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5 Best SIM cards for Europe in 2024

We'll explain everything you need to know before you buy your Prepaid data SIM card for Europe, including prices, where to buy it, and more.

Leoneska Ruiz

January 1, 2024

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If you intend to tour Europe this year, you’re probably thinking about how you can connect to the internet and use your cell phone in Europe during your adventures. Well, with a data SIM card, it’s never been easier to stay connected – say goodbye to expensive roaming charges and connect to superfast cellular internet in Europe at a low price.

We’ll explain everything you need to know before you buy your Prepaid data SIM card for Europe, including rates, where to buy it, and more. Also, let us tell you that if you currently have the latest generation mobile phone, then the eSIM card could be an excellent alternative for your trip. Read on to find out which of these options will be best for you while in Europe.

Virtual SIM card for Europe

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Should I get a SIM card in Europe?

When traveling to Europe, different options are available for getting an internet connection. A popular method is roaming while traveling to Europe or even using a Pocket WiFi device, but in terms of prices, these are more expensive compared to a SIM card for Europe.

Therefore, a SIM card for Europe is an option that will give people internet access wherever they go without needing to spend a lot of money. This method also provides a safer way to stay connected to the internet, which is something free WiFi hotspots can’t offer travelers.

Overall, this is a better option for travelers in terms of price, connectivity, and safety. To learn more about it, let’s list the pros and cons of this method.

  • Pros:
    • Safer for use while traveling to Europe than free-to-use alternatives.
    • Cheaper than other internet services available for use in Europe.
    • Offers access to different high-speed networks.
    • Some SIM cards from European carriers work in several countries.
    • Provides people with a phone number to make phone calls and send text messages.
  • Cons:
    • Most mobile carriers don’t focus on providing their service to travelers, which might make it difficult to get a SIM card there.
    • People must make sure their device works with the local mobile networks to use a SIM card there.

Pros of buying a data plan for abroad before traveling

  • Internet the moment you land – you can activate your international SIM card the moment you land, perfect if you need to book a cab or message a friend or family member.
  • Multi-country options – Most companies offer SIM cards that cover multiple countries. You might find it hard to find this option from local shops in Europe, meaning you have to buy a new SIM card in each country you go to.
  • Save time – rather than having to go hunting for local shops at your destinations, buying before you go lets you start exploring the local scenery straight away.
  • No communication problems – how’s your Norwegian? Kudos to you if you’ve been racking up the points on Duolingo, but unless you’re fluent in the local language, it might be hard to buy a SIM card from a local shop in Europe.

That’s why we recommend buying your SIM card before you go: it gives you the peace of mind that you can enjoy your trip immediately. There are many advantages to buying your SIM card for Europe before your trip.

Where to buy a data SIM card for Europe?

When traveling to Europe, people have access to three different ways of getting a SIM card to use there. Therefore, it is easier for people to choose which one to use, but before making a decision, it’s important to know more about these!

prepaid sim card europe

Online stores

Nowadays, the use of online stores has become more common around the world, and this includes online stores to get a SIM card for Europe.  So for people looking for the best prepaid SIM for Europe, chances are that an online store comes as a handy option for them to use.

In this case, the main difference from other mobile carriers like Orange, for example, is the fact these are provided by international suppliers rather than local mobile carriers. Therefore, people must have in mind they need to purchase a SIM card before traveling to Europe.

Other than this, these companies offer people different data plans and features that will vary from one company to another, which is great. But when talking about cons, it’s important for travelers to keep in mind that they need to pay for the SIM card delivery, and they need to wait more time to receive it as well.

Other than this, it’s a handy option for people in Europe who prefer using SIM cards over other options.

Airport

One of the best things about airports is that people can find all types of stores, including different mobile carrier stores from all around Europe. Therefore, it will be easier for travelers to buy a SIM card once they arrive at their destination. 

In this case, people can access a Vodafone SIM card in Europe or a Three SIM card depending on where they are traveling. For both companies, there are lots of data plans available for use, and these will work in more countries around Europe, which is a great advantage for travelers.

On the downside, the fact that people will have a harder time trying to buy a SIM card is something to consider. This is due to the different requirements travelers need to have when buying a SIM card, so it’s something to keep in mind as much as possible.

Physical stores

For travelers visiting Europe, they might want to wait to get the best-prepaid SIM for Europe once they arrive at their destination. In this case, there aren’t many changes to the process when comparing it to buying one at an airport.

Physical stores from companies like Vodafone, Three, Orange, and some others will be available in different cities around Europe, and as expected, these offer different data plans and other features, which is the advantage of using them.

