Imagine, it’s 1 AM and you’re on the side of the street trying to order an Uber after drinks at a bar in central Athens. You were too cheap to get a data plan, and now you’re furiously trying to find public wifi. But it’s no use, you can’t connect anywhere. Now you’ll have to try your luck with the local taxi drivers, and you’re too inebriated to haggle with them if they decide to scam you.

When planning a trip to Greece, having reliable data connectivity is crucial for staying connected and making the most out of your travel experience. Whether it’s ordering an Uber, navigating through Google Maps, or staying in touch with loved ones, having a working data connection on your phone can greatly enhance your travel convenience and efficiency.

In this article, I will guide you through the various SIM card options available in Greece, including the eSIM options, and provide you with valuable insights on where to purchase them. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of how to stay connected during your time in Greece and make informed decisions about the best SIM card option for your needs.

Let’s dive in!

Why Should I Get A Sim Card In Greece?

As a traveller, having abundant data is crucial for a seamless experience while exploring Greece. It enables you to stay connected with loved ones, access essential travel apps, and navigate through unfamiliar areas with online maps. 

For those who work remotely, having a reliable data connection allows you to stay productive and connected to your work responsibilities, ensuring a smooth workflow even while travelling. I should note that Greece’s internet speeds, particularly on broadband, are lacklustre. Thus, having access to mobile data at all times will help you a bit, especially when you’re taking important calls.

Tourist SIM Card Greece
Tourist SIM Card Greece

Getting an eSIM for Greece

One of the most convenient options for travellers arriving in Greece is to consider using a cheap eSIM. With an eSIM, you can easily activate a data plan without the need for a physical SIM card. This eliminates the hassle of finding a local store and swapping SIM cards. Upon landing at the airport, you can simply activate an eSIM plan, which provides you with immediate data connectivity to start your journey seamlessly.

Using a regular tourist SIM card for cost-saving

While eSIMs offer convenience, regular tourist SIM cards are a popular choice for many travellers due to their cost-saving benefits and wider availability. Purchasing a tourist SIM card allows you to enjoy local rates and packages, often at a more affordable price compared to roaming with your home network. Additionally, having a dedicated local SIM card provides you with the freedom to access data at any time without relying on Wi-Fi networks, making it especially convenient if you’re working remotely or have internet-intensive tasks to accomplish.

Where Can I Find A Sim Card In Greece?

Buying a SIM card at the airport in Greece

Upon arriving in Greece, you can conveniently find mobile shops selling SIM cards at major airports. However, it’s important to note that SIM cards purchased at airports often come with a higher price tag compared to other locations. While this option offers convenience for immediate connectivity upon arrival, it’s recommended to be cautious about potential overpricing. If you prefer to save some money, consider exploring alternative options.

Buying A SIM Card in Tourist Areas

Throughout popular tourist areas in Greece, you’ll find an abundance of stores where you can purchase SIM cards. These stores are strategically located to cater to the needs of travellers, offering a range of prepaid SIM card options. 

You can easily find them in bustling city centers, popular coastal towns, and tourist hubs. Their convenient locations make it hassle-free for you to obtain a SIM card and ensure you stay connected throughout your trip.

Buying A SIM Card Outside Tourist Areas

While stores in tourist areas are well-equipped to handle the needs of travellers, it’s important to exercise caution when considering stores located outside popular tourist destinations. Employees in these stores may not be as familiar with processing tourist packages, leading to potential complications or delays in activating your SIM card. To ensure a smoother experience, it’s generally recommended to rely on stores in tourist areas where staff members are more accustomed to assisting international visitors.

For instance, if you’re going to stay in Athens at the beginning of your trip, I would recommend getting your SIM card right away there even if lots of places offer free Wifi. Later on, you might want that mobile data when you’re on some obscure island.

What to know if you decide to get an eSIM

In addition to physical SIM cards, travellers visiting Greece also have the option of using eSIMs. 

An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that can be activated on compatible devices without the need for a physical card. It offers a convenient and flexible solution for those seeking to avoid the hassle of changing physical SIM cards. With an eSIM, you can easily switch between different carriers or data plans, providing greater flexibility during your travels.

For me, this is a big deal when I get out of the airport. I, like many other tourists, arrived at Athens airport, which has WiFI. However, after that, you’ll be on your own. You’ll need to find your way to your accommodations expediently, and having an eSIM can help you minimize any risks involved, including, for instance, getting scammed by a taxi driver.

eSIM Benefits

In my opinion, using an eSIM provides 3 benefits. 

  1. It eliminates the need to find and purchase a physical SIM card, making it a convenient option for those who prefer a hassle-free setup. 
  2. eSIMs allow you to switch between different mobile operators or data plans effortlessly, providing flexibility and enabling you to choose the most suitable option for your needs. 
  3. eSIMs are ideal for dual SIM devices, allowing you to use your home network while simultaneously enjoying local data connectivity.

