How to buy a SIM card while visiting Spain

When you are travelling you will want to keep in touch with everyone back home. Garry Knight photo

When you are travelling you will want to keep in touch with everyone back home. Garry Knight photo

Want to keep in touch with your family back home while you are in Spain?

While travelling people like to stay in touch.

Very few of us can survive long without checking messages. Even if we don’t need our phones for checking emails, posting our latest photos on Instagram and FB we will most likely want the convenience of having google maps at our side as we are wandering streets of new and intriguing places.

This can be especially essential if you are in a country where you don’t speak the local language.

If you are very dependent on your phone, you may not want to trust the public wifi in Spain as it is sketchy at best. Out of the big centres, it is much worse.  

So when you come to Spain what is the best solution?  


Harrison Fowler, the founder of  RVF Spain Consultants, has offered to give some advice in finding the best solution for getting a SIM card while visiting Spain. This is what he suggests:

One would think buying a SIM card or purchasing a phone plan in Spain would be simple enough but, like most things in life, it can be very confusing and overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak the language and have no idea where to start. If you’re lost in the Spanish world of phones and all you want is to have wifi that works and minutes to be able to call friends and family, then read on weary traveller!

Where to begin?

If you’re simply passing through and aren’t planning on staying in Spain for more than a few days or weeks, then there’s no need at all to purchase a Spanish phone plan. So what are your options? Outside of stealing McDonald's wifi every few hours, the cheapest and simplest option would be to purchase a 1 or 2 GB SIM card that can easily be put in your phone that would give you the predetermined amount of data and minutes in Spain for 30 days.

A 1GB SIM card typically costs €5 and a 2GB is usually in the ballpark of €10. If you’re new to Madrid or Barcelona, or any Spanish city for that matter, and need your phone to use as a mobile map, then the 2GB SIM card should work just fine.

What brands should you purchase?

Vodafone, Lyca Mobile, Orange, Lebara, Movistar and Yoigo. Vodafone, Orange, Movistar and Yoigo are the four biggest brands, but Lyca Mobile and Lebara will get the job done just fine, and will most likely be even cheaper.

Where can you buy these mysterious SIM cards?

Any of the above mentioned SIM cards can be purchased at their respective stores scattered around Spanish cities (a simple Google maps search while you’re stealing McDonald's wifi would be sure to tell you where). They can also be found at your typical corner store as well as below ground at metro entrances.

Make sure to have your passport on hand as the only way to purchase one of these SIM cards, or any type of phone plan in Spain, is with proper identification. After paying for the SIM card, make sure to ask the employee to put it in your phone for you, and program it if necessary. Often times they have to activate the SIM card by calling it from a special phone.

Try to safeguard your normal SIM card till you’re back in your home country, and regaining your normal service from your typical carrier is as simple as throwing out the Spanish SIM card and replacing it with the other one.

Pocket Wifi

If trying to get a SIM card in a foreign country seems daunting, you may want to try looking into renting a pocket wifi device before you leave on your trip. This will keep you connected from the moment you leave until you return without having to find a store that supplies a SIM card and getting it set up on your phone. Read this article for more information about how to rent pocket wifi for your trip.

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About the author

Harrison Fowler, founder of RVF Spain Consultants

Harrison Fowler, founder of RVF Spain Consultants

Post by Harrison Fowler. Harrison is the CEO and Founder of RVF Spain Consultants , a Madrid, Spain based business that assists with all the paperwork and bureaucratic processes associated with Spain for the tourist who is staying for a few days or to the expat who has officially moved there. RVF Spain Consultants takes care of all the headache-inducing paperwork and processes so you don't have to!