With thousands of years of history, exceptional weather, and great food, Greece offers visitors an experience that’s hard to beat. I’ve visited several times over the years, and every time I end up wishing I’d stayed longer.
In this land of grilled meat and feta cheese, staying connected is almost as easy as putting on weight. SIM cards are easy to purchase, and costs can be reasonably low if you buy the right package.
Here’s what you need to know.
There are three cell networks in Greece, operated by Cosmote, Vodafone, and Wind. Various resellers also offer service on one of those three networks.
Cosmote costs the most, but has the widest coverage and fastest data speeds. Wind offers low prices in a small coverage area, while Vodafone is somewhere in the middle on speed, coverage, and price.
I’ve used Vodafone in Athens and elsewhere in the past, but was sticking to the western side of Greece on this trip. Starting with a few days on Corfu, my route then took me to and between smaller islands further south in the Ionian Sea on a week-long sailing trip.
After checking the coverage map and availability of stores to purchase both SIM and credit, I went with Vodafone.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Greece
Buying a Vodafone SIM and getting service was very straightforward, at least on Corfu. You’ll likely have a similar experience anywhere in Greece that sees enough tourism for English to be widely spoken.
There are a couple of Vodafone stores close to each other in the downtown part of Corfu Town, and I visited the one beside San Rocco square. It’s a small store, but given its location, it sees plenty of tourists.
The staff member asked what I wanted, and offered a few options for my two weeks in the country. Note you’ll need your passport to buy a SIM from a Vodafone store, and the staff will take a photocopy of it.
As soon as I’d finished swapping SIM cards, I received a few text messages from Vodafone, and data started working immediately afterward. The entire process took less than five minutes.
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Prepaid SIM Costs
Look for the “CU” SIM cards and packages. The card itself costs five euros (with no credit) in store, and most vendors will insist you need to top it up with a minimum of €10 before you can use it. You can try to talk your way out of this and do it yourself online if you’d prefer, but it’s probably not worth the effort.
The default package has 250 minutes of calls and 500MB of data, valid for a month, which costs €8.50: this can be disabled using the Vodafone My CU app, but probably not before it’s been activated for at least the first month.
Top-up vouchers come in €10, €15, €20, and €30 varieties, and a 12% tax is charged on them, which means that your (eg) €10 top-up will only add €8.93 to your balance.
If you need more data than the default package offers (and you probably will, if you’re staying in the country any length of time,) there are a few options for adding more:
- 1GB valid for a day, for 1€
- unlimited data valid for a day, for 1.50€
- 6GB valid for two days, for 2€
- 6GB valid for a week, for 4€
- 5GB valid for 30 days, for 8.50€
- unlimited data valid at night (8pm to 8am) for a month, for 6€
So, if you’re in Greece for a couple of weeks and want calls, texts, and a useful amount of data, you’ll pay a total of €25. That’s the SIM card itself, plus €20 worth of credit to pay for the default calls and data package plus 6GB of extra data per week.
If you’d prefer to mix and match the various daily, weekend, or night-time data packages instead, I’d suggest adding enough credit to cover your expected needs at time of purchase. After that, activate the various packages as needed either on the website, via the My Vodafone app, or by calling 1252.
Tourist-specific packages are also available, some that are data-only, and others that include a number of calling minute to international destinations. The exact details and prices change regularly, so just take a look at the current information and compare it to the standard prepaid pricing at the time.
It’s also worth asking about current promotions before you start: these can offer much better value than the standard or tourist pricing, especially for heavier data users.
We’ve started to get a few anecdotal reports (see the comments below) of Vodafone stores in heavily-touristed areas refusing to sell anything except the most expensive prepaid packages to visitors. If that happens to you and the staff member won’t budge, just walk out and choose a different provider instead.
You can buy top-ups at any Vodafone store (store locator here), as well as thousands of kiosks, service stations, and supermarkets across the country.
Coverage and Data Speeds
While there are several parts of Greece where you’ll see 4G/LTE service with Vodafone, they’re predominantly in the major cities. You may happen to find it elsewhere on both the mainland and islands, but don’t count on it.
Coverage and speed were surprisingly variable on Greece’s western coast. Despite having the largest population, Corfu Town had the worst reception and speed. I had minimal service in much of the old town, probably due to the stone buildings surrounding me, but things improved elsewhere.
Further down the coast, things improved dramatically. On the mainland, and while sailing between Lefkada, Ithaca, Meganisi, and other islands, I had reliable HSPA+ service and generally good speeds whenever I checked. I’d occasionally get LTE, and rarely saw it drop back to 2G, but never lost signal anywhere.
4G/LTE service was much more common in Athens, with the faster speeds that go with it.
Greece 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.
There are some exceptions and limits, however, especially with large data packages. Double-check the exact details at time of purchase.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.
It is true, vodafone has the best coverage
Often it is cheaper to buy sim cards from MVNO operators. They have lower prices for mobile plans with the same coverage as their real operators, but sometime lesser speed. If you don’t need 4G in Greece, I would advise Tazamobile that is a MVNO on Vodafone network in 2G and 3G.
