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

Traveling to Madrid, Spain, can be an exciting adventure, but it’s essential to have reliable internet access to make the most of your experience. Buying a local SIM card in Madrid can be a cost-effective solution to stay connected while exploring this vibrant city. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with tips and insights from locals on how to buy a SIM card in Madrid.

I. Why Buy a SIM Card in Madrid?

Should we buy a SIM card in Madrid?
Should we buy a SIM card in Madrid?

Avoid Costly Roaming Charges

Roaming charges can quickly add up when traveling internationally, making it an expensive option for staying connected. By purchasing a local SIM card in Madrid, you can avoid these costly fees and enjoy affordable internet access.

Stay Connected at All Times

Madrid is a bustling city with a rich culture, vibrant nightlife, and numerous attractions to explore. Having a local SIM card ensures that you can stay connected with your loved ones, access maps and navigation apps, and share your experiences through social media without worrying about limited data or expensive roaming charges.

Recommendations: A local SIM card is one of the best options for staying connected in Madrid. You need to ensure your device is unlocked to connect to other networks while traveling abroad.

II. Which Mobile Internet Carrier is the Best in Madrid?

Here are 4 major mobile internet carriers in Madrid, Spain:

  • Orange
    • One of the largest networks covering over 99% of the population
    • Offers 4G speed and affordable plans
    • Good coverage within Madrid city center
  • Vodafone
    • Reliable network with widespread 4G coverage
    • Provides various pay-as-you-go and contract plans
    • Popular option used by both locals and travelers
  • Movistar
    • Spain’s largest telecom company and mobile network
    • Fast LTE speeds and extensive network reach
    • Offers bundled plans for mobile, home internet and TV
  • Yoigo
    • Operates on the Movistar network infrastructure
    • Budget-friendly prepaid SIM cards and plans
    • Good speeds in major cities like Madrid but limited rural coverage

Recommendations: Orange, Vodafone and Movistar would be reliable choices to get mobile internet access when traveling to Madrid. Yoigo is more affordable but has lesser coverage outside city limits. Getting a pay-as-you-go SIM from any of these providers makes connectivity easy.

III. Best Madrid SIM Card Plans and Prices

Some network carriers in Madrid
Some network carriers in Madrid

To help you stay connected while visiting Spain, we’ve selected top prepaid SIM card options. The lists includes four major carriers: OrangeMovistarVodafone and Yoigo, known for their nationwide coverage.

OperatorCostData AllowanceCall MinutesText MessagesInternational RoamingNetwork CoverageBest Prepaid Plan
Orange€10-2025GB-100GB50-100 minutes on lower plans, unlimited on higher plans.€0.15-0.18 per SMSIncluded in EU countries97.5% 4G availabilityGo Fly – €20 for 100GB
Vodafone€10-4050GB-190GB300-Unlimited minutes depending on plan.€0.18 per SMSIncluded in EU, UK and USA98.6% 4G availabilityPrepago XL – €30 for 160GB
Movistar€10-2010GB-105GB200-400 minutes on lower plans, unlimited on higher plans.Calls and SMS includedIncluded in EU countries98.9% 4G availabilityPrepago Total – €20 for 105GB
Yoigo€10-3525GB-150GBUnlimited calls included on all plans.€0.15-1.21 per SMSIncluded in EU countries98.5% 4G availabilityWifi Portátil Prepago – €35 for 150GB
Some SIM card in Madrid that you can refer to

Take away:

Coverage comparison:

  • Movistar has widest reach
  • Orange and Movistar have slightly better coverage locally
  • Yoigo best in cities but not rural
  • All provide nationwide access

Price/value:

  • Orange and Yoigo prepaid SIMs best value
  • Movistar plans most expensive
  • All options affordable for travelers’ needs

IV. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Madrid?

1. Buy a SIM Card at Madrid Airport

You can also buy a SIM card at Madrid airport
You can also buy a SIM card at Madrid airport

Upon arrival at Madrid-Barajas Airport, you’ll find several mobile carrier kiosks and shops where you can purchase a SIM card. This is a convenient option as it allows you to get connected right away, ensuring you have internet access from the moment you step into the city.

You have some choices for getting a SIM card at Madrid Airport:

  • WH Smith shop
    • Located in terminals T1, T2, T3 and T4S
    • Open from 5:45am to 7:30pm
  • The Market convenience store
    • Located on the ground floor of terminal T4
    • Open from 8am to 8pm
  • Tiendas del Viajero
    • Located in terminal T4 on floor 2 in the departures area
    • Sells SIM cards
    • Open daily from 06:30 to 23:00, though times may vary during holidays
  • Betel phone store
    • Located in terminal T1
    • Open between 10am and 7pm
    • Friendly staff can help choose the best plan for your Spain adventure

2. Buy a SIM Card in Madrid Center

If you prefer to purchase your SIM card after settling into your accommodation, you can visit any of the numerous mobile carrier stores located throughout Madrid’s city center. Look for Movistar, Vodafone, or Orange shops, as these are the major carriers in the city.

V. Spain eSIM Card for Madrid – Alternative to SIM Card for Travelers

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM (embedded SIM) is a digital SIM card that allows you to connect to a mobile network without the need for a physical SIM card. This technology is becoming increasingly popular among travelers as it offers a convenient and hassle-free way to stay connected while on the go.

Advantages of Using an eSIM in Madrid

Using an eSIM in Madrid has several advantages over a traditional SIM card:

  • No need to physically swap SIM cards or visit a carrier store
  • Easy to activate and manage from your smartphone
  • Flexible data plans that can be adjusted as needed
  • Compatible with a wide range of devices, including iPhones and selected Android smartphones
Spain eSIM from Gigago
Spain eSIM from Gigago

You can choose Spain eSIM when traveling to Madrid from the eSIM provider like Gigago. You will have:

  • More options for data and validity
  • Reasonable prices
  • Easy purchasing
  • Accessible customer support

VI. What to Prepare to Buy a SIM Card in Madrid

Before visiting a mobile carrier store in Madrid, make sure you have the following items ready:

  • Your passport or a valid ID for identification purposes
  • A compatible unlocked smartphone (check with your carrier if you’re unsure)
  • Cash or a debit/credit card to purchase the SIM card and top-up credit

VII. Extra Tips When Buying a SIM Card in Madrid

Check Network Coverage and Speeds

Before purchasing a SIM card, it’s a good idea to check the network coverage and internet speeds in the areas you plan to visit in Madrid. This will help you choose the carrier that offers the best service in your specific locations.

Understand the Plan Details

When selecting a prepaid plan, make sure you understand the data allowance, validity period, and any additional fees or charges. Some carriers may offer bonuses or promotions for new customers, so keep an eye out for those as well.

VIII. FAQ

Can I Use My Home SIM Card in Madrid?

While it is possible to use your home SIM card in Madrid, you may be subject to high roaming charges or limited data allowances. Purchasing a local SIM card is generally more cost-effective and provides better internet access.

Do I Need to Unlock My Phone to Use a Madrid SIM Card?

Yes, your smartphone needs to be unlocked to use a local SIM card in Madrid. If your phone is locked to a specific carrier, you’ll need to contact your home carrier and request an unlock code before you can use a Madrid SIM card.

IX. Conclusion

Buying a local SIM card in Madrid can be a convenient and cost-effective way to stay connected during your travels. By following the tips and insights provided in this blog post, you can easily purchase a SIM card at Madrid’s airport or city center, choose the best carrier and plan for your needs, and enjoy reliable internet access throughout your stay in the vibrant city of Madrid.