Use Cell Phone In Portugal: How To Do It?

Are you visiting Portugal and wondering if your cell phone will work there or what’s the best way to get cell phone service during your trip? Read on as we provide a detailed guide on everything you need to know about use cell phone in Portugal.

cell phone in Portugal
Cell phone in Portugal

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies and Networks in Portugal

Compatibility: Portugal uses the GSM cellular network system which is compatible with most cell phones from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. 

The main frequency bands used are:

  • 900 MHz
  • 1800 MHz
  • 2100 MHz (3G)
  • 2600 MHz (4G/LTE)

The main mobile operators in Portugal are:

It’s important to check if your phone supports these frequency bands to ensure compatibility in Portugal. Most modern smartphones support multiple bands and will work fine.

II. Will My Cell Phone Work In Portugal?

Cell phone in Portugal
Cell phone in Portugal

Absolutely yes. If you’re visiting Portugal from North America, Europe, Australia or Asia, chances are your cell phone will work fine there. 

To know more about frequencies and network in Portugal, check out this table:

Operator2G Frequencies3G Frequencies4G/LTE Frequencies5G NR FrequenciesVoLTEVoWiFi
MEO (Altice Portugal)900 MHz2100 MHz800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2600 MHz3600 MHz (n78)YesNo
NOS Portugal900 MHz, 1800 MHz2100 MHz800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2600 MHz700 MHz (n28), 3500 MHz (n78)YesYes
Vodafone Portugal900 MHz900 MHz800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2600 MHz3500 MHz (n78)YesYes

Advice: 

  • Check operator websites for the most up-to-date information on network coverage and technologies supported in different areas.Coverage can vary significantly between cities and rural regions.
  • 5G is still being rolled out across Portugal. Not all areas will have coverage from all operators yet.

III. Do I Need An International Plan In Portugal?

You do need an international plan in Portugal. Using your regular cell phone plan from home while roaming internationally can get very expensive. Data roaming especially can rack up huge bills.

To avoid bill shock, it’s highly recommended to get an international plan or alternative solution like:

By spending a small amount on an international plan upfront, you are able to fully utilize their phones without worrying about racking up bills several times higher than normal usage at home. This freedom to connect makes navigating an unfamiliar country much less stressful.

IV. What Are International Plan Options To Use Cell phone In Portugal For Tourists?

Some international plan options to use cellphones when landing in Portugal for tourists are eSIM plan, local SIM card and Pocket Wifi. Depending on your needs and budget to choose the right one.

1. eSIM Plan for Portugal

Suitable for smartphones that support eSIM such as recent iPhone models. Some eSIM providers offer affordable data-centric plans with coverage just for Portugal or wider Europe/global.

Suitable for:

  • Unlocked phones with eSIM compatibility
  • Short trips to Portugal (few weeks)
  • Light/moderate data usage

Where to buy eSIM for Portugal:

  • Mobile Carrier Websites – Larger Portuguese carriers like Vodafone and MEO also now sell eSIM plans directly on their sites.
  • Travel SIM Vending Machines – Emerging option at airports like Porto or Lisbon with expanded eSIM selection.
  • Third-party eSIM providers like GIGAGO – We offer Portugal-only plans through Vodafone and MEO as well as wider Europe and global plans. Can be purchased online via our website https://gigago.com/

Pros:

  • No physical SIM required
  • Activate anytime from app
  • Flexible short-term plans
  • Low cost data/calling

Cons:

  • eSIM not available on all phone models
  • Limited to light data usage
  • Connection can be spotty in remote areas

2. International SIM card for Portugal

Vodafone in Portugal
Vodafone in Portugal

A popular option for travelers to Portugal is using an international SIM card. This provides a cost-effective alternative to using your regular cellular plan from abroad which would avoid expensive international roaming charges for calls, texts and data usage.

Suitable for:

  • Unlocked phones with SIM slot
  • Longer trips to Portugal (1 month+)
  • Heavy data usage

Where to buy SIM card for Portugal:

  • Airport kiosks upon arrival – Stands run by local carriers like Vodafone Portugal can provide instant setup at airports like Lisbon or Porto.
  • Local provider stores (MEO, NOS, Vodafone) – SIM cards and pay-as-you-go plans are available at high street stores of the major Portuguese networks nationwide.
  • Online resellers – International SIM card specialists may mail pre-activated plans to addresses in Portugal. This provides options for early purchase and delivery.

Pros:

  • Available in multiple sizes and plans
  • Reliable connection with local provider
  • Can get large data packages

Cons:

  • Need to physically swap SIM cards
  • May need to show passport/ID
  • Short validity periods unless recharged

3. Pocket WiFi Rental

Poket Wifi rental
Poket Wifi rental

By renting a pocket WiFi from services like Booster or TravellersWiFi, tourists gain high-speed 4G/LTE data they can share among their devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and more through a personal wireless network.

Suitable for:

  • Group trips with multiple devices
  • Areas with poor cell coverage
  • Constant connectivity needed

Where to buy Pocket WiFi for Portugal:

  • Portugal hotspot rental companies
  • International rental companies like RoamingMan, WiFi Tribe

Pros:

  • Connects multiple devices
  • Unlimited data available
  • Works anywhere with cell signal

Cons:

  • Need to charge battery daily
  • Bulky to carry around
  • Can be expensive for long rentals

V. Will My Local Network Work In Portugal?

If you don’t have an international roaming plan, your home cellular provider will likely not work in Portugal. You’ll have no service and won’t be able to make calls, send texts or use data.

If you have an international roaming plan, you should be able to use your home network in Portugal by enabling roaming on your device. However, extremely high roaming rates can be very expensive. For example, AT&T charges $10/day for just 125MB in Portugal! T-Mobile is $5/day for 256MB – still very expensive.

Even with roaming enabled, coverage from your home network may be limited or nonexistent in some areas of Portugal, especially rural regions. Local Portuguese networks like MEO, NOS and Vodafone have much better coverage.

Unless you have an international roaming package, it’s not recommended to rely on your regular cell plan in Portugal due to high roaming costs. Get an international eSIM, SIM or WiFi option instead.

VI. Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet With Your Cell Phone In Portugal

Products page Portugal eSIM GIGAGO
Products page Portugal eSIM GIGAGO

One great option for getting affordable cell phone in Portugal is using the GIGAGO eSIM.

For Portugal, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 300MB for 1 day with $3.50 . What is great about Gigago’s Portugal 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 Portugal, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

With good included data, easy signup, and flexibility to add more when needed, the GIGAGO Portugal eSIM is a top choice for seamless cell phone in Portugal during your travels.

VII. Extra Tips To Use Cell Your Phone in Portugal

Beyond getting an international plan, a few other tips for smooth cell phone in Portugal:

  • Use apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger for cheap international calls/texts
  • Get a local Portugal number you can give contacts to call you
  • Enable WiFi calling on your phone if available
  • Download offline maps like Google Maps for navigation
  • Carry a portable battery pack for charging on the go
  • Use a VPN app to access blocked services/content from home

VIII. Conclusions

With some preparation beforehand, you can easily use your cell phone in Portugal visit. Unlock your device, confirm frequency band compatibility, and get an international eSIM or SIM card upon arrival. Avoid costly roaming fees and stay connected affordably with options like Gigago eSIM. Follow our tips above and you’ll have no issues using your cell phone while enjoying spectacular Portugal!

Table of content