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Are you planning a trip to Europe and need to make sure you have cellular data? Consider using a travel eSIM. These digital SIM cards give you access to local networks without fussing with a physical SIM.
In this guide, I'll share the advantages of using embedded travel SIMs and give you my expert opinion on the best eSIM for Europe.
Plus, I'll show you examples of plans offered by leading international phone service providers and how much they cost, and address some frequently asked questions.
Best overall travel eSIM
In addition to the wide range of plan options available, you can choose between local, regional, or global eSIM plans, many of which include voice minutes & SMS. With some plans, get quality coverage in 50 destinations, including the UK.
Holiday data packages range from 3GB to 50GB, providing extreme flexibility whether you need a little or a lot. Pick validity periods between 3 days and a month. So, while it may not be suitable for year-long trips, it is certainly sufficient for most typical vacations and business trips.
Next, we'll look at the pros and cons of Holiday.
- Large data plans available
- Abundant plan options
- Mobile hotspot use
- Calling & SMS are included in many plans
- Phone number included with calling plans
- Some plans include unlimited 2G data
- The website is a bit cluttered
- Not great for long-term travel
We have very few complaints about the Holiday eSIM collection, particularly regarding the calling options. Most plans that offer international voice minutes also provide unlimited calls and SMS within the covered region. This creates a comprehensive and feature-packed option to keep you online throughout Europe.
GlobaleSIM partners with over 400 networks worldwide to offer you the fastest connection in your current location. What sets GlobaleSIM apart from its competitors is its customizable data plans that let you add voice minutes if needed.
Choose from several data buckets between 1GB and 20GB, with validity periods running between 7 and 30 days. Customize your plan with 100 or 200 added voice minutes, and you'll get a phone number to use on your trip.
Check out these GlobaleSIM Europe eSIM pros and cons to help you decide if this provider is right for your European travel needs.
- Versatile data and voice plans
- Access to multiple mobile networks
- Clean website with lots of self-help materials
- 24/7 customer service
- No inbound SMS support
- Customer support only by email
GlobaleSIM offers a variety of choices at affordable rates to cater to your requirements when visiting Europe, either on business or vacation.
Bouygues Telecom, a major French telecommunications company, offers My European eSIM via SimOptions. This entry into the travel phone plan market stands out due to its 30GB data limit and its fairly lengthy validity, at 30 days.
As always, there are a few factors to take into account when considering the pros and cons of Bouygue's My European eSIM.
- 30GB of 4G data
- Mobile hotspot usage
- Unlimited calling & SMS in Europe
- €25 international calling credit
- Excludes the United Kingdom & Switzerland
- Must activate in Europe
- No smaller data options
If you anticipate doing a lot of calling and texting between the members of your traveling party, or you want a robust amount of data, Bouygues is a great option.
Comparison of the best eSIM plans for Europe
Below, I'll show you what to expect from the best eSIMs for Europe, including cost-wise.
Orange Holiday Zen eSIM
- 12 GB of 4G/LTE data
- Free calling/SMS within Europe
- 30 voice minutes & 200 SMS worldwide
- Includes Europe & UK
- Valid for 14 days
- Cost: $21.42
GlobaleSIM Europe eSIM
- 5 GB of data
- Includes Europe & UK
- 100 voice minutes (free incoming calls & free calls between GlobaleSIM users)
- Valid for 21 days
- Cost: $22
Bouygues my European eSIM
- 30 GB 4G LTE data
- Covers 52 European countries
- Unlimited voice calls in Europe
- €25 credit for international calls
- Valid for 30 days
- Cost: $44
Except for Bouygues, the above providers offer a range of options to meet your data and validity period needs. For example, Orange Holiday Europe includes a whopping 50GB of data.
What is a travel eSIM?
A travel eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM, is a virtual SIM card that facilitates the use of mobile data plans for the country or region you're visiting. The best thing about this convenient option is that you'll never need to hunt for a local SIM card while traveling again.
Most of the latest phone models are eSIM-capable. Compatible phones include iPhone 13 and up, plus a wide variety of Samsung, Google Pixel, and other Android devices.
While there are plenty of options for Europe out there, we've curated top providers that offer competitive prices, flexible plan options, and features that are important for travelers.
Important note: You can only use a travel eSIM if your phone is unlocked. If you need to find out whether it's locked or not, check with your current carrier.
How travel eSIMs work
Using this convenient product is as simple as scanning a QR code. After activation, your device will establish connections with local networks, ensuring a reliable internet connection and phone service without the hassle of searching for a local prepaid SIM card.
Most providers have an app that allows you to track data usage, buy top-ups, and manage your account.
Advantages of using an eSIM for travel
If you own a cell phone, you likely understand the hassle of dealing with traditional SIM cards, especially on the go. This inconvenience becomes even more pronounced when you're in an unfamiliar place.
Fortunately, eSIM technology has revolutionized the mobile data experience for travelers by offering a quick and easy solution.
Moreover, embedded travel SIMs offer various other benefits:
- Effortless activation: Sign-up can be completed online, eliminating the need to visit a local retailer for a physical SIM card.
- Ease of use: Many providers have apps enabling you to manage your plan conveniently and directly from your smartphone.
- Access to all your SIMs: Effortlessly switch between your domestic and vacation plans with a single touch on the display.
- More affordable: Travel phone plans tend to be much more budget-friendly compared to international roaming alternatives, thus avoiding bill shock upon your return.
- Flexible call & text options: You can use popular apps like WhatsApp with most plans, allowing you to remain connected without having to buy voice minutes.
What to consider when choosing the best eSIM for Europe
There are multiple contenders for the best eSIM for Europe, each with its own unique strengths. Before making your decision, consider the following factors:
- Travel plans: Will you be visiting multiple regions or staying within Europe? This will help you decide between the regional or global version.
- How much data you need: If you're a digital nomad or require frequent internet access while on the move, consider plans with higher mobile data allowances. Smaller data plans may suffice if you only use data to access Google Maps or check emails.
- Calls & text messages: Keep in mind that international data plans might not include calling and SMS services. If this is important to you, choose a plan that offers these features or consider adding them as an extra option. Alternatively, you can use Wi-Fi-based applications to make calls and send messages.
- Validity period: You can choose from various validity periods, ranging from a few days to several months. Estimating your daily data use can help you choose the right data bucket/number of days combination.
Fortunately, plenty of providers are available to cater to your specific needs. Below, you'll find your guide to what we consider the best eSIMs for Europe.
Best eSIM for Europe FAQs
Recap - What's the best travel eSIM for Europe?
When you visit Europe, there are many options to choose from to stay connected. Whether your main concern is having unlimited data, a long period of validity, or finding the most cost-effective option, you can be confident that you'll find the best eSIM for Europe that suits your particular needs.
Are you getting ready for other thrilling journeys to different countries across the globe? Discover our top picks for the best eSIM for international travel.