How to Buy a SIM Card in Lisbon: Tips from Locals

Traveling to Lisbon, Portugal? One of the most important things to ensure a smooth and connected trip is having access to reliable and affordable mobile internet. Buying a local SIM card is a great way to stay connected while exploring the beautiful city of Lisbon and its surrounding areas. In this blog post, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about purchasing a SIM card in Lisbon, including the best carriers, plans, prices, and where to buy them.

I. Why Buy SIM card in Lisbon?

It's recommended to buy SIM card when traveling to Lisbon
It’s recommended to buy SIM card when traveling to Lisbon

1. Stay Connected on the Go

When traveling, having access to the internet is crucial for various reasons, such as navigating the city, finding local attractions, booking accommodations, and staying in touch with friends and family. A local SIM card will ensure that you have reliable and affordable internet access wherever you go in Lisbon.

2. Avoid Roaming Charges

Roaming charges can quickly add up and make your trip more expensive than expected. By purchasing a local SIM card, you can avoid these high costs and enjoy affordable data packages tailored to your needs.

3. Stay Safe and Secure

With a local SIM card, you can easily access maps and navigation apps, which can help you stay safe and find your way around Lisbon. Additionally, you can use messaging apps to communicate with friends and family, letting them know your whereabouts and keeping them updated on your travel adventures.

Notes: When choosing SIM cards when traveling to Lisbon, you should check whether your device is locked or not. Only unlocked device can receive networks from other network carriers in Lisbon as well as in Portugal.

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

Network carriers you can choose in Lisbon
Network carriers you can choose in Lisbon

1. NOS

NOS is one of the largest and most popular mobile networks in Portugal, offering extensive coverage and reliable service throughout Lisbon and the rest of the country. They have a wide range of plans to choose from, catering to different data needs and budgets.

2. MEO

MEO, formerly known as PT, is another major player in the Portuguese telecommunications market. They offer competitive pricing and have a solid network infrastructure, ensuring good coverage and internet speeds in Lisbon.

3. Vodafone

Vodafone is a well-known international brand and has a strong presence in Portugal. They provide a variety of prepaid and postpaid plans, making them a great option for both short-term and long-term visitors to Lisbon.

Lisbon is a big city in Portugal, so you do not need to worry about the network coverage. However, when in surrounded spaces like small hotels, city corners,... you may get a weak signal.

III. Best Lisbon SIM Card Plans and Prices

1. NOS Prepaid Plans

  • €10 for 5GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €15 for 10GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €20 for 20GB of data, valid for 30 days

2. MEO Prepaid Plans

  • €12 for 6GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €18 for 12GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €25 for 25GB of data, valid for 30 days

3. Vodafone Prepaid Plans

  • €10 for 5GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €15 for 10GB of data, valid for 30 days
  • €20 for 20GB of data, valid for 30 days

Notes: These plans are subject to change, so it's always best to check the latest offerings and prices directly with the carriers or at the point of purchase.

IV. Where to Buy SIM Card in Lisbon?

1. Buy a SIM card at Lisbon airport

The easiest and most convenient way to purchase a SIM card is at Lisbon Airport (Humberto Delgado Airport) upon arrival. All major carriers, including NOS, MEO, and Vodafone, have kiosks or stores located at the airport, making it a hassle-free option to get connected right away.

Here are the specific outlets and locations where you can buy SIM cards at the three main airports in Portugal:

Buying SIM cards airside at Lisbon Airport is quick and convenient for data straight after landing:

  • Vodafone Store (Arrivals) – Located just past customs with 5GB & 15GB options
  • NOS Store (Departures) – Situated upstairs opposite Check-in Zone A

Both stores have English speaking staff on hand to assist travelers. Remember to carry your passport for identification purposes when making a purchase.

Recommendations: The kiosks and stores at these locations are easily accessible and open during flight arrival times. Look for the bright logos and signage of the major providers. It’s hard to miss the SIM card purchasing points at Portugal’s airports.

2. Buy a SIM card in Lisbon center

If you prefer to buy a SIM card after arriving in the city center, there are plenty of options. You can visit carrier-specific stores or numerous convenience stores and kiosks that sell SIM cards and top-up vouchers for various carriers.

Some popular locations to buy SIM cards in Lisbon center include:

  • NOS stores (e.g., NOS Lounge on Rua da Conceição)
  • MEO stores (e.g., MEO Store on Avenida da Liberdade)
  • Vodafone stores (e.g., Vodafone Store on Rua Augusta)
  • Convenience stores like FNAC, Worten, and El Corte Inglés

Advice: You can ask the locals for detailed directions in the city.

V. Portugal eSIM for Lisbon – Alternative to SIM Card for travelers

1. What is an eSIM?

An eSIM (Embedded SIM) is a digital SIM card that is integrated into your device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. With an eSIM, you can switch between different mobile operators and data plans without having to physically swap SIM cards.

Notes: When using eSIM, make sure your device is compatible with eSIM. Check out eSIM compatible device list.

2. Advantages of eSIM for travelers

  • Convenience: No need to visit a physical store or wait for a SIM card delivery.
  • Flexibility: Switch between different data plans and carriers without changing SIM cards.
  • Cost-effective: No need to purchase a new SIM card every time you travel to a new country.