My Recommendation

To me, Airalo seems like the gold standard for eSIMs, but you should shop around considering that most eSIM providers are a bit overpriced.

If I were you, I would get the cheapest eSIM plan for Greece before you arrive, start using it at the airport, and then get a regular SIM card the next day. In addition to Airalo, Holafly and Nomad seem to offer the best options in this space. I haven’t used any of them though personally.

How To Buy A Sim Card In Greece

Buying a SIM card in Greece is simple as long as you follow the requirements:

What to bring

When buying a SIM card in Greece, it’s important to have certain items with you. 

Firstly, carry your passport as it will be required for registration purposes. 

Also, bring a credit card and some cash to cover the cost of the SIM card and any top-ups you may need. 

Major providers like Vodafone may accept credit cards, it’s worth noting that some smaller stores and vendors in Greece may only accept cash payments. Being prepared with the necessary documents and payment methods will ensure a smoother purchasing process.

Keep Records In Case You Need To Return

After purchasing a SIM card, it’s crucial to keep the receipt provided by the store. The receipt serves as proof of purchase and contains important information such as the SIM card number, activation date, and any relevant plan details. 

Personally, I often have issues with my SIM cards, for instance, they get locked and I forget the PIN that I need to access them. Play it safe and take a picture of the SIM card details, including the SIM card itself and the packaging, for added security. This precaution can be helpful in case you lose or damage the package, or if you need to contact customer support for assistance.

How Much Does A Tourist Sim Cost In Greece?

The cost of tourist SIM cards in Greece can vary depending on the mobile operator and the data package you choose. Generally, prices range from 10 to 30 euros, depending on how much data you need. I found I got more than enough data from Vodafone (Around 50 GB) for 22 Euros. And topping the plan up was even less expensivs

It’s important to note that the prices mentioned here are approximate and subject to change. In the following section, I will delve into specific prepaid SIM card plans offered by various providers, along with their corresponding prices, to help you make an informed decision.

Cost vs. Quality

When considering the cost of a tourist SIM card in Greece, it’s crucial to factor in the quality of the connection provided by the mobile operator. While affordability is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of a reliable and fast network.

Opting for a slightly more expensive plan from a provider with better coverage and network quality can significantly enhance your overall experience, ensuring seamless connectivity during your travels in Greece. It’s essential to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and the reliability of the network.

Best Tourist Sim Cards For Tourists In Greece

Here are the 3 Greece tourist sim cards you should consider.

  • Cosmote:
  • Vodafone:
  • Wind 3

I don’t think you will see any problems with either Cosmote or Vodafone. Cosmote is known to have slightly better coverage and is slightly cheaper than Vodafone. However, I never experienced any issues using Vodafone myself. 

I included Wind because it is easy to find prepaid SIMs with them if that’s what you’re looking for, but it tends to be more expensive than the alternatives.

Cosmote

Overall, the Cosmote SIM card is probably the best one in Greece. While the activation process may have potential complexities or delays, following instructions and seeking assistance from store staff can help navigate any challenges. For the most part, Cosmote will provide you with a faster connection than anyone else.

Pricing and Plans

As far as I can tell, these are the prices for Cosmote plans that you can find online. Don’t be surprised if the plans vary a bit when you get to the store, and potentially from store to store too.

Cosmote prepaid SIM card: €13.5 (includes 2.5 GB data, unlimited minutes, and 400 SMS)

Additional data packages:

  • 4 GB for 1 month: €8.5
  • 6 GB for 7 days: €4

Quality of network connection and coverage

Cosmote is known for having the best 4G/5G network in Greece, offering reliable network connectivity and coverage across the country. With its extensive coverage, travellers can expect a stable and fast connection, ensuring a seamless browsing experience and reliable communication.

Ease of finding locations to purchase the SIM card:

Cosmote has a widespread presence in Greece, with stores located in various cities and tourist areas. Finding a Cosmote store to purchase a SIM card is relatively easy, especially in popular tourist destinations and major cities. This availability ensures convenience and accessibility for travellers.

Likelihood of encountering scams or fraudulent deals:

While scams or fraudulent deals can occur in any marketplace, purchasing a Cosmote SIM card from their official stores reduces the likelihood of encountering scams or fraudulent deals. It is recommended to purchase from authorized Cosmote stores to ensure the authenticity of the SIM card and avoid any potential scams.

Ease of activation process, considering potential delays or complexities:

The activation process for Cosmote SIM cards is generally straightforward. However, delays or complexities may occur due to factors such as the registration process or high demand during peak travel seasons. It is advisable to follow the instructions provided by the store or consult with the store staff for guidance during the activation process. Being patient and allowing sufficient time for activation will help ensure a smooth experience.

Vodafone

Vodafone offers competitive pricing, reliable network coverage in many areas, a variety of plans with different data allowances, and wide availability in stores. Plus, the fact that Vodafone is used all over Europe means that you can find attractive data packages there and eliminate the need to switch wireless providers every time you switch countries.