But once again, getting a European SIM card as a traveler is not as easy as expected. This is the main downside when relying on this method because other than this, there aren’t any huge downsides to buying one at a physical store.

Buy a European SIM card before traveling

When traveling abroad, you need to be prepared no matter where you are traveling from. If you are traveling from the USA, Australia, the UK, or even Canada, it will require people to prepare in a different way from each other.

But something important to tell is that, even if people are traveling from these countries, it will be easier for them to buy a SIM card before traveling. This is because having a SIM card upon arrival and then having access to an internet connection won’t be complicated.

Also, there are other alternatives travelers can get to use when traveling to Europe. Whether it is roaming, Pocket WiFi, free WiFi, or the one we prefer, a virtual SIM card with unlimited data, you need to know a bit more about these alternatives.

So, getting a SIM card before traveling is great, but chances are your needs are totally different when you decide to buy one for your trip! But let’s talk about other options available for travelers too!

Holafly: Virtual SIM card with unlimited data for Europe

For people traveling to the continent, getting access to a Europe eSIM to use around 32 countries is great. In this case, Holafly offers a tremendous virtual SIM card to use in Europe, and with it, users will get access to high-speed mobile data with 4G LTE and 5G, and there’s no need to worry about changing your WhatsApp number!

holafly europe esim custom days
Unlimited data eSIM for Europe with data sharing. Source: Holafly.

On the other hand, when talking about prices, Holafly gives people access to accessible data packages, which start at $6 for one day of unlimited data. But if you need more, some data packages last up to 90 days and cost $139. And yes, these come with unlimited data, too! All plans include 500 MB daily to share data with other devices.

The only downside is that you need access to an eSIM-compatible device to use it. Without this, you would need to rely on the other alternatives we mention now.

Internet services alternatives

When traveling to Europe, there are other alternatives to use as well. In this case, let’s give them a quick look to see what they offer:

  • Pocket WiFi: Similar to a home router, people have the chance to take a router with them to have internet while traveling to Europe. It allows people to connect up to 5 devices while it’s active. The downside of this service is how expensive it is, as people can spend more than $200 in just a week of use.
  • Free WiFi: Traveling to Europe means people will find different ways to have access to an internet connection. But it’s important to note that free WiFi is not always available. Therefore, people can rely on this service only at certain times, but it’s also not as safe as other options.
  • Roaming Europe: Many different companies from around the world, like Orange, T-Mobile, Verizon, and many others, give people access to their roaming service. In this case, it’s an easy-to-access service that all customers can use, but it’s also one of the most expensive services when it comes to traveling.

Buying local SIM card in Europe

Although our recommendation is to buy your European SIM card before arriving on the continent, it is possible as a tourist to obtain one through local operators once you are there.

Companies such as Orange, Vodafone, Bouygues Telecom, and Three have SIM card options for multiple European countries. Each company has its own sales channels; However, all three agree to offer options in the most important airports in Europe.

Another factor to take into account is that for the purchase, you will need a valid identification document as well as have to register your SIM card if the period of use is extended. We will discuss the packages that each offers in the next section.

Local operators with the best SIM cards for Europe

As you may have noticed, there are several SIM cards and virtual SIM cards for Europe options, no matter where you are. With all this information, you should be thinking about which is the best SIM card to stay connected on your trip. We will present you the plans and features of some providers so you can choose the best option.

Orange

Orange is one of the operators that offer SIM cards for people who are traveling in Europe. They have three data plans for tourists: Orange Holiday Europe with 50 GB, Orange Holiday Europe with 30 GB, and Orange Holiday Europe with 12 GB. These plans are so-called “all-included” packages as they have unlimited calls and messages within the European territory, allow data tethering, have no usage limits per consumption, can be used on any device, and are valid in more than 30 destinations on the continent. 

Orange in Europe. Source: Tribune Online.

The cost of the basic option is $20, and the cost of the plus option is $50. Choose between a physical SIM card and a virtual SIM card, including a French number.

The thing with Orange is that people need to have more requirements to get a SIM card from the company. Other options, like the virtual SIM card from Holafly, make it easier as it won’t require people too many things to complete the purchase.

Vodafone

With Vodafone, you can get a pay-as-you-go SIM card from packages called prepaid S, M, L, XL, and XXL. These vary in the amount of data they offer, ranging from 25 GB to 150 GB for 28 days. This can be a suitable option if you don’t have an eSIM-compatible cellphone. 

Vodafone logo. Source: RedNews.

