SIM Card Options for Italy – Recommendations & Price Comparisons

September 24, 2023

Planning a trip to Italy and wondering how to stay connected at a reasonable price? I’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you discover the most affordable ways to stay connected during your time there. I’ll explain the most competitive SIM card packages, where to buy SIM cards, and the best eSIMs for Italy, all with up-to-date prices for September 2023.

An Italian SIM card is undoubtedly the classic option for using your mobile phone with a local internet package. I probably don’t need to explain much, but a physical SIM card obviously requires replacement in the destination country. It is usually a cheap, convenient, and more familiar option.

There are a few ways to buy a SIM card for Italy, and we will detail everything below – but in general, it is to order a SIM card online or to buy the SIM card when you arrive in Italy. Most people who travel end up waiting until the last minute to buy a SIM card at the airport and end up paying a lot more for it. Luckily, there are many ways you can avoid this tourist trap, saving money on an internet and call package for Italy and we’ll share all the secrets below.

In any case, I recommend buying a SIM card for Italy before you arrive. And in my experience, the best place to buy a SIM card for Italy is from the eSimple company. eSimple has developed eSIM packages for both the short and long term and is even cheaper than local packages.

Italy Flag

Should you buy a SIM card in Italy?

Everyone dreams of a romantic trip to Italy! The food, the people, the coastline, the stunning hills, the beautiful scenery, and the delicious Italian wines. But before you arrive in Italy, it is important to take care of the not-so-romantic details, like buying a local SIM card or an affordable data package. It is important to take into account that Europe has become very expensive at the moment, and so has Italy. I will give a full price overview below, but while buying a local SIM card was cheaper – today this is not necessarily the case.

Having a data package while traveling abroad always makes life easier. Whether you need to order an Uber on the app, find a good restaurant or bar, or simply use maps to get around, being connected to the internet is important. And let’s be real, you cannot always rely on public Wi-Fi!

So what’s the bottom line? You can buy a SIM card in Italy, but you need to choose packages carefully. If you have a device that is compatible with eSIM – these packages are usually much more cost-effective than any company.

Mobile carriers in Italy & Mobile Phone and Internet Packages in Italy

There are a number of mobile carriers in Italy. Let’s take a look at two of these companies:

TELECOM ITALIA – The largest mobile carrier in Italy.

TIM – This company sells SIM cards specifically for tourists that can be purchased at official stores in all Italian cities.

Mobile phone packages in Italy are divided into two types: packages where the customer pays a fixed amount or packages where the customer pays based on usage.

For those who want to order a mobile phone package with international calling, from Italy to other parts of the world, there are a few things to consider:

  • Destination of the calls
  • Time of day when calls are made
  • How much you plan to call and talk

It is important to note that some of these mobile phone packages are not suitable for tourists who are simply vacationing, but rather for those who are coming to Italy for the long term. Be aware that you may be fined if you try to break such a contract!

Italy landmark

Where to buy a SIM card for Italy

City center

I recommend buying a SIM card for Italy in the city center at an official retail store of one of Italy’s mobile internet providers. This is a far better option than buying one at an international airport upon arrival in Italy.

The airport may be the most convenient place to buy a SIM card for Italy, but the prices there are a tourist trap, especially at Milan Airport and Venice Airport. The prices for tourist SIM cards in Italy at Rome Airport, however, are much more reasonable.

In any tourist destination in Italy, there are several mobile phone stores that can be easily found on Google Maps. Go to the store, bring your passport, and buy yourself a local SIM card for Italy – easy!


Another option is to buy your SIM card for Italy online before your trip. This way, you arrive prepared and are connected as soon as the plane lands. There are some amazing deals on e-sim cards for Italy starting at just $5 USD and you can arrange everything online in just a few minutes, all without even having to visit a store. If your phone is not compatible with an electronic SIM card, there is also the option to order a physical SIM card for Italy.

Ordering an Italian SIM card

Ordering an Italin SIM card used to be the cheapest option, but using a local SIM card is subject to the terms of that particular company. This should reduce the cost of local calls and data costs, but in recent years it has become more expensive, and the fluctuating charges are hard to track. The price also depends greatly on how much data you are planning to use. If you don’t need much, you can get one of the small plans offered by the companies we mentioned earlier. However, if you need a lot of data, this may not be the best option for you.

Although buying a SIM card in Italy can save you the cost of the third party (i.e., your local network in your home country), the packages themselves are usually not all that cheap. It is also important to keep in mind that you will also receive a new local number.

The disadvantages of this method:

  • You are not connected immediately. This means you will either have to pay a lot at the airport or rely on free Wi-Fi until you reach your hotel.
  • In addition, there are sometimes problems installing the SIM card in your device, and it can be difficult to troubleshoot in Italian. For example, old devices may be blocked for foreign SIM cards, and you will need to unlock them with your mobile carrier before they will work (although this is a disappearing phenomenon).
  • Furthermore, outgoing and incoming calls from other countries are relatively expensive. Therefore, it is important to keep calls short or use messaging as much as possible.

Registration process

When purchasing a SIM card in Italy, you will need to bring a valid photo ID or passport. The SIM card will be registered in your name and passport number. In the store, they will take a copy of your passport or you can send them an email with a photo of your passport.

eSIM for Italy

The concept of eSIM has become increasingly popular in recent years, but what does it mean for travelers to Italy? And is eSIM for Italy better than the regular SIM we talked about before?

eSIM is a type of digital SIM that allows you to enjoy data and calling packages for Italy without having to install a physical SIM card. 

Before installing an eSIM for Italy, it is important to make sure that your device supports the technology. If there is support, it takes just a few minutes to install.

The installation process involves scanning a barcode that is sent to you by email and within a few minutes you already have access to calls and the internet. The prices of eSIMs from the company eSimple are very affordable. In addition, if you are planning a trip to several destinations in Europe, the eSIM will conveniently be valid in those countries as well.

The packages they offer are based on the number of days and the data you need. By changing the game for travelers, they have quickly become the cheapest company for mobile packages abroad.


So, which is better, a regular SIM card or eSIM for Italy?

eSIM is a relatively new solution and many travelers still don’t know about this option or are weary to try it out. The worry is understandable, but I can assure you that once you get used to it, you won’t be able to travel without it. By removing the hassle that comes with a physical SIM card, such as where to buy it, contracts, and installation, eSimple makes the whole process smoother. You can easily purchase and install an eSim from just about anywhere.

Which SIM option do I recommend?

Having traveled to Italy quite a bit, including Milan (you can read my tips here), Rome, Capri, Florence, and more, I’ve had the chance to try out many cellular companies during my stays there. If do decide to go with a local company, I recommend Wind, which is considered to be the most reliable and generally has very helpful staff.

Most cellular companies in Italy offer packages to people who buy a cellular device from them. This is especially relevant for people who are traveling there for the long term. These packages usually come with a monthly payment for a period of about 3 years. However, I do not recommend this option at all. I think it is better not to commit to any plan or package for the long term, especially not for a cellular device.

If you have a device that supports eSIM, I highly recommend going with these packages. I had the chance to try out a few companies. The first is Airalo, and the second is eSimple. I preferred eSimple for a number of reasons, but the biggest bonus is that they offer support in a wide variety of languages. Plus, their app is easy to use and operate, making sure I get connected as quickly as possible.

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