How to Get and Activate Vodafone SIM Cards and eSIM: Guide for Tourists

Vodafone is one of the most popular mobile operators in Italy, known for its wide 4G coverage and fast speeds. This guide will provide travelers to Italy with key information on getting a Vodafone SIM card or eSIM, including where to buy, best plans, how much data you’ll need, and step-by-step activation instructions. With strong connectivity across the country, a Vodafone Italy SIM / eSIM is a great way for tourists stay connected on-the-go.


I. Quick Facts about Vodafone

  • Founded year: January 1994
  • Full company name: Vodafone Italia S.p.A.
  • Types of services provided: Mobile and fixed telephony, XDSL, FTTX and FWA communications, Internet
  • Number of subscribers: Mobile: 30.15 million; Fixed lines: 3.18 million
  • Coverage: Mobile: 99.8% population for 2G, 99% for 4G; Fixed: 52% population for ADSL, 102 cities for FTTC
  • Estimated number of network of stores, agents: In Italy alone, Vodafone has over 1000 Vodafone-branded stores and over 10,000 additional authorized selling points run by independent agents and other retailers.
  • Customer support: Vodafone Italy provides customer support in Italian and English via: Toll-free call center, online chat and social media support.

II. Why Vodafone When Traveling Italy – Coverage and Speed

With strong 4G coverage even in rural parts of Italy, fast average download speeds, and competitive rates for tourists, Vodafone is an excellent choice for staying connected in Italy.

1. Vodafone Coverage in Italy

Vodafone claims to cover 99.9% of Italy’s population with its 4G network. Independent testing shows strong coverage even on roads and railways across the Italian countryside. With 34,000 mobile sites nationwide, Vodafone generally provides signal even in remote villages or mountain regions.

Vodafone Italy coverage

As Italy’s largest 4G network based on geographic coverage, choosing Vodafone is a reliable bet for tourists visiting any part of Italy – whether small towns or big cities.

2. Vodafone Speed

Average Speed

Based on November 2023 report, independent researchers OpenSignal found Vodafone Italy’s 5G download speed averaged 202.2 Mbps. This makes it a little lower than competitors like TIM (239.3 Mbps avg) and WINDTRE (101.9 Mbps avg).

For uploads, OpenSignal measured Vodafone Italy’s average 5G upload speeds at 21.6 Mbps.

Mobile operators speed in Italy

Download & Upload Speeds

In OpenSignal’s analysis, Vodafone had the:

  • Fastest overall download speed of 37.9Mbps, winning the Download Speed Experience award.
  • 1st fastest overal upload speeds of 10.4 Mbps

Vodafone’s network was also most consistent, with with a score of 75.8% of the time. This reliability ensures generally fast connectivity on Vodafone across Italy.

Based on these independent tests, Vodafone generally provides the fastest, most consistent mobile data connectivity for tourists traveling across Italy.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of Vodafone for Travelers to Italy?

For travelers heading to Italy, there are 3 main options to connect to Vodafone’s fast, reliable network:

  • Vodafone Italy SIM Card: Physical nano/micro SIM card for use in unlocked phones
  • Pocket Wifi Rental: Portable WiFi router to connect multiple devices like laptops
  • Roaming on Home Network: Enable roaming on your existing phone plan

1. Vodafone SIM Card

  • Purchase a prepaid tourist SIM card specifically designed for visitors.
  • Pros:
    • Cost-effective if data usage is moderate.
    • Convenient for calls and texts within Italy.
    • Local number allows receiving calls from Italy directly.
  • Cons:
    • Requires purchasing and activating the SIM card.
    • Data capped, exceeding it can be expensive.
    • Only works in Vodafone’s network.

2. Pocket Wi-Fi

  • Rent a portable Wi-Fi device with a Vodafone data plan.
  • Provides unlimited data or large data packages for multiple devices.
  • Pros:
    • Shareable connection for multiple devices and users.
    • Unlimited data options for heavy users.
    • Flexible for moving between locations.
  • Cons:
    • Rental cost on top of data charges.
    • Battery life needs monitoring.
    • Signal strength depends on device and location.

3. Roaming

  • Use your existing phone plan with roaming enabled.
  • Charges vary depending on your home plan and operator.
  • Pros:
    • No additional setup needed.
    • Familiar phone number and plan details.
  • Cons:
    • Potentially expensive roaming charges, especially for data.
    • May require activating roaming with your home operator.
    • Limited coverage in remote areas compared to Vodafone network.

