Once you've downloaded it, you get connected instantly when you get to your destination without the complication of switching a physical SIM card. Picking the right eSIM data plan will mean you can travel without worrying about running out of data.
In this post, you'll see how easy it is to buy and activate your Europe sSIM. No more swapping out SIM cards, finding a place to reload your SIM card or navigating a voice prompt system in a different language.
A European eSIM is simple and easy to use. By the end of this post you'll understand what an eSIM is and pick the best one for you. Now you will have one less thing to worry about for your trip.
Feature photo by Daria Shevtsova via Pexels
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If you found this site useful and want to support it, all you have to do is use the links when booking. It's that simple.
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Before you buy any eSIM make sure you understand what you are getting. I will provide as much information as I can, but I can't force you to read it. My picks are purely based on my opinion.
Make sure you understand what you need and what you are getting before you purchase one. In this post I talk about eSIM compatibility with your phone or device. Please check if your device is compatible before purchasing any eSIM. Always do your own due diligence.
If there are issues with your purchase, please contact the eSIM provider, they will be more than happy to help. I am not a representative of these companies.
THE QUICK ANSWER - Best eSIM For Europe Travel in 2023
Okay, I get it. You don't have time to read my post packed with useful information. Am I hurt? Of course, but I'll get over it. It's like those recipe posts. Just give me the damn recipe, right?
Well, here you go. Here is what I think is the best eSIM for Europe*.
*Before you buy an eSIM, make sure you know if your phone is compatible with an eSIM. Also, check if it covers the countries you are travelling to.
Best eSIM for International Travel?
This post is specifically about European eSIMs. When it comes to other regions of the world there are a ton of options. I recommend you go here for the best eSIM for international travel. Here you will find your global eSIM or an eSIM for a specific region or country.
Psst....help others save money on their eSIM with one click!
(Be the hero!)
What is an eSIM?
I bet you thought it was an electronic SIM, right? So did I. It makes sense after all. You don't physically get the eSIM. You order it, fire it up and off you go!
The "e" stands for "embedded". SIM is an acronym for "subscriber identity module". It's a piece of hardware (embedded) in your phone or device.
This means you could run two numbers on your mobile phone. Your regular SIM card (in Mini, micro or nano sizes) and an eSIM. Phone calls on one, data on the other.
Looking for the Best eSIM for Europe Travel? ESIMs are the easiest way to stay connected in Europe. Easy to set up, easy to connect. Learn more here. #eSIM #Travel #europe
Quick Comparison of Best eSIM Providers for Europe
Here is a quick comparison of the best international eSIM plans. If you hover over (or touch on mobile) the ⓘ you'll find more details on that section.
Orange Holiday Zen eSIM 8GB
4.5 / 5
Unlimited (in Europe)
Unlimited (in Europe)
*UNLOCKED, ESIM COMPATIBLE DEVICE
Read Full Review
What's the Difference Between an eSIM and a SIM card?
One of the biggest differences between an eSIM and a SIM card is that an eSIM can be used on many different carriers. A physical SIM card can only be used for that one carrier that you bought it for.
With a physical SIM card, you need to find the little pokey thing that you probably threw out with your box after you used it the first time you put your SIM card in.
Then you need to swap it out with the new travel SIM you want to use. Now, what do you do with the old SIM card? It's so small! It is something that will easily get lost in my world. That is why you need one of these.
An eSIM is built into the phone. Nothing to swap. Advantage eSIM.
Tips for Picking the Best eSIM for Europe Travel [Before You Buy]
Before you buy an eSIM for travel, there are a couple of questions you need to ask first. Always read the details before buying an eSIM. They all are a little different in what they offer. Know what you need and what you are getting.
Is my phone unlocked?
When you plan on travelling to Europe and using your cell phone with a SIM card from another mobile company, your phone has to be unlocked.
Every country has different rules about unlocked phones. In Canada, as an example, carriers aren't any longer allowed to sell locked phones (article here).
How to check if my phone is unlocked?
One of the easiest ways to check if your phone is unlocked is to try a different SIM card from a different carrier. Ask someone you know that is on a different carrier if you can quickly borrow their SIM card.
- Power your phone off.
- Open the SIM slot with a removal pin.
