Exploring Spain is sure to be an unforgettable adventure. As your plane touches down, images of vibrant culture, history and beauty await across this diverse country. From Barcelona’s iconic architecture and nightlife, to Seville’s historic plazas and flamenco, Madrid’s world-class art scene or coastal towns dotting the Mediterranean – Spain has endless ways to captivate you.

But how will you share your experiences with friends and family back home without cell service? Ensuring connectivity makes experiencing each moment even richer. Opting for a Spanish SIM card or eSIM allows you to fully immerse in the culture while still sharing your journey.

Best sim card in Spain for tourist and esim

But what are the best SIM card in Spain for tourists? Should you buy a local Spain SIM card or go with an international eSIM? This article will provide detailed information to help you decide the best SIM card or eSIM option for your upcoming Spain trip.

I. Should I Buy a SIM Card in Spain for Tourists?

Whether you’re visiting Spain from Europe or farther afield, having reliable internet access is essential when traveling. However, options and costs can vary depending on your location.

Buy a sim card in Spain for tourists
Connectivity Option Description Pros Cons
Portable Wi-Fi Device Portable Wi-Fi devices, also known as pocket Wi-Fi or Mi-Fi, offer the convenience of having a personal Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared among multiple devices.
  • They provide a stable and secure connection, and some companies offer unlimited data plans.
  • Best suited to traveling families or business travelers.
Renting or purchasing a portable Wi-Fi device comes with additional costs. The device needs to be charged regularly, and there may be limitations on data speed or coverage depending on the provider.
Public Wi-Fi Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona have free public WiFi available in some areas like airports, train stations, tourist spots and coffee shops. They offer free or low-cost internet access and can be convenient for light internet usage. But coverage outside major urban centers will be limited. You'll need to remain within range of access points. Speed and reliability can also vary depending on the number of users.
International Roaming If your mobile carrier supports international roaming, it can provide seamless connectivity without the need for a local SIM or portable Wi-Fi device.
  • You don't have to change your home country number
  • For European travelers, using data roaming with your home EU carrier may be convenient.
  • International roaming charges can be exorbitant, and data speeds and allowances may be limited. 
  • If you're Non-European travelers, you should probably avoid using data roaming with your home carrier if possible

 

While each connectivity option has its advantages, tourists traveling in Spain will likely have the best experience when it comes to staying connected by going with a local SIM card or eSIM. Relying solely on public Wi-Fi can leave you waiting for networks to appear, and portable Wi-Fi devices or roaming plans tend to be quite pricey for longer trips. Getting a prepaid Spanish SIM or tourist eSIM removes those worries – you’re in control of your data without risk of overage charges, and coverage is reliable anywhere you go in the country. 

II. SIM Card or eSIM: Which is The Better Choice for Travelers?

Whether you want directions around the cities, cute foodie photos for Instagram, or just browsing videos before bed, having mobile data is a must. But which option is best – a classic SIM card or fancy new eSIM? Let’s break down the pros and cons of each.

1. SIM Card in Spain for Tourists

what is a sim card

Standalone SIM cards have long been the standard way for international travelers to get mobile data and calling in another country. The main advantages of a SIM card in Spain for tourists include:

  • Wide availability. All major Spanish carriers like Movistar, Vodafone and Orange offer prepaid SIM cards that can be purchased at airports, stores, or online before your trip.
  • Flexibility. With a SIM card, you can easily switch carriers or data plans by just swapping the SIM if you need more data or a better coverage area.
  • Familiar technology. SIM cards have been used for over 20 years so the vast majority of mobile devices work with them. No need to worry if your phone supports the technology.

The downside is that SIM cards are physical objects that can be lost or damaged. You’ll also need to visit a carrier store or shop to activate your new Spanish number.

2. eSIMs

sim vs esim

Electronic SIMs (eSIMs) embed your carrier profile directly into your device, eliminating the need for a physical card. The main perks of eSIM for Spain travel include:

  • Convenience. No need to source and insert a tiny SIM card. Just download the carrier profile before your trip.
  • No risk of loss. Since it’s a digital profile not a physical item, there’s no chance of losing your eSIM while traveling around Spain.

