Need to get a SIM card for Portugal?
It’s not complicated to buy a SIM card in Portugal as you might think! You have plenty of stores all across the country and especially scattered all over the main cities like Lisbon and Porto.
Roaming fees can quickly rack up if you don’t catch it. The best way to save money is to get a local SIM card to stay connected while traveling around Portugal.
There are prepaid SIM card options for short-term travelers only looking for data for a few days, weeks or a month. Now, you’ve also got the option to have an eSIM while traveling in Portugal which requires way less effort!
Matthew and I were lucky enough to spend a whole month living in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s a beautiful city filled with great restaurants, great coffee (important for us :P) and a huge digital nomad community.
In this SIM card Portugal guide, we walk you through the process of buying a SIM card, sharing the best companies and the kind of data plans and prices you can expect.
Let’s get started!
QUICK ANSWER: Our SIM Card Portugal Recommendation
NOS is the best Portugal SIM card phone provider. They have the fastest speeds and the widest coverage across the country to stay connected! They offer travelers 5 GB to 10 GB at only 10 euros to 12.5 euros and it will be valid for 30 days.
The other great SIM card Portugal option is to download an eSIM instead. It’s a convenient way to get data without having to talk to anyone or going into a store. You can activate it once you’ve connected to wifi (eg. before leaving the airport). The Airalo app provides travelers with 30 GB of data for only $19 USD with a validity of 15 days. There are cheaper and lower GB data plans available as well.
The Easy Guide To Buying A SIM Card In Portugal in 2023
Are you wondering…
- Which SIM card company should I go with?
- Where do I buy a Portuguese SIM card?
- Should I get a physical SIM card or an eSIM?
- How much data do I need?
- How do you top up or recharge for the next time?
Getting a SIM card in Portugal isn’t as complicated as you think. We ask all the same questions every time we land in a new country as digital nomads. It’s a good thing because you are trying to make sure you get the best deal, the best coverage and as much data as you need while traveling through Portugal.
After evaluating all our SIM card Portugal options, we found the best phone provider with good coverage and fair prices. Here’s all you need to know about buying a SIM card in Portugal.
SIM Card Providers in Portugal – Your Options
There are quite a few SIM card providers in Portugal offering tourists and locals your usual mobile internet packages, and unlimited calls to stay connected.
Here are the 4 phone companies to consider in Portugal:
#1. NOS SIM Card Portugal
NOS Portugal has to be the best SIM card provider.
They offer a great phone deal and they are spread out all over the coverage map for Portugal. NOS has the best 4G/5G network making it the fastest provider for Portugal in 2023.
#2. MEO SIM Card Portugal
MEO Portugal is great local provider.
They offer very cheap data plans if you are looking to save some money and don’t need tons of data. There are MEO stores all over Lisbon and Porto, making it easy to buy a prepaid SIM card from them.
#3. Vodafone SIM Card Portugal
Vodafone is a big phone provider all across Europe including the UK and Ireland. If you are traveling across Europe for a longer period of time, this could be a great option because you won’t need to get a new SIM card in each country!
You will pay for the convenience with Vodafone but they have pretty stable coverage across Europe and obviously Portugal!
#4. LycaMobile SIM Card Portugal
LycaMobile is a cheap phone provider all across Europe. This is a great option for Portugal but also if you are planning to travel to other European countries, Lycamobile will still work!
The only downside to Lycamobile is that they usually don’t have great coverage and maybe only up to 3G (depending on where you are). If you need good coverage while traveling around Portugal, Lycamobile might not be the best option but it certainly is the cheapest! If you just want to save money and don’t care about slow-er data then it could still be a good deal for you!
We went with Lycamobile simply because it was super cheap and wifi is easily accessible all over Lisbon!
SIM Card Portugal: Data Plans & Prices
Trying to figure out which data package you should go for? Here’s a look at each phone provider and the pricing for the amount of data they offer.
NOS Portugal SIM Card Plans & Prices
If you want to buy a prepaid SIM card alone, it will cost you €2.50. When you buy a prepaid data package, you don’t have to pay the €2.50 for the chip – it will be included in your package.
For 1,500 minutes/texts, and free social media platforms, you’ll get:
- 30 days: 5 GB for €10 euros ($10.59 USD)
- 30 days: 10 GB for €12.5 euros ($13.24 USD)
NOS offers travelers affordable plans, no more than €29. It’s not the cheapest phone provider on this list but it is the fastest and widest coverage across Portugal.
MEO SIM Card Portugal Data Plans & Prices
Don’t need much data? MEO is the best option for you! They offer small data packages at decent prices. It’s perfect if you are only traveling through Portugal for a short number of days and don’t want to spend too much money on data!
For 500 minutes/texts, and free social media platforms, you’ll get:
- 30 days: 1 GB for €15.20 ($16.10 USD)
- 30 days: 3 GB for €18.40 ($19.50 USD)
- 30 days: 5 GB for €21.60 ($22.90 USD)
The data plans may look more expensive but they seem to price per week (rather than per month). I couldn’t find clear information on whether you could simply pay as you go or pay per week or month. It’s best to walk into a store and find out!
