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

It’s important to stay connected on your Portugal trip. This guide covers everything you need to know about getting and activating Vodafone SIM cards and eSIM for tourists visiting Portugal. We’ll explore where you can purchase prepaid Vodafone SIM cards, the options for ordering an eSIM online before your trip, and step-by-step instructions on activating your Vodafone SIM card or eSIM.

Vodaphone SIM cards and eSIM featured image
Vodaphone SIM cards and eSIM featured image

I. Quick Facts about Vodafone

Vodafone Group is a British multinational telecommunications company and one of the largest mobile network operators in the world.

  • Founded year: 1991 as Telecel, renamed to Vodafone Portugal in 2003 after being acquired by Vodafone Group.
  • Full company name: Vodafone Portugal – Comunicações Pessoais, S.A. 
  • Types of services provided: Mobile networks, mobile broadband, telecommunications services, IPTV/cable television.
  • Number of subscribers: As of March 2022, Vodafone has over 300 million mobile customers worldwide.
  • Coverage: It operates mobile networks across mainland Portugal and the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, providing 2G, 3G and 4G coverage nationally.
  • Estimated number of network of stores, agents: Vodafone has over 8,000 branded retail stores globally. The company also sells its services through third-party retail outlets.
  • Customer support: 24/7 support available through phone (toll-free), chat, email. Support offered in Portuguese; additional languages like English may be available. Phone support operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

II. Why Vodafone When Traveling Portugal – Coverage and Speed

1. Vodafone Coverage in Portugal 

Vodafone Portugal Coverage
Vodafone Portugal Coverage map (Source: nPerf)

Vodafone has excellent coverage across Portugal with over 99% population coverage on its 4G network. The operator has a robust presence even in rural areas and smaller towns.

  • Vodafone had high overall availability of 98.3% of time, similar to NOS. This means users generally had a connection.
  • However, its availability (98.3% of time) and 5G availability (14.4% of time) were high and similar to NOS, meaning 5G could often be accessed.
  • Vodafone’s 5G reach score of 5.1 out of 10 was joint second with MEO, showing 5G coverage in many locations users visit.

According to data from Opensignal, Vodafone offers its 4G services in 88.5% of the areas tested across Portugal. This extensive reach makes Vodafone a reliable choice for connectivity when traveling to any part of the country.

2. Vodafone Speed in Portugal 

Mobile operators speed in Portugal
Mobile operators speed map in Portugal (Source: OpenSignal)

According to Opensignal’s measurements from Q2 2023:

  • Average download speed on Vodafone Portugal was 34.8 Mbps while upload speed averaged at 11.4 Mbps.
  • It also had the lowest 5G download speed at 139.3 Mbps, around half of what MEO achieved.
  • Vodafone’s 5G reach score of 5.1 out of 10 was joint second with MEO.
  • It was joint winner across several categories for metrics like voice app experience and games experience.

Vodafone’s maximum recorded 4G download speed was 210.3 Mbps in testing. This level of speed is sufficient for apps, web browsing, maps, streaming and more. Because of its coverage and speed, you can choose this operator for your next travel to Portugal.

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

Vodafone offers multiple options for tourists to stay connected during their travels in Portugal:

  • Pay-as-you-go SIM cards: Prepaid SIM cards in Portugal available for purchase that don’t require a contract.
  • Travel SIM cards: Low-cost SIM cards designed specifically for travelers, often with data packages tailored for short stays.
  • Data roaming: Using your regular SIM card to access data when roaming in Portugal by paying higher international rates.
  • Mobile wi-fi/pocket wi-fi: Rental devices packed with SIM cards and data that you can share with multiple devices via wi-fi.
Connectivity OptionProsCons
Pay-as-you-go SIMInexpensive; no contracts; can buy data packages à la carteMust purchase upfront; need compatible phone
Travel SIMLow-cost data packages for tourism; easy to obtainStill roaming costs; limited to travel dates
Data roamingUse existing number and providerVery expensive international rates; data limits
Mobile wi-fi rentalCan share data across devices; no changes to devicesHigher upfront cost; limited by rental dates

In summary, buying Vodafone SIM card offers the most cost-effective option for travelers to get online in Portugal via Vodafone’s network, while avoiding expensive roaming charges or device limitations of rental wi-fi. Travelers should consider their needs and trip length to choose the best option.

IV. Best Vodafone SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Vodafone Portugal
Vodafone Portugal

Vodafone offers prepaid SIMs with different plan sizes at a variety of price points for visitors to Portugal:

  • Vodafone Travellers: 10 GB data in Europe + 500 minutes/SMS + 50 international minutes for €25 EUR ($27 USD)
  • Vodafone Go Total: Unlimited data ONLY for Portugal for €35 EUR ($38 USD)

If you just need to check the map and use social media during the trip to Portugal, Vodafone Go Total only data is the best option for you. Nevertheless, buy Vodafone Travellers plans will more economic when you need to keep in touch with others by call and SMS.

V. Does Vodafone Support eSIM in Portugal?

Yes, Vodafone launched eSIM support in Portugal in 2019. The Vodafone eSIM service allows you to activate a mobile plan digitally on compatible smartphones and smartwatches.

The eSIM makes switching plans and connections more convenient without the need to insert a plastic Vodafone SIM card. Vodafone eSIMs provide the same services as their physical SIM counterparts – you can have mobile data, calls and texts on an eSIM line.

Many network providers offer Vodafone eSIM in the market. One of the top eSIM providers is GIGAGO with various data plans from only $5. Setting up only takes a few minutes through the QR code sending via email.

For Portugal, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1 GB for 3 days 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.

