Using Mobile Internet in Portugal

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If you’re visiting Portugal for a few weeks or months, you may be looking for a good temporary internet solution. Even if you’re living here full-time, you may be looking for an internet solution that doesn’t require you to sign up for a broadband contract. Broadband packages in Portugal typically last for two years, which isn’t ideal for a lot of people. If you move house, most will allow you to bring your internet package with you, but will reset the two-year clock again. Mobile internet, on the other hand, is much more flexible.

The downside, obviously, is that mobile internet is never going to be as fast as fixed-line broadband internet, especially fibre. However, it is often more than enough for day-to-day use, watching Netflix, and Zoom and Skype calls. It won’t be perfect and there’ll be some downtime and lags, but that’s the price you pay for flexibility.

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The best solution for you will probably depend on whether you’re just visiting for a few weeks or whether you’re staying in Portugal for longer.

Just a few weeks

If you’re just in Portugal for a few days or weeks, and you don’t have internet in your Airbnb or hotel, there are some options.

One is to try and use your phone as a hotspot, particularly if your network is in another EU country. Whether you’re allowed to do this will depend on your phone network, so check if this and tethering (connecting your laptop to your phone by USB) is allowed. Some companies may also have data limits for using your phone abroad, so it’s important to know what they are. UK travellers, in particular, should check this out as, since Brexit, many mobile phone companies have changed their rules on roaming.

You could also pick up a Portuguese sim card, but be aware that most PAYG tariffs in Portugal are quite limited. Prepaid with Data is a useful site for comparing tariffs across different networks.

There are some companies that will rent you a portable hotspot for your trip as well, such as Portugalinternet.com and My-WebSpot.com. The benefit of a company like Portugal Internet is that their price includes the rental of the mobile hotspot, but if you already have one (you can buy unlocked dongles online) you could just insert a data-only sim card from Vodafone or NOS.

If you just need to check your emails from time to time, you’ll find that most libraries and government buildings have wifi. Wifi is also common in cafés but, if you really want to spend the day working, a more modern, hipster-style café is usually better. There are also lots of coworking spaces in Portugal, particularly in areas like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

More than a few weeks

If you’re staying longer, or you’re going to be working while you’re here, the best solution is probably a mobile hotspot like those offered from Vodafone or NOS. These usually offer unlimited internet, and generally have good speeds (especially Vodafone) although it does vary from location to location. Prices for 30 days are normally around €30-40, excluding the cost of the mobile hotspot dongle. If you have your own, you can usually just purchase the sim card.

The quality is good enough for day-to-day browsing and emails, streaming Netflix, and Skype and Zoom calls. There may be some lag or issues, but, overall, it’s quite good. Of course, it does depend on how close to a mast you are. You can check local coverage on the Open Signal app. NPerf also does coverage maps, but the Open Signal app is prettier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by

Hi, I'm James. I'm the main writer at Portugalist and the author of the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple. I started Portugalist because I felt there was a real lack of good quality information about Portugal and I wanted to change that.

This article was originally published in April 2017. It was last updated on November 25, 2021.

2 thoughts on “Using Mobile Internet in Portugal”

  1. why can't the world be equal have same human rights and all have the internet mobile laptop the same prices worldwide same as the uk britain just like everything the way that it is in the uk well i believe the rest of the world were trying this brexit division will make things in the eu more difficult and for everyone to achieve government new digital demands this is like a new modern day slavery kids work to make your mobile cheap international labour and all laptops mobile internet cost a fortune in other parts of the world reality it's almost very cheap to make

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