It’s worth pointing out straight from the start that using apps while you’re abroad on holiday may end up costing you serious money if you use them via a 3G network. Therefore, when you’re away make sure you’re only connecting to them via a WiFi connection – this way you won’t have to pay roaming data charges and run the risk of returning home to find a huge mobile bill on your doorstep.
Right, now that’s out of the way, we all know how useful apps are in our day-to-day life, whether it’s checking the tube status of the London Underground, finding offline vouchers or just keeping updated with the latest news or celebrity gossip. There are also some fantastic apps out there which can help to ease your holiday or provide information while you’re exploring new countries and cities. With this in mind, we’ve hunted down the top free apps that you should never be without if you’re heading off a city break.
TripAdvisor Offline City Guides App
TripAdvisor has a few apps but this is the perfect one for your city break and is a great companion. Unlike many other apps, it actually works offline after you’ve completed an initial update (for free of course) as all of the data is stored on your phone. This means there’s no need to connect to WiFI or face any data roaming charges by connecting to the local mobile network. To complete the initial update you just have to select the city guide you need and then complete the download. A point to note is that you do need to complete this step for each city so make sure you select any that you’re planning on visiting during your city break trip.
The TripAdvisor Offline City Guides app
boasts a suite of features, including reviews for hotels, local attractions and restaurants, which makes it very useful for foodies or if you love to explore. As you’d expect with TripAdvisor, everything is reviewed by other travellers so there’s some added piece of mind that you’ll get impartial advice and be steered towards only the best places to visit. You’ll find pretty much everything in the TripAdvisor Offline City Guides app that you would in a standard guide book, including shopping centres nearby and nightlife hot spots, but unlike a book you don’t have to pay for it. A clear winner for us and we love the itinerary planner which helps to make sure you get the most out of your short time away.
HopStop is essentially a worldwide route planner, which enables you to find the nearest public transport stations (trains, buses etc) and to get locations between locations. It’s a great app if you’re heading off to a major city, or transiting through one, as it makes it simple to see exactly where you should be going rather than relying on signage when you arrive. We love the graphics and maps as you can see the exact stops for example on the New York subway, rather than only being able to get text directions. There’s a great website to support the HopStop app, which allows you to email directions to your account which is great if you can get the hotel to print them out for you before leaving for your day out.
The HopStop app
currently supports major USA cities, together with cities in Europe, Australia and Russia. This is the only drawback as unfortunately it won’t be of use if you’re heading anywhere else.
Wi-Fi Finder App
Going back to the very first point in this article, data roaming charges can be exorbitant and the more you can get away from them, the better. Sometimes it can be hard to use Wi-Fi as many hotels try and add in a sneaky charge and in a new city, your local knowledge is often lacking of coffee shops that may offer a WiFi service for free. Enter the Wi-Fi Finder app
, which instantly shows you any places around you that offer a Wi-Fi service. The app itself also has a offline version you can use, which holds all locations in data stored on your phone, which removes the need to connect to the internet just to find a free hotspot.
The Wi-Fi Finder app is incredibly simple to use, with a search function based on your current location, or typing in a city anywhere in the world. You’ll then instantly see all paid for Wi-Fi spots marked as blue, with all of the free ones marked in green. There’s information on each hotspot, including a useful ‘Get Directions’ feature, which guides you directly to it.
If you haven’t booked a hotel yet for your city break, make sure you check out our guide to the best hotel booking websites from your mobile
if you’re planning to book directly from your smartphone.