Are you planning a trip to Madrid and wondering how to stay connected while exploring the city? Look no further, as we have gathered all the information you need to know about buying a SIM card in Madrid. As locals, we understand the importance of having a reliable and affordable means of communication while traveling.

With this guide, you will be able to choose the best mobile operator, find the best SIM card deals, and know where to buy them in Madrid.

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I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Madrid?

Before diving into the details of buying a SIM card in Madrid, let’s first take a look at the major mobile network providers in the city. The three main operators are Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange, with Yoigo being a smaller but popular option as well. Each provider offers different plans and packages, so it’s essential to compare them before making a decision.

four major carriers spain

Movistar

As the largest operator in Spain, Movistar offers incredibly fast speeds and wide coverage across Madrid. Test results from Opensignal show Movistar delivering the best video, gaming and overall experiences on Spanish networks. Their prepaid plans provide excellent value with generous data allowances. Movistar stores are also widely available to purchase SIM cards.

Orange

With reliable availability of over 99% according to Opensignal, Orange is a solid choice for consistent connectivity in Madrid. While their speeds are slightly behind Movistar, Orange has rolled out 5G services aggressively. Their prepaid Holidays Pass plans are ideally suited for visitors. Orange SIMs can easily be picked up from local shops as well.

Vodafone

Offering competitive speeds and nearly as widespread coverage as the top two, Vodafone is another great option. Their Prepago prepaid portfolio provides good value with double data promotions currently. Vodafone is committed to 5G expansion and was Spain’s first provider to launch the technology. Visitors benefit from inclusive EU roaming too.

Yoigo

Backed by the nation’s fourth largest network, Yoigo offers affordable no-contract plans in Madrid. While their speeds lag peers, value seekers get quality service. Yoigo recently upgraded infrastructure to boost availability. Their pay-as-you-go SIMs activate on arrival. Yoigo makes connectivity simple and pocket-friendly.

As you can see, all the major network providers offer similar plans with varying data and speed options. However, Movistar has the best coverage in Madrid, followed by Vodafone and Orange. Yoigo, on the other hand, has slightly lower coverage but offers competitive prices.

II. Best Madrid SIM Cards and Cost

Now that you have an idea of which network provider to choose, let’s take a look at the best SIM cards for tourists in Madrid. The following are some of the most popular options among travelers:

OperatorCoverageData AllowancePriceValidityNotes
MovistarExcellent nationwide coverage including Madrid. Consistently rated as the fastest network.Prepago Plus: 10+30GB for €10/28 days.Competitively priced plans. Wide variety of data allowances and call/text packages.28 days.Major operator with reliable connectivity. Most monthly plans include EU roaming.
VodafoneExtensive coverage across Madrid. Among the top networks for speed and performance.Prepago S: 50GB (25GB + 25GB) for €10/28 days. Largest data packages out of top operators.Flexibility to rollover unused data/minutes. Occasional double data promotions.28 days.Support 5G in Madrid city center. Includes EU/UK/US roaming on prepaid plans.
OrangeVirtually 100% coverage in Madrid according to Opensignal. Consistently high speeds.Go Fly: 100GB for €20/28 days. Largest single data package at a competitive price.Wide selection of short term passes tailored for visitors. Bonus data offers common.Ranges from 5-28 days.EU roaming included. Maintains retail presence at major airports/stations.
YoigoReliable connectivity in Madrid through network sharing with Orange. Speeds on par with major operators.Tarifa prepago más barata: 25GB for €10/30 days.Affordable prices with no long term commitments.30 days.Only domestic operator focused on prepaid market. No SMS included.

It’s worth noting that these are just a few of the many options available in Madrid. You can also find SIM cards with higher data limits or longer validity periods, depending on your needs. However, these four options are the most popular among tourists due to their affordability and convenience.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Madrid

Now that you have decided on the network provider and the SIM card, the next step is to know where to buy it. There are two main options for purchasing a SIM card in Madrid: upon arrival at the airport or in the city.

