Yachts in harbor in Helsinki with grand buildings in background, at sunset
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Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Finland

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Finland. Home of reindeer and saunas, Angry Birds and Santa. It’s also home to some of the fastest data speeds we’ve seen in any country.

Not only that, but free Wi-Fi covers anywhere you’d want to go in Helsinki, with speedy downloads as well. That means you probably don’t need to buy a SIM card if you’re going to be limiting yourself to the capital city.

If you’re going elsewhere in the country or just want to grab one anyway, though, you have several options. Prices are low (or at least, data allowances are high) in Finland, so you won’t spend a fortune with any of the providers.

Travel eSIMs are also an option: you don’t get anywhere near the same amount of data with them, but they still make sense for some travelers. Whichever approach you take, here’s what you need to know.

Companies

  • I recommend DNA or Elisa for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from aloSIM is the best option if you only need data

There are three cell providers in Finland: Sonera, Elisa, and DNA. All three provide LTE service to almost the entire population, while 5G has rolled out to about a quarter of the country so far and is available on prepaid with some companies.

If you’re going to be traveling to very rural parts of the country, go for Elisa, but otherwise there’s little difference between the three providers. I’d originally planned to use Elisa, but struggled to find them in stock, so ultimately went with DNA.

Travel eSIM for Finland

Compared to the low prices for unlimited data in Finland, it’s hard to get excited about most of the offers from travel eSIM companies. If you’re only staying for a few days, you’ll likely be better off with a local SIM and paying the per-day rate (below).

If you’re around for a while, though, a small data pack from aloSIM might still save you money. They only cost a few dollars, and if all you’re really doing is the usual navigation and staying in touch-type stuff, a little data goes a long way.

Like most travel eSIMs, they’re data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.

One thing worth noting: if you’re planning to travel to several European countries within a few weeks, it might be worth looking at some of the regional eSIM packages on offer.

Because data is so cheap in Finland, all of the local companies put strict limits on how much of it you can use elsewhere in the EU, or simply charge extra for it. This can make Europe eSIM bundles a cheaper and/or easier option.

There are too many to list each one separately (and they change all the time), but as a starting point, these are the Europe eSIM options from companies I’d actually consider using:

If you’re new to eSIMs, they offer big benefits to travelers in terms of how quickly, easily, and (often) cheaply you can get connected when you arrive in a new country. Most recent phones support them, and you can read all about them here.

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Finland

After arriving in Helsinki, I headed straight to an Elisa store. They didn’t sell prepaid cards there, they told me, and recommended I visit an R-Kioski — the 7-Eleven of Finland. You’ll find one on practically every street, as well as at the airport if you’re arriving by plane.

R Kiosk kiosk on a pavement in Helsinki, Finland, with a man walking past.
R Kioski in Helsinki

After stopping in a few and finding that Elisa prepaid cards were out of stock, I went with DNA instead. Because I was buying from a busy convenience store rather than a mobile store, I was handed a packet and was left to my own devices to figure out how to get it working. I didn’t have to show ID to buy it.

Inside the packet was a SIM card with the usual cutouts. I popped in the nano SIM, entered in the pin code when prompted, typed in the APN details that were written on the packet, and I was good to go.

Lightning-fast data speeds, here I come!

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

DNA

You’ll typically pay €4 or €5 for the SIM card, loaded with €5 of credit. The DNA Unlimited Prepaid plan costs a flat €0.99/day for unlimited domestic calls, texts, and data. Roaming data within the EU is charged at €0.93/GB.

If you’re staying longer, an unlimited data-only plan valid for a month is also available. At €24.90, it’ll save you a bit of money if you don’t need a local number. Again, it only includes data use within Finland.

You can find out more about these and other options here.

aloSIM

Of the eSIM companies I use and recommend, aloSIM and Airalo typically have the best (and near-identical) prices for Finland. I’ve often had faster speeds with aloSIM, but chances are you’ll be happy with either.

We’ve compared those two and many others in the past: here’s how the best of them stack up price-wise in Finland.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $6.50

  • $8.00

  • $12.00

  • $18.00

  • $26.00

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $6.50

  • $8

  • $12

  • $18

  • $26

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 15 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $5

  • $12

  • $14

  • $19

  • $27

  • $33

Topping Up

DNA

You can buy top-ups from R-Kioski stores all over Finland, as well as from post offices, and Otto ATMs.