However, eSIM also has limitations currently including:

  • Limited availability. Not all Spanish carriers or phones support eSIM yet. You’ll need to ensure your device and desired network are compatible.
  • Difficulty switching providers. It’s not as simple as swapping a SIM card to change carriers with an eSIM since profiles must be downloaded.

Overall, for travelers whose devices support eSIM technology, this digital profile offers flexibility in easily selecting plans, changing networks on the go, and avoiding the hassle of lost or damaged SIM cards. Meanwhile, SIM cards remain the most universal choice available for activating any unlocked device upon arrival in Spain. Weighing compatibility and lifestyle factors will determine the best fit between SIM card or eSIM.

III. How Much Data is Enough When Traveling to Spain?

For most tourists, 5-10 GB of data for a 1-3 week trip is sufficient. This allows moderate usage of maps, social media, some video/music streaming and web browsing.

How Much Data is Enough in Spain?

Here are some scenarios for data usage requirements:

  • Light user: If you will be mostly sightseeing in cities, using maps and occasional web browsing, 3-5 GB is adequate for a 7-10 days trip.
  • Moderate user: For regular social media usage, streaming music, uploading photos and occasional video calling, 5-8 GB would work for a 10-14 days trip.
  • Heavy user: If you plan to stream a lot of videos/music, use mobile hotspot frequently, 8-15 GB may be required for a 2 week or longer Spain visit.

Note that the major cities of Spain have excellent free WiFi coverage reducing reliance on mobile data. Most restaurants, cafes, hotels and attractions provide free WiFi. Also, a SIM card in Spain for tourists can easily be topped up if you run low on data.

IV. Best Prepaid Plans in Spain for Tourists

1. SIM Cards from Local Mobile Carriers

To help you stay connected while visiting Spain, we’ve selected top prepaid SIM card options. The lists includes four major carriers: Orange, Movistar, Vodafone and Yoigo, known for their nationwide coverage.

four major carriers spain

Important note: Be sure to do your research to choose the best provider for your needs. Check out our comprehensive guide comparing Spain’s top mobile operators that considers coverage, plans, speeds and technologies here.

Operator Cost Data Allowance Call Minutes Text Messages International Roaming Network Coverage Best Prepaid Plan
Orange €10-20 25GB-100GB 50-100 minutes on lower plans, unlimited on higher plans. €0.15-0.18 per SMS Included in EU countries 97.5% 4G availability Go Fly - €20 for 100GB
Vodafone €10-40 50GB-190GB 300-Unlimited minutes depending on plan. €0.18 per SMS Included in EU, UK and USA 98.6% 4G availability Prepago XL - €30 for 160GB
Movistar €10-20 10GB-105GB 200-400 minutes on lower plans, unlimited on higher plans. Calls and SMS included Included in EU countries 98.9% 4G availability Prepago Total - €20 for 105GB
Yoigo €10-35 25GB-150GB Unlimited calls included on all plans. €0.15-1.21 per SMS Included in EU countries 98.5% 4G availability Wifi Portátil Prepago - €35 for 150GB

All the major carriers – Orange, Vodafone, Movistar, and Yoigo – provide solid service across the country. Movistar has the most extensive network even reaching rural spots, but their plans tend to cost a bit more.

Movistar and Orange hit a nice sweet spot with mid-range priced plans that get you coverage just about everywhere. They’re also leading the 5G charge right now. While Movistar and Orange might have slightly better coverage in some places, Yoigo works great for basic use in major cities and towns.

When you consider price, data allowances and network reach, Orange and Yoigo prepaid SIMs seem like the best overall value for most visitors to Spain. Both will keep you online without breaking the bank.

2. eSIM from International Providers

Whether you live in picturesque Madrid or are exploring Barcelona’s charming streets, having reliable mobile connectivity is essential for everyday life and travels in Spain. That’s where eSIM technology comes in, doing away with physical SIM cards while offering numerous advantages. We’ll introduce you to the top eSIM plans available across Spain.