- Switch your SIM card with the one from the other carrier.
- Turn on the phone.
- You should be able to see the carrier name on the top of your home screen.
- Try making a call.
Did the phone call work? If yes, then your phone is unlocked.
If not, then your phone is locked. You might also get a message on the screen saying that the phone is locked.
Depending on your carrier you may have to get your phone unlocked. They may charge you a fee for that. Once your phone is unlocked you can get access to other mobile internet carriers either through a SIM or eSIM.
How Do I Know If My Device or Phone Supports eSIM?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to eSIMs. More and more phones and devices are becoming eSIM compatible. Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch was one of the first to have an eSIM starting in 2016. Apple Watch started having it in 2017.
Now Apple is adding it to their latest iPhones, and Google has had it in the Pixel smartphones since 2017.
Most newer phones will start including eSIM capabilities right out of the box. Check the list to see if your devices have it.
*Check the asterisk too! Some models from certain countries do not have eSIM capability.
Does the eSIM have coverage in the countries I am travelling to?
Each eSIM covers a different list of European countries. You have to check each eSIM and see what countries they do cover. I've listed countries for each eSIM in the full reviews and details of the eSIMs.
Don't assume an eSIM covers everything in Europe. For example, some eSIMs are missing the popular destination of Switzerland. Always check the list of countries that the eSIM covers.
How Long is My Trip? - Credit Validity
How long you are travelling will determine which is the best SIM to use in Europe. Every eSIM will have a credit validity.
This is how long the eSIM data or talk and text is valid. The average travel eSIM has a credit validity of either 14 days or 30 days. Some are as low as 7 days, and some as high as 180 days.
The eSIM starts when you connect to the cell tower of the country (or countries) the eSIM has coverage for.
Physical eSIMs are different. They often start from the moment you insert them into your phone.
If you are travelling in that in-between area, for example, for 20 days, you have to either get an eSIM data plan that has a credit validity that is over that amount, or an eSIM that has a top-up option.
Do I need an eSIM Top Up Option?
Some travel eSIMs have an option to top up. This means you can add more data and/or text and calls (if you get a Europe eSIM with a phone number) if you use it up before your credit validity runs out.
If your credit validity runs out you may be top-up your eSIM with some more days and data. Each EU SIM card is different.
Always read to see if the eSIM provider allows top-ups, and if it does, there may be restrictions.
For example, some Europe eSIMs travel plans only allow top-ups with European-based credit cards, so be careful.
How Much Data Do I Need?
That's a difficult question. Your data usage will be different than at home. The amount of mobile data you use at home will be lower because at home or work you often use wifi which lowers your mobile internet use.
When you are travelling, you are using more mobile data during the day.
There are ways to minimize your data usage when you travel. Here are some things you can do.
- Don't stream videos. Save it for wifi.
- Avoid playing video games.
- Only allow apps to update in wifi.
- Use a messaging app like WhatsApp. It is very data friendly, even when sending pictures.
- Avoid constantly checking your social media feed.
I know this is a tough one. Apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook automatically load videos and pictures, which eats a lot of data. Find a cafe or place with free wifi and then open up your social (make sure to use a VPN like this one to protect yourself!).
- Set a data usage alarm on your phone.
This will help you give you a warning when you reach a certain amount of mobile data use. If you get a 5GB eSIM data plan, then set it for 2.5 GB. If you are halfway through your trip, then you know you should be fine. If it's day two....time to start being more careful with your data usage.
With mindful usage, you should be able to get by with 5-8GB over 30 days.
If you don't feel like you can or want to watch your data usage, then get a bigger eSIM data plan. The average person would probably be fine with 10GB over 14-30 days and never have to worry too much.
Do I need a European eSIM with a phone number (talk and text)?
Well, it depends. I know, that answer doesn't help. It comes down to which eSIM company you go with. Some have it, some don't.
On some phones, you can run dual SIMs. This means you can assign your physical SIM to place calls and texts (keep in mind long-distance charges and SMS fees) and your eSIM to do all the mobile Data. You'll have to check the support section of the phone you have to see how to do this.
If you are on Wifi, some phones can text and call over wifi. So save your phone calls until then.
You need to decide if you will need to make calls while travelling around Europe. I didn't need it. I used alternative methods to talk and text.
