Best Portugal SIM Cards for Tourists: Detailed Guide

If you are planning to travel to Portugal, looking for the best way to stay connected during your trip is essential. Though there are many options to get Internet access while traveling, we highly recommend getting Portugal SIM cards which allow you to download apps for contacts and access social media, and more. Let’s see why you should choose a prepaid SIM card in Portugal, where to buy, which provider has the best and fastest 4G/5G network in Portugal, how much does it cost, and which are the best plans for tourists. And, you also get our recommendation – what is surely helpful for your trip.

Portugal SIM cards for tourists

Good to know:

  • Portugal is one of the cheapest European tourist destinations.
  • Prepaid Portuguese SIM cards are cheap and easy to get.

I. Should You Get a SIM Card in Portugal?

Can foreigners get a SIM Card in Portugal?

Yes. Foreigners can get a SIM card in Portugal from mobile operators like Vodafone, MEO and NOS. However, if buying SIMs directly from Portugal mobile network operators, it requires a registration scheme with a passport for identity verification.

This is what not many people like. 

Should you get a SIM card for Portugal?

Yes.

A SIM card comes with many advantages over other connectivity options such as pocket WiFi, free WiFi, and roaming. 

Here we give a comparison table on each way of connection in Portugal:

CriteriasFree WiFiPocket WifiRoamingPortugal SIM Card
FeaturesFree public WiFi access. No data plan.Mobile WiFi hotspot for rent. Comes with a data plan.Use your regular SIM card but will be charged high roaming fees.Local SIM with data plan and Portugal number.
How it WorksConnect to free public WiFi when available.Rent a pocket WiFi device. Connect all your devices to its WiFi hotspot.Turn on roaming on your regular SIM. Data and calls will route internationally.Buy a prepaid SIM in Portugal. Activate and start using.
Where to GetAvailable at coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and tourist sites. No purchase required. Rent from airport or online vendors.Use your existing SIM.Buy from mobile stores, airports, convenience stores.
CostFree.Approx. €50-100 for 1-2 weeks rental.Very expensive roaming fees per MB.Inexpensive starter SIMs from €5-10.
ConvenienceInconvenient to find and connect. Slow speeds.One device for all. Hassle to return.No local Portuguese number. Slow speeds. High charges.Fastest, control data use. Local contact, maps etc.
PrivacyPublic network, security concerns.All your devices share one hotspot connection.Regular SIM, no changes to plans/number.Standalone local connection, separate from home.

Our recommendations: As a tourist, you should:

  • Get a Portuguese SIM card for the fastest, most affordable and most convenient option. SIM card provides private local connection without VPN needed and hassle of pocket WiFi rental.
  • Consider bundles with larger data only if you plan to use extensive internet.

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

Types of Portugal SIM cards & eSIM
Types of Portugal SIM cards & eSIM

Portugal travel SIM card is available in 02 types: prepaid SIM card and prepaid virtual SIM card (eSIM). 

Here is details about each SIM card type:

1. Prepaid physical SIM cards

A SIM card you insert into your phone that comes with a prepaid data plan.

  • How it works: You buy from a mobile store, they activate and you can immediately start using.
  • Cost: Plans start from €5-10 for basics. Around €10-15 for 1-5GB data usually.
  • Suitable for: Anyone with an unlocked GSM phone. Short trips or explorers.
  • Pros: Immediate use. Wide availability. Local calls/texts included usually.
  • Cons: Need to swap SIMs if visiting other countries.

2. Prepaid eSIM cards

  • What it is: A virtual SIM loaded directly onto your eSIM compatible phone.
  • How it works: Order online, get activation QR code, scan and you’re connected in Portugal.
  • Cost: Similar to physical SIMs but some larger data only options available.
  • Suitable for: Anyone with an eSIM compatible phone. Multiple country trips.
  • Pros: No swapping SIMs. Wider data bundles. Order before the trip from home.
  • Cons: Not all phones support eSIM yet. Slightly higher cost than physical SIM.

▶ Our recommendation:

For most tourists visiting Portugal for a short trip, a prepaid data-only physical SIM card purchased would be ideal.  It’s low cost, very easy to use, and readily available everywhere in Portugal.

