Are you planning to travel to Portugal and looking to order an e-sim card to stay connected? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about using an e-sim card when traveling to Portugal including a comparison of the best Portugal e-sim cards for 2024.
Don’t waste money on high roaming charges, read my recommendation and order an e-sim card for Portugal on the internet and get connected in just a couple minutes. Below you will find up to date prices as per January 2024, including all specifications per e-sim card and info about EU data roaming.
Also find out where and when to order an e-sim card, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards for Portugal and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to Portugal on the internet.
Already since 2012 I am traveling the world and eventually turned my passion for traveling into a lifestyle and became a full time nomadic travel blogger. That is why I constantly get to a different country and pretty much every week I need to look for a new sim card to stay connected. In 2022 I visited 62 different countries and in 2023 I traveled to 34 countries so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used over the last 2 years.
In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards to stay connected when traveling abroad.
Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visited and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.
Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a tourist sim card for Portugal in 2024.
Traveltomtom also wrote specific guides for buying e-sim cards in: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Europe, Egypt, Dubai, Asia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, international e-sim cards and many more.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination.
Let me first give you my e-sim card recommendation for Portugal. These are my favorite e-sim cards for traveling to Portugal in 2024.
Then I will compare all the e-sim card plans for Portugal with up to date prices as per January 2024. After I will explain how e-sim cards work, more about the network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, the most FAQ about e-sim cards, the difference between e-sim cards and local prepaid sim cards and everything else you need to know.
Traveltomtom recommends the following two e-sim cards for traveling to Portugal in 2024:
- 30 GB data-only e-sim
- 5G ready
- Valid in Portugal only
- Valid for 15 days
- 30 GB data in all of Europe
- Unlimited calling in all of Europe
- Valid for 30 days
By far the best value e-sim card for Portugal is the MEO e-sim card that you can order directly online through Airalo. A big data plan with just $0.63 USD per Gigabyte is an amazing offer. On top of that the MEO Portugal e-sim card is also one of the few e-sim cards for Portugal that is 5G ready. Therefore it is rated as the best e-sim card for traveling to Portugal.
However, it is a data-only e-sim and incoming and outgoing calls or sms are not supported. Data is only valid in Portugal, there is NO EU data roaming included.
Therefore Traveltomtom also recommends the Bouygues Telecom e-sim card for traveling to Portugal. This e-sim card for Portugal comes with unlimited calls in all of Europe and free EU data roaming as well. That means the Bouygues Telecom e-sim card is not only valid in Portugal but in all of Europe. You can order this e-sim card for Portugal via SimOptions.
That is why the Bouygues Telecom e-sim is also rated as one of the best e-sim card for traveling to Europe in 2024.
If you are going on a trip to Europe and visiting multiple countries then check out my list of the best prepaid and e-sim cards for traveling in Europe. You will find this Bouygues Telecom on top of the list of course, but there are many more options.
There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for Portugal or in general before using an e-sim card.
Unlocked phones only
Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.
In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.
If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in the device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.
E-sim compatible phones only
Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly.
If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to Portugal.
However, you can still order a sim card for Portugal on the internet before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom’s complete guide for buying a sim card for Portugal in 2024 or find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2024.
Comparison of the best e-sim cards for Portugal
There are multiple website on the internet that sell e-sim cards for Portugal. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Portugal from one of the well-known e-sim card providers that have proven to be reliable operators.
These are the 3 big e-sim card providers and they sell great e-sim card plans for Portugal:
Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country around the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim in your email. But before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.
SimOptions also offers international prepaid sim cards for Portugal. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards and will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Portugal and it is plug and play when you arrive in the Portugal.
Airalo and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for Portugal.
SimOptions is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using SimOptions for ordering your Portugal e-sim card.
Why using SimOptions? They offer e-sim cards including calling and texting. Airalo and Nomad only offer data-only e-sim cards.
SimOptions offers different data-only e-sim cards as well as intertnational e-sim cards including calling and texting. Let me first show you the e-sim cards for Portugal from the SimOptions brand.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.90 USD
- 3 GB data for 15 days = $9.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $17.90 USD
- 30 GB data for 30 days = $49.90 USD
These data-only e-sim cards are provided by SimOptions and are only valid in Portugal. Unfortunately they don’t specify which mobile network operator in Portugal they use. The max data speed on these Portugal e-sim cards from SimOptions is 4G/LTE.
The SimOptions e-sim cards for Portugal do NOT come with a phone number and they do not offer incoming/outgoing calls or sms services. The validity of these e-sim cards is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in Portugal.
Click here to order a SimOptions e-sim card for Portugal.