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

1. Where to Buy a Vodafone SIM Card for Portugal

Vodafone Cacas
Vodafone Cacas

There are several ways to purchase a Vodafone SIM when traveling to Portugal:

  • Vodafone Stores – Vodafone has over 300 official retail stores in Portugal where you can buy Vodafone SIM cards off the shelf. Stores are located at airports, stations and shopping centers.
  • Other Retailers – Third-party retailers like supermarkets, convenience stores and newsagents also sell Vodafone SIMs at many locations across the country.
  • Online – Vodafone SIMs can be ordered online from the Vodafone website and delivered to your Portugal address. This is convenient if you have accommodation booked in advance.
  • Airport vending machines – Some Portugal airports have self-service vending machines that dispense Vodafone SIMs after payment by card or cash. Quick and easy if you need a SIM right on arrival.

Buying directly from Vodafone stores allows you to get advice from customer assistants and optimize your SIM plan selection. Purchasing online or from vending machines is more self-service but offers 24/7 convenience.

2. Where to Buy a Vodafone eSIM for Portugal

To purchase a Vodafone Portugal eSIM, you have the following options:

  • Vodafone App – Download the Vodafone app on your phone, select eSIM, choose a plan and activate your eSIM profile directly through the app. Simple and instant.
  • Vodafone Website – Buy an eSIM plan online at and scan the QR activation code on your phone to set up. More steps than the app but still digital.
  • Third-party reseller – Companies like GIGAGO allow you to buy Vodafone Portugal eSIMs online internationally and activate easily through scanning QR code before your trip. No Portugal address required.


  • You'll need your passport to purchase and activate a physical SIM card. They'll take a photocopy for registration purposes.
  • Vodafone offers eSIM options that can be activated online without a physical SIM. This avoids the registration process.

Buying Portugal eSIM online provides instinct activation without registration hassels while getting one from stores will require more complicated procedures. That’s why choosing a SIM card and eSIM online is convenient and the simplest option for tourists on-the-go visiting Portugal.

VII. How to Use and Activate Vodafone SIM/eSIM in Portugal

1. How to Activate a Vodafone SIM Card in Portugal

To activate your Portugal Vodafone SIM card:

  1. Insert the Vodafone SIM in your unlocked phone.
  2. Turn on your phone and the SIM will auto-configure.
  3. You may need to restart the phone once.
  4. Go to Settings to connect to Vodafone network – turn on mobile data and WiFi calling if needed.
  5. To add a plan, text ‘PLAN’ to 901 as per instructions or dial *444 to check the balance. 
  6. Top up your SIM as desired via vouchers, app or bank transfer.

2. How to Activate a Vodafone eSIM

Follow these steps to activate your Vodafone Portugal eSIM:

  1. Make sure your phone supports eSIM and has the Vodafone app installed.
  2. Purchase a Vodafone eSIM plan from the app or website.
  3. Open the Vodafone app, select eSIM and scan the QR code displayed.
  4. The eSIM profile will download and you’ll be guided through the activation process.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate your Vodafone mobile plan on the eSIM.
  6. You can manage your Vodafone eSIM plan using the Vodafone app on your phone.

Please check your detailed instructions below:

  • Activate eSIM on IPhone
  • Activate eSIM on Samsung 
  • Activate eSIM on Google Pixel 

VIII. How to Top-up Vodafone SIM/eSIM

Vodafone SIM cards and eSIM
Vodafone SIM cards and eSIM

There are multiple convenient ways to top-up and add credits to your Vodafone prepaid SIM or eSIM when needed:

  • Vodafone App – Use the My Vodafone app to instantly top-up your SIM with vouchers, bank transfer or saved payment method.
  • Online – Top up online via Vodafone website using your credit/debit card or PayPal.
  • Retail Outlets – Purchase top-up vouchers from Vodafone stores, supermarkets, newsagents and other outlets across Portugal.
  • ATMs – Some Portugal ATMs allow topping up Vodafone SIMs via the ATM terminal.
  • Phone – Dial *444 from your Vodafone phone and follow prompts to top up using debit/credit card.

Ensure you top-up promptly when credits are low to avoid service interruption. Online and app-based top-ups are the fastest and most convenient ways.

IX. FAQs about Vodafone in Portugal

1. Does Vodafone have good coverage in rural Portugal?

Yes, Vodafone offers excellent coverage in rural areas and smaller towns across Portugal in addition to urban centers. Over 99% of the population is covered by Vodafone’s 4G network.

2. Does Vodafone SIM work in Northern Ireland?

Yes, Vodafone Portugal plans include domestic roaming so you can use a Vodafone SIM across Northern Ireland just like the rest of Portugal with no extra roaming charges.

3. Can I use a Vodafone SIM in other countries?

Vodafone Portugal SIMs will work in other countries through roaming services. But roaming charges can be very high so it’s best to get a local SIM when traveling internationally.

4. How long is a Vodafone SIM card valid for?

Vodafone Pay As You Go SIMs are valid for 6 months from last top-up. You need to top up at least once every 6 months to keep the SIM active.

5. Do Vodafone SIM cards have free calling and texts?

Yes, Vodafone Travellers allow you to make calls and send texts. 

6. Can I use Vodafone eSIM on iPhone and Android?

Yes, Vodafone eSIMs work on recent iPhone and Android models that support eSIM technology. Check your phone’s compatibility before purchasing an eSIM. 

X. Conclusion

In summary, Vodafone Portugal provides excellent connectivity and data speeds across the country making it a great choice for tourists visiting Britain. Vodafone SIM cards are easy to purchase online or in stores and offer great value with calling credits, texts and mobile data. eSIMs provide added convenience for eSIM-compatible devices.

With widespread 4G coverage and fast network performance, Vodafone enables smooth digital access for social media, navigation, transport apps and more while exploring Portugal.