Wifi. We all need it, but getting it can seem confusing – especially in a new country. Thankfully, it’s not all that confusing: Portugal has both fixed broadband options and portable options for those on the go.
You’ll find both fixed and mobile options available in Portugal. If you’re moving to Portugal, you’ll probably want fixed fibre optic broadband, but if you’re just visiting Portugal, you may only need a portable device or to use the internet on your phone.
Fibre-Optic Broadband (Fixed)
For the best speeds, you need a fixed-line broadband connection, and this may be essential if you’re planning on working while you’re in Portugal. Speeds range from around 100 mbps to 1 gbps, depending on the provider and the contract that you choose (the main options are MEO, NOS, Vodafone, and NOWO).
If you’re renting for more than a year or have purchased a property in Portugal, fibre optic broadband is probably the best option for you. Internet contracts in Portugal typically run for 2 years, but it’s also possible to get a shorter 1-year contract or to break the contract early (for a fee).
Use our internet options checker to see what options are available at your new property.
Of course, this assumes your property is able to get fibre optic broadband. While broadband is available in a lot of Portugal, there are definitely a few spots where it isn’t and where you’ll have to rely on mobile internet instead. This isn’t as fast or reliable, so it’s best to check what options are available first.
Mobile Internet (Portable)
Another option is a 4G mobile hotspot, such as those offered by Vodafone or NOS. These usually offer unlimited internet (although, in practice, there’s a limit) and generally have good speeds, 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 just purchase the sim card.
This is a good option for those that are staying at least 30 days, but ideally a bit longer due to the fact that you not only have to purchase the sim but a mobile dongle as well. It’s useful for those that are coming to Portugal for a few months, but not long enough to deem getting fibre optic internet installed. Of course, you can get it and use it for a shorter amount of time, but the overall cost-per-day will work out more expensive.
It’s also a good option for those that can’t get fibre optic broadband, which is the case in some rural parts of Portugal. Depending on your location, mobile internet can be fine for general browsing, streaming Netflix (with a few occasional lags), and WhatsApp (with the occasional patchy bit). It’s not as good as fibre broadband, but it’s definitely a good second-best solution.
Short term Options
If you’re just visiting Portugal for a few days or weeks, you may be able to use your phone’s internet connection as a mobile hotspot.
Whether or not this is an option will depend on your mobile phone network. Firstly, if your sim card is from another country, does the network allow roaming? Most mobile networks in the EU do, and this means you should be able to use your phone’s internet in Portugal and pay the same rates as you would in your home country (a fair usage policy may apply). Visitors from the UK should double-check as many UK networks have changed their policies since Brexit.
If your network does allow roaming, this allows you to use your mobile internet abroad without getting stung with high roaming charges. However, even though many networks allow roaming, not all of them allow you to use your phone as a hotspot or to ‘tether’ your laptop to your phone with a cable and use the internet that way. You’ll need to read the tariff terms.
If your network doesn’t allow roaming or tethering, you may want to pick up a Portuguese sim card. Prepaid with Data is a useful site for comparing tariffs across different networks.
Another option is to use a company like Portugalinternet.com and My-WebSpot.com, which will provide the dongle for you. These companies are aimed at people visiting Portugal for a few weeks, but they could be ideal if you’re visiting for a little longer as well.
What to read next
Be sure to read our complete guide to getting internet for a property in Portugal