However, if the phone is eSIM-equipped, a prepaid data-only eSIM can be a good alternative to eliminate all hassles associated with the physical one (swapping, inserting, removing, waiting for SIM delivery if buying online or going to stores). See an up-to-date list of eSIM supported devices.

III. Buy Best Portugal SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price – Which to choose?

There are 03 major mobile network operators in Portugal:

  • MEO (PT Móvel)
  • NOS
  • Vodafone Portugal

To decide what is the best Portugal SIM card plans for tourists, let’s see what plans these operators offer:

1. Buy Portugal MEO SIM Card Plans and Price

  • €10-15/$10-15 for 1-2GB of data and local calls/SMS. Recharge credits are valid for 30 days.
  • 5GB of data, unlimited calls and SMS within Portugal for €15-20/$15-20 per month.
  • 10GB for €20-25/$20-25 or 20GB for €30-35/$30-35.

2. Buy Portugal NOS SIM Card Plans and Price

  • Start at €10/$10 for 5GB data and includes 500 minutes and 500 SMS valid for 30 days.
  • 10GB data for €15/$15 per month with 1000 minutes and 1000 SMS.
  • 20GB data are available for €20/$20 per month.

3. Buy Portugal Unicom SIM Card Plans and Price

  • €10/$10 for 6GB data and 600 minutes/600SMS valid for 30 days.
  • 15GB data for €15/$15 per 30 days with 1500 minutes and 1500 SMS.
  • 30GB are available for €20/$20 per 30 days

Notes:

  • Tourism SIM cards do not require identification or registration like resident plans. Just purchase and activate.
  • Prepaid credits can be topped up online or from retail stores.
  • The plan name and details are subjected to change over time. To get the most updated prices and related info, please contact your chosen network carrier.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Portugal?

Here are 04 options to buy a tourist SIM card for Portugal with details:

1. Buy physical SIM online before departure

  • How: Order online on provider website 1-2 weeks before visiting and wait for SIM delivery or pick up at Portugal airports.
  • Requirements: Just need address to ship SIM to
  • Cost: SIM price (€10-20), sometimes shipping fees apply
  • Convenience: High as SIM arrives before travel. No need to buy upon arrival.
  • Pros: Easy process, use SIM right away.
  • Cons: Cannot change plans on arrival.
Buy SIM card for Portugal at airports - Lisbon airport SIM

2. Buy at airports after arrival

  • How: Purchase at SIM kiosks at Lisbon or Porto airport after passing customs
  • Requirements: Valid passport for identification
  • Cost: SIM price (€10-20). No shipping fees.
  • Convenience: Quick and easy on arrival (but possibly require queuing).
  • Pros: Change plans if needed on arrival.
  • Cons: Expensive that buying online or in city-center stores, less plans to choose, risk of not being able to buy SIM if kiosk / stands at airports close ( if arriving late at night).

3. Buy in cities of Portugal

  • How: Purchase at operators’ stores in major cities like Lisbon, Porto, Faro
  • Requirements: Valid ID for verification
  • Cost: SIM price (€10-20). No shipping fees.
  • Convenience: More locations than airports. Possible to get help at stores.
  • Pros: Change plans at stores. See available plans in-person.
  • Cons: Extra travel to stores.

4. Buy eSIM online

  • How: Order eSIM online from providers before travel
  • Requirements: Smartphone compatible with eSIM
  • Cost: SIM price (€5-15). No shipping/hardware.
  • Convenience: High as eSIM loads directly to device. No physical SIM handling.
  • Pros: Instant activation, flexible plans, no waiting for SIM delivery.
  • Cons: Limited to eSIM-supported devices.

▶ Our recommendation:

If you need Internet access instantly right upon arrival and without hassle, choose buying eSIM online. No waiting for SIM delivery, no queuing in stores, no swapping SIM card. Just a few clicks and you get the eSIM in your phone, activate it by scanning the QR code, and use right after landing in Portugal airports.

V. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Portugal?