Here are two common apps that can help fill the gap.
If I want to communicate with people back home, I use WhatsApp. You can text, make calls (to people in your contact list), or video calls with it.
It also is very data-friendly, even when sending pictures. I found that was a better way to send updates and pictures of my trip to friends and family. If I wanted to add pictures to social media, I just waited until I was on wifi.
With Skype, you can buy credit and make phone calls to any number. Within Europe, calls to a landline are on average 2.3¢/minutes, and calls to a mobile number are on average 10¢/minute.
Get yourself $5 credit on Skype and that can get you enough phone calls (and even texts) to contact the vacation home owner you are renting from or call a restaurant to make a reservation. That's what I did, and it worked great.
This way you know if you've used up your credit and can load more. You won't come how to a surprise bill of long-distance charges.
I'll let you know which eSIMS do and which don't allow you to make calls or texts in the details of each eSIMs.
Do I Need Tethering or a Personal Hotspot?
Tethering or personal hotspot means you can use your device to connect other devices to data. You may want to tether an iPad, laptop or even another phone. Both devices use the same data allotment via a personal hotspot.
Not all eSIMs or mobile phones allow this, so decide if this is important to you. If it is, then get an eSIM that allows tethering.
If you do need this, consider getting more data, as other devices can really bite into your allotment of data.
Pros & Cons - eSIM Reviews
No two eSIM are alike. See the pros and cons of each international eSIM plan and what makes them good. See the countries they cover in the European Union.
Airalo eSIM Review - Best eSIM for Travel
Airalo eSIM was one of the first eSIMs on the market. I believe they are one of the best international eSIM plans out there. They have more Europe eSIM travel plans than just the one I recommend.
This is the best eSIM for Europe travel because it is the best bang for your buck. 30 days credit validity, 10GB is more than enough data for most people, and the price is reasonable too. This is the best data sim card for all of Europe.
Don't worry if you aren't tech-savvy. These eSIMS are super easy to use. This means you don't have to worry about struggling to switch physical SIM cards and get them set up. They have their own app which makes everything even easier for you.
Let's look at some of the other great eSIMs Airalo has to offer.
Best eSIM Data Plan Options Available
Airalo offers so many different types of eSIMs at really affordable prices.
(If you are just travelling to one country, they do have cheaper options for one country using different Europe cell providers. See them here)
If you are looking for more or less Europe mobile internet data than the 10GB I recommend, they also have 1, 3, 5, 50 and even 100GB prepaid data plans. The 50GB and 100GB also have longer credit validity at 90 days and 180 days respectively. That's almost like having a Europe eSIM with unlimited data!
Calls and Text? No. (But that's okay, really)
One of the "downsides" to the Airalo eSIM is that it doesn't come with any calling or SMS. I put the downside in quotes because I don't use calls or texts at all when I travel. I use free services like WhatsApp or Skype so all I need is data.
Yes to Tethering!
Airalo also offers tethering on some of their plans, which not all eSIM providers offer. Tethering allows you to connect other devices to your mobile phone like a hotspot.
The Airlao eSIM Plans
Airalo offers eSIM plans for over 190 countries worldwide.
Best eSIM plan for one country? Find local eSIMS here.
Find your regional eSIMs here. Africa, Asia, Caribbean Islands, Europe.
Find global eSIMs here covering 87 countries in one eSIM!
France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gibraltar, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine.
United States, France, China, Spain, Italy, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Thailand, China (Hong Kong), Malaysia, Greece, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Åland Islands, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Brazil, Switzerland, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Gibraltar, Croatia, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Iraq, Iceland, Israel, Jersey, Cambodia, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, China (Macau), Moldova, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Paraguay, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Tajikistan, Taiwan, Ukraine, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Vietnam, South Africa, Kosovo.
Orange eSIM Europe Review
Orange is one of the most popular and trusted SIM card companies for Europe that just recently hit the eSIM market. Their Holiday Europe is my top recommended physical SIM card. See the top 5 European SIM cards (physical) post here.
Much like all eSIMs, Orange is easy to load and start using. Once loaded, it activates once you are connected to a cell tower in Europe.
