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Are you gearing up for a visit to Portugal? You may want to know how to make sure you have good mobile coverage during your trip.
The great news is that with a travel eSIM, you can say goodbye to inconvenience because it provides you with immediate access to local networks.
In this guide, I'll outline the benefits of using an international eSIM card for your visit to Portugal. Then, I'll talk about the top eSIMs for Portugal and answer commonly 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).
aloSIM provides local coverage in over 170 destinations. It offers affordable prices and a respectable range of plan options and validity periods.
One of the things I like most about aloSIM is its clean, simple website interface. It's easy to find what you need, and there's no confusing jargon. Just search for the country or region you need and pick the package that suits your trip.
Another thing that makes aloSIM one of the best eSIMs for Portugal is that they offer a Western Europe plan. That's something that's not typically available from most providers. The plan covers four countries - France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. So, if you intend to explore a little while you're in the area, your eSIM will go right along with you.
Of course, you can always opt for the single-country Portugal eSIM if you plan to stay there for your whole trip.
Here are the essentials about aloSIM, along with some advantages and drawbacks:
- Covers 170+ countries & destinations
- 1GB - 100GB (up to 20GB for Portugal)
- Validity periods: 7 - 180 days (7 - 30 for Portugal)
- Prices start at $4.50
- Local & regional plans
- Affordable rates
- User-friendly app
- Mobile hotspot usage
- Business travel packages available
- No phone number included
- Customer support by email/chat only
What is a travel eSIM?
A travel eSIM is a digital SIM card that enables you to use mobile data plans that run on local networks in the country of your choice. This convenient option allows you to bypass the hunt for a local SIM card and can be activated in minutes.
Most popular smartphones launched in recent years support eSIM technology, such as the iPhone 13 and more recent models. Compatible phones also include a range of Samsung devices and other Android phones.
Important note: To utilize a travel eSIM, your device must be unlocked by your carrier. I suggest reaching out to your carrier if you're unsure of your phone's lock status.
How travel eSIMs work
Activating your eSIM is hassle-free; simply scan a QR code. You can use a second phone to do so or print out the QR code at home for later use. The QR code will provide instructions for the activation process.
On arrival at your destination, your phone will establish an internet connection with nearby networks. You'll instantly have the mobile data you need for uploading photos and using Google Maps. The quick activation lets you skip to what matters the most - enjoying your time in Portugal!
Why should I get an eSIM for international travel?
- Convenience: Manage everything on your smartphone, typically in an app. With instant activation, there's no need to search for a local store or vending machine to buy a traditional SIM card upon arrival.
- Cost-effectiveness: A travel eSIM gives you a local data plan. No more international roaming fees through your home carrier. The extensive range of providers competing for your business results in competitive pricing, ensuring you receive the best value.
- Flexibility: Keep all your phone plans ready to go on your device. Switch between your home SIM card and travel plan without changing SIM cards.
- Safety & security: Embedded SIM cards are safer and more secure than physical SIM cards. Plus, they can be tracked more easily if your phone is lost or stolen.
How to choose the best eSIM for Portugal
No need to be overwhelmed by the multitude of Portugal eSIM options out there. I've sorted out the best eSIMs for Portugal in terms of features, variety, and, of course, value.
Before moving forward, take a moment to reflect on what you personally consider to be the best eSIM for Portugal. Let's start with the basics.
Where is your destination?
Are you planning to explore different areas, or is Portugal your sole destination? Most international eSIM providers offer local (single-country), regional, and global plans.
Regional and global data plans are typically a little more expensive. However, they're more flexible if you plan to visit other countries.
Ensure that your eSIM data plan provides uninterrupted coverage across borders if you intend to travel between Portugal and other European countries or beyond.
How much data do you need?
Data packs start around 1GB and go up in increments, all the way to unlimited data plans for digital nomads. Some travel eSIM providers allow mobile hotspot usage (tethering), and some don't. Read your plan's terms to ensure it meets your specific needs.
Take into consideration whether you'll use your phone sparingly and use hotel Wi-Fi for most data-heavy tasks. In that case, you can go for a smaller, more affordable data limit.
How long will you be abroad?
Another factor to assess is the validity period. Options range from a few days to a year or more. Frequent travelers may want to go with a large data pack that they can use over a period of months. If it's a one-time dream vacation, go with a validity period that matches the length of your trip.
Before you decide on a provider, verify if the validity period begins upon activation or when you connect to a local network in Portugal.
If the validity period starts counting from the moment you activate it, I suggest waiting until you reach your destination before doing so. However, ensure that there will be Wi-Fi access at the airport, as you'll need it for the activation procedure.
Do you need international calling?
Some travel eSIMs provide a local phone number that allows you to make calls within the country you're visiting. Need to call home or another country in the world? Make sure your chosen provider offers this option.
If you opt for a travel eSIM that only provides data, you can use WhatsApp or Wi-Fi calling to contact loved ones at home. It's worth noting that using an app for calling and SMS will consume your plan data.
Best eSIM for Portugal FAQs
Recap - What's the best travel eSIM for Portugal?
You've got plenty of options when it comes to the best eSIM for Portugal. Whether the best option for you means unlimited data or the cheapest price, there's an eSIM available to meet your specific needs.
When you're ready to head off on your next international adventure, check out our guide to the best eSIM for international travel.