Vodafone SIM Card Portugal Data Plans & Prices
Traveling across the European Union after Portugal? Vodafone is widely available in most countries within the EU and beyond! We found Vodafone to be pretty expensive which is why we decided against signing with them.
Here’s the data pricing you can get:
- Across Europe: 10 GB for €25
- Only Portugal: Unlimited Data for €35
If you want unlimited data, Vodafone is going to be the best option for you!
LycaMobile SIM Card Portugal Data Plans & Prices
We went with LycaMobile because it’s very cheap! However, I remember thinking to myself that it felt a bit slow even in a major city like Lisbon. If you want a good chunk of data for less, LycaMobile will be for you if you don’t mind a slow-er data experience.
For 1000 minutes/texts, and roaming EU data, you’ll get:
- 30 days: 15 GB for €10 ($10.60 USD)
You can find their booths at most shopping centers in Lisbon!
Where To Buy A SIM Card In Portugal?
There are lots of ways to buy a SIM card in Portugal:
- at the airport
- at the store directly
- at bigger convenience stores
- at supermarkets
- on the streets
Option #1: Buy SIM Cards At Their Respective Stores
We recommend buying your Portugal SIM card at their respective stores. You can easily find them on the main streets of the big cities (Lisbon, Porto) or they are usually inside a mall/shopping center.
In Lisbon, we saw all 4 phone providers in one mall which allowed us to shop around, compare all the deals and decide which one to go with. We like going to the official mobile phone stores because you usually need to hand over your passport. It feels better protected when we give it to an official store (or that’s what we tell ourselves lol). Obviously, they give it back right away but they do need to register your passport.
Option #2: Buy SIM Cards At Convenience Stores
If you want to buy SIM cards at convenience stores, you’ll need to find the bigger ones (not the small ones on the side of the street). You will have to register your passport so while this option is easy, we would still prefer to register our prepaid SIM cards at the official stores.
Option #3: Buy SIM Cards At The Airport
You can also get prepaid SIM cards at the Lisbon airport but the plans might be slightly more expensive than what you’d get in the city center. There is wifi at the airport so you don’t necessarily need it until you get into the city anyway!
You do what’s easiest for you! It’s very easy to buy SIM cards in Portugal, so don’t fret if you can’t do one or the other. The difference is a few euros which most people (except Matt) wouldn’t necessarily care too much about!
How To Buy A SIM Card In Portugal – Step By Step Guide
We spent a month living in Portugal as digital nomads. We stayed in Lisbon to scope out the scene, enjoy the restaurants and soak in the Portuguese culture. The relaxed lifestyle is something we could get used to!
Buying a SIM card in Portugal is fairly straightforward. Make sure to buy one in your first few days in the country to get the most out of your data package. As digital nomads, we usually get a 30-day package but tourists can also buy daily or weekly packages.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to buying a SIM card for Portugal:
1. Choose a SIM card provider.
You have 4 options: NOS, MEO, Vodafone and Lycamobile.
NOS has the best coverage across the country and it’s the fastest network. Their data plans are very affordable too which is why we recommend NOS!
If you plan on traveling across Europe after, Vodafone or Lycamobile are great options too. Vodafone has better coverage but it is much more expensive. Lycamobile has just okay coverage (it was kinda slow) but it’s very cheap!
2. Go To An Official Store
Once you’ve chosen your provider, it’s time to visit their official store.
You can find the one nearest to you by doing a simple Google search on Maps. If you want to shop around and check out all 4 providers first, you can head to a mall as we did.
If you’re in Lisbon, we went to the Armazéns do Chiado Shopping Mall.
If you enter from the walking street, simply take the escalators down one level and you will see Vodafone on your right. All the other phone providers are around that same floor level!
LycaMobile doesn’t have a big, official store. They are simply a stand in the middle of the mall – it’s not sketchy that’s just how it is! We approached the guy and he quickly helped us out.
3. Select A Data Plan
Before you choose a data plan, you need to decide if you will need any call minutes or texts. You should also count the number of days you plan to travel around Portugal (or Europe in general). Some plans are 14 days and others are 30 days, you could pay less if you are only going to be in the country for less than 14 days!
It’s important to decide how much data you think you will use. If you want to go crazy on Instagram or Tiktok, it might be a good idea to get a higher data package. If you don’t think you’ll need that much data, we usually get around 10 GB and that’s been a comfortable amount for us!
4. Give Your Passport And Pay
In most European countries, they require you to hand over your passport in order to register your prepaid SIM card all according to the EU laws so don’t be alarmed. Just be prepared and have your passport handy before you buy a SIM card!
You can usually pay by cash or by credit card. They should also give you an invoice for your purchase.