Pricing and Plans

Vodafone was the mobile provider that I used. The pricing at the shop I attended was 22 Euros for 50GB of data for 30 days. However, prices are always subject to change.

Vodafone prepaid SIM card (street vendor): €12 (includes unlimited data, 200 minutes, and 50 international minutes)

Vodafone prepaid SIM card (store):

  • 12 GB data in all of Europe for 15 days: €9.90
  • 10 GB data in all of Europe + 100 minutes in Europe + 50 minutes international calls for 15 days: €9.90
  • 15 GB data in all of Europe + 200 minutes in Europe + 120 minutes international calls for 30 days: €17.90
  • 50GB data in Greece for 30 days: €22.

Quality of network connection and coverage:

While Vodafone’s network in Greece is not as extensive as Cosmote’s, it still provides reliable network connectivity and coverage in many areas, including popular tourist destinations. The network quality ensures a stable and satisfactory browsing experience, allowing travellers to stay connected and access online services without significant interruptions.

Ease of finding locations to purchase the SIM card:

Vodafone has a widespread presence in Greece, making it relatively easy to find locations to purchase a SIM card. Their stores are typically available in major cities, airports, and popular tourist areas, ensuring convenient access for travellers. The wide availability of Vodafone stores simplifies the process of obtaining a SIM card upon arrival in Greece.

Likelihood of encountering scams or fraudulent deals:

Purchasing a Vodafone SIM card from official Vodafone stores reduces the likelihood of encountering scams or fraudulent deals. It is recommended to buy directly from authorized stores or authorized resellers to ensure the authenticity of the SIM card and avoid any potential scams. Exercise caution when dealing with street vendors or unauthorized sellers.

Ease of activation process, considering potential delays or complexities:

The activation process for Vodafone SIM cards is generally straightforward, requiring the submission of necessary identification documents such as a passport. However, there may be potential delays or complexities during peak travel seasons or due to specific requirements. It is advisable to follow the instructions provided by the store staff and allow sufficient time for the activation process to ensure a smooth experience.

Wind

The Wind SIM card in Greece offers a range of prepaid plans at different price points. While the network coverage may vary, it can provide satisfactory connectivity in certain areas. Travellers can find Wind SIM cards easily in major cities and tourist areas. However, caution should be exercised when purchasing from street vendors to avoid scams.

Pricing and Plans

Wind might be the least clear with their pricing. Keep in mind that this is the most expensive option with allegedly the worst coverage of the 3 providers I’ve listed.

Wind prepaid SIM card (street vendor):

  • Unlimited data (5 GB for Europe) + 1000 minutes – valid for 30 days: €12

Wind Free2Go prepaid SIM card (store):

  • 1 GB data + 100 minutes and SMS: €12
  • 2 GB data + unlimited minutes and 500 SMS: €15

Quality of network connection and coverage:

The quality of the Wind network connection and coverage in Greece may vary. While it may provide satisfactory connectivity in some areas, it is important to note that it may be less reliable compared to networks like Cosmote and Vodafone. It is advisable to check coverage maps and reviews to assess the network’s performance in the specific locations you plan to visit.

Ease of finding locations to purchase the SIM card:

Finding Wind SIM cards in Greece can be relatively easy, especially in major cities and tourist areas. Wind stores are typically available in these locations, ensuring convenient access for travellers. Additionally, street vendors in Athens may offer Wind SIM cards, but caution should be exercised to ensure authenticity and avoid scams.

Likelihood of encountering scams or fraudulent deals:

While purchasing a Wind SIM card from official stores or authorized resellers reduces the likelihood of encountering scams, it is important to remain cautious when dealing with street vendors. Ensure that the vendor is an official employee of Wind and is following proper procedures for activating and providing the SIM card. Always ask for proper documentation and receipts to avoid fraudulent deals.

Ease of activation process, considering potential delays or complexities:

The activation process for Wind SIM cards is typically straightforward, requiring the submission of necessary identification documents such as a passport. However, during peak travel seasons or in certain locations, there may be potential delays or complexities in the activation process. It is advisable to allow sufficient time and follow the instructions provided by the store staff to ensure a smooth activation.

Conclusion

Getting a SIM card is one of the first things you’ll need to do when you get to Greece. Thankfully, the process is quite simple, and the employees at the store you visit will likely speak English. Getting a SIM card in Greece isn’t too much trouble, but it’s better to know the best providers ahead of time.

Considering all the SIM cards I mentioned, Cosmote stands out as the recommended option for tourists visiting Greece. It offers a reliable network connection, reasonable prices, and a wide range of plans to suit different needs. With convenient store locations and a lower likelihood of encountering scams, Cosmote provides a solid choice for staying connected while exploring the magnificent country that is Greece.

If you’re planning a long stay, check out my guide to Greece for digital nomads. You’ll receive recommendations on the best cities to stay, how to find accommodations, and much more!

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