Portugal is an increasingly popular tourist destination, with its vibrant capital Lisbon drawing visitors from around the world. As a traveler to this beautiful city, having reliable connectivity is essential whether you need to access maps, translations, transport schedules, or stay in touch with loved ones back home.

Getting a local SIM card for your phone is the most convenient and affordable way to get online while in Lisbon. With so many network options and stores to visit, buying a SIM card on arrival can feel overwhelming without insider knowledge on the best places to go and companies to choose.

To help you navigate the process, this article provides extensive tips from Lisbon locals

sim card in lisbon

I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Lisbon?

According to the July 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report from Opensignal for Portugal, NOS won outright or shared first place in the most categories, including overall network experience.

NOS is the best mobile operator in Lisbon, Portugal. According to the July 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report from Opensignal for Portugal, NOS won outright or shared first place in the most categories, including overall network experience.

Specifically in Lisbon, NOS leads in key metrics:

  • Download Speed Experience: NOS had the fastest average speeds of 55.7 Mbps across Portugal. This is likely similar or faster in Lisbon as one of the largest cities.
  • Upload Speed Experience: NOS’ average speeds of 13.8 Mbps were over 2 Mbps faster than rivals, beneficial for uploading content in Lisbon.
  • Consistent Quality: NOS’ score of 77.9% means network quality is sufficient for tasks like streaming, gaming, etc. most of the time in Lisbon.
  • 5G Availability: As Lisbon is a heavily populated metropolitan area, NOS’ large 5G coverage of 19.4% means more reliable connectivity in the city.

So whether using 5G or regular mobile data, NOS appears to provide the most dependable and high-performing network experience for people living in or visiting Lisbon.

II. Best Lisbon SIM Cards and Cost

SIM CardNetworkData AllowancePrice (€)Price (USD)Notes
MEO Pré-pagoMEO5 GB for 30 days€9.99$11.26Includes 1000 minutes/SMS. Good coverage. Inactivity fees apply.
VodafoneVodafone3 GB for 30 days€9.90$11.13Includes 500 minutes/SMS. Fastest network. “Maintenance fees”.
NOS À MedidaNOS1 GB for 30 days€18$20.35Includes 800 minutes/SMS. Smaller network.
UZOMEO1 GB for 30 days€7.99$9.03Runs on MEO network. No fees.
LycamobileVodafone1 GB for 30 days€6$6.78Uses Vodafone network. No 4G. Cheap rates.
*Note: USD prices are estimates based on current exchange rates and may vary depending on currency fluctuations.

Overall, MEO Pré-pago and Vodafone provide the best nationwide coverage through their premium networks. For visitors, the Portugal Internet data SIM stands out as the top choice. NOS, UZO and Lycamobile also deliver cost-effective local SIM options.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Lisbon

You can pickup a prepaid Portuguese SIM card easily in Lisbon with various locations to choose from:

1. Upon Arrival

Vodafone has a store located next to luggage belt 9 that is open from 7AM to 10PM

Vodafone has a store located next to luggage belt 9 that is open from 7AM to 10PM. They will help you select a tourist data bundle, activate the SIM card, and get you connected quickly.

There are also a few smaller reseller booths that offer SIM cards from Lycamobile.

There are also a few smaller reseller booths that offer SIM cards from Lycamobile.

While convenient, do note that SIM card prices at the airport tend to be slightly more expensive than purchasing in the city. Common bundles range from €15-25 for the SIM itself and initial 5-10GB of high-speed data.

2. In the City

Alternatively there are many Vodafone and NOS stores dotted around central Lisbon neighborhoods:

Alternatively there are many Vodafone and NOS stores dotted around central Lisbon neighborhoods:

  • Rossio Square – Various outlets along pedestrianized square
  • Baixa District – Options on Rua Augusta, Rua Aurea & side streets
  • Bairro Alto – Stores on Rua do Alecrim and connecting roads
  • Chiado – Retail stores near metro stations and high street

Shopping malls like Vasco Da Gama, Colombo and Amoreiras also house provider stores for convenience.

With abundant choice, there’s no shortage of places to quickly buy your prepaid Portuguese SIM card once in town.