Provider Network Operator Plan Validity Data Charge (US$) Pros

esimspain.net

Orange 3 Days 1GB-20GB/1GB-3GB daily 6-43.90
  • Offers the most flexibility in terms of plan durations
  • Plans include data only or data with calls
  • Allows consumers to choose from a wide range of data allowances from 1GB to 20GB
5 Days 6-44
7 Days 6.50-45
10 Days 6.50-47
15 Days 6.50-69.50
20 Days $7.00 - $92.00
25 Days $7.00 - $114.50
30 Days $7.00 - $136.90
14 Days (Data & Voice) 8GB/20GB + FREE calls $21.90 - $43.90

Airalo

Movistar (4G/LTE) 7 Days 1GB 4.50
  • Affordable prices
  • Top-up allowed
15 Days 2GB 6.50
30 Days 3GB 8.50
5GB 11.50
10GB 18
20GB 26

Holafly

Vodafone Spain

Orange Spain

Telefonica Spain

Yoigo

(4G/LTE/5G)

5 Days Unlimited 19
  • The simplicity of offering unlimited data for all plans could appeal to some customers
  • Offers a wide range of plan durations from 5 days up to 90 days
7 Days 27
10 Days 34
15 Days 47
20 Days 54
30 Days 64
60 Days 87
90 Days 99

Nomad

Vodafone 7 Days 1GB 6
  • Unlimited plans provide good value

Movistar

Orange

Vodafone

MasMovil

30 Days 3GB  8
5GB 11.5*
10GB 17*
15GB 27*
20GB 33

Alosim

Movistar 

Vodafone

(4G/LTE)

7 Days 1GB 4.50
  • Low pricing
  • Top-up allowed
15 Days 2GB 6.50
30 Days 3GB 8.50
5GB 11.50
10GB 18
20GB 26

Whichever Spanish eSIM provider you choose, you can generally expect comparable quality across plans in terms of pricing, coverage maps, data bundles and customer assistance offerings. The most important things to consider include each network’s coverage scope throughout your destinations in Spain, how streamlined and user-friendly the activation procedure is, and any extra perks that could enhance your travels. 

V. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Spain for Tourists?

Spain SIM cards can be purchased at the airport upon arrival, at convenience stores, phone shops or online:

1. Upon Your Arrival

where to buy sim card at spain airport

Major Spain airports have dedicated SIM card kiosks or stores representing the top operators where you can buy a new connection on arrival. For example:

  • At Barcelona’s El Prat airport, you’ll find CellAir shops with plans from all major carriers in both terminals. In Terminal 1, look for them pre-security near gates A-B or post-security nearby. Terminal 2 has CellAir pre-security by arrivals and airside near gate 1. No worries if you miss them – Movistar and Vodafone stores are also close by once you’re through security.
  • Madrid’s Barajas airport has you covered too. In Terminal 4, CellAir shops are pre-security near arrivals 5-6 and post-security by gate 39. Before security, Vodafone is near arrivals 4. Once through, Orange is in the boarding area.

Don’t stress if store locations vary – just check signs as you go. All the big providers like Vodafone, Movistar and Orange will have options.

Buying at the airport is convenient, especially after a long flight. But airport SIMs tend to be a bit more expensive than those bought in the city.

2. Buy a SIM card in Spain for Tourists locally

Where to buy a sim card in Spain

Alternatively, you can buy a SIM card in Spain for tourists in the city at operator stores, phone shops or kiosks. Locals stores often have better promotions than the airport.

Visit the official stores of major mobile providers such as Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange to purchase a SIM card tailored to your needs. You can also order a SIM card directly from their websites and have it shipped to any Spanish address for a small fee.

Maybe you’re interested in:

Travel SIM cards are also offered by retailers such as El Corte Inglés, Carrefour, and Media Markt. This provides an opportunity to compare different options before making a purchase. Many smaller stores in the neighborhoods also sell top-up SIM cards and prepaid plans, although choices may be limited, and pricing may be higher.

Note: Activation process is simple but ensure the SIM is registered before leaving the store in case of issues.

VI. How to Buy eSIM Spain

Good news for travelers – getting mobile data in Spain is now easier than ever before thanks to eSIM technology. eSIMs allow you to activate a data plan directly on your phone without a pesky plastic SIM card.

One of the best places to purchase an eSIM for Spain is from esimspain.net. Their straightforward website lets you browse affordable plans starting at just a few dollars for short trips. Plans range from 3-30 days so you’re sure to find one that matches your stay.

best spain esim plans

Once you select a plan, all you have to do is complete the quick online order. The friendly team at esimspain.net will then send you the activation details straight to your email. No waiting in line or puzzles to solve!

