Portugal is a popular tourist destination, and Porto specifically is known for its charming coastal scenery and historic architecture. When visiting Porto, having a local SIM card for your phone is extremely useful to help you get around, make reservations, and stay connected.

This guide reviews the major mobile carriers in Portugal, the best SIM card options for travelers to Porto, where to purchase them, how eSIM technology can simplify things, tips for preparing, recommendations for saving money, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.

With this advice from locals, you’ll know just what to do to stay connected during your time in Porto.

I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Porto?


If you’re looking for the best cell phone service in Porto, Portugal, NOS seems to be the top choice. Reports from network testing companies OpenSignal show that NOS performs the strongest in several important areas.

  • When it comes to average speeds, NOS blew past the competition. Users on NOS got download speeds around 55 Mbps on average. That’s noticeably faster than MEO at 49 Mbps and Vodafone at 35 Mbps. Faster speeds mean less waiting around for videos, games and apps to load.
  • NOS also led the pack in 5G connectivity. More of their customers could pick up a 5G signal more of the time compared to MEO and Vodafone. 5G is still new but promises super fast gigabit speeds someday. NOS users got the first taste.
  • Consistency is key too – you want your service to work smoothly without interruptions. Again, NOS scored highest at keeping connections strong enough for tasks like video calls or uploading photos.

Coverage maps showed NOS had radio towers blanketing the most areas across Portugal, including Porto. So chances are good you’ll get reception wherever you go.

II. Best Porto SIM Cards and Cost

SIM CardData AllotmentPrice (EUR)Price (USD)
MEO Pré-pago5 GB + 10 GB for messaging apps€9.99$11.50
Vodafone Easy Total5 GB€9.90$11.50
NOS À Medida1 GB data, 800 mins/SMS€12$10.50
UZO200 MB for 30 days€2.99$3.50
Lycamobile 1 GB data pack1 GB€6$6.50
*Note: Prices shown in USD are approximate conversions from EUR prices. Actual USD prices may vary depending on the exchange rate.

MEO Pré-pago and Vodafone Easy Total offer the most data at 5GB each for around 10 euros. NOS À Medida provides a balanced option with voice, data and messaging. For lighter data use, UZO is the most affordable at 2.99 euros for 200MB.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Porto

1. Upon Arrival

When you arrive at Porto Airport (OPO), there are a couple options to purchase your Vodafone tourist SIM:

  • Visit the Vodafone store located in the Arrivals area after Passport Control

Both sell the 15GB Vodafone Portuguese SIM card for €15. The process takes only a few minutes for activation after providing your unlocked phone and passport.

2. In the City

Alternatively, you can buy a SIM Card in Porto at one of major mobile carriers’ official shops located around the city.

Popular tourist areas with Vodafone, MEO or NOS stores include:

  • Rua de Santa Catarina
  • Avenida dos Aliados
  • NorteShopping mall

Bring your unlocked phone and passport. Activation takes around 10-15 minutes before you start using your new Portuguese phone number.

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IV. eSIM for Travelers to Porto – A Smart Alternative

If you’re planning a trip to beautiful Porto, Portugal, an eSIM is a smart way to stay connected while exploring the city. Unlike physical SIM cards that you have to swap out, eSIMs are installed digitally on your phone so you don’t have to mess with tiny inserts.

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Portugal eSIM from portugalesim.com offers affordable data-only plans for travelers visiting Porto and beyond. Our plans start from as low as $3.50 for 3 days of service. You can choose from multi-day packages ranging from 3 to 30 days. Data allowances range from 1GB up to 20GB per day so you’ll have more than enough to use maps, check social media and browse the internet.

Best of all, you can purchase and activate your Portugal eSIM right from your phone before you go. portugalesim.com will send you the eSIM profile immediately via email. Then just scan the QR code on your phone to install it. No more searching for elusive SIM cards at the airport! You’ll be connected to Portugal’s fast 4G network as soon as you land.

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

To ensure the process goes smoothly when you purchase your Portuguese SIM card in Porto, make sure to bring:

1. An unlocked phone – Your phone cannot be locked to a specific carrier back home otherwise it likely will not be compatible. Contact your provider in advance to request an unlock code if needed.

2. Passport – Your passport will need to be scanned for identification purposes when buying a prepaid SIM card in Portugal from Vodafone or other local carriers.

3. Credit/debit card – Having a credit or debit card on hand makes paying the €15 activation fee simple when purchasing your Porto SIM.

4. eSIM compatibility– If using the eSIM option through international providers like portugalesim.com, you’ll need to make sure that your device supports eSIM function. Check out our esim compatible device list here

With these four items ready, buying any physical or digital SIM will be quick and hassle-free upon arrival in Porto.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Beyond the major steps outlined already for getting a Porto SIM card, here are some additional tips:

  • Purchase your SIM at the airport on arrival for immediate connectivity that day
  • Go with Vodafone or NOS for their proven reliability and speeds based in Porto
  • Keep your existing number active on airplane mode for OTP texts/calls as needed in dual SIM devices
  • Enable data roaming if traveling onwards across Europe to avoid switching SIMs
  • Use eSIM for maximum convenience if your phone supports this technology
  • Book your first few nights of accommodation in advance with your old carrier before swapping over

Following this advice will help ensure a smooth transition to your new Portuguese SIM during your visit.

VII. FAQs about Buying a SIM Card in Porto

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

The main mobile operators in Portugal are MEO, Vodafone, and NOS. You can purchase their prepaid SIM cards in stores located in Porto. MEO and Vodafone tend to have the widest coverage nationwide.

How much do SIM cards typically cost?

Starter SIM card kits from the main operators usually cost around €10 and come with some included minutes/texts and data valid for 30 days. SIM-only cards without credit are sometimes available for around €5-10.

How do I top-up the credit on my prepaid SIM card?

You can top-up prepaid SIM cards from MEO, Vodafone and NOS at Payshop stores, which are found across Portugal including in Porto. Some convenience stores and newsagents may also sell top-up vouchers. Minimum top-ups are typically €5-10.

Do I need to provide any identification to buy a SIM card?

Identification is generally not required to purchase prepaid SIM cards in Portugal. The process is quick and anonymous. However, some operators may ask to see your passport if you’re purchasing a SIM card as a foreigner.

What data plans and add-ons are available?

Common data add-ons range from 250MB for €3.99 to 5GB for €15. Data-heavy plans with 10GB or more are also available. Data bundles typically last 30 days and automatically renew. Both operators and MVNOs like Lycamobile offer bundles.

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

Yes, as Portugal is in the EU you can use your Portuguese SIM with no roaming charges throughout the EU/EEA. MEO, Vodafone and NOS comply with EU roaming regulations.

VIII. Final Words

Purchasing a local Porto SIM card for your unlocked phone is highly useful during your travels through this historic coastal city. Vodafone Portugal provides the best connectivity with ample data and speeds across the region.

Simply buy their 15GB tourist SIM upon arrival or their stores in the city, activate within minutes, and leverage the convenience of local calling, maps, travel apps, and more with cell service on Portugal’s top mobile network. Alternatively, eSIM technology like portugalesim.com makes managing travel connectivity easier than ever.

With this local advice, you can now stay conveniently connected as you explore beautiful Porto!

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