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

Getting connected with mobile data when traveling internationally can be challenging. Purchasing a local SIM card is often the most convenient and cost-effective option. This guide provides tips for buying a SIM card at Lisbon Airport upon arrival (LIS).

sim card at lisbon airport

I. Should You Buy a SIM Card at Lisbon Airport (LIS)?

Purchasing a SIM card upon airport arrival is a traditional way for travelers to get connected abroad. There are a few options for getting a Portuguese SIM card at Lisbon’s airport:

  • Buy online ahead of travel and pick up at the airport
  • Purchase at a store/kiosk in the airport upon arrival

The main advantage of buying at the airport is convenience – you can get connected quickly when you land. However, airport shops tend to charge higher prices and may have a more limited selection compared to stores in the city.

Overall, purchasing a SIM card in the airport is best for travelers who prioritize getting connected quickly on arrival or have short airport layovers. Those staying longer can often save money buying a SIM card from carriers in the Lisbon city center area.

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

There are a couple options for purchasing a prepaid SIM card right at the Lisbon Airport.

1. Buying Online Ahead of Time and Airport Pickup

There are a couple options for purchasing a prepaid SIM card right at the Lisbon Airport.

Some Portugal phone carriers allow you to buy a SIM card online before your trip and then schedule a pickup at the Lisbon airport upon arrival. For example, Vodafone offers an online registration and payment process where you then retrieve your physical SIM card at their airport shop.

The main benefits of online preorder with airport delivery are:

  • Avoid long registration/payment queues at the airport store
  • SIM card will be ready for quick pickup on arrival
  • Guaranteed stock of the plan you pre-selected

The downside is that not every Portuguese provider has this prepurchase airport pickup option. So your selection of phone plans may be more limited.

Upon arrival at Lisbon airport, look for signs directing you to the Vodafone store near the luggage claim/Arrivals exit area. Depending on your pickup method, you may need to present a digital voucher code or physical passport/ID to receive your pre-purchased SIM card package.

2. Buying In-Person Upon Arrival

If you did not preorder online, the other option is to directly buy a SIM card at one of the provider shops or kiosks in the Arrivals area.

The main SIM card providers with stores at Lisbon airport is Vodafone.

  • Location: Next to luggage Belt No. 9
  • Open hours: 7AM to 10PM 

There are also a few smaller reseller booths that offer SIM cards from Lycamobile.

There are also a few smaller reseller booths that offer SIM cards from Lycamobile.

Buying directly at the airport can be fast if stores are not too busy. Having a sales rep help get your new SIM card working is convenient. However, airport outlets tend to have pricier call/data rates compared to stores in Lisbon city center. And inventory may be out of certain SIM card types upon arrival.

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

When registering for a prepaid Portugal SIM card, there will be some requirements whether you preorder online or directly purchase at the Lisbon Airport shop:

  • SIM Card Size – Have your phone readily available. Stores carry different size SIMs (Standard, Micro, and Nano). Most smartphones today require a Nano SIM.
  • Unlock Device – Your phone may need to be network unlocked for a foreign SIM card to function. This is common with devices purchased on contract plans in countries like the USA. Confirm your phone is unlocked beforehand.
  • Passport – To register a prepaid SIM card in Portugal, you will need to provide official photo ID. Passport is required even when prepurchasing online ahead of arrival.
  • Activation Costs – There is usually a one-time SIM card activation fee of around €15. Plus you must load an initial prepaid data bundle which start around €5-10. Ensure you have sufficient cash or a credit/debit card that works internationally.
  • Tax Number – Some carriers may ask for additional ID like a tax identification number. As a foreign tourist, you can supply your passport number instead.

Registering for a prepaid mobile data plan is fairly quick and straight forward at the Lisbon Airport shops compared to some other European countries. But do your research beforehand on carrier rates and technical compatibility with your device. This ensures your new Portuguese nano-SIM works immediately upon activation.

IV. Best Tourist Lisbon Airport SIM Cards Options and Price

The two major network providers with stores at Lisbon's Airport are Vodafone and MEO. A few third party retailers also offer SIM cards from other smaller Portugal carriers.

The two major network providers with stores at Lisbon’s Airport are Vodafone and MEO. A few third party retailers also offer SIM cards from other smaller Portugal carriers.

Here is an overview of recommended SIM card options for short-term visitor usage at Lisbon airport:

Vodafone Portugal

As the largest national carrier, Vodafone has reliable connectivity across Portugal plus 4G speeds up to 150 Mbps. Their Tourist SIM card plans at Lisbon Airport include:

  • 10 GB data in Europe + 500 minutes/sms + 50 international minutes/sms for 30 days = €25 EUR – $27 USD
  • Unlimited data (no EU data roaming) for 30 days (hotspot available) = €35 EUR – $38 USD

Vodafone prepaid plans can renewed/topped-up during your trip to get additional minutes or data as needed. Their network has excellent coverage even when traveling into rural regions of Portugal.

Be sure to compare latest pricing and bundles across providers when purchasing at the Lisbon Airport SIM card stores. Most plans can be renewed online when initial data allowance expires.

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

In addition to physical nano-SIM cards, adopting eSIM technology is increasing in Portugal. eSIMs are embedded digital SIMs programmed remotely on your phone without needing to insert a plastic chip card.

In addition to physical nano-SIM cards, adopting eSIM technology is increasing in Portugal. eSIMs are embedded digital SIMs programmed remotely on your phone without needing to insert a plastic chip card.

