Warsaw Old Town
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Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Poland

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Poland offers travelers a myriad of options, whether that’s sifting through Teutonic knight lore at Malbork Castle, filling up on pierogi and ice cream while listening to a Chopin concert in Warsaw, or reflecting on the unspeakable horrors that occurred at Auschwitz.

For those looking to stay connected during their explorations, buying a SIM card or travel eSIM is quick, painless, and inexpensive. You’ll be back on the tourist trail in no time, with downloads flowing as quickly as the ever-present Vistula river.

Here’s what you need to know about staying connected in Poland.

Companies

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

Poland has several choices when it comes to buying a SIM card, with four main cell networks to choose from: Orange, Play, Plus, and T-Mobile.

There are other options as well, but for the short-term traveler, these four will suffice. Each of the companies has about a quarter of the market, and their ongoing price wars lead to good deals for locals and visitors alike.

T-Mobile and Orange offer the best coverage across the country, with 4G/LTE available and common in the larger cities.

I chose Orange for two simple reasons: it was the network recommended by the attendant at my local kiosk, and had the best coverage throughout the country.

Travel eSIM for Poland

Given the low price of data in Poland, there’s no cost advantage to using a travel eSIM while you’re there. There are convenience benefits though: being set up and ready to go as soon you arrive in the country is super-helpful.

If you plan to use a lot of data, you should still go with the physical Orange SIM. For smaller amounts or if you’re only in Poland for a few days, though, there’s minimal price difference if you use aloSIM.

Both Airalo and aloSIM typically have the same prices for a given amount of data in Poland, but last time I checked, aloSIM had more options available so that’s the one I’m recommending.

I’ve used both, though, and they’ve both been great, so it won’t much matter which one you go for.

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.

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 Poland

There are many ways to buy SIM cards and packages: in supermarkets, street kiosks, gas (petrol) stations, and official stores. I got mine from a street kiosk next to the Old Town in Warsaw, and the process was quick and easy, taking under 15 minutes.

Kiosk selling magazines, drinks, and other items on the side of a street in Warsaw, Poland

Registering with your passport or national ID card is now mandatory when buying a SIM card in Poland, due to an anti-terrorism act that went into effect in 2016.

Because of this, it’s highly recommended to confirm during your purchase that the attendant has not just given you your SIM card package, but has activated the card as well.

This shouldn’t be a problem, and any helpful attendant will be happy to set everything up for you. That includes inserting and registering the SIM card, then confirming it’s working properly via text messages from the cell company and a quick internet speed test.

Verifying everything before leaving the store or kiosk is much easier than trying to deal with non-activation later. A smile and humble attitude works wonders on reluctant attendants!

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

Orange

Orange has a few different starter packs available, so it’s easy to find one that fits your requirements. The most useful is the tourist plan for 30 zloty (~8 USD) that gets you unlimited domestic calls and texts and 30GB of data, valid for a month.

You may also be able to find a pack in some outlets for just 5 zloty that gives 6GB of data (no calls or texts) valid for two weeks. If you’re on a shorter trip, that’s pretty hard to beat if you can track it down.

With Orange, you can check your credit balance by dialing *124*#, and remaining data allowance by dialing *101*01#.

aloSIM

Most of aloSIM’s company’s packs cost ten bucks or less, even for those that last a full month. With that in mind, if you just want to get set up before leaving home and not have to think about it any further, you’re not going to spend a fortune to do so!

It’s not the only eSIM company out there, of course: we’ve compared many of them in the past, and here’s how the best ones stack up price-wise in Poland.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

Price (USD)

  • $5

  • $6

  • $7

  • $10

  • $13

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

  • $5.50

  • $6.50

  • $8

  • $11.50

  • $15

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)

  • $6

  • $12

  • $14

  • $19

  • $27

  • $33

Topping Up

Orange

You can easily buy top-up vouchers in the same places you bought the SIM card, including street kiosks, stores, petrol stations, or online.

To top-up your Orange SIM, dial *125*[top-up code]#

aloSIM

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 Poland 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

Orange coverage was good throughout Poland. Speeds were extremely good in all tourist cities, slowing down (but still acceptable) in the countryside.

