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Planning a trip to Ireland? If you want reliable mobile coverage for your peace of mind, knowing how to go about it is essential. The good news is that using a travel eSIM can eliminate any inconvenience and gain instant access to local networks.
In this guide, I'll explain the advantages of using an international eSIM card during your visit to Ireland. Additionally, I'll share my top picks for the best eSIM for Ireland and address frequently asked questions.
Best overall travel eSIM
Airalo is one of the most well-known names in travel eSIMs, and for good reason - it partners with major local networks in over 200 destinations to provide reliable mobile internet access for travelers.
Of course, no one international eSIM is perfect for every customer. Below, you'll find what we consider to be the pros and cons of Airalo.
- 200+ countries
- 7 days-3 months validity period
- Prices start around $5 for one week
- Local, regional, or global plans
- Flexible eSIMs - add voice and text
- Great coverage
- Mobile hotspot usage
- Prices drop the more data you buy
- Phone number included with Discover+ plans
- eSIM automatically connects to the fastest local network
- User-friendly Airalo app and website
- Fast, helpful customer support
- Can't mix-and-match data size and validity period
- Customer service is only available by message
While it isn't the cheapest option, Airalo eSIM is a solid choice with offerings to fit various needs. Plus, they have the advantage of being highly recognizable, with an impressive customer count of over five million people.
Holafly is another leading provider of global eSIM plans, catering specifically to international travel needs. With Holafly, you can easily access data and make calls in different countries, all with the convenience of digital eSIM cards.
- 160+ destinations
- Unlimited data
- 5 to 90-day plans
- Prices around $20 for a 5-day plan
- Simple to use app and website
- Easy data and validity period top-ups
- Useful features like validity tracking in the app
- 24/7 customer support
- Must use WhatsApp
- Local number not included
- No voice call or SMS message options
- Doesn't allow data sharing or hotspot usage
Holafly eSIM cards offer unlimited data plans - you can send as many videos and photos with your family without worrying about the data limit. In the few countries where unlimited data isn't an option, it offers higher data limits than most other eSIM providers.
In terms of duration, too, there's great flexibility. You can get plans from 5 to 90 days and everything in between. In short, there will always be a plan close to the number of days you're traveling for in about 160 countries that Holafly caters to.
On the price front, Holafly is a little high-end, but it's worth the unlimited data and stress-free traveling it offers. For example, its 5-day unlimited data plan for the USA costs $19. It also offers regional plans. However, I found it tough to locate these plans on its website, as there's no dedicated "Regional Plans" section as there are on some other websites like Nomad and Airhub.
Brands like Airalo are significantly cheaper than Holafly, but you will have to get top-up plans if you exhaust your data mid-journey, which can be troublesome if you travel alone and don't have anyone to provide you with a hotspot in the meantime.
Installing the eSIM is also a breeze with Holafly. Scan the QR code you receive after purchasing a plan and follow the prompts. You will be guided through each step of the process, and the payment can be made through various portals like a credit card, debit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. You can also use a code for manual installation if you don't want to scan the QR code.
Holafly's customer support is one of the best in the market. You can expect a reply from them within less than a minute of entering your query. With language support in English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, you can easily access the 24/7 support via WhatsApp or chat. On top of that, there's a frequently asked questions section that will solve most of your queries regarding the installation of the eSIM.
However, if you plan to buy a single Holafly eSIM for your family, thinking that the unlimited data plan will do the trick, beware. Holafly eSIM doesn't allow data sharing with other devices as of now.
While Holafly has great data plans, it doesn't include calls with all plans or SMS service. Currently, you can make calls for up to 60 minutes and receive calls for up to 60 minutes in Europe, Spain, France, Italy, and Germany. However, I didn't find this off-putting due to the sheer non-functionality of SMS and calls these days. You can always make calls or send texts through Holafly's unlimited Internet (WhatsApp, Skype, or other apps).
What is a travel eSIM?
