Buying a SIM card in Athens for Travelers 2024: Guide from Locals

To fully immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Athens, a reliable internet connection is indispensable. Whether you’re navigating the labyrinthine streets, capturing stunning cityscapes, or staying connected with loved ones, a local SIM card in Athens is the key to unlocking an unparalleled tourist experience. This article will discuss what you need to know about SIM cards in Athens and where to buy at affordable prices.

buying a sim card in athens for travelers

I. Why buy a SIM card in Athens?

Many travelers often assume that they can use their mobile device abroad comfortably if there is an international plan available from their wireless service provider. However, compared to buying a SIM card in Athens, signing up for a global calling package will tend to be more expensive, and may even have difficulty accessing data if there is no local network coverage.

To buy a SIM card in Athens ensures that travelers can always use your own phone when necessary. You can travel safely and share memorable moments on social platforms at any time. 

So, let’s take a look at the 3 most outstanding benefits if you buy a SIM card in Athens:

  • Reliable internet: Wifi is widely available in Athens and tourists can access free Wifi in hotels, restaurants or other public areas. However, this internet option is not always safe and reliable, especially, you can even lose connection in many of the most necessary situations.
  • Convenience: SIM cards provide travelers with always-available internet, which comes in handy to make getting around Athens convenient. Many attractions allow tourists to buy tickets online in advance from the official website. Besides, you may also need a stable internet connection to use applications such as ride sharing and contactless payments.
  • Share your adventures: Stay connected on social media and share your amazing Athens experiences with friends and family. This requires a strong network connection and a SIM card can ensure this.

II. Which mobile internet carrier is the best in Athens?

You may be in wonder if there are any reputable mobile network carriers to buy a SIM card in Athens. There are currently 3 major operators providing prepaid SIM cards for tourists, especially those who only spend a few days traveling in Athens: Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind.

VodafoneCosmoteWind
CoverageGoodExcellentModerate
SpeedModerateHighModerate
ReliabilityReliableVery ReliableReliable
PopularityModerateHighLower

Conclusion: All of the options excel in experience consistency, fast download speeds, and 5G availability. Vodafone has many advantages in terms of availability and mobile broadband services.

Note: Your selection may be influenced by operators' discount program factor. Please check for discount information before deciding to buy a SIM card in Athens.

III. Best Athens SIM card plan and price

As mentioned above, Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind are the three most popular mobile network operators in the Greek capital, Athens. The table below lists the specific packages offered to tourists, through which you can make the most reasonable decision to buy a SIM card in Athens.

OperatorsPlansPriceDataValidityLocal calls
VodafonePlan 1EUR 18,1015GB30 days200 minutes
Plan 2EUR 9,9012GB07 days200 minutes
Plan 3EUR 10,910GB10 months100 minutes
CosmoteCosmote WhatsUpEUR 13.501.5 GB30 daysUnlimited
Cosmote FrogEUR 10.9013 GB30 days200 minutes
Cosmote CosmokartaEUR 13.501,5 GB30 daysUnlimited
WindTalk to All & DataEUR 10.40600 MB30 days600 minutes
Talk to All & Data PlusEUR 12800 MB30 days800 minutes
Talk to All & Data PlusEUR 17.502 GB30 days2000 minutes

Generally, Wind is the best pick for travelers who want to buy a SIM card in Athens directly. Despite being given at a higher average price than Cosmote, Vodafone gives you more data capacity – convenient for regularly accessing the network to search directions, shop items or share travel experiences.

Tip: Buying a SIM card online right on the operator's website will give you more flexibility in choice as well as detailed price reference.

IV. Where to buy SIM card in Athens

If you are wondering where to buy a SIM card in Athens, 02 options below can help you make a purchase decision easier:

1. Buying SIM card at Athens airport

buy sim card at athens airport
Athens airport map

There are 2 locations where you can buy a SIM card at Athens airport. One is right behind the passport control counter in front of luggage belt number 1. Right after completing the procedures and leaving the control area, you will see a large sign saying “buy your local prepaid SIM card here”.

The second option is that you can pick up your luggage first and then walk to the customs baggage check counter to enter the airport lobby. Right on the left, you will see selling SIM cards for tourists.

  • Location 1: After the passport control, right in front of luggage belt number one
  • Location 2: Arrival hall, on the left side and next to the tourist information desk
  • Open time: From 06:00 am to 10:00pm
  • Payment methods: Euros and credit

Pros of buying SIM card at Athens airport:

  • There is convenience for you to buy a SIM card in Athens and no requirement of a search for available location in the city.
  • Getting internet access right after landing Athens

Cons of buying SIM card at Athens airport:

  • It’s usually so crowded that you have to wait in line for a long time
  • The cost of buying a SIM card at airport is often more expensive than other ways
buy a sim card at athens airport
SIM card kiosks at Athens airport

2. Buying SIM card in Athens center

If you haven’t had time to buy a SIM card at the airport, another purchase option to consider is buying in the city center.

