Do you want to travel to Portugal? With picturesque landscapes, delicious seafood, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder Portugal attracts millions of international visitors each year. However, without a reliable internet connection, you may miss out on key experiences. This blog post explores the top options for getting mobile internet in Portugal, including prepaid SIM cards from major carriers and international eSIM plans tailored for travelers. Read on to find the best data solution for your Portugal trip!
I. Mobile Internet Coverage and Speed in Portugal
1. Portugal Mobile Internet Coverage
Portugal has excellent mobile internet coverage provided by the three major network operators – Vodafone, NOS and MEO. 4G LTE networks cover 98% of the population, providing fast mobile broadband to most areas of the country. 5G networks are also now widely available in major cities and tourist destinations.
- For network availability (percentage of time users have a 3G or better connection), all three major operators NOS, MEO and Vodafone perform well, with NOS and Vodafone in the lead at 98.4% and 98.3% respectively.
- However, NOS has a clear lead in 5G availability at 19.4%, compared to 14.4% for Vodafone and 11.2% for MEO.
- NOS also wins the 5G Reach award, which measures the proportion of locations where users can connect to 5G, scoring 6.0 out of 10 compared to 5.1 for Vodafone and 4.5 for MEO.
For most tourists visiting Portugal, a Vodafone prepaid SIM card provides the best overall value and connectivity. Their 4G LTE and emerging 5G networks have excellent national coverage at competitive rates for visitors with unlocked devices.
NOS and MEO also offer suitable connectivity including some visitor prepaid SIMs. But their networks have less extensive reach in rural areas. For cities, coastal resorts and events, all three provide fast reliable mobile data on par with international standards.
2. Portugal Mobile Internet Speed
Mobile internet speeds across Portugal’s advanced 4G LTE networks are among the fastest in Europe. OpenSignal’s recent analysis found average download speeds on Vodafone, NOS and MEO ranging from 34.8 Mbps up to an incredibly fast 55.7 Mbps on some central city connections.
Average upload speeds were also impressive at around 22 Mbps across all major networks. For demanding apps and services like video streaming, these networks deliver excellent performance thanks to ongoing investment and technology upgrades.
Overall Vodafone Portugal currently provides the country’s fastest and most reliable mobile internet experience based on network testing. Their average 4G download speed exceeds 55 Mbps in many regions – fast enough to stream HD video with capacity remaining for other tasks.
But it’s also reassuring for visitors that both NOS and MEO networks deliver similarly speedy connectivity almost on par with Vodafone. So all three operators can be recommended based on Portugal’s position as a European leader for fast, consistent mobile broadband ideal for travel connectivity.
II. What are Connectivity Options for Tourists to Portugal?
There are several practical ways for visitors to get convenient data connectivity for their mobile device in Portugal. Here are popular options compared:
|How It Works
|Where to Buy
|Portugal SIM Card
|Insert local SIM to get data plan, rates apply
|$5+-$15+ for data package
|Airport, stores in cities
|High – easy setup
|Affordable rates tailored for tourists
|Need unlocked device, limited validity
|Digital SIM plan activated remotely
|Similar to SIM card pricing
|Online purchase & activation
|Very high – instant setup
|Device flexibility, online signup
|Carrier website navigation challenging
|Roaming Home SIM
|Existing cell plan roams on Portugal networks
|Depends on home carrier rates
|Already active via home SIM
|High – seamless usage
|No new signup or body required
|Potentially expensive from some regions
|Portugal Pocket WiFi
|Portable router with data SIM creates mini hotspot
|$7-$15 per day typical
|Numerous pickup/drop-off locations
|High – no device setup
|Simple user experience for all devices
|Battery life limitations, daily rental fee
|Free hotspots provided via cafes, transport hubs etc
|Free but user registration often required
|Numerous hotspots nationwide
|Medium – spotty coverage
|No cost, helpful for light use
|Security concerns, slower speeds
Our recommendations: For flexibility plus reliable connectivity across Portugal, getting a local prepaid SIM or eSIM card enables fast nationwide mobile data with affordable day pass or longer validity options to suit different visitor needs.
Both physical SIMs and remote digital eSIMs work seamlessly. Ordering a Portugal eSIM from GIGAGO for delivery ahead of arrival ensures hassle-free setup from the moment you land! While roaming or public WiFi have their place, a Portuguese SIM or eSIM card properly balances connectivity, convenience and value for effortless travel communication.
- Unlock your phone before purchasing eSIM.
- Check your phone’s compatibility in this eSIM compatible devices
III. Internet Rates in Portugal
To understand mobile data options as a Portugal visitor, it helps to know both data rates and currency exchange contexts:
Good to know exchange rate benchmarks (January 2024):
- 100 USD = 91.63 Euros
- 1 Euro = 1.09 USD
So 1 Euro is very close in value to 1 US Dollar. For simplicity 1:1 conversion works well as an estimate when evaluating costs as a US visitor.