3. How to get an eSIM for Lisbon

Several eSIM providers offer data plans for Portugal like Gigago. You can purchase an eSIM online and activate it on your eSIM-compatible device before or during your trip to Lisbon.

Check out some eSIM plan for Lisbon, Portugal:

Data
Validity
Price
1GB
3 days
$3.50
3GB
3 days
$8.30
5GB
3 days
$16.90
10GB
3 days
$24.81
15GB
3 days
$36.54
20GB
3 days
$48.11
1GB
5 days
$3.61
3GB
5 days
$8.50
5GB
5 days
$17.07
10GB
5 days
$25.04
15GB
5 days
$36.87
20GB
5 days
$48.55
1GB
7 days
$3.71
3GB
7 days
$8.59
5GB
7 days
$17.24
10GB
7 days
$25.27
15GB
7 days
$37.21
20GB
7 days
$49.00
1GB
10 days
$3.82
3GB
10 days
$8.67
5GB
10 days
$17.41
10GB
10 days
$25.50
15GB
10 days
$37.56
20GB
10 days
$49.45
12GB
14 days
$21.90
30GB
14 days
$43.90
1GB
15 days
$3.94
3GB
15 days
$8.76
5GB
15 days
$17.59
10GB
15 days
$25.76
15GB
15 days
$37.90
20GB
15 days
$49.90
1GB
20 days
$4.06
3GB
20 days
$8.85
5GB
20 days
$17.76
10GB
20 days
$26.01
15GB
20 days
$38.28
20GB
20 days
$50.40
1GB
25 days
$4.18
3GB
25 days
$8.93
5GB
25 days
$17.94
10GB
25 days
$26.27
15GB
25 days
$38.66
20GB
25 days
$50.90
1GB
30 days
$4.30
3GB
30 days
$9.02
5GB
30 days
$18.12
10GB
30 days
$26.54
15GB
30 days
$39.05
20GB
30 days
$51.41
50GB
28 days
$54.90
50GB
3 days
$117.98
50GB
5 days
$119.07
50GB
7 days
$120.16
50GB
10 days
$121.26
50GB
15 days
$122.38
50GB
20 days
$123.50
50GB
25 days
$124.74
50GB
30 days
$125.98

VI. What to Prepare to buy SIM card in Lisbon

1. Unlock your phone

Ensure that your phone is unlocked and compatible with Portugal’s cellular networks. Most modern smartphones support the necessary frequency bands, but it’s always best to check with your carrier or phone manufacturer beforehand.

2. Passport or ID

You will need to present a valid form of identification, such as a passport or national ID card, when purchasing a SIM card in Lisbon. This is a legal requirement in Portugal.

3. Enough cash or a credit/debit card

SIM cards and top-up vouchers can typically be purchased with cash or a credit/debit card. It’s a good idea to have both options available to ensure a smooth transaction.

VII. Extra Tips when buying SIM card in Lisbon

1. Compare plans and prices

Before committing to a specific carrier or plan, take some time to compare the offerings from different providers. Consider your data needs, budget, and the duration of your stay in Lisbon to find the best option.

2. Ask for assistance

If you encounter any language barriers or have trouble understanding the available plans and options, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from the store staff. Many of them speak English and will be happy to guide you through the process.

3. Top up when needed

Keep an eye on your data usage and top up your SIM card when necessary to avoid running out of data during your trip. You can purchase top-up vouchers at convenience stores, carrier stores, or online.

4. Activate your SIM card

After purchasing your SIM card, follow the instructions provided by the carrier to activate it and set up your data plan. This process may involve sending a text message or calling a specific number.

5. Ensure proper network settings

Make sure your phone is set to use the correct network (e.g., NOS, MEO, or Vodafone) and that data roaming is turned on. This will ensure that you can use the internet seamlessly while exploring Lisbon.

VIII. FAQs

1. Can I use my home SIM card in Lisbon?

While it is possible to use your home SIM card in Lisbon, it may incur high roaming charges, making it an expensive option. Purchasing a local SIM card is generally more cost-effective and will provide better coverage and speeds.

2. How much data do I need for my trip to Lisbon?

The amount of data you need depends on your usage patterns. If you plan to use your phone primarily for navigation, messaging, and occasional social media updates, 5-10GB of data should be sufficient for a short trip. For heavier usage, such as streaming video or music, you may want to consider a plan with 20GB or more.

3. Can I use the SIM card purchased in Lisbon in other parts of Portugal?

Yes, the SIM cards purchased in Lisbon can be used throughout Portugal. The carriers’ networks cover the entire country, so you can enjoy seamless connectivity during your travels.

4. Is it possible to buy a SIM card with data only?

Yes, most carriers offer data-only SIM cards, which are perfect for devices like tablets or portable Wi-Fi hotspots. These SIM cards do not include voice or SMS services, but they provide affordable data packages for your internet needs.

Conclusion

Buying a SIM card in Lisbon is a straightforward process that can significantly enhance your travel experience. By following the tips and recommendations in this blog post, you can easily find the best SIM card options, purchase them at convenient locations, and stay connected throughout your journey in the beautiful city of Lisbon. Whether you choose a traditional SIM card or an eSIM, having reliable and affordable mobile internet access will allow you to make the most of your time in Portugal’s capital.