IV. eSIM for Travelers to Lisbon – A Smart Alternative

Besides physical SIM cards, eSIM connectivity is smart modern option:

An eSIM allows you to securely download a digital SIM profile directly to your phone rather than inserting a plastic card. This enables easy activation of Portuguese connectivity straight from your device.

Leading eSIM providers like portugalesim.com offer ultra convenience for leisure and business visits:

Leading eSIM providers like portugalesim.com offer ultra convenience for leisure and business visits:

Key Benefits

  • No roaming charges or network locks
  • Multi-country options from one account
  • Pay-as-you-go without contracts
  • Top-up and extend anytime needed
  • Strong Europe coverage and speeds

With both iOS and Android compatibility, simply order online and start using cellular data plus calling through your Lisbon eSIM within minutes.

An eSIM for Portugal provides flexibility whether needing few gigabytes over several days or large amounts monthly. Plus being digital means no chance of losing or damaging SIM cards when travelling between destinations.

Definitely an efficient connectivity choice for the modern wanderer around Lisbon and beyond.


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V. Things to Prepare when Buying a SIM Card in Lisbon

Following handy tips will make purchasing a Portuguese SIM card easier:

1. Check Device Compatibility – Ensure handset works with Vodafone, NOS or other provider SIMs pre-arrival

2. Know Network Needs – Will you mainly need data or domestic calls too? Pick plan accordingly

3. Unlock Phone – Remove network block from device to accept foreign SIM insertion

4. Have ID Ready – Bring passport as proof of identity for new SIM registration

5. Know Store Locations – Familiarise yourself in advance with airport/city outlet options

By confirming the above, your future Lisbon SIM card experience from airport arrivals hall to city streets will be hassle-free.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Here are our insider suggestions when getting a SIM card in Lisbon:

Best Performance

Go with market leader Vodafone for their extensive service coverage – avoids risk of patchiness from smaller networks.

Enough Data

Don’t under-estimate usage from maps/social media while exploring. Minimum 5GB but 15-30GB better for heavy usage.

Store Timing

Aim to buy early in trip – gives plenty time to test SIM and sort issues if any before key activities relying on stable connectivity.

Long Validities

Topping up extends validity nicely but still pick a longer initial duration. 30 days minimum but 180 available if staying over 6 months.

eSIM Capabilities

Seriously consider an eSIM like portugalesim.com by Gigago for effortless setup – digital convenience at its best.

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VII. FAQs about Buying a SIM Card in Lisbon

Which mobile operators can I buy a prepaid SIM card from in Lisbon?

The three main mobile network operators in Portugal are MEO, Vodafone and NOS. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards from their retail stores in Lisbon, as well as from third party retailers like Phone House, Worten and Payshop shops.

How much do prepaid SIM cards typically cost?

Prepaid SIM cards generally cost around €5-10. They often come pre-loaded with some initial credit or data as well. For example, MEO SIM cards cost €9.99 with 5GB data and calling credit.

What identification or registration do I need to buy a SIM card?

Portuguese SIM cards do not require registration. You only need to provide basic identification like a passport to purchase one.

How do I top-up credit on my SIM card in Lisbon?

You can top-up prepaid SIM cards with credit at retailers like Payshop shops, Worten stores, post offices, kiosks and supermarkets. Minimum top-ups are usually around €5-10. Some operators also allow online topping up with a credit/debit card.

Which network has the best coverage in Lisbon?

According to network tests, MEO generally has the best coverage in Lisbon and nationwide. Vodafone tends to have the fastest 4G speeds, while NOS has a smaller network. Coverage can vary by location though.

Can I use my SIM card for data roaming within the EU?

Yes, since Portugal is part of the EU,prepaid SIM cards from MEO, Vodafone and NOS can all be used for data and calling within the EU under the “roam like at home” rules without extra roaming charges.

VIII. Conclusion

In summary, buying a local Lisbon SIM card when visiting Portugal is the most practical way to get online across the city with no expensive roaming fees.

With abundance of central locations plus airport outlets, picking up your SIM is quick and convenient upon reaching the city.

Alternatively using an international eSIM like portugalesim.com in Lisbon is highly efficient for short term travelers who value fuss-free digital connectivity across devices. Avoid plastic SIM hassles while enjoying affordable data bundles that flex perfectly to your trip length.

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