Austria is best known for the classical music of Mozart, the psychotherapies of Freud, and the voice of Arnie Schwarzenegger.
It’s often overlooked by travelers in favor of more affordable Central and Eastern European countries, or the glamour of France, Italy or Spain, but it shouldn’t be.
With wonderful Baroque-era architecture, breathtaking Alpine countryside, and some of the most underrated wine in Europe, the country is well worth a visit.
If you’re looking to stay connected while visiting Austria, it’s not difficult. Coverage is very good throughout the country with all major providers, and despite the recent introduction of registration requirements, the purchase process is still fairly straightforward.
Here’s what you need to know.
There are three cell networks in Austria: A1, Magenta Telekom (formerly T-Mobile,) and 3. Choosing one of these companies is the easiest way to buy a SIM card in Austria, with their shops easy to find no matter where you happen to be in the country.
Several companies also resell service from one of the above operators. Prices are often somewhat lower, but the purchase and registration process may be more difficult. Some outlets charge anything up to €10 to register the SIM to you, or simply won’t accept a foreign ID.
You’ll typically be left on your own to set up your SIM as well, which isn’t all that difficult but can be a little frustrating if you don’t speak German.
A1 is the biggest operator in Austria, with the best 4G/LTE service. Its starter pack is called B.free, and you can either buy a call, SMS, and data package, or opt for internet-only. I chose to go with A1 due to its superior coverage, fast data speeds, and ease of setup.
In 2019 the company stopped offering EU roaming on most of its prepaid plans. If you don’t need large amounts of data but are planning to use your Austrian SIM card elsewhere in the EU, consider buying from a carrier like 3 instead.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Austria
You can buy a prepaid card from most supermarkets and post offices, or an official shop. I visited a store to buy my SIM card, since my German isn’t perfect by any means. Luckily, the vast majority of people in Austria speak English.
As a result, setting my new SIM card up took just a few minutes, and meant I didn’t have to read any German instructions. Checking the website before visiting meant I knew exactly what I wanted and made the process easier, as I could avoid being talked into a more expensive package.
Prepaid SIM cards are required to be registered. You’ll need to show your passport or identity card as part of this process.
If you need an Austrian SIM card as soon as you land in Vienna, you’ll have more limited options, often coupled with a hefty activation fee. Prices are cheaper elsewhere, and since it takes 20 minutes or less to get to the city by bus or train, it’s worth waiting if you can.
Prefer to spend your vacation sightseeing instead of buying SIM cards? Grab one in advance to stay connected in Austria and across Europe.
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Other options are available if you're traveling for longer, need a portable hotspot, or want a different mix of calls, texts, and data. You can also get affordable eSIMs for recent iPhones and other supported devices. No matter how you do it, you'll be connected with a minimum of fuss before you've left the airport.
Prepaid SIM Costs
Unfortunately, even though EU international roaming rules changed in 2017 to allow most EU residents to “roam like at home,” Austrian companies somehow manage to get around this with many of their plans.
A1 used to sell specific packages for its prepaid SIMs that enabled EU roaming for a somewhat higher price. Those packs no longer exist, and roaming is blocked on the smaller prepaid packages.
If you’re planning to head elsewhere in the region, it’s worth considering a different operator unless you can make use of the larger B.free bundles.
Assuming you’re staying within Austria, however, the B.free “S” Package costs €12, valid for four weeks. It includes 5GB of LTE data, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS.
For €16 you get the “M+” package, with the same number of calls and texts, but 10GB of data within Austria. It’s the smallest pack that includes EU roaming: you can use up to 8GB of your allowance elsewhere in the EEA.
There’s also an “L+” package, with 2000 minutes, 2000 texts, and 20GB of data for €25. You can use 12GB of your data allowance elsewhere.
Topping up is painless, with top-up vouchers available everywhere in the country. You can choose to visit an A1 shop, or buy a coupon code from its “retail partners” like convenience stores, post offices, tobacco shops, and supermarkets.
This is a great option while on the go. Once you’ve bought the voucher, just dial 102, plus the voucher code and number. It should be as simple as that. If your German is good or you’re handy with a translation app, you can also top up by visiting the website and finding the credit card section.
To check your remaining balance, dial *101#. Don’t worry, you won’t have to speak to anyone — you’ll just get a message with the details a few seconds later.
It’s a good idea to be mindful of how much data you’re using, as overuse and roaming fees are very high at €0.40 per MB.
Coverage and Data Speeds
I never struggled with coverage in Austria, even while out beside gorgeous lakes in the middle of nowhere. Internet connections occasionally became a little patchy while taking a bus across the country, but problems wouldn’t last long.