Much more interesting are the international e-sim cards for Portugal you can order via SimOptions. These e-sim cards support incoming and outgoing calls/sms as they come with a phone number.
- 15 GB data + unlimited calls for 15 days = $21.90 USD
- 10 GB data (5G ready) + $2 calling credit for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 12 GB data + 30 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $29.90 USD
- 30 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD (data-only, only valid in Portugal)
- 30 GB data + unlimited calls for 30 days = $44.90 USD
- 30 GB data + 120 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $49.90 USD
- 50 GB data (5G ready) + unlimited calls/text for 28 days = $59.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order an international e-sim card for Portugal via SimOptions.
These e-sim cards are valid all over Europe and they include free EU data roaming. The best thing about these e-sim cards for Portugal is that they also include calling and texting.
The O2 Go Card eSIM and the Orange Holiday Europe 50GB eSIM are the only e-sim cards that are 5G ready. All other e-sims do not support 5G, only 4G/LTE.
These international e-sim cards for Portugal are also valid for 1 year, but the credit validity starts only when the e-sim card connects the first time to a supported network. So you can instal the e-sim card even when you are not in Europe yet and the credit validity won’t start only on arrival. For more info check the SimOptions website.
Airalo is another very reputed e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your e-sim card for Portugal through Airalo is done fast and easy. Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals.
Why using Airalo? I found out that Airalo has sometimes cheaper e-sim card deals compared to SimOptions.
Especially if you only use a little bit of data while traveling and need just 1 or 2 GB to stay in touch through WhatsApp, check your email and get directions from Google Maps, Airalo is a great e-sim card for traveling to Portugal.
Here are Portugal e-sim card plans for 2024 from Airalo:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $7 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $9.5 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $32 USD
And last but not least Airalo also sells this amazing e-sim card for Portugal from MEO:
- 30 GB data for 15 days = $19 USD (5G ready)
Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card for Portugal from Airalo.
MEO is one of the 3 main mobile internet operators in Portugal and therefore for many other reasons, apart from the price, the best e-sim card for Portugal in 2024.
The other Airalo e-sim cards for Portugal are from FoFo Mobil and operate on the NOS 4G/LTE network in Portugal. Unfortunately the Airalo FoFo Mobil e-sim cards for Portugal are not 5G ready.
All the Airalo, including the MEO e-sim cards are data-only sim cards without a phone number, so any phone/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website.
Another e-sim card provider that Traveltomtom recommends is Nomad. Traveltomtom tested and reviewed Nomad in over 10 different countries and it worked as a charm.
When looking for the cheapest e-sim card deals for Portugal and compared some of the Nomad plans with SimOptions and Airalo I found out that Nomad has some amazing e-sim card plans for traveling to Portugal in 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $8 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 15 GB data for 30 days = $27 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $33 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Portugal from Nomad.
The Nomad e-sim cards for Portugal are from Nomad Black and they use the 4G/LTE network of Vodafone, MEO and NOS. The Nomad e-sim cards for Portugal are not 5G ready.
They do not come with a phone number and incoming and outgoing calls/sms are not supported.
The Nomad Portugal e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 30 days and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in Portugal. Basically when the plane lands. For more info check the Nomad website.
Why did Traveltomtom already use more than 100s of e-sim cards? I told you before that I travel full time and I am on the road constantly. On average I use about 40 - 50 prepaid and e-sim cards per year, which make me an expert on sim cards for tourists.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, still more than 40 to go, but no rush.
What is the cheapest e-sim card for Portugal?
The cheapest e-sim card for Portugal is an e-sim card from Airalo for $4.5 USD with 1 GB data for 7 days. These FoFo Mobil e-sims are only valid in Portugal and do not support calling and texting.
Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Portugal
E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Portugal in 2024 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.
The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to Portugal without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants and bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply staying in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or your banking apps when paying contactless.
One of the best things about arriving in Portugal with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.
There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to Portugal, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to Portugal so much more convenient and fun!
At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 20 MB * $3 USD = $60 USD! Not kidding… it still is very common in 2024.
E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!
International Data Roaming plans
So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed, but there is 4G/LTE in every tourist destination in Portugal and even 5G nowadays and also e-sim cards for Portugal that are 5G ready.
Actually even 5G, but most e-sim cards do not offer 5G, only 4G/LTE network is supported. Only the O2 Go Card eSIM from SimOptions supports 5G in every country in Europe.
Uncountable times (mostly American) travel friends asked me: “can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Portugal. Spend a couple dollars extra and be connected all the time instead of begging for WiFi or a hotspot from friends.
Where to buy an e-sim card for Portugal?