Here is a comparison of mobile internet rates using common options:
|Prepaid SIM Card
|Various plans available
|€3 – €10 per GB
|$3 – $10
|Various plans available
|€2 – €7 per GB
|$2 – $7
|Vodafone Portugal Roaming
|Depends on your home plan
|Free in Europe
|MEO Portugal Roaming
|Depends on your home plan
|Free in Europe
|NOS Portugal Roaming
|Depends on your home plan
|Free in Europe
|Pocket WiFi Rental
|€10 – €20 per day
|$10 – &20 per day
|Portugal Public WiFi
|Varies depending on location
- SIM card and eSIM rates are for 30 day packages without ongoing renewals - suitable for shorter tourist visits. Longer term options also available.
- Roaming rates assume access via existing carrier plans from visitor's home country. Check roaming policies.
- Pocket WiFi rental based on 24-hour daily fee from pickup to drop off.
- Prices and changeable so contact the providers to update new information.
Getting a Portugal SIM card or eSIM generally provides the most visitor value compared to roaming or daily rentals. With GIGAGO eSIM for Portugal, you can have high-speed data eSIM from all mobile operators in Portugal at only reasonable prices.
IV. Data SIM Card for Mobile Internet in Portugal
As a visitor to Portugal, getting connectivity via a local SIM card is often the simplest and most affordable. Here are top SIM card options for getting mobile data:
- Vodafone Go Total – Unlimited data ONLY for Portugal for €35 EUR ($38 USD).
- NOS Holiday SIM – Prepaid SIM with 7GB & 100 mins. Valid 30 days. $25.
- MEO Tourist SIM – Prepaid SIM with 5GB data & 500 mins/sms for 1 month €5.4 EUR – $6 USD/week
All packages can be purchased officially at airports or operator stores showing Visa and Mastercard logos. Prices approximate in USD for convenience.
Using a Portuguese SIM while visiting provides excellent connectivity with reasonable validity periods to avoid hassles. Be sure to clarify roaming add-ons if also traveling to neighboring EU countries.
V. Data eSIM for Portugal – Best Option to Get Mobile Internet for Tourists
eSIM benefits include:
- No SIM card required to insert
- Remote connectivity via QR code or application
- Shared connectivity across dual SIM devices
- Flexible data top ups
For Portugal visitors with eSIM phones like newer iPhone or Android models, an eSIM plan offers many advantages over roaming or temporary SIM cards for seamless travel connectivity.
1. Buy eSIM from Portugal Operators
Vodafone Portugal, NOS and MEO all offer eSIM plans that can be purchased and activated online for use during travel in Portugal:
|Vodafone Go Total
|500 minutes/SMS, 50 international minutes
- No need to install physical SIM cards
- Remote setup via website or app
- Integrates with iOS/Android settings and features
- Portugal-wide connectivity on advanced 4G/5G networks
- Account setup can be tricky through carrier site
- Technical issues dealing with overseas support
- Tourist plan validity shorter than some SIMs
2. Buy eSIM from GIGAGO
GIGAGO is a dedicated global eSIM provider, offering connectivity in over 190 countries. They specialize in tourist and temporary data plans.
Pros of buying eSIM from GIGAGO
- Multi-country options for Europe travel
- Easy eSIM insstallation
- Support service in 24/7
How to buy: steps on website
- Select country (Portugal)
- Choose data allowance (starting from 1GB)
- Make a payment
- Wait for an email having the QR code
- Activation of eSIM following the guide in phone
- 100% online purchase progress
- No need passport, ID card
- Having internet right after landing at Portugal
- Need compatible device with eSIM
Q: Can I use my smartphone’s native hotspot for share data?
A: Yes, Portuguese SIMs and eSIMs permit hotspot/tethering use so you can conveniently connect other devices like tablets or laptops while traveling. just watch your combined usage doesn’t exceed data limits.
Q: Is 5G coverage widely accessible for tourists visiting Portugal?
A: 5G is growing quickly but remains focused for now on Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve region. Elsewhere very fast 4G ensures excellent performance. Check operator site for latest 5G rollout details.
Q: How can I determine mobile data speeds in my vacation area?
A: Free apps like Speedtest can measure your network connectivity performance on different Portuguese carriers. Run tests at accommodations and destinations of interest before activating a final service.
Q: Are there other options beyond SIM cards and eSIM for connectivity?
A: Some tourists opt for portable WiFi hotspots rented on arrival, but data rates tend to be expensive compared to local SIM or eSIM options which leverage extensive Portuguese infrastructure investments.
Q: Can I use a Portuguese SIM/eSIM in nearby Spain or other European countries?
A: Check roaming policies carefully first. Some Portugal tourist SIMs include Euro zone roaming allowances, while others charge additional fees while traveling internationally.
Getting mobile internet in Portugal as a visitor is very straightforward thanks to multiple operator options suited for vacation travel styles and budgets. While free public WiFi can be useful, visitor data SIM cards or eSIMs deliver the best overall value, performance, coverage and convenience on fast 4G and emerging 5G networks. With proper mobile access, Portugal promises an exceptional and digitally-connected destination for international guests to enjoy world-class attractions.