Overall, cell service with A1 is excellent. There’s a coverage map here if you need to check a specific location.
Austria is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.
Austrian carriers don’t appear to be fully complying with these rules, however, as detailed above. Check the details closely at time of purchase if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.
Main image via Julius_Silver
I used your info to decide on a mobile carrier while we are in Austria, as we will be spending some time here before heading through Switzerland and Italy. However, as of 2019, A1 do not offer a viable Prepaid roaming option. Perhaps post paid customers are better catered for should they roam out of Austria, but Prepaid customers definitely no longer have this option.
Thanks for the update. You’re quite right — it looks like A1 has discontinued its “EU” options for both data-only and call/text/data packages, and restricted bundled EU roaming to its contract customers only.
I’ve updated the article to reflect that change, and suggested a couple of alternative providers for people who plan to use their Austrian SIM elsewhere in the EU.
Hi there, my husband and I will be visiting Vienna in June and will be there for one week. We will require a local sim for a few local calls, but mainly for google maps and internet surfing while sight seeing.
What kind do you you suggest we get and with which provider?
Provider recommendations are in the article, along with details of several of the available packages, and a link to the company website to view other packages. The “Small” package would probably meet your needs as long as you don’t get carried away with your web browsing, but other than that, there’s nothing else I can really add that’s not already covered.
A very helpful article. I will be visiting Austria (Salzburg followed by Vienna) from Canada from April 24 to April 30 then traveling to France for 2 weeks. I understand from your article that Drei is the only provider that offers service outside Austria. I assume that would include France. Also, Drei says they have a shop near the railway station in Salzburg. Is this your understanding and if so, would it likely have a full range of SIM cards available? Thank you for your assistance.
Yep, any package that includes EU roaming will cover all of the countries in the EU, including France.
I can’t speak from personal experience as to the existence of the Drei (3) shop you mention, I’m afraid, or which prepaid packages are available there. That said, I’d be surprised if any outlet outside the airport didn’t offer all of the available options.
If you’re referring to the physical size of the SIM card when you say “full range of SIM cards”, these days you’ll typically find most companies sell the cards as a 3-in-1 option with cutouts for the different sizes.
There’s another option that you haven’t mentioned.
It’s Hofer Telekom or HoT (Hofer is the Austrian name for the ALDI supermarkets).
You can easily buy the sim card at any Hofer supermarket for 12 euros, of which 2 is for the sim card and the rest is credit you can use on a package or just spend on calls and texts. To activate it follow the instructions on the package and/or the website.
( https://www.hot.at/hot-info-english.html )
I visit Austria at least twice a year and have used a HoT sim since 2017.
The packages are only getting better. The cheapest one offers 8GB (of which 3.7GB can be used in EU roaming) and 1000 minutes and texts (also usable in EU) for 30 days for 9.9 euros.
My sister has been living in Austria since 2013 and was using T-Mobile before, but has since last year switched to HoT.
Thank you! I just bought this. Great solution for travel around Austira and Europe since the allowance for EU data is higher than my experience with other SIM cards I’ve bought from Spain and Poland. There is also an app where you can easily add more funds for the SIM Card too. There is even an unlimited data option for 19.90 Euros but for Austria only. But still, amazing offer if you stay in Austria.
Are you able to send and receive calls between USA and Austria with these sim cards?
Yes, at additional cost.
Best and easiest SIM card option if you’re a moderate user: Before you go to Austria, download and install the HOT app on your phone. When in Austria, go to any Hofer grocery store (they’re all over the place) and near the checkout stand, pick up a HOT SIM card package, it costs 2 EUR. Stick the SIM card in your phone (it’s a combo mini-micro-nano unit). Start the HOT app and follow the English instructions for registering and topping up. The basic package is a pay-as-you-go deal that will run you around 10 EUR a month for moderate use and includes minutes, text and data. Their support person said it’s good to use in EU, just turn data roaming on. If you’ll be making long distance calls outside Austria, download the separate Amiga app which lets you dial overseas and charges your credit card only for calls made (very cheap to use). I live in Vienna and use the HOT/Amiga combo, no need for anything else.
I wouldn’t recommend A1 at all. I went to an A1 shop, asked for a prepaid SIM card, the girl there was quite rude. I struggled the whole evening because the SIM wasn’t working, and in the morning their customer service said that it was data only. Watch out for this! An A1 welcoming package, which I have, claims to have minutes and data, but apparently not. I would still imagine that a lot of “old” people like me want to call and maybe text as well, not just data.