I did have a couple of issues, however. First, while taking the train from Warsaw to Gdansk, coverage dropped multiple times: not ideal for work, or if a constant connection is necessary.

Second, as with any cell company or city, the coverage dropped dramatically whenever I was inside the concrete buildings common in Warsaw or Krakow.

Orange data speeds in Gdansk, Krakow and Warsaw
Orange LTE data speeds in Gdansk, Krakow, and Warsaw

aloSIM uses the Plus network, which covers around 99% of the country and has the fastest 5G network in Poland.

EU Roaming

Poland 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. The main operators, including Orange, include a certain amount of roaming for free, with a surcharge after that.

The 30GB package mentioned above, for instance, includes 6GB of roaming data. Check the details at time of purchase if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region, or go with one of the regional eSIMs mentioned earlier


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

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar François says:

    Curious, what is the roaming within EU policy for non resident on the Orange offering?
    Also can you top up with foreign credit cards?

    1. Whether you’re resident or not, you won’t get much roaming data with any of the Polish providers, including Orange — prices are low, and they’re allowed to restrict the amount of free roaming data they provide in line with that. Orange gives about 5% of its allowance for roaming use — after that, you’ll start paying extra. More on the roaming rules here. Not sure about topping up with foreign cards, sorry, although it’s possible with Orange in at least some other European countries.

  2. Avatar François says:

    Hi Dave, thanks- this is what I assumed. I’ll stick with the more expensive country option (my Irish sim has been fine for a month on the mainland so far)

  3. I will be traveling to Poland next Spring from the USA. Are non residents allowed to purchase and register sim cards? Also do they allow the use of foreign credit cards to top it off? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Non-residents are allowed to purchase and activate SIM cards in Poland. Do you mean using a credit card to top up online after purchase, or doing it in person at a store?

  4. Avatar Jose Albar says:

    What should be a better traveling with, and using a prepaid data sim in Poland/Europe? An open line phone? Or an open line pocket wifi?

    1. It’s personal preference for individual use — neither is inherently better or worse unless you want to retain your home SIM in your phone at all times for receiving calls and texts to that number. If you’re sharing the connection between multiple people, use a pocket wifi.

  5. Everybod avoid “Plus”(gsm) as of 2018.
    I’ve purchased their sim with three options of “promotion” to choose from. One I needed and went for is roughly “number stays active a year without a need to top-up”. I had to top up 30PLN as a started/activation of the package/tariff.
    “Promo” works in a simple way, that if you have no funds on your account/number then you can only receive incoming calls, which was exactly what I wanted.
    Since roaming does not make difference in Europe(EU) any more my friends could then reach me easily when I stay abroad, so I thought.
    I have “Plus” as second SIM in my phone.

    It has never worked, my Polish number never worked abroad, my “year active number” turned out to be fiction.

    But! what’s even more appalling is that you cannot contact Plus own help/info line if you have no credit on your phone!! Their web portal in terms of contacting help and/or support is equally abysmal.
    I tried to to use web site but to no avail.

    So if you are in a situation similar to mine just avoid!! Polish Plus GMS.

    cheers

  6. Dave,

    I am going to Palowice for a mission trip. I am only staying 12 days and and going through Germany also. I was wondering should I purchase the (Orange Holiday Europe – Prepaid SIM card – 10GB Internet Data in 4G/LTE (data tethering allowed) + 120 mn + 1000 texts in 30 countries in Europe) from Amazon for $50 before I leave for Poland while in the US or would you suggest to just purchase it when I land in Poland? Thank you for your advice and help. Blessings!

    1. Orange Poland’s national rates are very inexpensive, and while it doesn’t include free EU roaming with its prepaid plans, the costs to roam elsewhere in the EU aren’t too bad (the equivalent of around $2/GB for data, for instance).

      If you don’t plan to use a lot of calls/texts/data during your time in Germany, you’ll likely pay noticeably less if you buy the SIM in Poland when you arrive rather than buying off Amazon. Of course, there’s more hassle involved in doing that, so you’ll basically just need to decide how highly you value your time. 🙂

  7. I bought the Orange SIM + 15 GB option and only got about 1 GB of EU roaming. Stupid, haha.

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