Planning a trip to Germany? Knowing how to stay connected during your trip is essential. Despite there being many options to get online while traveling abroad, getting prepaid Germany SIM cards seems to be fast done. This guide will help you choose the best way to access mobile internet in Germany and find out where to buy SIM cards for the best value. Moreover, you also learn some valuable insights about SIM cards for Germany travel revealed by experienced travelers that are hardly found anywhere else. See below! 

Germany SIM card

I. Can Foreigners Get a SIM Card in Germany?

Yes. Foreigners can buy a SIM card for Germany travel without restrictions.

But you have to undergo a registration process

Prepaid SIM cards in Germany require registration with a German address. Store staff can assist with this using your hotel address. 

Registration is often free in Germany, but sometimes, you can be charged 10 EUR. If you do not buy SIM from the Germany mobile operator stores or Mediamarkt, the fee of registration can be higher. 

If you buy in post offices, you have to fill in a form in advance, but the fee is FREE. The registration requires video identification (online ID/ WebID/Video Identification).

II. Should You Get a Sim Card in Germany?

Yes. 

Buying a local prepaid SIM card in Germany provides stable and fast internet access throughout your trip. Germany’s mobile networks cover almost the entire country, including rural areas.

By getting a SIM you can easily look up directions, translations, restaurant reviews and more while on the go.

With a SIM card, you will not need to rely on unreliable public WiFi hotspots.
which Germans prefer to avoid for privacy reasons.

Good to know: It may be surprising that not all cafes or restaurants in Germany have free WiFi. Germans love privacy and they do not use unsecured WiFi much.

Here’s a brief overview of connectivity options for travelers in Germany:

OptionProsCons
Germany SIM CardFastest speeds. Wide coverage. Inexpensive plans. hassle-free EU roaming. Convenient top-ups.Require registration. Limited plan selection.
International SIMPre-activated. Covers multiple countries.More expensive per gigabyte. Speeds may be slower.
Hotel/Cafe WiFiFree when available.Unreliable. Privacy/security concerns.
Cellular data roamingWorks worldwide.Very expensive per megabyte.
Portable hotspot rentalShares internet among devices.Restricted to hotspot locations.

Our recommendation: a Germany SIM provides the best balance of speed, coverage, convenience and value for money during your trip. 

However, as a foreigner, you need to go through registration. If you do not like this, go for eSIM which helps you avoid  registration hassles.

III. Types of Germany SIM Card for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

Types of Germany SIM cards for tourist

In terms of form, there are basically 2 types of SIM cards for tourists to Germany: physical and digital one.

Look at the comparing table below to understand about each type:

CriteriaPrepaid physical Germany travel SIM card Prepaid Germany travel eSIM
Features– Separate physical nano-SIM card- Include data-only and data + calls and texts plans– Integrated digital SIM profile- Also include data-only and data + calls and texts plans
How it worksInsert nano-SIM card into phone slotScan QR code to activate eSIM profile on compatible phone
Where to buyOnline before departure, mobile carrier stores, electronics retailers, some gas stations, airports.Online from mobile carriers or multi-country eSIM providers
CostUsually €10-20 for starter packTypically similar or slightly higher costs than physical SIM
Pros– Wide availability. – No compatibility issues– No need to insert a SIM card. – Convenient to swap between providers and countries easily.- Faster activation.- No need to present passport
Cons– Need to visit stores and insert a SIM card. – Risk of losing primary SIM.- Occasional connectivity issues if SIM swapped too often.– Limited provider and phone compatibility. 

From the table above, it can be seen that eSIMs offer greater convenience if your phone is compatible, while physical SIMs provide hassle-free usage but require an extra step of inserting the nano-SIM card.

Our recommendation:

If your phone is not compatible with eSIM and you do not need to make analog calls and texts, choose physical Germany data-only SIM cards.

If your phone supports eSIM, choose data-only eSIM plans for Germany. You can still stay in touch with other people through applications like WhatsApp, Viber, etc. 

Important Note: Among mobile network operators in Germany, only Telekom Germany (formerly known as T-Mobile) has prepaid eSIM services to customers.

III. How much Does a Prepaid Germany SIM Card Cost?

Prepaid SIM cards in Germany range in price from €5-20, depending on the data allowance and call/text minutes included. The most competitive plans seem to offer around 3-15GB of data for €10-20.

For Telekom Germany, you can get the Magenta Mobil Prepaid (regular / data-featured) with 9.95 EUR for 10 EUR credit in official Telekom stores and electronic stores such as Mediamarkt.

Important Note: You cannot find Telekom SIM cards at 5 international airports in Germany (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, or Munich).  

Insight:

It can be said that prepaid SIM cards for Germany are rather expensive. With high prices, you only get small data bundles. Indeed, Germany is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. So, if you travel Germany and use a lot of data to travel around Europe, DO NOT BUY Germany SIM cards.