1. Upon Arrival

If you prefer to have a SIM card ready as soon as you land in Madrid, you can purchase one at the airport. All major airports in Madrid, including Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, have kiosks or stores where you can buy SIM cards. These kiosks are usually located near the baggage claim area or in the arrivals hall.

The advantage of buying a SIM card at the airport is that you can start using it right away. However, keep in mind that the prices may be slightly higher compared to buying them in the city. Also, the staff at the kiosks may not speak English, so it’s best to have a translation app or a list of phrases ready to communicate your needs.

2. In the City

If you prefer to explore the city first before purchasing a SIM card, there are several options available:

  • Mobile phone operator stores: you can buy one at any of the network provider’s stores or authorized retailers. These stores are scattered all over Madrid, and you can easily find one in popular tourist areas such as Gran Vía, Puerta del Sol, and Plaza Mayor.
  • Locutorios (internet cafes): These shops often sell prepaid SIM cards and can help you activate them for a fee.

Buying a SIM card in the city gives you the opportunity to compare prices and plans from different providers. You can also ask for assistance from the staff, who are usually fluent in English and can help you choose the best option for your needs.

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IV. eSIM for Travelers to Madrid – a Smart Alternative

If you don’t want to deal with physical SIM cards, you can opt for an eSIM instead. An eSIM is a digital SIM card that is embedded in your phone and can be activated remotely by scanning a QR code or downloading an app. This means you don’t have to worry about losing or damaging your SIM card, and you can easily switch between network providers without changing the physical card.

Major carriers such as Vodafone, Orange, and Movistar offer eSIM options for travelers to Madrid. You can either purchase an eSIM directly from their website or visit a store to get it activated. Another option is to choose international eSIM providers like esimspain.net, which offers eSIMs from various network providers in Spain.

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V. Things to Prepare when Buying SIM cards in Madrid

Before heading out to buy a SIM card in Madrid, make sure to prepare the following:

Unlocked phone

Make sure your phone is unlocked, so it can accept any SIM card.

Valid ID

You will need to present a valid form of identification, such as a passport, when purchasing a SIM card.

Cash or credit card

You can purchase SIM cards with a small amount of credit included. You’ll likely need to do an initial top-up as well. Have your credit or debit card handy to do this, as many providers only accept cards with a Spanish billing address for online top-ups.

Get Spanish APN settings

Note the correct Access Point Name settings for data and MMS for your chosen provider to ensure connections work properly.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

  • If you plan on using your SIM card for calls and texts, make sure to check the international rates before making calls or sending messages.
  • To avoid running out of data, consider purchasing a data-only SIM card and using messaging apps like WhatsApp or Skype for calls and texts.
  • If you’re traveling with a group, consider getting a SIM card with a higher data limit and sharing it among yourselves to save money.
  • Keep your SIM card safe and secure, as losing it can be a hassle and may require you to purchase a new one.

VII. FAQs

Can I use my home country’s SIM card in Madrid?

While it is possible to use your home country’s SIM card, it often results in exorbitant roaming charges. It is recommended to switch to a local SIM card or eSIM for more affordable and reliable connectivity.

Do I need to provide identification to purchase a Madrid SIM card or eSIM?

Yes, as per Spanish regulations, you will need to present a valid identification document (such as a passport) when purchasing a SIM card or activating an eSIM.

Can I top up my prepaid Madrid SIM card or eSIM online?

Yes, most mobile network operators offer online top-up options for convenience. Check your provider’s website or app for available top-up methods.

Are there any restrictions when purchasing eSIMs in Madrid?

Some mobile network operators may have device-specific limitations or requirements for eSIM activation. Ensure that your device supports eSIM technology and follow the provider’s instructions for compatibility.

VIII. Conclusion

Buying a SIM card in Madrid is a simple and convenient process that can save you from expensive roaming charges. With this guide, you now have all the information you need to choose the best mobile operator, find the best SIM card deals, and know where to buy them in Madrid. So, stay connected and enjoy your trip to this beautiful city!