When you arrive in Spain, installing your eSIM is a breeze. Simply open the email, click the link, and watch your phone do its thing. Presto – you’ll be connected to WiFi calling and data across the country! If any issues come up, don’t panic. The customer support team at esimspain.net is available via WhatsApp to help day and night. They want your trip to go smoothly as much as you do.

So whether you’re exploring Barcelona or relaxing in Seville, an eSIM from esimspain.net is the stress-free way to stay online abroad. Easy setup means more time for fun – now that’s what I call on vacation!

VII. Tips for Saving Mobile Data During Your Spain Trip

Here are some tips to reduce mobile data consumption if you are on a limited allowance:

Mobile Internet in Spain
  • Connect to free WiFi networks whenever available at cafes, restaurants, hotels etc. This saves cellular data for when you really need it.
  • Disable auto-play and background updates for apps like Facebook, Instagram, Netflix etc. They consume a lot of passive data.
  • Disable roaming data if your SIM has EU roaming. Use roaming selectively in areas with no local coverage.
  • Limit bandwidth heavy activities like video calling, Netflix streaming or YouTube to WiFi connections only.
  • Toggle on data saver mode on Google Maps to limit background usage. Pre-download offline maps for the areas you will visit.
  • Use messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger for texts and calls to avoid SMS/call charges.
  • Purchase a local SIM card with more data than you need. Having a buffer comes in handy if your usage is higher than expected.

Following these tips will help you reduce mobile data usage, allowing you to stay connected for longer during your Spain trip – especially if you are on a low data SIM plan.

VIII. FAQs

Do I need to show passport/ID to get a SIM card in Spain for tourists?

Most tourist SIMs can be purchased over-the-counter without paperwork. Some providers may require you to show your passport as identity proof. Carry your passport just in case when buying a local Spain SIM.

Can I use a Spain SIM across Europe?

Spain SIM cards include EU roaming capabilities at no extra cost. But usage may be capped (e.g. 5GB EU roaming on a 10GB Spain SIM). Get a higher data SIM and selectively use EU roaming for best value.

Can a SIM card in Spain for tourists can be reloaded?

Yes, you can easily top up or reload your Spain SIM card by purchasing scratch-off recharge vouchers locally. Just enter the code into your SIM’s menu option to add more data, minutes or validity period.

Can a SIM card in Spain for Tourists work for voice and SMS?

Most tourist SIMs include a bundle of local Spain calling minutes and SMS that you can use during your trip. Incoming calls and texts are generally free. Top up to add more calling/texting capacity.

Can I use a SIM card in Spain for Tourists in multiple devices?

Usually one SIM card can only be used in one device at a time. You can switch it between devices but they cannot be used simultaneously. For multiple devices, buy additional SIMs or use a mobile hotspot.

Is an eSIM better than a physical SIM for travelers?

eSIMs don’t require a physical card, so they’re very convenient for tourists. You can easily buy an eSIM plan online before your trip. However, ensure your device supports eSIM. Physical SIMs still work on any phone.

Which provider has the best value plans for tourists?

Orange, Vodafone and Lebara offer dedicated tourist eSIM/SIM packs with good data allowances starting from as low as €10. Service providers like esimspain.net also offer short-term eSIM plans for Spain.

Is it easy to set up an eSIM?

Setting up an eSIM is simple – just download the profile from your email and scan the QR code to activate it on your device. eSIM providers offer online support if needed.

IX. Final Words

I hope this detailed guide has provided you all the key information to choose the best Spain SIM card or eSIM option for your upcoming trip. A local SIM is highly recommended to stay affordable connected across Spain.

Do some research to pick the right prepaid plan based on your data needs, trip duration and network coverage. For longer visits, you can’t go wrong with SIM cards from leading operators like Orange and Vodafone. For shorter trips, convenient eSIMs like esimspain.net provide flexibility.

With the right SIM card, you can have access to maps, travel apps, unlimited web browsing and more – making your Spain travels easier and more enjoyable.

Safe travels and have an incredible trip!