Purchasing a Portugal eSIM activation code online is an alternative to buying a traditional prepaid SIM card after arriving at Lisbon’s Airport.

Choosing an eSIM carrier for your unlocked phone offers these advantages:

  • Convenience – Activate data plan remotely before arrival. No airport store visit needed.
  • Multi SIM Capable – Use your physical SIM card + an eSIM simultaneously.
  • Reusability – Portugal eSIMs save payment info making it easy get connected on return trips.

So if you have an eSIM compatible device, a mobile data eSIM can be more convenient than hunting down stores selling plastic SIM cards upon arrival.

One top provider of tourist eSIM in Portugal is GIGAGO. Rather than traditional monthly contracts, their pay-as-you-go plans offer maximum flexibility for travelers.

One top provider of tourist eSIM in Portugal is GIGAGO. Rather than traditional monthly contracts, their pay-as-you-go plans offer maximum flexibility for travelers.

Some GIGAGO Portugal eSIM card plan options include:

  • 1GB / 3 Days – $9.9 for 1GB high speed data
  • 5GB / 30 Days – $18.5 for 5GB high-speed data
  • 10GB / 20 Days – $17.9 for 10GB of data

GIGAGO Portugal eSIM tourist plans provide reliable connectivity with no long-term commitments required. As an alternative to old-fashioned physical SIM cards, flexible eSIM helps keep digital nomads and jetsetters connected across Europe.

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

While Lisbon Airport arrival halls offer the most convenient places for getting connected via local Portuguese SIM card, prices are often inflated compared to stores in the city center.

For longer stays, visitors can save substantially on prepaid data bundles and local call minutes by purchasing SIM card deals from carriers around metro Lisbon instead.

What to Prepare:

If opting to get a SIM card outside Lisbon Airport, we recommend:

  • Research Top Providers – Familiarize yourself with major carrier rates for tourists. MEO, Vodafone, NOS have the widest coverage.
  • Find City Store Locations – Search carrier websites and maps for centrally located, English-speaking SIM card shops.
  • Activate Early – To avoid connectivity gaps, setup your new SIM card shortly after arriving in Lisbon metro area.
  • Unlock Device – Ensure your smartphone allows adding a foreign SIM card before departing home country.
  • Carry Passport – The shop will need to register prepaid SIM card under official government-issued photo ID.
  • Have Payment Ready – Accepted payment tends to be credit/debit card for tourist SIM packages (not always cash).

Cost Saving from City Store

Cost Saving from City Store

As a baseline, top carrier tourist SIM cards bought outside the airport tend to offer rate savings such as:

  • Data Bundles – Roughly 30-50% less per GB (or more data included per bundle)
  • Activation Fee – Waived or discounted one-time SIM card setup fee
  • Calls/Texts – Prepaid minutes and messaging credits often included

While even a 10-20% price difference may seem minimal for short vacations, data usage can quickly add up. So visiting city stores can lead to substantial prepaid mobile savings during longer trips.

Our recommendation: Given language and unfamiliarity barriers finding Portuguese carriers around Lisbon, we suggest visiting the Vodafone or MEO official stores.

Our recommendation: Given language and unfamiliarity barriers finding Portuguese carriers around Lisbon, we suggest visiting the Vodafone or MEO official stores.

In addition to locals, these shops service many English-speaking tourists with prepaid SIM card setup. Prices are far lower than the same airport locations. And staff help handle unlocking devices, activating service, answering questions about top-up vouchers, and other connectivity concerns.

Compared to Lisbon Airport, shopping for nano-SIM deals in town takes more effort but typically enable stretching your mobile data budgets further during Portugal vacations.

VII. FAQs

Can I use eSIM instead of physical SIM card in Portugal?

Yes, eSIM options now exist as an alternative to traditional plastic SIM cards. Providers like GIGAGO offer tourist data eSIMs for accessing LTE networks across Portugal.

Can I use my SIM card from a different European country while visiting Portugal?

European Union roaming rules allow using SIM cards from other EU nations. But roaming data rates tend to be expensive. Getting a local Portuguese SIM card or eSIM will be cheaper.

Are there benefits to ordering a SIM card online before my trip vs buying in Portugal?

Online preordering enables quicker airport pickup and guarantees stock. But provider selection may be narrower. Buying in Portugal has wider carrier options but requires store visits.

How can I determine if my phone is unlocked for using a foreign SIM?

Contact your home cell provider to confirm your device is network unlocked. If not, you may need to officially submit an unlock request before departing on international trips.

Do I need to show my passport when purchasing a prepaid Portuguese SIM?

Yes, SIM card registration legally requires verifying your identity, so passport is necessary even if preordering online for airport pickup.

What is the average cost for a tourist SIM card or data plan at Lisbon Airport?

Expect to budget between €15-25 for nano-SIM activation fee plus initial 5-10GB high-speed data bundles from leading providers like Vodafone and MEO.

Conclusion

Getting mobile data on your smartphone via Portugal SIM card can keep travelers conveniently connected while visiting Lisbon Airport (LIS) and surrounding region. Purchasing a prepaid SIM card upon airport arrival or ordering ahead for pickup is quick and provides connectivity right after landing. However, longer staying visitors can often save money buying SIM deals from city stores instead.

With this guide detailing logistics of acquiring prepaid SIM cards at the Lisbon Airport, globetrotters can stay efficiently connected when touching down in Portugal.