Spain’s Canary Islands are a stunning archipelago situated off the northwest coast of Africa. Known for their year-round sunshine, volcanic landscapes, and vibrant culture, these islands attract millions of visitors annually. To stay connected during your visit, it’s essential to have a reliable and affordable mobile data plan. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best options for purchasing a SIM card in Canary Islands, ensuring seamless connectivity throughout your island-hopping adventures.

I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Canary Islands?

Network Coverage in the Canaries

All the major Spanish networks – Movistar, Vodafone and Orange – have extensive coverage throughout the Canary Islands. According to OpenSignal’s 2024 Mobile Network Experience Report, they each provide 4G access to over 96% of the population across the seven main islands. However, Orange has invested heavily in recent years to build out its infrastructure in more remote coastal and mountainous areas.

As a result, Orange now leads the way with an impressive 99.1% 4G population coverage in the Canaries according to OpenSignal. This includes high-speed access even in offshore locations like El Hierro. Its network is the most dependable choice for exploring the entire archipelago.

Customer Service

Customer satisfaction surveys show that Orange consistently delivers fast speeds without interruptions across its network in the Canaries. Live chat support is available for instant assistance in English as well.

Orange also has well-resourced information centers throughout the islands, ensuring help is never far away. It is committed to further 5G rollout to boost connectivity across the region.

Therefore, when considering strong coverage, affordable plans and excellent service, Orange stands out as the top choice for reliable mobile access during any vacation in the Canary Islands.

II. Choosing the Best SIM Card in Canary Islands

1. Movistar

Movistar’s Tuenti Prepago plan offers 20GB of data for €20, valid for 30 days. This is an excellent option for heavy data users who plan to stream movies, upload photos, or navigate using online maps.

2. Vodafone

Vodafone’s Prepago Vodafone plan provides 15GB of data for €15, valid for 28 days. While the data allowance is slightly lower than Movistar’s offering, the cost is more affordable, making it a great choice for budget-conscious travelers.

3. Orange

Orange’s Go Data plan offers 10GB of data for €12, valid for 30 days. This is a solid option for light to moderate data users who primarily use their phones for messaging, social media, and occasional web browsing.

4. Yoigo

Yoigo’s Sinfín Yoigo plan offers 20GB of data for €18, valid for 30 days. While the data allowance is on par with Movistar’s offering, the cost is slightly lower, making it an attractive option for those seeking value for money.

Here’s a comparison table of popular plan options for tourists from these network providers:

ProviderPlanDataValidityCost
MovistarTuenti Prepago20GB30 days€20
VodafonePrepago Vodafone15GB28 days€15
OrangeGo Data10GB30 days€12
YoigoSinfín Yoigo20GB30 days€18

It’s important to note that these plans are subject to change, and providers may introduce new offers or promotions at any time. It’s always a good idea to check with the provider or local stores for the most up-to-date information and choose the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Canary Islands

1. Upon Arrival

Many travelers prefer to purchase a SIM card immediately upon arrival, ensuring they have connectivity from the moment they step foot on the islands. Most major airports in the Canary Islands, such as Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) and Tenerife South Airport (TFS), have kiosks or stores operated by the major mobile network providers. Here, you can easily purchase a SIM card and top up your balance.

2. In the City

If you prefer to explore your options or need to purchase a SIM card after arriving at your accommodation, you’ll find numerous shops and kiosks throughout the cities and towns of the Canary Islands. Major mobile network providers like Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange have dedicated stores, while smaller providers like Yoigo may be available at convenience stores or electronics shops.

When purchasing a SIM card, remember to bring your passport or another form of identification, as providers may require it for registration purposes. Additionally, some stores may offer SIM card starter packs that include a pre-loaded data allowance, saving you the hassle of topping up immediately after purchase.

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IV. eSIM for Travelers to Canary Islands – a Smart Alternative

1. Major Carrier Websites

In recent years, eSIM technology has emerged as a convenient option for travelers, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. Major carriers like Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange offer eSIM plans that can be purchased and activated online before or during your trip to the Canary Islands.

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Alternatively, you can explore eSIM providers like esimspain.net, which offer various data plans specifically tailored for travelers to Spain and the Canary Islands. These platforms often provide user-friendly interfaces and detailed instructions on how to activate and manage your eSIM during your stay.

Using an eSIM can be a hassle-free solution, as you won’t need to worry about finding a physical SIM card or dealing with registration processes. Simply activate your eSIM plan online, and you’ll be ready to go with seamless connectivity throughout your Canary Islands adventure.


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V. Things to Prepare when Buying SIM cards in Canary Islands

Verify Coverage

Check coverage maps of providers for the specific islands you will be visiting. Coverage can vary between populated cities vs rural areas. Having a dual SIM phone is ideal to combine coverage from two networks.

Identification Documents

Be ready to show your passport or other photo ID for registration of the SIM card, as required by Spanish law

Payment Method

While most stores and kiosks accept cash payments, it’s advisable to have a credit or debit card on hand for convenience. Some providers may also offer online top-up options, making it easier to manage your data allowance during your stay.

Language Preparation

Although English is widely spoken in tourist areas, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Spanish phrases to facilitate communication when purchasing a SIM card. Having a translation app or dictionary can also be handy in case you encounter any language barriers.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Check Prices and Taxes

Prices in the Canary Islands are lower than mainland Spain due to a different tax rate (IGIC tax of 7% instead of 21% VAT). Make sure to ask for the Canary Islands tax inclusive price when buying a SIM card. You may get a bonus of around 14% added to your top-up as the adjustment for the lower tax.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

While a local SIM card is essential for staying connected on the go, don’t overlook the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots in your accommodation, restaurants, and public areas. Utilizing free Wi-Fi can help conserve your mobile data allowance for when you’re exploring the islands.

Battery Life and Power Banks

With increased data usage and navigation, your smartphone’s battery life may drain faster than usual. Consider carrying a power bank or investing in a portable charger to ensure uninterrupted connectivity throughout your adventures.

Data Usage Monitoring

Keep an eye on your data usage, especially if you’ve purchased a plan with a limited data allowance. Most providers offer apps or online tools to monitor your consumption and top up when necessary, avoiding unexpected charges or service interruptions.

VII. FAQs

1. Can I use my home SIM card in the Canary Islands?

While it’s possible to use your home SIM card in the Canary Islands, international roaming charges can quickly add up, making it an expensive option. Purchasing a local SIM card is generally more cost-effective and provides better coverage and data speeds.

2. How long does it take to activate a SIM card in the Canary Islands?

The activation process is usually quick, taking anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the provider and the store’s workload. Some providers may activate the SIM card instantly, while others may require additional registration steps.

3. Can I keep my existing phone number when using a local SIM card?

Unfortunately, you cannot transfer your existing phone number to a local SIM card in the Canary Islands. You’ll be assigned a new Spanish mobile number when you purchase a SIM card from a local provider.

4. Can I use my data allowance for tethering or as a mobile hotspot?

Many providers in the Canary Islands allow tethering or using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot, but restrictions and additional fees may apply. Check with your provider for their specific policies and any associated costs.

VIII. Conclusion

Staying connected during your travels in the Canary Islands is crucial for navigating, sharing experiences, and staying in touch with loved ones. By following the tips and recommendations in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the best SIM card option for your needs, ensuring a seamless and connected experience throughout your island-hopping adventures.

Remember to consider factors such as coverage, data allowance, and cost when selecting a provider, and don’t hesitate to ask locals for their recommendations. Embrace the convenience of modern technology and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Canary Islands while staying connected every step of the way.