Despite the 24-48h free delivery, they also include roaming within Europe and unlimited calls and minutes to other Vodafone numbers. The price range for these options goes from $10 to $40, depending on the plan you select. 

Overall, Vodafone is quite a complete option when it comes to SIM cards in Europe. As it is present in different countries on the continent, it’s something great to have as an alternative. But as there are additional requirements, options like Holafly, which requires fewer things to complete the purchase process, become a better alternative.

Three UK

The pay-as-you-go SIM card from Three works in the UK and has 10 GB, 50 GB, and 100 GB in its catalog data packages. These cards can be purchased on Amazon, and in addition to having unlimited messages and minutes, the roaming service costs an extra $3 per day in Europe approximately, and you can cancel at any time. 

Three UK. Source: Silicon UK.

No contract is required to purchase these SIM Cards for Europe. These plans cost between $18 and $50 for coverage in the UK only. To add coverage in other European countries, you will have to pay a daily roaming fee. An interesting alternative is the prepaid eSIM UK, which we will talk about later.

It’s important for people to know there are pay-as-you-go data plans that basically offer unlimited data when traveling abroad. In this case, people can get it for $45 per month, but it will only work when visiting the UK. But for those traveling around Europe, paying $3 per day for roaming seems accessible.

Bouygues Telecom

The main French option for travelers who want to use one of the best prepaid SIM cards for Europe comes with Bouygues Telecom. In this case, people need to make sure they visit France to get a SIM card from the company as they aren’t available to buy anywhere else, and that’s something people can easily avoid with a Holafly virtual SIM card, which is sent via email!

Bouygues Telecom Logo. Source: Apple Store.

As for the data plans, there are different options available for use with the company. With the company offering people 4G and 5G speeds, there are enough options to consider when traveling. All of these plans allow people to get mobile data they can use when traveling abroad as well.

Overall, the company remains the best option in France. But in this case, travelers will find higher prices as offers are only available for older Bouygues Telecom users.

What is the best SIM card for Europe?

This question can be challenging to answer, but we will help you with our experience. You have to consider factors such as each provider’s plan options, costs, connection speed, coverage, and how much data they can offer you. So far, we have given you many options, from how you can buy them in different countries, whether in the USA, the UK, Australia, or Canada, as these options are easy to get from these countries.

Therefore, our recommendation of the best virtual eSIM Europe for travel is the one offered by Holafly. This online store offers eight plans to choose from to suit your period of stay. All of their plans offer unlimited data at a constant 4G speed no matter which country in Europe you visit.

They offer multiple payment methods and immediate delivery of the eSIM after your purchase. As for the extra features, Holalfy has at your disposal customer support in more than five languages and by various means of communication, a top-up feature that is not required when traveling to Europe as these have unlimited data, an app for iOS and Android, and much more. There is no doubt that for these reasons and for how intuitive its website is, Holafly offers the best eSIM card for Europe.

The best part about the best virtual SIM card for Europe, which Holafly gives, is that travelers from the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, and many other countries can buy one in no time, and the only thing required is to have a working email to receive the QR code to activate the eSIM!

FAQs about SIM cards for Europe

Why is it necessary or advisable to purchase a SIM card for Europe?

Physical or virtual SIM cards are recommended because they are much more economical than other options, such as international roaming from mobile operators. Also, with SIMs, you’ll be able to enjoy benefits such as unlimited data and 24/7 technical support.

How else can I connect to the internet in Europe?

You can activate data roaming and use data provided by your domestic carrier. But be aware that this will be very expensive. If you intend to use this option, you can expect a hefty phone bill when you get back home. Alternatively, you could buy Pocket Wi-Fi (a portable device that generates a WiFi connection for your phone). This option is also expensive, and you’ll have to carry the device everywhere. A data SIM card for Europe is the cheapest and most convenient way of connecting to the internet abroad.

What is the cost of Verizon roaming in Europe?

Verizon offers the Travel Pass, which costs $10 per day and is available for more than 200 countries, including Europe. In addition, users can also purchase a pay-as-you-go service, but with this, you must pay $2.05 for each MB used.

Does T-Mobile charge roaming rates in Europe?

Some T-Mobile international plans will allow you to use international roaming in different countries at no extra cost. However, users who do not have a Simple Global Plan will be charged $15 per MB used.

Can people use roaming in Europe when using local European carriers?

Yes. As a matter of fact, some companies offer people the chance to access roaming services to use around Europe for a lower price compared to other companies, like the ones from the USA. In this case, prices are mostly $3 per day to use their local data allowance in Europe.