Our recommendation: Choosing the best option depends on your needs and budget:

  • For moderate data usage and calls within Italy, a Vodafone SIM card is cost-effective.
  • For heavy data users or groups, a Pocket Wi-Fi with unlimited data can be good value.
  • Convenience and familiar plans might favor roaming, but be aware of potential high charges.

For most individual travelers, getting a local Vodafone Italy SIM card generally provides the best value, connectivity, and convenience during your stay. It allows you to use mobile data affordably across Italy while keeping your existing phone number through data-based messaging apps if needed.

IV. Best Vodafone SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Vodafone Italy offers only one prepaid SIM card plans targeted to tourists with short-term data packages, affordable rates, and easy online activation. 

  • 30 GB data (15 GB in EU) + Unlimited social media + 600 minutes in all Europe – valid for 30 days = €24.99 EUR – ($27.5 USD)

These Vodafone tourist SIMs include 600 minutes in Italy and other European numbers. No contract or registration is required – just present your passport when purchasing the SIM. Top-up data add-ons are available if needed after activating your initial allowance.

For even more data, Vodafone’s Red Unlimited plans offer semi-annual or annual deals with huge 100GB+ data bundles, unlimited calls/texts, and roaming across the EU. However, these require an Italian tax ID to register longer term.

V. Does Vodafone Support eSIM in Italy?

Yes, Vodafone Italy has supported eSIM connectivity since 2019. Instead of a physical plastic SIM card, an eSIM allows you to digitally download a mobile plan straight to your phone.

Vodafone eSIMs provide exactly the same coverage and speeds as regular Vodafone SIMs. With easy activation through a mobile app, eSIMs are a convenient option for connectivity across Italy.

Easy to connect in Italy with GIGAGO Italy eSIM. We provides eSIM for 200+ countries over the world. You don’t need to registration or any documents to buy eSIM. GIGAGO has many data plans for you to choose.

For Italy, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1 GB for 3 days with $3.50 , so reasonable for a short trip. Moreover, what is great about Gigago’s Italy eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, vary between $3.50$125.98 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Italy, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

VI. Where to Buy a Vodafone SIM card and eSIM?

There are a few options where travelers can purchase Italy SIM card or eSIM plans from Vodafone:

1. Where to Buy Vodafone SIM Card for Italy?

As Italy’s largest mobile operator, Vodafone SIM cards are readily available at:

Vodafone Italy kiosk

Airports on Arrival: Vodafone and partner stores located in major Italy airports. In the arrival hall at Rome Airport there is a Vodafone store. Besides, you can get to Money Exchange Store in both Rome Airport and Milan Airport.

Kiosk at Rome airport
  1. Vodafone Stores: Over 1000 official Vodafone-branded stores nationwide
  2. Other Retailers: 10,000+ authorized resellers including newsstands and tobacconists

Visit Vodafone’s Store Locator to find official stores close to your hotel or activity area in Italy. There will always be smaller independent resellers as backup too.

You should avoid buying SIMs from unofficial street vendors, as they may overcharge tourists or provide invalid plans. Purchase directly from Vodafone stores or known agents for security.

2. Where to Buy Vodafone eSIM for Italy?

Since eSIM activation involves downloading a mobile profile instead of a physical card, you have three options to purchase a Vodafone Italy eSIM as a tourist:

  • Vodafone website
  • Vodafone mobile app
  • Third-party eSIM store like Gigago

GIGAGO allows you to conveniently buy and activate an Italian eSIM completely online, without needing to provide Italian tax details that Vodafone requires. There is no difference in actual service – GIGAGO just simplifies the tourist eSIM purchasing process.


Tips when buying SIM/eSIM in Italy: 


  • Consider eSIM if your device supports it for convenience. 
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  • Use SIM vending machines if stores crowded. 
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  • Roaming only as last resort, charges will be high in area beyond Europe.
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VII. How to Use and Activate Vodafone SIM/eSIM in Italy?

Activating your Vodafone Italy SIM card or eSIM will vary slightly depending on which option you choose during purchase.

1. How to Activate a Vodafone SIM Card

To use a standard Vodafone Italy SIM card purchased in-store, follow these steps:

  1. Insert SIM and turn on phone
  2. Select preferred language
  3. Choose a prepaid plan to activate by texting code
  4. Wait for confirmation text
  5. Enter URL from text into browser
  6. Select tourist SIM plan
  7. Enter passport to register
  8. Follow prompts to activate SIM!

