Data Roaming in Ireland & Alternatives to Get Internet for Tourists

Data roaming in Ireland
Data roaming in Ireland

Traveling to Ireland can be an amazing experience full of stunning landscapes, rich history, and friendly locals. However, one thing that can cause stress is figuring out how to get affordable internet access while visiting. Using cellular data roaming when abroad often leads to shockingly high bills after returning home. Thankfully, with some preparation and research into alternatives, you can easily find WiFi and other options to stay connected during your Ireland holiday without breaking the bank.

I. Phone Roaming in Ireland – Quick Facts for Tourists

Mobile roaming in Ireland
Mobile roaming in Ireland

Roaming allows you to use your home mobile carrier’s service while traveling internationally. It works by accessing local networks in the area you are visiting. Here’re some notes that you may consider when using phone roaming in Ireland:

  • No fees within EU – Use home plan with no extra charges for calls/texts/data within Ireland and EU.
  • Check costs outside EU – Roaming can be expensive, purchase local SIM for cheaper rates.
  • Main carriers: Vodafone, Eir, Three, Virgin – Buy prepaid SIM at airport or stores.
  • Wide WiFi access – Free WiFi in cafes, hotels, attractions saves cellular data costs.
  • Excellent city coverage – Reception limited in rural areas. Minimize use off main roads.
  • IDD 101 before numbers – Dial +353 1 before Irish landlines; +353 85/86 for mobiles.
  • WhatsApp instead of SMS – Avoid roaming SMS fees by using messaging apps over WiFi.
  • Consider local SIM – Pay-as-you-go SIMs as low as €10 with calls/data. Recharge credit as needed.
  • WiFi calling enabled – Make calls same as home network over available WiFi connections.
  • Data limit reminders – Enable alerts before you go over bundle to avoid excessive charges.

Read more: What is data roaming?

II. Understand Roaming in Ireland – How It Works

International Roaming Basics

When travelers visit Ireland and turn on their phones, their device automatically connects to a local carrier. This allows calls, texts, and data use while visiting, facilitated through partnerships between home and local carriers.

Ireland Roaming Carriers

The main Irish carriers are:

Your home carrier partners with one or more of these networks while roaming.

How Roaming Rates Get So High

Ireland’s telecoms charge very high wholesale rates to foreign carriers. Those carriers then pass the inflated costs to consumers through pricey international roaming plans and fees.

III. Is the Roaming Rate in Ireland Expensive?

In short – yes, very expensive! Ireland is notorious for having some of the highest roaming rates globally.

When you're in Europe, you can get the regulated pricing
When you’re in Europe, you can get the regulated pricing

However, as long as staying within the EU, roaming rates in Ireland are inexpensive thanks to regulated pricing. Some planning is needed outside the EU to avoid expensive bills, but overall roaming costs are reasonable.

Here’re some referenced roaming rates from Ireland you may need to know:

NetworkCalls to standard Irish numbers (per minute)Calls to other EU numbers (per minute)Calls to non-EU numbers (per minute)Texts to standard Irish numbersTexts to other EU numbersTexts to non-EU numbersData roaming in EU (per MB)Data roaming outside EU (per MB)
Roaming fees from 3 main mobile operators in Ireland

Recommendations: If you're from the EU, roaming is likely fine. But if visiting from outside EU, a local Irish SIM card will be much more cost effective and convenient compared to roaming charges on your home plan.

IV. How to Activate Roaming in Ireland in Your Cell Phone?

Here are the basic steps to activate roaming service on your cell phone for travel to Ireland:

Step 1 – Check with your carrier:

Contact your mobile service provider before your trip to find out about roaming costs and coverage in Ireland. Ask if your plan includes international roaming or if you need to add an international roaming package.

Step 2 – Turn on roaming:

On your phone’s settings menu, look for the “Mobile Networks” or “Cellular” option. Make sure international/global roaming is toggled on. Some carriers may let you enable it through their website or app too.

Step 3 – Set preferred networks:

In your phone’s network settings, select the Ireland/Europe network option. This ensures your phone gives priority to local networks in Ireland. The major carriers there are Three, Vodafone, and eir.

Step 4 – Manage data usage:

Consider enabling a data limit on your account to avoid excess charges. Some carriers offer daily/weekly data pass options specific to Ireland roaming too.

Step 5 – Check for alerts:

Make sure you receive text alerts from your provider notifying you of roaming charges. This helps monitor costs abroad.

Step 6 – Consider a local SIM:

For extended trips, buy an Irish pre-paid SIM card which will be significantly cheaper than roaming charges from home.

Step 7 – Inform your carrier:

Provide travel dates to authorize roaming usage on your account to avoid automatic blocking due to international activity.

Notes: Be sure to turn roaming off once back home to avoid unwanted charges. Contact your carrier if you face any connectivity issues.

