How to Buy a SIM Card at Faro Airport & City: Best Plans + Updated Price

Should you buy a SIM card at Faro Airport (FAO)? Getting a local SIM card can be useful for travelers to stay connected while visiting a new destination. Faro Airport offers a few options for purchasing SIM cards on arrival. This guide covers everything you need to know about buying a SIM at FAO, including where to buy them, how much they cost, the registration process, top providers, and eSIM options. We’ll also discuss alternatives to getting a SIM card right at the airport.

sim card at faro airport

I. Should You Buy a SIM Card at Faro Airport (FAO)?

Purchasing a SIM card upon arrival at Faro Airport is a convenient way to get connected right away in Portugal. However, it’s not the only option. Travelers should consider a few factors when deciding whether or not to buy a SIM at the airport.

The main benefits of buying a SIM card at FAO include:

  • Immediate connectivity when you land for maps/transportation/communication
  • Avoid having to find a store in an unfamiliar area
  • Ready-to-go right when you start your trip

Potential downsides are that airport SIM card desks generally:

  • Have higher prices than shops in the city
  • May have a smaller selection of providers/plans
  • Involve waiting in an additional line after a long flight

So who should buy a SIM card at Faro Airport?

Getting connected right away can provide great peace of mind, especially for solo travelers or those arriving late at night. If you need phone/data access immediately upon landing for maps, ground transportation, informing contacts of safe arrival, etc., then purchasing a SIM card at FAO is likely worth it.

Travelers who aren’t in a rush can likely save money and research more plan options by purchasing a SIM card from an outlet in Faro city instead.

If you don’t want to hassle with buying and setting up a SIM card at all during your trip, renting a portable WiFi hotspot or getting an eSIM before you go can also be good alternatives.

II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Faro Airport?

There are a couple different options for purchasing a SIM card once you land at FAO:

1. Online Pre-Order for Airport Pickup

Some Portugal cell providers allow you to pre-purchase a SIM card online before your trip and simply pick it up at Faro Airport upon arrival.

Some Portugal cell providers allow you to pre-purchase a SIM card online before your trip and simply pick it up at Faro Airport upon arrival.

This is currently available from providers like Vodafone Portugal. You order the card ahead of time and select Faro Airport as your desired pickup point during checkout. Then when you land, you just need to visit the designated store/booth location and show your passport/ID to retrieve your ready-to-go SIM card.

The main benefits of pre-ordering for airport pickup are:

  • Save time since your SIM is already activated when you land
  • Avoid airport store lines to set everything up on-site

Just keep in mind that not every Portuguese carrier offers an online order with an airport pickup option at this time. 

2. In-Person Purchase Upon Arrival

You can also directly buy a SIM card at one of the provider shops or kiosks located right at Faro Airport. There is only a Vodafone shop inside the airport.

Here’s a quick overview of how the process typically works:

  • Browse plans/rates: SIM card kiosks and stores will have information on their current prepaid plan options and rates. Expect to pay a base cost for the SIM card itself (around €10-15) plus the cost of your desired data/talk/text package.
  • Purchase and register SIM: Select your plan and make payment by cash or card. Provide your passport details to officially register the SIM card to you. This registration may require answering a few informational questions.
  • Activate and insert SIM: Store staff will activate your new SIM and may help set your device’s APN network settings for you. Then simply insert the card into your unlocked phone or device to get started.

Buying a SIM card in person at the airport can be quick and efficient, especially if you do your plan research beforehand. However, airport rates are sometimes higher and options more limited versus finding a store in the city center. If convenience is key after your flight, an airport SIM card desk gets the job done.

III. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Faro Airport – Registration Process

Getting set up with a new Portuguese SIM card at Faro Airport involves a registration and verification process. Here are a few tips for being prepared:

  • Bring your passport: You’ll need to show your passport when registering any prepaid SIM card in Portugal. Airport stores will verify your ID details to activate service.
  • Know your trip dates: You’ll likely need to share the dates of your planned trip when signing up for a prepaid card. This helps providers assess taxes and fees based on your length of stay.
  • Consider data needs: How much mobile data do you expect to use per day? Think through your expected usage when reviewing monthly plan allowances to select the best value option. Higher data needs = higher cost monthly plans in most cases.
  • Have payment ready: Most Portuguese SIM card providers accept major credit/debit cards. Some may also take PayPal or cash payments. Just be ready to complete your purchase when selecting your preferred plan.

With ID and payment details ready-to-go, the registration process for getting a working SIM card at FAO typically only takes 10-15 minutes start to finish.

IV. Best Tourist Faro Airport SIM Cards Options and Price

Travelers looking for Portugal SIM cards at Faro Airport will generally find options from major Portuguese network operators - Vodafone

Travelers looking for Portugal SIM cards at Faro Airport will generally find options from major Portuguese network operators – Vodafone:

  • The Vodafone Travelers SIM card costs 20 EUR and includes 10GB data, 500 minutes/SMS, and 30 international minutes/SMS to EU/EEA countries valid for 30 days. 
  • The Vodafone Go Total SIM card costs 30 EUR and includes “unlimited data” at speeds of up to 50Mbps (throttled to 10Mbps for over 200GB usage) valid for 30 days. This SIM has local use only without roaming.

