Everything you need to know about the best prepaid SIM card you can buy in Greece. Includes information on local operators in Greece, where to buy a Greece SIM card, what documents you need, available data packages and more.
How to buy a SIM Card for Greece
Where can I get a Greece SIM card? Tourists and expats traveling to Greece ask this question all the time, as they want to get a Greece SIM card for mobile broadband as soon as they arrive.
It’s hardly surprising! These days, it’s super important to stay connected with friends and relatives around the world. Not to mention posting all the amazing Greece photos from your holiday 🙂
This guide to the prepaid SIM cards you can get for Greece is here to help. It includes information on:
- the main providers in Greece
- the various SIM plans and packages each provider offers
- what documents you need to get a new SIM
- where to get your Greek SIM card – stores, street vendors, the Athens airport
- activating your SIM card and buying bundles
- coverage, 4G and 5G in Greece
- eSIM and tourist SIM information
- why contract phones are not worth it, even if you are living in Greece.
Greece prepaid SIM card providers
There are three local providers in Greece: Cosmote, Vodafone Greece and Nova, formerly known as Wind. Each of these companies offer several types of prepaid SIM cards.
If you are only here for a few days or weeks, any Pay As You Go Greek SIM card you buy will be fine. Whichever operator you choose, your SIM will usually work well at popular destinations such as Athens, Santorini or Mykonos.
Generally speaking though, Cosmote has the best network coverage around Greece. So if you are planning to do lots of traveling in Greece, the best SIM card to get is probably Cosmote.
My top suggestion for the best Greek prepaid card to buy would be Cosmote Frog – if you can find it. This is the best SIM deal for Greece. Alternatively, go for either Cosmote WhatsUp, or Vodafone CU.
I have included more info on all these SIM cards later on in the article.
Greece SIM vs EU SIM
If you already have an SIM card from any EU country, there are no roaming charges. So, there is no real reason to get a Greek SIM if you are only here for a short time, unless you need a local phone number.
To be honest, most SIM cards from the EU (and often the UK) are better value than the Greek ones. Just make sure you are familiar with your provider’s fair usage policy. Plus, note that your EU SIM might not work perfectly everywhere!
Greece SIM vs overseas SIM
In my opinion, if you are visiting from outside the EU, you should definitely get a local SIM. Your provider (e.g. Verizon or T Mobile in the USA) will likely have overseas data plans. However, these will always be a lot more expensive, and may even end up in unexpected costs.
Also, while WiFi is very common in Greece, there will always be a time that you desperately need the Internet and it won’t be available.
A good example is when you are driving around Greece, or if you get lost walking around Ancient Athens. Even with downloading the offline Google Maps, it’s always best to actually have an internet connection.
Finally, a Greek SIM card can also come in handy if you want to book ferry tickets, train tickets, or just confirm your reservation with your hotel. As you will get a local number, you can easily use it for apps like Viber, WhatsApp etc.
What do I need to buy a prepaid Greece SIM card?
To buy a prepaid SIM card for Greece, you will need to show a valid ID document, such as a passport. Wherever you go to get your new card, the seller will either photocopy or take a photo of your passport – this is normal!
According to Greek legislation, you can only purchase a SIM card if you are over 18 years old. If your teenage children want their own SIM cards, you can buy two or more cards using the same passport.
Where to buy a SIM card in Greece
The best places to get your SIM card in Greece are either designated stores, or street vendors in the bigger cities. It’s possible to buy a SIM card at the Athens Airport, but it’s a lot more expensive.
To use your new card, you will need to have an unlocked phone. Some mobile phones come with a dual SIM option, so you can also use your original SIM if you prefer.
Buying a Greece SIM card in a store
All three providers have hundreds of shops across the country where you can easily get a new Greece SIM card. Cosmote SIM cards are also sold at a store chain called Germanos.
Here are some of the stores where you can get a SIM card for Greece around Syntagma Square and Plaka, close to the main shopping areas in central Athens:
- Cosmote Syntagma Square – Mitropoleos 1
- Cosmote Monastiraki – Athinas 45
- Germanos Syntagma Square – Stadiou 10
- Vodafone Syntagma Square – Stadiou 9
- Vodafone Acropolis – Veikou 72
- Nova Kolonaki – Patriarchou Ioakim 7
- Nova Acropolis – Veikou 1
If you are starting your trip at Thessaloniki or one of the Greek islands, you can use Google Maps to find the nearest shop that sells SIMs.
Expect to pay about 10-15 euro to get your new SIM card, including some credit that will enable you to buy data packages, minutes or text bundles. More on this, later.
Getting a Greece SIM card from a street vendor
If you are in Athens, you can also get prepaid SIM card deals from street vendors. These cards are perfectly legitimate, and typically offer much better value than the SIM cards you would find at the stores.