Vodafone shop staff can assist with standard SIM activation and data plan registration if you face any issues.

You’ll then be ready to start using mobile data, sending texts, and making calls within Italy, with Europe-wide usage also enabled on most plans.

2. How to Activate a Vodafone eSIM

eSIM purchased online:

If you purchased your eSIM online, you’ll receive a QR code via email. Here’s how to activate it:

  • Ensure your device supports eSIM: Check Vodafone’s compatibility list or your device manufacturer’s website.
  • Find the eSIM settings: This may vary depending on your device. Typically, it’s under Settings > Mobile Data > Add Cellular Plan or similar.
  • Scan the QR code: You can either use your phone’s camera or another device with internet access to scan the QR code you received.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions: Your device will guide you through downloading and installing the eSIM profile.
  • Activate the eSIM: Once installed, you might need to manually activate the eSIM in your device settings.
  • Restart your device: This finalizes the activation process.

eSIM purchased from a Vodafone store:

If you purchased your eSIM from a physical Vodafone store, they will help you activate it during the purchase process. This may involve:

  • Scanning your passport or ID: Vodafone requires identification for eSIM activation.
  • Providing your phone number or QR code: If you have a pre-existing phone number, they can transfer it to the eSIM. Otherwise, they’ll assign a new number or activate the eSIM using a QR code.
  • Paying for your chosen plan: Choose and pay for a suitable mobile plan.
  • Waiting for activation: It might take a few minutes for the eSIM to become active.

Note: To use eSIM, you need a carrier-unlocked and eSIM-compatible phone. Learn how to check if your phone is unlocked and eSIM-supported by yourself or quickly check with our updated list.

VIII. How to Top-up Vodafone SIM/eSIM

Once your initial data allowance is used up, you can add more high-speed data to your Vodafone Italy SIM/eSIM by:

  • My Vodafone App: Download the “My Vodafone” app and register your SIM/eSIM. You can then top-up directly using your credit/debit card or by setting up automatic top-up.
  • Vodafone website: Login to your Vodafone account on the official website ( and choose the “Top-up” option. Enter your phone number, select the amount, and proceed with the secure payment.
  • Vodafone stores: Visit any Vodafone store in Italy and provide your phone number or eSIM QR code. You can then top-up with cash or card.
  • Retail stores: Many authorized retailers like Tabacchi shops, supermarkets, and newsstands offer Vodafone top-up services. Look for the “Ricarica Vodafone” sign and pay with cash or card.
  • Scratch cards: Purchase a physical top-up scratch card from authorized retailers. Scratch off the PIN and enter it on the My Vodafone app, website, or by calling *114# from your phone (free call).

IX. FAQs about Vodafone SIM Card & eSIM in Italy

What identification is required to purchase a Vodafone SIM?

As a foreign tourist, you just need to show your valid passport at any official Vodafone store or reseller. No pre-registration is required.

Can I use mobile data across Europe with Vodafone Italy?

Yes, most Vodafone tourist SIM plans include full talk, text u0026amp; data roaming in all EU countries. Some also cover Switzerland/UK. Check bundle specifics.

Is my unlocked phone compatible with Vodafone Italy?

Almost any unlocked 4G LTE phone should work. Vodafone uses common frequency bands that international devices support. Apple or Android smartphone users should have no issues.

Can I get 5G speeds with Vodafone Italy?

Vodafone has launched 5G in select Italian cities. To experience ultra-fast 5G speeds, you’ll need a 5G-compatible device plus be in 5G coverage zones in Rome, Naples, Turin or Genoa. 5G is still limited as of early 2024.

What happens to leftovers when my Vodafone SIM expires?

Any unused data or credits will be forfeited when your Vodafone prepaid SIM expires after the set validity. As the plans are tourist short-term bundles, there are generally no extensions or rollovers.

What support does Vodafone Italy provide in English?

Vodafone provides customer service in both Italian and English online, through their call center, and at stores in big cities like Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice. So English-speaking travelers can easily get help.

X. Conclusion

Getting connected with Vodafone Italy is quick and convenient for tourists visiting any region, thanks to strong nationwide coverage, good speeds, great prepaid deals, and English support options. For most travelers, we recommend picking up one of Vodafone’s tourist SIM card bundles on arrival at the airport. But eSIMs are also emerging as an easy digital alternative. Gigago is a good choice for smooth eSIM service.