What makes Orange different is it is a Europe eSIM with phone number. You get a French telephone number with your eSIM. This includes unlimited calls within Europe and 30 mins outside of Europe with the Holiday Zen eSIM plan or 120 mins with the Holiday Europe eSIM plan.
Talk and Text
I don't ever need to talk and text on my SIM cards. So for me, I would take the 30-day validity over 14 days with talk and text. But that's me. If you need to talk and text then this is the eSIM you need.
With both the Holiday Zen and Europe eSIM you get unlimited calls within Europe.
The Holiday Zen eSIM gives you 30 minutes of calls to any country in the world.
The Holiday Europe eSIM gives you 120 minutes of calls to any country in the world.
Texts are similar to unlimited texts within Europe with both plans. The Holiday Zen plan allows 200 texts outside of Europe. The Holiday Europe plan allows 1000 texts outside of Europe.
If you truly need a talk and text eSIM plan, then this is the eSIM for you.
Tethering or Personal Hotspot
Orange eSIMs do allow tethering to other devices. You just have to activate the personal hotspot under your device settings.
The one drawback to the Orange eSIM cards is credit validity is only 14 days. They do have top-up plans if you need to extend them. Reloading these plans is simple also, and with a variety of top-up plan options, you'll find something that works for you.
The Orange eSIM Plans
Currently Orange offers two eSIM plans.
The Holiday Zen eSIM plan is 8GB (15GB until October 5th, 2022!)
The Holiday Europe eSIM plan is 20GB (30GB until October 5th, 2022!)
Aland islands, Andorra, Austria, Azores, Balearic islands, Belgium, Bulgaria,Canary Islands, Corfu (Island), Crete, Croatia, Cyclades, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Gibraltar, Greece ,Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rhodes (Island), Romania, San Marino, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vatican City
O2 eSIM Go Card Review
O2 is well known in the United Kingdom. This eSIM from O2 is based out of the Czech Republic (Czechia). None of that matters with this eSIM until it comes time to top up or reload. More on that in a bit, we'll talk about the good stuff first.
It is missing a couple of major countries in Europe. Austria, Andorra, Switzerland, Turkey, and Russia (we aren't going there now anyway, are we). As with all eSIMs, check beforehand if the countries you are planning to visit are included.
Talk and Text
The O2 eSIM does come with talk and text.....but it's only a credit of 50 CZK or $2 USD. So that really won't get you that far.
Calls are 4.90 CZK/min. Text messages are 1.90 CZK. That's roughly 10 minutes of calls or 25 SMS. It's up to you if that is enough for you. It would be enough to call your vacation home owner to let them know you are standing outside.
This is a major advantage of this eSIM. You get 10GB of data, which is a lot. The credit validity is 30 days, which is great for that nice long visit to Europe. If you manage your data well by avoiding video and picture downloads until you have some wifi, then 10GB could be enough.
Topping Up the O2 Go Card
This is where it gets tricky. If you are an EU citizen, then you can use PayPal or international credit cards.
If you are not an EU citizen, then you can only top up within the Czech Republic. So if you decide on this eSIM, keep that in mind.
Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria,Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, (France), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique (France), Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion (France), Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Vatican City
Smart Comfort X eSIM Review
If you are looking for a really affordable option and are good at managing your data, then consider the Smart Comfort X eSIM by SimOptions.
It is a bit limiting compared to the other eSIMs, but that doesn't mean it's not a good choice. I've travelled for three weeks on 3 GB of data and without calls or texts in Europe. You just have to be conscious of your data usage.
It does cover the most popular 28 countries in Europe but is missing Switzerland and Poland.
Talk and Text
This eSIM doesn't include talk or texts. You'll have to use something like WhatsApp, Skype, or Google Voice to stay connected with those back home.
It does have great credit validity at 30 days. 5GB of data is the lowest on this list, but at $17.90 for the eSIM, it is also the cheapest giving it a great value.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
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eSIM Capable Devices for 2023
This will always be growing as more and more new devices are coming out with eSIM capability.
The best way to find out for sure is to check with your device manufacturer if your model if it is eSIM compatible. You can even do a Google Search with you make and model followed by eSIM compatible and you'll get your answer pretty quick.
Smartphones & iPads
Here is a list of the most popular smartphones and iPads that have eSIM capability (at the time of this post). Most new phones will be coming out with eSIM technology included moving forward.