They have a 4GB pack for only $5 for 30 days. And now they offer a tourist mega pack – 7 GB, 120 min national and international calls for only $ 22 valid for 30 days.
As with many resellers (MVNOs), Tazamobile has cheaper prices, but is less convenient for travelers to buy (actual stores are hard to find, with SIMs and top-ups mostly sold in small kiosks where technical knowledge and levels of English spoken tend to be lower). If the lowest price is most important, it’s worth considering, but otherwise, since it’s the same physical network anyway, I’d stick with Vodafone.
Do you know if these SIM cards can also be used in Italy?
Yes, they can. There’s now free roaming across the EU as well, at least if you’re an EU resident (and quite possibly even if you aren’t). More on that here.
Is there any possibility to buy the SIM card in the airport, and how
Much time does it need to activate the internet coz I am planning to use the google map instead of gps
Without knowing which airport you’re referring to, I can’t answer that. Activation was pretty much instant.
Can you buy a Vodafone SIM card from Athens International airport? do they have a Vodafone shop at the airport? Or can I buy the SIM Card from other shops there?
Very helpful post. Thank you so much.
The Vodafone store locator for Athens (prefecture: Attica, region: Athens) suggests the company doesn’t have a shop at the airport. I don’t know for sure whether you can buy it from other airport stores, but have seen a few mentions of being able to buy a SIM (either Vodafone or Cosmote) at the post office in the arrivals area. If that turns out not to be the case, you’ll need to buy it once you get into the city.
I’m traveling to Corfu for 10 days (to a small town called Arillas). Do you think it’s a good idea to use Vodaphone? Or maybe a different company like Cosmote?
Given the poor data service I had in Corfu (especially Corfu Town), you may well find Cosmote is better there than Vodafone. I didn’t buy a Cosmote SIM, though, so can’t tell you from first hand experience.
Any idea if I can buy in SIM in the airport in Rhodes? Thanks!
The Vodafone store locator I linked to above only shows a store in the old town, but whether you can buy a SIM from a different provider at the airport, I don’t know, sorry.
In Greece now and I asked one of those small Bangladesh shops, nice of them to tell me where to go. I got Cosmote for €5 with 100mins of call to other cell companies and 300mins to Cosmote. Plus 4GB data. What a steal! But be aware to try the sim in the spot coz the first one he gave me didn’t work… after going back to the shop, it took him some time to find the perfect sim that actually works.
We are Kiwis going to Europe in June. I am starting the trip in Croatia and my husband in the UK.
We will be travelling between countries quite a bit and will be in Europe for 12 months.
Ideally, I would like the same phone number for the whole trip. I understand a sim bought in one country now works throughout Europe.
Should I just buy a sim card in Croatia and then keep topping up via the Croatian provider’s website? Could my husband buy a SIM card for me in the UK (I read that 3 is the best provider in the UK but you need a UK credit card to top up!) Do you have another suggestion?
Be sure to check out the article I linked in this (and all other SIM card posts for EU countries), where I give more detail on the ‘roam like at home’ laws in the EU. Note that it applies only in the EU, not all of Europe.
There are caveats you need to be aware of, particularly around how long you can use a given SIM outside the country of purchase. In short, don’t expect to use one for a year as you roam all over the continent unless you spend significant time in the country of purchase as well.
You’ll probably have more luck using a Croatian SIM for a few months than a UK one, due to the issues you mention with international credit cards. Check out our Croatia SIM post for details, but our writer was able to use her Spanish credit card to top up without issue on the provider’s website. You will want to check with the vendor that your (presumably) New Zealand card will also work in the same way, but it at least seems more likely.
HI, I’ve just been told that there’s now a law that to buy a sim card in Greece you need a Greek address and a tax number. Is this correct? In the past I’ve always bought a sim there and just needed my passport.
If so, it’s very recent and news to me. It’s always been just a passport for me as well.
I was wondering, if I bring my Samsung S7 from Canada and purchase this temporary sim card, will it reset my phone to factory settings?? It happens here when we swap sim cards, not sure if the same thing happens with those temp sim cards.
Installing a new SIM card should never reset a phone to factory settings. About the only thing I can think it could do is change your existing APN settings (if you have any), which you’d then need to re-add when you put your old SIM back in again.
Do we need to go back to the store where we bought the sim card ton end the contract or can we just throw away the card before leaving the country ?
Thank you very much
There’s no contract as such — you’re just prepaying for service for eg. a month in advance — so you can throw the card away before you leave. No need to go back to the store.
Note that Vodafone shop in Santorini insists that the only possible package is voice + unlimited data for 1 month priced at 32 euros. They refused to sell anything else, even though Vodafone website suggests that there are currently a variety of other cheaper deals available.
I guess if I was going to pick the one phone store most likely to try to take advantage of tourists in Greece, it’d probably be the one on Santorini!
EXACT same treatment for me in Chania, Crete. The Vodafone website still says you can get the Vodafone International package at “any Vodafone shop” but at this point that seems to be misleading at best: https://www.vodafone.gr/prepay-sim-card-greece/