Usually, these vendors have detailed boards out, explaining what they offer and how much it costs. In fact, they are probably the best place to get your SIM card for Greece 🙂
You can find these street vendors close to busy metro stations, such as Syntagma, Monastiraki, Omonia and Victoria. Most of them are young, and they speak at least some level of English as they often work with foreign visitors.
And while it might feel strange having a random person on the street take a photo of your passport, you would still have to do the same thing if you went to a store.
Again, you can expect to pay around 10-15 euro for your new SIM card along with some credit which you can use to get a package. The difference is, you will typically get more GB / more minutes than a card you’d find in a shop.
Buying Greek SIM cards at the Athens International Airport
Some visitors would prefer to get hold of a Greece SIM card as soon as they’ve landed at the Athens International Airport. While this is possible, it won’t get you the best deal, plus you may have to face long queues.
Still, you can get a local SIM card at the airport in Athens. You will need to find the SIM LOCAL kiosk at the Arrivals Level, and check their current offers. In summer, their opening hours are usually 6.00-22.00 every day.
At the time of writing, the only available option is a special travel pass Vodafone Greece package providing 15 GB of data, 200 minutes of calls to local numbers, and 120 minutes of calls to international numbers.
Along with the activation fee, this comes at a total price of 35 euros, which is rather steep when compared to the local services. Still, it’s an option if you want to be connected on the way to your hotel.
Related: Tips for taking the Athens airport metro
Buying a package for your new Greek SIM card
At the time you purchase your new SIM card, you will also need to buy some credit. The vendor will explain how to use your credit, and what packages are available.
You will then need to activate a package that suits your needs. I can’t stress this enough!
Unless you get a package, your credit will disappear in zero time! The easiest way to activate these packages is through an app which you will download on your mobile phone.
In summer, all providers offer unlimited GB deals that are valid for 30 days and cost 9.90 euros. This is by far the best available deal you can get. You can just ask the seller to activate this, and you are done!
If you are visiting outside summer, you’ll have to check the available packages at the time. Generally speaking, you can buy a package with a certain number of GBs for a set period of time – a day, a week, or a month. Or you can buy a package which gives you both GBs and some minutes / SMS to local phone numbers.
A quick overview of prepaid SIM cards for Greece
Let’s have a quick look at the prepaid SIM cards you are most likely to find in Greece.
I switched from a Cosmote contract to a Cosmote WhatsUp prepaid card a few years ago, and never looked back. Even if you move to Greece, contract phones are really not worth it, as not only do they tie you to a 2-year contract, but they are also more expensive.
With the WhatsUp package I spend an average of about 12 euro per month for all the GBs and minutes I need… and as I travel a lot around Greece, I need loads!
This SIM card offers many different bundles, including unlimited GB for 9.90 euro in summer. There’s also a DIY bundle that you can customize, and any unused data / minutes are carried over to the next month.
If you want a cheap data only SIM, this is a great option. However, there’s a catch: for the time being, the WhatsUp app is only in Greek, so you’ll need someone who speaks Greek to activate it and top it up. Customer service or street vendor can also do that for you.
You can find more info here (in Greek).
In my opinion, Cosmote Frog is the best SIM card in Greece for tourists and expats. It uses the Cosmote network, offers slightly better value than Cosmote WhatsUp, and the app is also in English. Plus, unlike Cosmote WhatsUp, you only pay per second when making a call.
The only problem with the Cosmote Frog SIM is that it’s not always easy to find at the physical stores. It’s probably easier to get it at a street vendor. If you are planning to be in Greece for a long time, it’s worth ordering it here.
You can find more info here: Cosmote Frog.
This service from Cosmote is more geared towards people who want to talk a lot. In my opinion, it doesn’t offer any benefits compared to the other Cosmote products, and prices can be higher.
You can find more info here: Cosmote Cosmokarta
This is another good option for visitors. In summer, you get unlimited data for a month for 9.90 euro. Their app can be switched to English, so you can use it on your own. I’ve heard mixed opinions about their customer care, but I haven’t used them myself so I don’t have an opinion.
You can find more info here: Vodafone CU
Offers fairly flexible bundles, but there’s no unlimited data option. If you are a traveler, Vodafone CU will probably suit you better.
You can find more info here: Vodafone You (in Greek)
Another package from Vodafone Greece, which focuses on call minutes to several different countries. There’s a fairly good option for monthly data as well.
You can find more info here: Vodafone International (in Greek)
This is another option offering unlimited data for 9.90 euro in summer. There’s also a bundle for EU calls.
You can find more info here: Nova F2G
A good selection of bundles, including some with call minutes to international numbers. Unlike some other SIM cards, you only pay per second when making a call.