Click on the phone type you have to see if your model is eSIM capable.
Always check with your phone manufacturer if your model is eSIM capable before you buy an eSIM.
If your device isn't on this list below, then check out this post on the best European SIM cards for travel. These are physical SIM cards you can use if that is all your phone allows.
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
- iPhone 13*
- iPhone 13 Pro*
- iPhone 13 Pro Max*
- iPhone 13 Mini*
- iPhone 12*
- iPhone 12 Mini*
- iPhone 12 Pro*
- iPhone 12 Pro Max*
- iPhone 11*
- iPhone 11 Pro*
- iPhone 11 Pro Max*
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max*
- iPhone XR*
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone SE (2022)
- iPad Air (3rd Generation)
- iPad Air (4th generation)
- iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st generation)
- iPad Pro 11‑inch (2nd generation)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (4th generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
- iPad (7th generation)
- iPad (8th generation)
- iPad (9th generation)
- iPad Mini (5th generation)
- iPad Mini (6th generation)
*iPhones from Mainland China are not eSIM capable.
*iPhones from Hong Kong and Macao (except for iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone SE 2020, and iPhone XS) are not eSIM capable.
*Only iPad devices with Wi-Fi + Cellular features are supported.
- Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL*
- Google Pixel 3a & 3a XL*
- Google Pixel 4, 4a & 4 XL
- Google Pixel 5*
- Google Pixel 6
- Google Pixel 6 Pro
- Google Pixel 7
- Google Pixel 7 Pro
*The Pixel devices are not eSIM compatible: Pixel 3 from Australia, Taiwan, and Japan; Pixel 3 devices purchased with service from the US or Canadian carriers other than Sprint and Google Fi; Pixel 3a, which is bought in South East Asia and with Verizon service.
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S22 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
*The following Samsung devices DO NOT have eSIM capability:
– All Samsung S20 FE/S21 FE models
– US versions of Samsung S20/S21 and Galaxy Z Flip 5G
– USA and Hong Kong versions of the Samsung Note 20 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
– Most Samsung devices purchased in South Korea do not support eSIMs. Only Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 purchased in South Korea are eSIM compatible.
Samsung S21 series devices (with the exemption of FE models) from Canada and the USA may have eSIM capability as long as the One UI 4 update is installed. Please get in touch with your carrier or device manufacturer to confirm that your Samsung device is eSIM capable.
- Motorola Razr 2019
- Motorola Razr 5G
- HAMMER Explorer PRO
- HAMMER Blade 3
- HAMMER Blade 5G
- myPhone NOW eSIM
- Huawei P40
- Huawei P40 Pro*
- Huawei Mate 40 Pro
*Huawei P40 Pro+ is not compatible with eSIMs.
The following OPPO devices DO NOT have eSIM capability:
– eSIM support depends on carriers and coverage options. Coverage may vary. Known regions that do not support dual SIM cards: Australia (Telstra and Optus), and Japan (KDDI).
– Functions available on the live network depend on the carrier’s network and related services deployment.
- Sony Xperia 10 III Lite
- Sony Xperia 10 IV
- Sony Xperia 1 IV
- Nuu Mobile X5
- Gemini PDA 4G+Wi-Fi
- Xiaomi 12T Pro
Here is a list of some of the devices that may have eSIM capability. Always check before you buy an eSIM.
- Acer Swift 3
- Acer Swift 7
- ASUS Mini Transformer T103HAF
- ASUS NovaGo TP370QL
- ASUS Vivobook Flip 14 TP401NA
- Dell Latitude 9510
- Dell Latitude 7410
- Dell Latitude 7310
- Dell Latitude 9410
- Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1
- HP Elitebook G5
- HP Probook G5
- HP Zbook G5
- HP Spectre Folio 13
- Lenovo Yoga C630
- Lenovo Miix 630
- Lenovo Yoga 520
- Lenovo Yoga 720 convertible laptops
- Surface Go 3
- Surface Pro X
- Surface Duo 2
- Surface Duo
*Surface: Any AT&T locked devices will not support eSIM. If the device was purchased through carriers, the eSIM capability in Surface Duo may be disabled by the said carrier. Please get in contact with them to confirm that eSIM is not disabled.