5. Insert Your SIM Card And Make Sure It Works
Most of the staff will help you insert your card. If they don’t, you can just ask them for those phone pins to open your SIM card tray and do it yourself.
Make sure your data works before you leave the store! I always click on Instagram because it loads photos/videos which is a great way to see if it’s working – simply swipe down to refresh! It’s much easier to sort it out just after you’ve paid and gone through the whole process with the staff than later on!
That’s the entire step-by-step process of buying a SIM card in Portugal. See? It isn’t so complicated right?!
Why Buy A Local SIM Card in Portugal?
We always recommend fellow travelers and digital nomads buy a local SIM card. It’s our first choice every time we decide whether to buy local, buy an eSIM or keep the roaming charges on.
The main reason we will always recommend buying a local SIM card is to save money. It has been and continues to be the cheapest option for us whether we are buying SIM cards in Greece, Medellin or Playa del Carmen.
When it comes down to it, the local SIM card will also usually be a lower price for a higher amount of data. We will usually want more data if it’s possible, you know!
However, in the last year or so, we have been testing a bunch of eSIM providers. This has been a game changer for us, in terms of convenience. It’s a little more expensive (sometimes a lot more) than buying a local SIM card but you simply have to 1) connect to wifi 2) buy the data package 3) activate it – and voila you’re connected!
Do I Need A Passport To Buy A SIM Card?
Yes, you need your passport to buy a prepaid SIM card in Portugal. According to EU laws, the phone providers should register your number to the system which applies to Portugal.
Make sure you have your passport in hand before going to the store to buy a SIM card. Otherwise, you will have to make 2 trips to the phone store and no one wants to do that!
3x Things To Consider Before Buying A Portuguese SIM Card
There are a few things you should know before buying a Portuguese SIM card. These 3 things are what we look at when we are trying to decide which plan (or company) is giving us the best deal.
If you know Matt, you know he won’t stop researching or calculating how to get the best value for this money – even for things as simple as a SIM card for Portugal!
These are 3 things he considers to figure out if it’s a good deal:
Whenever we land in a new country (or even on the flight over), Matthew is already researching what to do about getting connected. There are so many options to choose from:
- buying at the airport
- buying at a store in the city
- buying on the streets somewhere
- buying an eSIM package
What’s the difference between all those options? Mostly the price! SIM card plans tend to be more expensive if you buy them at the airport while it’s much cheaper to go to the store directly.
The best way to figure out if you’re getting value for money is by comparing how much data you get vs the number of days vs the price you have to pay. If you look at these 3 numbers, you will be able to compare and figure out the best price for a SIM card.
Sometimes, the plan is a little more expensive but because they give you more data – it’s usually worth it to us to spend the extra cash!
This only matters if you plan on traveling to lesser-known areas. In cities like Lisbon and Porto, you won’t have too many issues with coverage around the city for most phone companies.
Some companies will have better coverage (more cell towers) across the country than others. If you travel inland to the farmlands or mountainous areas of Portugal, you might want to get a better (usually more expensive) data package from a reputable phone company.
The main difference between the Portuguese SIM card providers is the amount of data they offer you. You can buy the amount you think you’ll need based on the number of days you are planning to spend in Portugal.
We typically need 10 GB per 30 days. This allows us to go on Instagram freely, search the web, access Google Maps and do everything else we need comfortably. If you don’t use that much, you can choose a lower data package and get a cheaper deal.
Don’t Want To Buy A Local SIM? Try An eSIM Instead.
Want the convenience of an eSIM? Travelers get to enjoy having access to data as soon as they land in a new country (after connecting to wifi) without having to talk to anyone!
You can download an app on your phone of eSIM providers like Airalo, Nomad, Holafly and Airhub. Simply choose a data package that works for you, set it up, activate and voila! You can also buy an eSIM for Europe which gives you access to up to 39+ countries all on one eSIM plan!
Not bad, right?
You can breathe again because you’re connected again! It’s something we can take for granted but being connected to the internet can be so important if you’re landing in a new, foreign country for the first time.
With Airalo, you can get 30 GB of data for only $19 USD! This is a great deal and it seems they have partnered with a local provider, MEO. They also have smaller data plans from 1 GB to 20 GB for around $4.50 USD to $32 USD.
SIM Card Portugal: Which Is The Best SIM Card For Travelers?
The best Portugal SIM card for travelers is the NOS phone provider giving tourists fast speeds and the widest coverage across the country. You get 10 GB for only 12.5 euros for 30 days! Whether you’re staying for a month as a digital nomad in Portugal or you’re staying for a week exploring the country – NOS is the way to go!
If you are traveling across Europe, Vodafone has great coverage across European countries. However, they are a tad expensive at €25 for only 10 GB.
You can buy SIM cards in Portugal at the airport, at the official stores, at convenience stores and even online! It’s very easy to buy anywhere but it’s important to bring your passport to buy a SIM card!
There you go. Hopefully this SIM card Portugal guide was helpful and you can enjoy the rest of your time in this beautiful country!