Traveling to Europe soon? Be sure to know what to expect when shopping European SIM card.
Fortunately, Europe is one of the best places where you can easily buy a SIM card. You should be able to find a cheap sim card anywhere in Europe. In fact, most data packages are affordable, which makes everything easy!
PSSST. Your travel medical insurance can now cover COVID-19!
If you take SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, it is covered like any other disease. I have been using it since 2019 and I can assure you that it is the best solution for nomads like you and me.
In this guide, we explain where to buy a SIM card in Europe in person and online. We’ll also talk about prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs, if your mobile supports them.
Before reading this guide, you may be wondering if you really need a SIM card in Europe. If you don’t mind not having internet, you’ll likely find free Wi-Fi in restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels.
That said, if you need information to get around, call an Uber, or translate into a foreign language – you can get a SIM card for your travels in Europe.
Note that if you are a European, your mobile phone provider may already offer European coverage. If so, you don’t need a SIM card for your European travels.
The best SIM cards in Europe
Europe is big and you will find different mobile providers depending on the countries you visit. Most providers have partnerships and offer coverage in various European countries.
We recommend using a SIM card from Orange, Vodaphone or Airalo. (I’ll get back to Airalo later, so keep reading to learn more!)
That said, depending on your primary location, you may be able to find other providers. For example, there are many small providers in Bulgaria that also offer coverage in other European countries. You might not find a big grand like Orange or Vodaphone, but you will find others like A1, Vivacom or Yettel.
So you don’t need to use a big provider – any provider that offers coverage in Europe should do.
How to buy a SIM card in Europe
You can buy a European prepaid SIM card in person at some international airports, at mobile service provider stores, at a convenience store, or online.
You can usually expect higher costs and less data offers at the airport, so we don’t recommend buying a SIM card at the airport. That said, you won’t necessarily find SIM card kiosks in all airports, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
For this reason, I recommend buying the SIM card directly from the mobile provider’s store. Remember that you need a passport to buy one. Each country has its own rules; You may even need to provide an address.
However, this means that you will not receive information when you log in. So, if you want to be always connected, you can use an eSIM or buy a prepaid European SIM card online.
How to buy a prepaid European SIM card online
If you want to have your SIM card ready for your arrival, you can buy it online or at websites like Amazon.
You will find different plans on Amazon. For example, the Orange Holiday Europe prepaid SIM card works in over 30 countries and gives you $20 billion worth of data in 14 days.
However, there are many options to consider, so take a look and make sure the countries you are planning to visit are listed.
Another option is to buy a prepaid SIM card at SimsDirect. This works if you live in the United States or Australia. They currently offer 4 different packages.
- 12 GB, valid for 30 days for $26 – works in 71 countries
- 100 GB, valid for 30 days for $49 – works in 44 countries
- 80 GB, valid for 28 days for $69 – works in 45 countries
- 40 GB, valid for 28 days for $55 – works in 45 countries
Finally, the last option is to buy an eSIM card for Europe.
How to buy an eSIM card for Europe
eSIM is a new concept that allows you to have a virtual SIM card inside your phone. If your mobile phone supports eSIM cards – this is definitely one of the best options for getting data in Europe.
curious? Learn more about eSIM for travelers.
I started using eSIM as soon as my mobile phone supported it. And I tried it for the first time while visiting my family in Canada. To buy an eSIM, I use Airalo. This website offers many eSIM cards worldwide and they have special plans for Europe. I have been using Airalo in Europe for a few months now.
Here is a brief overview options available in Europe:
- 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $5
- 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $13
- 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $20
- 10 GB, valid for 30 days for $37
- 50 GB, valid for 90 days for $100
- 100GB, valid for 180 days for $185
The options mentioned above are part of Eurolink and cover 39 countries. Alternatively, if you’re traveling in other countries not listed, you can try Discover Global, which offers coverage in 87 countries.
Here is a brief overview options available at Discover Global:
- 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $9
- 3 GB, valid for 15 days for $24
- 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $35
- 10 GB, valid for 60 days for $59
- 20 GB, valid for 180 days for $89
Now, one important thing to note about Airalo is that you need to pay attention to the provider of each country. Let’s say you ever have trouble connecting to the Internet while you’re traveling. In this case, it could be because you are automatically connecting to networks and you have to manually select a network instead.
When you buy an eSIM, you get access to the list of networks supported in each country.
Alternatively, you can look at your options Holafly. You can read our Holafly review to know more about this eSIM store. I tried this too and it worked well. Their European eSIM works in 32 countries and they offer the following plans:
- Unlimited data for 5 days for $19
- Unlimited data for 10 days for $34
- Unlimited data for 15 days for $47
- Unlimited data for 20 days for $54
- Unlimited data for 30 days for $64
- Unlimited data for 60 days for $84
- Unlimited data for 90 days for $99
Final thoughts on SIM cards in Europe
As you can see, in Europe it is very easy to get a prepaid SIM card or even an eSIM for your travels in Europe. You can stay connected wherever you go in Europe without changing your SIM card.
I believe an eSIM card is the best way to get data in Europe if you want to have data on arrival. So you don’t need to go to a store to buy a SIM card. Obviously, you need to make sure that your mobile phone supports eSIM.
Traveling to Europe soon? Read one of the following blog posts: