume by default that you're staying there.
Network Name: Usually the name of the hotel plus the word 'Guest' or 'Free'
4) Any fast food outlet or any normal restaurant or cafe
All McDonald's and KFCs have free Wi-Fi usually provided by one of the major internet or mobile operator. Look for Beeline_free, MTS_free or anything else with the word free inside. It could potentially contain the name of the outlet, but could also be anything else. Also, normally, time-limited and will require to press 'connect' in a special pop-up or on the first web page you open in your browser. In my personal subjective assessment of how smooth it usually is, I'd say you'll be better off first trying any of the above listed options. But eventually, it works too.
Plus, there are many normal cafes and restaurants with password protected networks. You can connect to them most of the time even without entering. And here's a map that generously shows you those of them that had their passwords leaked online by someone. Look at the yellow ones.
Network Name: Can be different, but look for the name of the restaurant or anything with the word 'free' in it
5) Moscow Metro
100% of all train cars of the metro today are equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots. The greatest part about them is that the metro internet today is part of the same network of free city Wi-Fi above the ground. Look at the number 2 on this list. If you've already provided your phone number once there, you're not going to need to register again underground, and the other way around.
The minuses are: the same amount of ads that you need to close to start using it, and the fact that you need not just to go underground but to get on one of the trains to connect to it. Which is not something you always want to do when you need Wi-Fi. Internet on platforms themselves exists and works well, but only the one that's provided by your mobile operator.
The same network is also now available on any bus, trolleybus and tram, especially those in the city center. You can hop into any one of them using your metro tickets (they work for all public transport here). But again the downside is the same. You risk ending up in the middle of nowhere after riding it for 20 minutes and enjoying your free internet.
Network name: MT_FREE
So, here they are. The top 5 ways to get your free internet connection in the city center of Moscow.
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