A travel eSIM refers to a digital SIM card that grants you access to mobile data plans provided by local networks in your desired country. This convenient solution lets you skip the trip to a retailer upon arrival. Even better, you can activate it in seconds.
The majority of popular smartphones released in recent years offer support for eSIM technology, including the iPhone 13 and newer models. Additionally, there are many eSIM-compatible Samsung devices and other Android phones.
Important note: Your phone must be unlocked by your carrier in order to use a travel SIM card. Get in touch with your carrier if you need help with your phone's lock status.
How travel eSIMs work
Activating your eSIM data plan is a convenient process that requires minimal effort. All you need to do is scan a QR code, which can be done using a second phone or by printing it out at home for later use. Scanning the QR code will prompt you through activation.
Once you reach your destination, your phone will automatically connect to nearby mobile networks. That means you can start enjoying Ireland's rich history and incredible sights without visiting a SIM card retailer first.
Why should I get an eSIM for international travel?
- Ease of use: Manage your travel plan right on your smartphone, usually through an app. You can activate it instantly, eliminating the hassle of finding a nearby store or vending machine to purchase a local SIM card when you arrive.
- Affordability: With a travel eSIM, you can access a data plan from the local area you're visiting. You won't have to worry about paying expensive international roaming fees through your home carrier. Robust competition means you get the most bang for your buck.
- Versatility: Enjoy access to all your phone plans. Seamlessly switch between your domestic SIM card and travel plan without the need to fiddle with traditional SIM cards.
- Safety & security: Embedded SIM cards offer enhanced security compared to physical SIM cards. Additionally, in the event of a lost or stolen phone, they can be tracked with greater ease.
How to choose the best eSIM for Ireland
Don't let the wide range of eSIM options for Ireland overwhelm you. Your choice really comes down to the specifics of your itinerary, along with which features you need.
Let's take a look at a few questions that can narrow your requirements down quite a bit.
Where is your destination?
Most international providers offer local (single-country), regional, and global plans. So, the best travel phone plan for you depends on whether you're staying in Ireland for your entire visit or expanding your horizons to other European countries.
Ireland is a little different in terms of international phone service. There's Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is technically in the United Kingdom. So, if your travels will extend to that region, you'll need an eSIM that encompasses all of Europe and the UK, or a global eSIM.
How much data do you need?
Data plans typically begin at around 1GB and increase in size, with options available for unlimited data plans as well.
It's worth noting that some providers offer mobile hotspot usage while others do not. If you're looking to share data with other devices, make sure it's allowed before purchasing your plan.
Consider whether you'll minimize your phone use and reserve data-hungry tasks for the hotel Wi-Fi. If so, opting for a smaller amount of data would be more cost-effective.
How long will you be abroad?
When considering which data plan to choose, consider the duration of its validity. The options can vary from just a few days to a year or even longer. If you're a frequent visitor to the Emerald Isle, choose a larger data pack that can be used over several months.
On the other hand, if you're finally taking that once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation, you can comfortably opt for a validity period that aligns with the length of your trip.
I will note that you should check when the clock starts on your validity period. If it begins on activation rather than connection to an Irish network, wait until you land before doing so. Just check that there will be Wi-Fi available to download your eSIM profile.
Do you need international calling?
Some travel eSIM plans offer a local phone number, which enables you to make phone calls within Ireland and/or throughout Europe. If you need to make a call to your home or any other country, verify that your selected provider offers this feature.
If you decide on a data-only travel plan, you can still call and text globally by using WhatsApp or Wi-Fi calling. Keep in mind that utilizing an application for calling and sending SMS will draw on the data included in your travel plan.
Best eSIM for Ireland FAQs
Recap - What's the best travel eSIM for Ireland?
You've got plenty of options for phone service on your trip to Ireland. Choose from a wide selection of data packs and covered countries, with voice minute add-ons available from some providers, too.
If you've been bitten by the travel bug and are heading off around the globe, read our guide to the best eSIM for international travel.