Here are some suggestions for data amounts tourists could consider for a trip to Portugal:

  • For basic phone/map use and light browsing, 5-10GB should suffice for a 1 week trip.
  • If you plan to use maps/navigation daily, check social media regularly or stream music, get 10-15GB. This allows use without worry of going over.
  • For those who will take lots of photos/videos to upload or stream video daily, 15-20GB would be a safe choice.
  • If you want to be able to stream HD video occasionally without worry, or download uploads/apps freely, 20-30GB gives good peace of mind.
  • Heavy users who may stream videos/upload content daily in HD should opt for 30GB or more.
  • Don’t need data every day? Get smaller bundles and top up more as needed during your trip.
  • Unlike home plans, leftover data doesn’t roll over so get extra if unsure of needs.
  • Operators also offer add-on data bundles you can purchase if you run low.

Generally, the right amount depends on your activities but these suggestions should help tourists estimate data needs safely for most Portugal trips within 2 weeks without worry of overage charges.

Pro Tip: Consider your travel duration and internet behaviors to choose the best Portugal SIM plan for your trip.

VII. Portugal eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Portugal

It can deny the benefits of eSIM for travelers. This digital SIM is ideal for anyone with compatible mobile devices. 

Here are some key reasons to buy Portugal eSIM for your upcoming trip:

  • Hassle-free setup. No waiting for a SIM to arrive. Just scan the QR code you get instantly by email and you’re connected right away.
  • Reliable connections. The eSIM uses Portugal’s fast LTE networks like Vodafone. I streamed lots of videos and maps with no issues everywhere I went.
  • Save money. eSIMs don’t cost extra roaming fees.
  • Flexible data options. You can choose plans with different amounts of data for how much you think you’ll use. Or add more later if needed.
  • Coverage everywhere. I had connectivity while exploring cities and top tourist spots all over Portugal.
  • Keep your normal SIM. The eSIM let me still get calls/texts on my regular number too.
  •  Gigago’s plans are much cheaper than paying roaming fees with your home network carrier.

There you understand how beneficial an eSIM can be. But which eSIM provider to choose?

It is essential to choose the eSIM provider that offers plans suitable for your needs. 

GIGAGO is highly recommended. It is one of the best eSIM providers in the world that has many plans catering different needs of travelers. For Portugal, the Gigago plans start from a 3-day plan with 300MB per day for $5 $3.50 . 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.

Regardless of your trip duration and your data usage, Gigago has it all.

Gigago Portugal eSIM - Portugal SIM cards
Gigago Portugal eSIM plans for tourists

Indeed, using Gigago’s Portugal eSIM made traveling there really seamless and affordable. Setup was a breeze and never worrying about WiFi was great. To see more details, visit Portugal eSIM by Gigago.

VIII. Which Portugal Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?

Portugal has 03 main cellular network operators and several mobile virtual network operators MVNO) which provide more affordable access through the major networks, making them a good budget-friendly choice.

The major mobile internet providers in Portugal are:

  • MEO
  • NOS
  • Vodafone Portugal

The top MVNOs are: 

  • Lycamobile (MVNO of Vodafone Portugal)
  • Nowo (MVNO of MEO)
  • Pepephone (MVNO of MEO)

Let’s see overview about each major carrier so you can decide which is the best for tourists to Portugal:

1. MEO

  • MEO is the mobile network brand of Altice Portugal, the largest telecommunications company in Portugal, reaching over 99% of the population.
  • Coverage: covers all major cities and most small towns.
  • Speed: MEO’s average 4G download speed is around 35Mbps according to tests. Speeds are fastest in major cities like Lisbon and Porto.
  • Network: MEO operates one of Portugal’s largest telecom networks using 2100MHz, 1800MHz, and 800MHz spectrum bands for 4G connectivity.

Insight: MEO is Portugal’s second largest network known for high average 4G speeds and wide coverage across the whole country.