Nomad

Topping up with aloSIM (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Finland eSIM, hit the top-up button, and buy the same package again.

The top-up packs have exactly the same pricing and duration as the original eSIMs: there’s little difference between topping up your current eSIM and buying a new one, other than not having to activate it.

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Coverage and Data Speeds

The data speeds I got from my SIM card were very impressive. I was regularly getting close to 100Mbps downloads with LTE, no matter where I was in Helsinki. Even indoors or in areas surrounded by large buildings, speeds never seemed to slow.

Likewise, I had no issues with coverage: I had full service every time I looked at my phone.

DNA LTE data speeds in Helsinki
DNA LTE data speeds in Helsinki

EU Roaming

Finland 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.

When it comes to roaming elsewhere in the EU with a Finnish SIM, though, beware. The low price of cell service in Finland allows providers to greatly restrict the amount of roaming data they provide for free, and/or charge extra for it.

Be sure to double-check the exact details at time of purchase, or just use one of the Europe regional eSIMs I mentioned earlier if you’re heading elsewhere in the EU.

Speaking of eSIMs, both aloSIM and Airalo also use the DNA network, so you’ll have the same coverage with both.

Nomad (mentioned in the table above) can use all of the networks in the country, so is a good option if you’re going somewhere remote. You’ll pay a bit more for it, though.


Check out our guides to SIM cards and eSIMs in 65+ other countries here.

Main image via Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

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8 Comments

  1. Good to hear the networks were worth their reputation.

    Both Sonera and Elisa have secondary brands, Sonera network is as Tele Finland and Elisa network as Saunalahti. In fact nowadays pretty much all Elisa consumer services have been branded as Saunalahti. I was just at the R-kioski today and noticed they had Saunalahti Prepaid packages.

    Overall mobile data in Finland is typically defined by speed, not by data caps. For example when you have a postpaid subscription, you pay different amount depending if the max speed is 21, 50, 100 or 300 Mbit/s (typically set around 3G, DC-HSPA, LTE and LTE-A data rates). With Elisa/Saunalahti all the postpaid subscription include free, unlimited data at 256 kbit/s.

    Around 30€/month should give you a decent, uncapped 4G data subscription through the daily limits (for example Saunalahti/Elisa Prepaid is 0.066€/MB but capped at 0.99€/day).

  2. Can I check with you, for the DNA card you got, 16.90 Euro for unlimited data, can it be used in Estonia (Tallinn) and Tromso (Norway)?

    1. Please see this article for more info on EU ‘Roam Like At Home’ regulations. Generally, though, you’ll be able to use your SIM and call/text/data package from one EU country in any other, but usually won’t get ‘unlimited’ data while roaming. Exactly what you do get depends on the price you paid for the package and other factors, so you always need to check details directly with the operator.

  3. Avatar Sakulporn Chaiyaraj says:

    Dear Lauren Juliff,

    May I ask for your expertised advice?
    The situation is I will travel in Iceland and stopover in Helsinki, Furthermore, my plan after Iceland is France and Italy.

    What is the suitable sim card for data concentrated?

    As you has provided the details of DNA which was bought in Finland, will it be able to use in Iceland, France, Italy?

    It would very nice and kind of you if you could share your experience regarding to the mentioned situation 🙂

    1. France and Italy should work, I think. At least my plan is (it’s post-paid though). Iceland isn’t included for my plan at least. My plan is Telia (aka Sonera) and the post-paids have DEN, NOR, SWE, FIN, and Baltian countries. Prepaids may vary.

      1. Let’s correct it, yeah Iceland is included same than with the EU. And also what I mean by that list of countries is that there are unlimited data. In EU post-paids have like 10GBs of data (with Telia) but others may vary. Sorry about the earlier one that didn’t have all the relevant info.

  4. Avatar Rodrigo Noronha says:

    Dear Lauren Juliff,

    To activate a SIM CARD Prepaid Elisa, do I need to call a phone, or can I do this through text messages on my smartphone? Are the data packets bought in R-Kioski as well? And can these packages also be activated directly by text on the smartphone?

  5. Thank you for the useful article! I am heading to R Kioski to buy a DNA pre paid data card.

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