You can find more info here: Nova MyQ
Tips for expats and nomads staying longer in Greece
If you are only in Greece as a tourist, you initial credit should cover you for the duration of your trip. Your SIM card will remain active for a period of time, so if you are visiting again soon you can re-use it.
However, if you are planning to stay in Greece for a few weeks or months, you will need to top up your credit at some point. You can do it online with a credit card / PayPal, buy a scratch-card with credit at a periptero (kiosk), or top-up in a shop.
With some providers, you can carry any unused part of the package over to the next month, provided that you add some credit and renew your package before it expires.
It’s important to know that a tax is charged on any top-up voucher. For example, if you top up 10 euro, your balance will only be 9.09. Take that into account if you are planning to buy a package which costs over this amount.
And, in all circumstances, do not forget to buy a new bundle – otherwise, your new credit will run out super quickly!
Also, have a look at this guide with helpful websites for expats in Greece.
Things to know about network coverage in Greece
While 4G (and, sometimes, 5G coverage) is available in Greece, in practice you might experience a slow connection. In fact, the speed of your mobile data can vary a lot, depending on your exact location.
Some carriers work better than others in certain areas – so if you are planning to stay somewhere for long, ask your neighbors what provider they are using. On the whole, Cosmote is probably the most reliable one.
If you are visiting remote islands like Nisyros, Kalymnos or Tilos, or even upcoming islands like Milos, don’t expect to have signal 24/7. Reception can be affected by weather conditions, such as the meltemi winds. Yes… I’m talking from experience!
It’s also a good idea to ensure that your cell phone is NOT on automatic network selection. If you are traveling to the Dodecanese islands, like Rhodes or Kos, your phone can automatically log on to Turkish networks, and you can easily lose any remaining credit.
Last, but not least – it is possible to use your phone as a hotspot for all your devices. I have done this many times on various islands where the WiFi was slow and found that an unlimited data SIM was very useful.
Note that this option might not be able to support some services, such as streaming videos or making a video call. But it still might be useful if the Wi Fi signal is poor.
Using an eSIM / International SIM card in Greece
There are a bunch of International SIM cards / travel SIM cards out there that frequent travelers like to use.
In addition, if your phone supports an eSIM option, you can use an eSIM instead of buying a card in Greece. This will save you some time as you won’t have to find a shop and go through the procedure.
These are some of the companies that I am aware of which come highly recommended. Note that these SIM deals are generally more expensive than a Greek SIM card:
- Trip Roaming
- One Sim
- Get Nomad
As I haven’t used an eSIM in Greece yet, I don’t have a personal opinion. If you’ve used any of these, or any others, please comment below with your experience!
FAQ about SIM cards in Greece
Here are a few questions about Greece SIM cards often asked by visitors:
How much do SIM cards cost in Greece?
You should expect to pay around 10-15 euros for a Greek SIM card along with some credit which you can use to buy a bundle of data / calling minutes.
Which SIM card is best in Greece?
There are three Greek providers, Cosmote, Vodafone and Nova. While they all offer similar packages, Cosmote has slightly better coverage. The best SIM cards in Greece are Cosmote Frog, Cosmote WhatsUp, and Vodafone CU.
How do you get a Cosmote SIM card?
To buy a Cosmote prepaid package, you will need to go to a Cosmote or a Germanos store. Alternatively, you can also buy it from a street vendor. Eitherway, you will need your passport. There is no shop at the Athens airport.
Can I get a SIM card at Athens airport?
You can get a special Vodafone SIM card at the Athens airport. However, that card it is a lot more expensive than the cards you can get in central Athens.
Is data roaming free in Greece?
If you have a SIM card from an EU country and a few more countries in Europe, you should be able to use your data in Greece. Make sure you are aware of your operator’s fair usage policy.
If you are coming from outside the EU, check if your provider offers any special roaming passes, or other mobile phone deals for when you travel abroad. In my experience, it will be cheaper to get a Greek SIM!
Other travel guides about Greece
If you found this article useful, have a look at these other ones:
- Best apps for your trip to Greece
- How to spend 2 weeks in Greece
- What to pack for Greece for every season
- Best things to do on a Sunday in Athens
- The Greek alphabet and 20 useful words
- More useful Greek words and phrases
- How to open a bank account in Greece
- How to book a train in Greece
- 50 iconic Greek dishes – with photos!
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens, and I’ve been using a pay-as-you-go card in Greece for several years now! If you are aware of other Greek SIM options that I haven’t mentioned in this article, please let me know in the comments! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more info and photos about Greece 🙂
2 thoughts on “Buying A SIM Card In Greece – Best Options For 2023”
hi we have a mobile dongle for our house in Greece with the price of data card on the uk can you recommend witch is the best Greek company to get e data sim card
In my experience, Cosmote has the best coverage in Greece, so I suppose it would be the same for esims.