V. How to Avoid Roaming Charges When Traveling to Ireland

Thankfully, avoiding expensive Ireland roaming is easy by using the following alternatives:

1. Purchase Ireland eSIM Data Plans

Using local data networks keeps costs low, with packages starting around $7/GB

2. Connect to Free Public WiFi Hotspots

Dublin, small towns, restaurants/pubs, hotels, and airports offer free WiFi

3. Disable Cellular Data Roaming

Turns off background data so only on WiFi – use maps/navigation offline

4. Use Messaging Apps Over Cell Service

WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Skype allow free texts/calls over WiFi

5. Consider a Global Travel SIM Card or eSIM

Provides affordable data/calling in 100+ countries

Notes: When using Ireland SIM cards or eSIMs, you should check the unlocked device first. Also, with eSIM, you also need to check the eSIM compatibility before buying an eSIM plan. Check out eSIM compatible device list! 

VI. Ireland eSIM – Alternative to Data Roaming in Ireland to Get Internet

Ireland eSIM to avoid roaming fees
Ireland eSIM to avoid roaming fees

eSIMs are digital – no physical SIM card required. Instantly activate over-the-air with QR code or app. Is Ireland eSIM better than roaming services? Let’s check out the shortly comparisons:

 eSIM vs. Roaming Services
CostAffordable prepaid plans starting from €10 with generous data bundles. Much cheaper than roaming charges.
ConvenienceNo physical SIM needed. Install remotely on compatible devices. Hassle free switching between providers.
FlexibilityTry different providers for coverage. Switch costs and bundles easily from settings.
SpeedFast local mobile speeds matching physical SIM.
CompatibilityWorks with recent iPhone, Samsung, Google and other supported Android devices.
CoverageExtensive 4G/5G network access from local providers like Eir, Vodafone, Three.
ContractsNo minimum terms, purely prepaid offerings.
Ireland vs. roaming services

Recommendations: eSIM offers a hassle-free local mobile experience in Ireland with significant cost savings over relying on expensive roaming services from your home provider. It provides the best option to stay connected while travelling.

Gigago offers Ireland eSIM with various data plans and validity options which will be optimized for any types of trip.

  • If you visit Ireland as a tourist in few days, a data-only Ireland eSIM with 5-7 days validity will be the best option.
  • If you visit Ireland for business works, a eSIM with free calls and data will be the best option for work.

VII. How to Turn Off Data Roaming When Traveling in Ireland

Here are steps to switch off data roaming for iPhone and Android devices when traveling in Ireland:

1. Turn OFF data roaming on iPhone

  • Open the Settings
  • Tap “Mobile Data
  • Toggle off the “Data Roaming” option
  • This prevents cellular data usage outside of WiFi networks

2. Turn OFF data roaming on Samsung

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap “Network & Internet” or “Connections
  • Select “Mobile Network
  • Turn off the “Data Roaming” slider
  • Now cellular data will be disabled when outside Ireland


  • Make sure to use local WiFi networks
  • Download maps/content before traveling
  • Turn off automatic app updates
  • Switch back on data roaming before returning home
  • Check with your mobile provider before disabling roaming


Here are some potential FAQs about data roaming in Ireland and alternatives:

Q: How can I avoid roaming charges in Ireland?

A: Purchase a local Irish SIM card which provides data bundles at much lower rates without roaming fees. An eSIM is also a convenient option.

Q: Will my US cell phone work in Ireland?

A: Yes, most US phones will work in Ireland which uses GSM networks. Check with your provider about unlocking your phone and activating international roaming.

Q: What are the best networks for travelers in Ireland?

A: The top 3 Irish networks are Three, Eir and Vodafone – all provide reliable nationwide 4G coverage. Consider a prepaid SIM from them to get the best data deals while traveling in Ireland.

Q: How can I call US phone numbers from Ireland?

A: To call US numbers from Ireland, dial 00-1 followed by the US area code and phone number. It’s cheaper to use apps like WhatsApp instead of regular calls.

Q: Is public WiFi available in Ireland?

A: Yes, many hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs and tourist spots offer free public WiFi networks. You can also purchase visitor SIM cards with data bundles for WiFi hotspot use.

Q: Can I use my UK SIM card in Ireland?

A: No, since Brexit, roaming charges apply for UK networks in Ireland. It’s cheaper to get a local Irish SIM for connectivity during your trip.

IX. Conclusion

In summary, Ireland’s astonishingly expensive roaming rates make relying solely on your home cell plan a budget-busting risk. With proper preparation by purchasing an affordable Ireland eSIM, connecting to abundant free WiFi hotspots, and disabling cellular data, you can easily access maps, transportation, recommendations, keep in touch with loved ones – all without incurring any mobile data charges. Follow these tips to have an uncompromised, delightful visit to the Emerald Isle. Enjoy!