You can only buy an e-sim card for Portugal on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for Portugal. Traveltomtom compared 6 e-sim card providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones (SimOptions, Airalo, Nomad) are the best e-sim card providers for traveling to Portugal in 2024.
Some mobile internet operators sell e-sim cards for Portugal through their own website. Be prepared that with these e-sim cards a long and tiring registration process is needed. A copy of your passport is needed as well as an address. After ordering the e-sim card is NOT ready to use. You will need to confirm your identity by uploading your documents and wait for approval.
When buying an e-sim card for Portugal through one of the above recommended e-sim providers you only need your email address and the e-sim card is instantly ready to use after installation. There is no ID registration needed.
On arrival in Portugal
When you arrive in Portugal and you want to buy an e-sim card for tourists then you will have to go to an official retail store of an internet provider. How to locate the nearest one to your hotel? Use Google Maps.
However, as of January 2024, not all mobile internet operators in Portugal provide e-sim cards for tourists. Most Vodafone and NOS stores do, but MEO often has no e-sim cards for tourists, only physical prepaid sim cards.
For more info about buying a prepaid sim card for tourists in Portugal in 2024 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in Portugal, including a comparison of the 4G/5G network.
Flying into Portugal and landing in Lisbon Airport then you can also buy a sim card for Portugal on arrival at the airport. However, Vodafone is the only operator that sells physical prepaid as well as e-sim cards at Lisbon Airport. However, I can already tell you that ordering an e-sim card for Portugal via SimOptions, Airalo or Nomad is much cheaper.
Check out my complete guide for buying a sim card at Lisbon Airport in 2024.
When to order/activate an e-sim card for Portugal?
You can order an e-sim card for Portugal pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.
More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.
Traveltomtom advices to instal your e-sim card on the day of departure to Portugal. Or if you want to maximise your validity then activate your Portugal e-sim card on arrival after you connect to the free WiFi of the airport on arrival in Portugal. All international airports in Portugal have free public WiFi.
How do I know? Traveltomtom recently visited Lisbon again and updated my arrival guide for buying a sim card at Lisbon Airport in 2024.
How to activate an e-sim card
Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email. But wait, it gets even easier. Just scan the QR code.
When you order an e-sim card plan for Portugal you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.
You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Portugal e-sim card.
But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your Portugal e-sim card.
Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed.
Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.
Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.
Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for Portugal
Here are some general tips for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Portugal e-sim cards, but are things you have to know before buying an e-sim card in general.
Make sure your phone is unlocked
To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.
If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to Portugal. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.
If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a portable WiFi for staying connected when traveling to Portugal or better… bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Portugal and use it as a portable WiFi device.
Which smartphones support e-sim cards?
Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest smartphones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones of the well known brands support e-sim cards.
The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!
Can I trust these e-sim card providers?
All the e-sim card providers for Portugal recommended above (SimOptions, Airalo, Nomad) are reputable e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in Portugal.
Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for several consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad is a fairly new partner of Traveltomtom, but has so far proven to be a reliable e-sim card provider. All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.
Traveltomtom does NOT sell Portugal e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to Portugal.
Can I keep my phone number from home with a Portugal e-sim card?
Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to Portugal. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.
So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!
For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Your new Portugal e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.
If your Portugal e-sim card also allows you to make phone calls and you want to make a local call in Portugal, you simply switch between the sim cards and make a local phone call with your Portugal e-sim card.
Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings.
Can I make phone calls with a Portugal e-sim card?
This depends on the type of e-sim card that you order. Only the international e-sim cards from SimOptions offer calling and texting. All the e-sim cards from Nomad and Airalo are data-only and any incoming/outgoing calls/sms are not supported.
The SimOptions international e-sim cards include unlimited calling not only in Portugal but in all of Europe.
Does a Portugal e-sim card come with a phone number?
This also depends on the type of e-sim card that you buy. E-sims that support calls and sms they come with a phone number. All the e-sim cards from Airalo and Nomad are data-only e-sim cards and they do not come with a phone number.
In the above Portugal e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card. All the international e-sim cards from SimOptions come with a phone number, which means they can also receive calls and sms as well as make phone calls and send text.
Can I use 5G on a Portugal e-sim card?
Unfortunately, most of the Portugal e-sim cards are NOT 5G ready yet as of January 2024. Which means the max data speed is 4G/LTE.
However, there are two exceptions. The MEO e-sim card you order via Airalo is 5G ready as well as the O2 Go Card eSIM and the from SimOptions, this e-sim is 5G ready in all of Europe.
Another amazing 5G ready e-sim card for traveling to Portugal is the above Orange Holiday Europe e-sim card with 50 GB data for $59.90 USD and it is valid in all of Europe. That is only $1.2 USD per Gigabyte. You can order this e-sim card via SimOptions.