Pros of buying SIM card in Athens center:

  • Diverse choice: You can broaden your range of mobile network operators from Vodafone, Nova, Cosmote or Wind.
  • More reasonable prices: Travelers can compare features and prices between network packages to choose the most suitable. Normally, the price to buy a SIM card in Athens center is cheaper than at the airport.

Cons of buying SIM card in Athens center:

  • Required negotiation: You need to spend time searching for stores in the city and choose the internet package with the most favorable price.
  • Language barrier: Not everyone in Athens speaks English, so communicating with store staff can be challenging.

Where to buy:

  • Official stores: Popular network operators in Athens include Vodafone (multiple locations), Cosmote (multiple locations) and Wind (multiple locations).
  • Street vendors: You can easily find official employees from Vodafone, Nova or Cosmote wearing uniforms and ambushing at train stations to sell SIM cards to tourists.
  • Online: Order eSIM from Vodafone, Cosmote or Gigago to skip the steps of searching and directly visiting the store.

Our recommendation: Travelers should buy a SIM card at the airport or buy an eSIM just before the departure to Athens (Notably, an eSIM compatible phone is required). Thus, you will eliminate the need to search for locations that sell SIM cards and benefit from affordable prices, as well as having an immediate network connection right after arriving at the tourist destination.

V. Greece eSIM card for Athens – Alternative to SIM card for travelers

esim for travelers
eSIM – Best alternative to SIM card for travelers

For some tourists,  buying a SIM card in Athens can bring inconvenience and negatively affect the journey to explore the Greek capital. Therefore, instead of using cumbersome and expensive SIM cards, why not switch to an eSIM solution? (Need to check your phone’s compatibility with eSIM first)

  • Flexible switching: eSIM allows instant connection to the best network at the travel destination.
  • Instant activation: eSIM can be purchased and activated online in just a few seconds after contacting the international travel eSIM provider (like Gigago).
  • Environmental protection: eSIM contributes to reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment due to the physical SIM card.

Where to buy eSIM for travelers:

  • Reliable carriers: Wind, Cosmote and Vodafone are the three main and most popular mobile service operators in Athens. Users accessing the carrier’s website to purchase and the passport verification is a mandatory requirement.
  • eSIM carriers/retailers: You might consider Gigago, which offers traveler-friendly data plans. For Athens in Greece, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1 GB for 3 days with $3.50 . What is great about Gigago’s Athens eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $3.50$125.98 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Athens, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

Note: Immediately visit Gigago’s official website to check available packages and latest price updates.

VI. What to prepare to buy SIM card in Athens

To buy a SIM card in Athens, tourists need to prepare the following items in advance:

  • Available payment methods: debit card or cash
  • Passport: Photocopies or photos of passports are not accepted.
  • Unlock phone: Before you buy a SIM card in Athens, make sure to unlock your phone, which means your device is not tied to a specific carrier.

VII. Extra tips when buying SIM card in Athens

To buy a SIM card in Athens smoothly and gain great experiences in the Greek capital, you should take note of some of the following notable tips:

  • Choose the right data package: Are you interested in data, phone calls, texts or all of them? Determining the correct usage needs will help you make the correct decision to buy a SIM card in Athens with a good balance of data, call time and validity.
  • Activation process: After completing your SIM card purchase in Athens, some carriers may ask you to call a specific number or visit the official website to complete the activation process. Therefore, please follow the instructions provided by store staff for details on how to activate.
  • Check SIM card compatibility: Make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible with local network frequencies (3G, 4G or 5G).
  • Control data usage: You should closely track your data usage to avoid exceeding your package limit and incurring additional fees.
  • Customer service: Get familiar with the customer service hotline of your chosen mobile data network carrier. In case something goes wrong, it becomes easier to ask for help.

Keep in mind, buying a SIM card in Athens will enhance your travel experience by providing a stable and secure network connection.

VIII. FAQs

While getting into buying a SIM card in Athens, many travelers may run into some common questions. You can refer to some FAQs below and find answers to your problems.

Is data roaming free in Athens?

If you buy a SIM card from an EU country and some European countries, you can use your data in Athens. Make sure you are aware of your operator’s fair usage policy.

How to get a SIM card when traveling to Athens?

It is possible to buy a SIM card in Athens center from any operator’s official stores, at Athen International Airport, or online. Normally, visitors prefer to buy online before the tour to Athens, which gives you more options to choose with affordable prices.

Which SIM card operator is the best in Athens?

There are three main SIM card operators in Athens that many tourists trust and choose: Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind. The operators offer users a variety of packages to choose from with different prices and capacities. Depending on your budget and specific needs, you can make the most suitable choice.

IX. Conclusion

Clearly, buying a prepaid SIM card in Athens or an eSIM for your trip in Athens in particular, in Greece in general, is quite simple and quick. Thereby, internet connection is always guaranteed while you are enjoying the gorgeous scenery in Athens.

eSIM is considered as the most convenient way to get data in Athens. By this way, tourists will not spend time going to the store to buy a SIM card in Athens, instead, you can buy online on the websites of reputable providers, such as Gigago. Of course, it is mandatory to make sure your phone is compatible with eSIM.