However, a good tip from experienced users: after crossing borders in Europe, you will receive a automated text message that notifies you there will not be any extra costs

IV. Best Germany SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price

best sim card plans for Germany and prices

Good to know: 1 EUR = 1.05 USD (as of January 2024)

Germany has 03 major mobile network operators: Telekom (used to be known as T-Mobile), Vodafone, and O2 (Telefonica)

Below are prepaid packages of each operator:

1. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile)

  • MagentaMobil Prepaid M: 3 GB data (at 5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany + 10€ credit, used in 4 weeks = 9.95€ + additional 9.95€ one-time card price.
  • MagentaMobil Prepaid L: 5 GB data (at 5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany + 15€ credit, used in 4 weeks = 14.95€ + additional 14.95€ one-time card price.
  • MagentaMobil Prepaid XL: 7 GB data (at 5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany + 20€ credit, used in 4 weeks = 19.95€ + additional 19.95€ one-time card price.

2. O2 Germany

  • O2 Prepaid S: 6 GB data (at LTE Max. Speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany, used for 4 weeks = 9.99€
  • O2 Prepaid M: 12 GB data (at LTE Max. Speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany, used for 4 weeks = 14.99€
  • O2 Prepaid L: 18 GB data (at LTE Max. Speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany, used for 4 weeks = 19.99€

3. Vodafone Germany

  • CallYa Allnet Flat S: 3 GB data (at 4G/5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany + 200 minutes or SMS from Germany to the EU, used for 4 weeks = 9.99€
  • CallYa Allnet Flat M: 6 GB data (at 4G/5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany + 500 minutes or SMS from Germany to the EU, used for 4 weeks = 14.99€
  • CallYa Digital: 15 GB data (at 4G/5G speed) + unlimited calling/SMS in Germany, used for 4 weeks = 20€

Our recommendation: After comparing prepaid SIM cards for Germany, we can see that Vodafone offers the best prepaid plans up to now. 

V. What to Prepare to Buy Prepaid SIM cards in Germany?

As mentioned earlier, to buy a prepaid SIM card in Germany, you need to register. If you choose to buy SIM cards at gas stations, you need to carry out the registration online.
It is required to set up a video call through the providers’ website and show your passport. 

Our recommendation: We recommend NOT TO BUY a prepaid SIM card for Germany at any random store due to this hassle. If you want to avoid this registration scheme, consider using eSIM. Just a simple click and you get your eSIM for Germany in your phone almost instantly. 

VI. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Germany?

To buy a prepaid tourist SIM card for Germany, you can choose one of the following ways:

1. Buy physical SIM card for Germany before departure

This way comes with 2 options: Buy in stores and buy online. 

If buying in stores, you need to look up the address of stores selling travel Germany SIM cards. 

Usually, you do not need to present your personal information to register the SIM.

If buying online, you need to choose a travel SIM provider, provide your home address and wait for SIM delivery.

Pros: affordable price, being active with pre-order preparation.

Cons: Need to visit stores (if necessary), require SIM swapping

2. Buy at airports upon arrival

After arrival at Germany airports, you can look for stands or kiosks of major mobile network operators in Germany to buy the SIM card deal.

However, you cannot find Telekom Germany SIM cards at the top 5 international airports (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, or Munich). 

Pros: get Internet access right upon arrival, English support

Cons: Expensive, less plan options, less data, have to go through SIM registration 

3. Buy in the cities of Germany after arrival

You can buy German SIM cards after arriving in German cities. 

Here are some guidelines for buying SIMs for Germany in big cities:

Germany citiesPlaces to buy SIM cards for tourists
BerlinConvenience stores like Mediakt, gas stations, 
Official stores of German mobile network operators like O2 stores, Vodafone stores, and Telekom stores. 
Stores in shopping centers/malls like Alexia at Alexanderplatz
Some popular areas to find stores are Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz, Kurfürstendamm,
FrankfurtSIM card stores are located throughout the city in areas like Zeil, Konstablerwache, Hauptwache etc.
Stores of Telekom, Vodafone, O2 sell SIM cards. Stores are also found in shopping malls like Skyline Plaza.
MunichLarger mobile phone stores as well as branded stores of Telekom, Vodafone, O2 sell SIM cards in prime locations like Marienplatz, Karlsplatz/Stachus and Kaufingerstraße.
Drugstores like DM also stock SIM cards from major providers.
Stores in malls and shopping centers in Schwabing and Schlachthofviertel areas
HamburgStores located in Jungfernstieg, Mönckebergstraße, Spitalerstraße sell SIMs from all providers.
Stores at shopping centers on Mönckebergstraße at Hauptbahnhof are also reliable options.Drugstores across the city offer SIM card choice.

Pros: cheaper than at airport,  more plan options than at airports

Cons: risk of language differences, have to look for stores, have to undergo SIM registration

VII. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Germany?