Are there e-sim cards for Portugal with unlimited data?
None of the by Traveltomtom recommended Portugal e-sim cards for tourists include unlimited data.
Even if you would come across e-sim card providers that offer e-sim cards for Portugal with unlimited data then make sure the unlimited data is on max data speed. Mostly the data speed is capped after you used X amount of Gigabytes.
Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data for Portugal, but does NOT specify what is the exact so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP).
Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Portugal e-sim cards with unlimited data plans.
There are always restrictions. And on Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. When I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.
Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media apps were not even properly loading!
Again, Traveltomtom does NOT recommend e-sim cards for Portugal with unlimited data. But if you think you will never use more than 2 GB per day, then this might be your favorite e-sim card. But think about it... basically it is only 2 GB per day, but they advertise with unlimited data.
For $59.90 USD you get 50 GB data on an Orange e-sim card that is even 5G ready and you can order via SimOptions or what about a MEO e-sim card with 30 GB data for just $19 USD that you order via Airalo.
These e-sims offer a lot of data and there is no real need for an e-sim card with unlimited data unless you want to upload your whole camera roll to a Google Drive or iCloud via 4G instead of WiFi.
There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Portugal in 2024 before choosing your favorite.
Are e-sim cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to Portugal?
E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Portugal, but are they also the best way to stay connected when traveling to Portugal?
There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to Portugal:
- Local prepaid sim cards
- International prepaid sim cards
- E-sim cards
Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards, for you to find out what is your preferred way of staying connected.
Local prepaid sim cards
If you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are often a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. Local prepaid sim cards often offer bigger data plans than e-sim cards. However, local prepaid sim cards can only be purchased on arrival in Portugal in a phone store and NOT on the internet.
More info about the best Portugal sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a sim card for Portugal in 2024.
For example in the link above in my comparison of the best prepaid sim cards for tourist in Portugal you will find that for €12.5 EUR ($14 USD) you can buy a local prepaid sim card with 10 GB data in Portugal and all of Europe + 1,500 minutes/sms in Europe.
If this sounds like something you want then on arrival in Portugal you will need to find a sim card shop nearby your hotel. They also sell tourist sim cards at Lisbon Airport, but they are more expensive.
But reminder there is already an e-sim card for Portugal with 30 GB data for just $19 USD!
The advantage of local prepaid sim cards is that you buy them directly from the mobile internet provider. You get the cheapest prices, (unlimited) local calls & sms included, the biggest data packages and the fastest data speed.
The local prepaid sim cards for tourists you buy in Portugal are all 5G ready. All of the mobile internet operators in Portugal (Vodafone, MEO and NOS) allow prepaid users to use the 5G network.
International prepaid sim cards
If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Portugal. Some of them are great for using in Portugal as well as in all other countries in Europe and you can easily order them online.
Traveltomtom also put together a list of the best sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2024.
A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!
The advantage of an international prepaid sim card is they all included calling and texting. Most e-sim cards are data-only sim cards.
There are two different e-sim cards:
- E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
- E-sim cards that you buy in Portugal in a mobile internet provider store
The big difference is that e-sim cards provided by the local internet operators in Portugal: MEO, Vodafone and NOS can only be purchased at one of their phone stores around Portugal.
Most stores of Vodafone, MEO and NOS offer e-sim cards for tourists as of 2024. Traveltomtom personally shopped around to find out if e-sim cards were available for tourists and called some other phone stores around Portugal. Most phone stores in Lisbon, Faro and Porto told me they sell e-sim cards for tourists at no extra fee.
This also counts for buying a sim card on arrival at the airport in Portugal. Read all about it in my detailed guide about buying a sim card at Lisbon Airport.
E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards
Getting an e-sim card is the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Portugal, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to Portugal. You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop. As soon as the plane lands, you are online.
But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists? When we compare Portugal e-sim card prices with local prepaid sim cards for Portugal, Traveltomtom comes to the simple conclusion that e-sim cards for Portugal that you buy on the internet are in fact cheaper than local prepaid sim cards for tourists that they sell in mobile phone stores in Portugal.
After a long flight you just want to go to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected. On top of that there are much better deals online and as soon as the plane lands you are connected. Therefore Traveltomtom recommends to order one of the listed best e-sim cards for Portugal.
Many reasons why a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for Portugal. Faster, easier, less stress and even cheaper.
Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO’s operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.
This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card from a mobile internet operator.
Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid sim card.
I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to Portugal were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card for Portugal right away.
If you still have any questions about e-sim cards then please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media and I am more than happy to help you out.
Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Portugal!
Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for Portugal are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!