Rates are typically similar across major provider brands, with Vodafone sometimes having an edge in 4G network coverage in rural areas. Be sure to consider coverage maps for your specific travel route.

V. Portugal eSIM for FAO – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at Faro Airport

Portugal eSIM for FAO - an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at Faro Airport

While physical SIM cards still dominate the market, eSIM compatibility continues to grow worldwide and in Portugal. An eSIM is a digital-only embedded SIM technology that allows cellular activation directly on a device, no physical card required.

For travelers who want to skip purchasing plastic SIM cards entirely, installing a Portugal eSIM before departure is an alternative for connectivity.

Some key benefits of going the eSIM route include:

  • Simplicity: No fussing with tiny plastic SIM cards to insert/replace into devices. Activation happens seamlessly via QR code.
  • Flexibility: It’s easy to change plans or extend service as needed without visiting stores.
  • Multi-SIM capacity: Some devices allow using eSIM alongside your existing primary SIM.

One compelling Portugal eSIM choice is GIGAGO, which offers prepaid data eSIMs specifically for tourists. GIGAGO eSIM provide visitors 4G LTE data on Portugal’s top networks like Vodafone, NOS and MEO.

One compelling Portugal eSIM choice is GIGAGO, which offers prepaid data eSIMs specifically for tourists. GIGAGO eSIM provide visitors 4G LTE data on Portugal's top networks like Vodafone, NOS and MEO.

GIGAGO eSIM plans for Portugal travel include: 

  • 1 GB data for 3 days – $9.9
  • 5 GB data for 15 days – $17.9
  • 20 GB data for 30 days – $49 

With easy online signup and delivery worldwide prior to travel, eSIM provider like GIGAGO lets you skip the airport SIM card counter entirely while still getting connected quickly after landing. 

For the data-focused traveler who doesn’t require much voice/text access, a Portugal eSIM can provide great convenience during a visit to Faro and beyond. 

VI. Where to Buy a SIM card Outside Faro Airport? 

If you decide skip getting a SIM card at the airport itself, there are plenty of other options across the Algarve region for purchasing low-cost, prepaid SIM plans after you leave FAO.

If you decide skip getting a SIM card at the airport itself, there are plenty of other options across the Algarve region for purchasing low-cost, prepaid SIM plans after you leave FAO.

In nearby Faro city, shopping centers like Forum Algarve and Mar Shopping offer multiple carrier stores and kiosks with tourist SIM card packages. You can also find independent SIM card shops scattered within city center areas.

You can also find independent SIM card shops scattered within city center areas.

When purchasing a SIM away from the airport, be prepared to provide:

  • Valid passport for registration
  • Payment via cash or card (may have fees for using credit card)
  • Basic personal details
  • Planned trip length

Outside of Faro, many other cities and towns across the Algarve have carriers that sell prepaid SIMs targeting visitors. Shops are readily available across the region’s most popular resort destinations.

Overall, expect to save at least 25-50% buying a Portugal SIM card in local shops instead of at FAO. Just be ready to wait until you reach your destination to have connectivity instead of right upon landing.

VII. FAQs

Do I need to unlock my phone to use a Portugal SIM card?

Yes, your device will need to be network unlocked to insert and use a Portuguese SIM. Contact your home carrier about unlocking if required. iPhones purchased directly from Apple are generally unlocked already.

Can I use EU roaming on my home SIM instead?

If visiting from another EU nation, unlimited roaming is required at domestic rates. But for those from outside the EU, roaming rates are usually very expensive. Getting a local Portuguese SIM is best for extended visits.

What’s the best Faro Airport SIM card network for data?

Vodafone, NOS, and MEO have solid connectivity across most of the Algarve. Compare coverage maps to your destinations. For rural villages or remote hikes, Vodafone tends to reign supreme on 4G speeds.

Do SIM card plans offer unlimited data?

Most provider prepaid packages aimed at tourists include a fixed allocation of full-speed data ranging from 1 GB to 15 GB based on the duration of your plan. Unlimited data plans are very rare, but you can renew or top-up data during your trip if needed.

Can I use a Portuguese SIM elsewhere in Europe?

Prepaid SIM cards from Portugal generally only provide free roaming in other EU nations for short visits up to 30 days per year. Extended roaming is often prohibited or has high surcharges. Check with your provider.

VIII. Conclusion

Purchasing a SIM card upon arrival at Faro Airport gets travelers connected right off the plane to start their Portugal trip off smoothly. Airport SIM desks offer convenience but potentially higher rates. With good pre-planning around data needs, required documents, and roaming policies, short-term visitors can easily get set up with flexible, prepaid service.

Eager digital travelers also have the option to skip plastic SIM cards entirely in favor of eSIM solutions like GIGAGO which deliver connectivity through QR code activation. And those not in a rush for instant airport connectivity can often save money by buying SIMs in shops across the Algarve instead.