To have an overview about how much data you should buy for a prepaid tourist SIM card for Germany, see our table:

Duration of StaySuggested Data Needed
1-3 days1-2 GB
4-7 days3-5 GB
1-2 weeks5-10 GB
2-4 weeks10-20 GB
1-3 months20-30 GB

Note:  

  • Data use varies by users.
  • Consider your travel duration before buying.

VIII. Germany eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Germany

Gigago Germany eSIM for travelers

These days, eSIM technology is becoming more and more popular. Especially after Apple made newer iPhones only with eSIM technology in the United States (14- & 15 series). This means users must activate mobile plans using virtual eSIM profiles instead of physical SIM cards. As a result, mobile carriers all over the world had to quickly adopt eSIM support.

But if you purchase an eSIM from any of these mobile operators, you must comply with Germany’s SIM card registration regulations.

So it is better to buy eSIM from an eSIM provider like Gigago

Gigago offers multiple data plan options for Germany, starting from a 3-day plan with 300MB per day for $5 as their most minimal plan. They also have 5-day, 7-day, 10-day, 14-day, 15-day, 20-day, 25-day, 28-day, and 30-day plans ranging from 1GB to 50GB of data, with prices from $5 up to $136.90.

The data speeds up to 4G/LTE/5G speeds depending on network coverage. You can refer Gigago’s Germany eSIM for more details

IX. Which Germany Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?

which Germany country mobile-operators is best

In fact, the German mobile internet network is not the best in comparison with other European countries. Germany has 3 major mobile network operators, which are:

1. T-Mobile (Telekom Germany)

This is one of the big cellular operators in Germany. 

  • One of the big three mobile operators in Germany
  • Does not allow prepaid users to use the 5G network
  • Does not provide eSIM cards for tourists, only physical prepaid SIM cards
  • Has extensive nationwide 4G/5G coverage
  • Provides average speeds based on independent speed tests
Telekom Germany mobile coverage map - germany sim cards
T-Mobile Germany mobile coverage map (source: nperf)

2. Vodafone

  • Another one of the big three operators
  • Provides 5G access with certain prepaid plans
  • Does not offer eSIM cards for tourists, only physical prepaid SIM cards
  • Has a very advanced 4G/5G network with excellent coverage
  • Speeds are above average on Vodafone’s network
Vodafone Germany mobile coverage map - germany sim cards
Vodafone Germany mobile coverage map (source: nperf)

3. O2 (Telefonica)

  • The third major operator in Germany
  • Only offers 4G, their 5G network is very limited in coverage
  • Does not provide eSIM options for prepaid users, only physical SIM cards
  • Has the smallest 5G network coverage compared to others
  • Average speeds on O2’s 4G network based on tests
O2 mobile coverage map - Germany sim cards
O2 mobile coverage map (source: nperf)

Insights:

  • Vodafone generally has the best deals.
  • Vodafone and Telekom have the largest network coverage within Germany
  • O2’s coverage is a bit smaller, especially for 5G. But coverage is good in major cities and tourist areas for all operators.
  • T-Mobile has the best 5G network in Germany.
Vodafone Germany mobile coverage map - germany sim cards
Vodafone Germany mobile coverage map (source: nperf)

X. How to Use Germany Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

1. Using prepaid Germany tourist SIM Cards

Here are quick steps for using a Germany tourist SIM card:

  • Choose a prepaid SIM card from Telekom, O2, or Vodafone.
  • Insert the SIM into your unlocked phone after removing your current SIM.
  • Turn on your phone to connect to the mobile network.
  • SIM cards come with instructions in English or German.
  • Save customer service numbers in case of issues during travel.

2. Setting up and activating Germany eSIM 

  • Check if your phone is unlocked and eSIM-equipped
  • Choose an eSIM provider like Gigago
  • Purchase an eSIM plan online,
  • Receive a confirmation email that includes QR code
  • Scan the QR code or important details to activate your eSIM

XI. FAQs

Do I need to unlock my phone to use a local SIM card in Germany?

Yes, your phone needs to be unlocked to work with a SIM from a different provider. Check with your carrier before traveling.

Can I make calls internationally with a Germany SIM card?

Prepaid SIM cards in Germany usually don’t include international calls. You can use apps like WhatsApp to call internationally for free over WiFi.

How much 4G data do I need for a week in Germany?

Most travelers use between 2-5GB of data per week. It depends on how much you stream, use maps/translation and social media. Get a plan with at least 5GB to be safe.

Can I keep the SIM card if I travel to other European countries?

SIM cards from Germany include free roaming across Europe. You can use any remaining data allowance in other European countries.

XII. Conclusion

Travel SIM cards play an important role in helping tourists stay connected conveniently while visiting Germany. By purchasing an affordable prepaid local SIM for Germany, tourists can enjoy reliable cellular data and call/text services via Germany’s robust mobile networks. For those with eSIM-supported device, using eSIM is the best alternative.