Coverage map of MEO Mobile Portugal - Portugal SIM cards
Coverage map of MEO Mobile Portugal (source: nperf)

2. NOS

  • Full name is NOS Comunicações. It is one of the largest telecom companies in Portugal.
  • Coverage: NOS has extensive 4G and 5G coverage across both cities and rural areas. This includes cities, towns, villages and highways.
  • Speed: Average 4G download speeds on the NOS network are around 40 Mbps based on tests.
  • Network: NOS operates Portugal’s third largest mobile network using 2100MHz, 1800MHz and 800MHz spectrum bands to provide connectivity nationwide.

Insight: NOS is known for consistent high speeds across Portugal via a nationwide network that blankets cities, towns and rural areas  with high-speed 4G connectivity.

Coverage map of NOS Mobile Portugal - Portugal SIM cards
Coverage map of NOS Mobile Portugal (source: nperf)

3. Vodafone Portugal

  • Vodafone is a globally known mobile network operator present in Portugal.
  • Coverage: It has reliable nationwide 4G coverage above 90% with ongoing 5G expansion. This includes major cities like Lisbon and Porto as well as smaller towns and rural areas.
  • Speed: average 4G download speed is around 40Mbps
  • Network: Vodafone Portugal has over 5,000 4G towers across the country to provide widespread 4G LTE coverage both indoors and out.

Insight: Vodafone has Portugal’s most advanced and fastest 4G network with excellent coverage for reliable connections around the country.

Coverage map of Vodafone Mobile Portugal - Portugal SIM cards (source: nperf)
Coverage map of Vodafone Mobile Portugal (source: nperf)

IX. How to Use Portugal Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

1. Using prepaid Portugal tourist SIM Cards

Below are simple steps to use Portugal SIM cards for tourists:

  • Purchase a prepaid SIM card from before your trip. Choose a data package suitable for your needs
  • Insert the SIM card – Turn off your phone and insert the SIM.  Turn your phone back on
  • Activate the SIM card by following any included instructions. You may need to enter a PIN initially.
  • Update phone settings. Go to your phone’s wireless settings. Turn on cellular data and roaming if needed.
  • Select the network provider associated with your SIM card.
  • Use your phone as normal.
  • Top-up if needed
  • Remove SIM before leaving to avoid further roaming charges.

2. Setting up and activating Portugal eSIM 

Here are simple steps to use a Portugal tourist eSIM card:

  • Check if your phone is unlocked and supports eSIM. You can check your device specifications or contact your device manufacturer to confirm.
  • Choose a Portugal mobile network carrier that offers eSIM services. Check their eSIM plans and price.
  • Choose the eSIM plan for Portugal from a prestigious eSIM provider (like Gigago) that fits your needs
  • Make a payment and wait for a few minutes to get the QR code or activation code in the registered email
  • Access the eSIM settings: go to Settings, and look for the text related to cellular or eSIM settings.
  • Add eSIM by using your phone’s camera to scan the QR code or import activation code manually to activate the eSIM plan
  • Set the eSIM as secondary SIM based on your preference.
  • After the eSIM is setup, test it by browsing the web to make sure data is consumed and your phone works properly.

X. FAQs

What is the best network in Portugal?

The main networks are Vodafone, MEO and NOS. All have great coverage throughout the country.

Should I get a SIM card or eSIM for Portugal?

Either option works well. eSIM activation allows you to instantly stay online but physical SIMs are cheaper for long trips. Consider your phone compatibility too.

How much data do I need when traveling Portugal?

It depends on how you plan to use your phone. 1GB would let you check maps/emails but heavier users may want 3-5GB or unlimited.

Will my Portugal SIM work if I travel elsewhere in Europe?

Portuguese SIMs include roaming within the EU/EEA so you can use your data allowance while visiting other European countries too.

What do I do if I lose my Portugal SIM card?

Contact your provider’s customer service line right away to report it lost/stolen so the number can be suspended to avoid unauthorized use.

XI. Conclusion

In conclusion, using a . is highly recommended for tourists. Both regular SIMs and eSIMs have benefits.

Regular SIMs provide fast and reliable data on Vodafone, MEO or NOS networks across Portugal while eSIMs  are convenient if your phone supports it.  Whichever option you pick, a local Portugal SIM means stress-free travel. Don’t miss out – be prepared with a SIM.