Best Prepaid eSIM For Italy | Data Plan Buyer’s Guide

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These days having reliable mobile data on your phone is a must when visiting Italy. But don’t be one of the many travelers who spend a fortune (and get slow/inconsistent service) using their home plan’s international data service package. Buying an Italian eSIM data plan is a much cheaper option.

In this guide, I’ll cover how to find the best eSIM for Italy so you have consistent high-speed mobile data without spending a lot of money.

Why You Should Avoid Using Your Home Plan’s International Data Plan

Your current mobile phone provider will probably have an international data plan option but these plans are expensive and the service is often slow, inconsistent, and has limited data allowances.

Many TMobile plans come with free unlimited international data plans but you’re only guaranteed 2g data speeds… which will struggle to load Google Maps or even email.

Then there is the AT&T International Day Pass which costs $10/day. They also have their AT&T Passport plan which is a monthly plan that’s either $70/month for 2GB of data or $140/month for 6GB of data. And then they charge a crazy high overage of $30 per GB.

These “international data plans” are 5X as expensive as buying an Italian eSIM data plan—for example, eSIM data plans from Orange or Holafly will cost you around $2-$3/day.

For more in-depth information, check out The Savvy Backpacker’s guide on How To Use Smartphones and Data Plans In Europe and The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide To Using eSIM data plans in Europe.


Comparing The Best eSIM Data Plans for Italy

There are a handful of different mobile providers that offer eSIM data plans for Italy.

The first (and most complicated) option is to buy an eSIM/SIM data plan from one of the main Italian mobile carriers (Wintre, TIM Italy, and Vodafone Italy). The problem for visitors is that many of these Italian plans are intended for people who live in Italy so you either need to jump through some hoops by signing up for a long-term contract or providing a local address and Codice fiscale (tax code).

The other option is to buy a prepaid eSIM data plan that’s geared toward short-term visitors. These plans are much more “tourist-friendly” so you don’t have to mess with registration, etc.

For this guide, I’ll focus on these “tourist-friendly” eSIM plans.

Each eSIM plan will vary slightly so it’s important to pay attention to the specific details of each plan. But here are the main things to consider:

  • Data Allowance: Most plans give you a set amount of mobile data (i.e. 5GB, 10GB, 30GB, etc) but others give you unlimited data over a set amount of time (5 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc).
  • Plan Length: eSIM data plans can be valid anywhere from about 5 days to 90 days. It depends on your plan so it’s something you’ll want to consider when picking a plan.
  • Mobile Hot Spot Tethering: Most eSIM plans don’t allow you to use your phone as a mobile hot spot.
  • Voice Calls and SMS Texting: Most eSIM plans are data only—which means the plan doesn’t include voice calls or SMS texting. This isn’t much of an issue since you’re probably not going to be calling people anyways.
    • NOTE: You can still use iMessage to “text” between iPhones but you can’t send messages between iPhones and Android phones. Or you can download WhatsApp to send messages over data (which is what most Europeans do).

ORANGE HOLIDAY EUROPE ESIM: $49.90

  • Price: $49.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 20GB (they sometimes give you 30GB of data)
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Calls: Unlimited within Europe and 120 min outside of Europe.
  • Texts/SMS: Unlimited within Europe and 1000 outside of Europe.
  • Credit validity: 14 day
  • Data Tethering: Allowed
  • Usable on any device (phones, tablets, hotspots…)
  • This eSIM plan comes with a French phone number that can still be used in Italy
  • Service works everywhere in the EU

The Orange Holiday Europe eSIM data plan is the most robust eSIM plan on this list because it comes with many features you don’t find with other plans—including international voice calling and texts (it gives you an actual French phone number that will work anywhere in Europe). The Orange Holiday Europe eSIM plan also allows you to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.

You’ll get 20GB of data with this plan but Orange sometimes runs a special where they give you an extra 10GB. But even 20GB should be plenty of data for most users. Orange is also one of the largest mobile companies in Europe so you’ll always get great coverage and high data speeds.

The potential downside to the Orange Holiday Europe eSIM plan is that it’s only valid for 14 days once activated so it’s not great for longer visits (but you can always buy a second plan).

I’ve personally used the Orange Holiday Europe plan while traveling through Europe and it worked flawlessly. Read my Orange Holiday Europe review to hear more.


ORANGE HOLIDAY ZEN ESIM: $29.90

  • Price: $29.90 (Check SimOptions for details)
  • Data: 8GB (they sometimes give you 15GB of data)
  • Service Speed: 4G/LTE
  • Calls: Unlimited within Europe and 30 min outside of Europe.
  • Texts/SMS: Unlimited within Europe and 200 outside of Europe.
  • Credit validity: 14 day
  • Data Tethering: Allowed
  • Usable on any device (phones, tablets, hotspots…)
  • This eSIM plan comes with a French phone number that can still be used in Italy
  • Service works everywhere in the EU

The Orange Holiday Zen eSIM is the budget version of the Orange Holiday Europe eSIM plan. It comes with 8GB of data and has fewer voice minutes and texts, otherwise, it’s the same as the Orange Holiday Europe eSIM plan.

Most users will use more than 8GB of data while traveling for a week or two but light data users could easily use less than 8GB of data during a typical 10-14 day trip.

HOLAFLY ESIM: STARTING AT $34.00

A guide to finding the best prepaid eSIM data plans for visiting Italy A guide to finding the best prepaid eSIM data plans for visiting Italy

Holafly is a new data-only eSIM provider that I previously used while visiting Italy and had a great experience using (read my Holafly eSIM Review to get a more in-depth look). Holafly sells both Italy-specific plans and Europe-wide data plans. Holafly isn’t an actual mobile carrier but they rent bandwidth from a local Italian mobile provider (Wind Tre) so you’re more likely to get less priority on the Wind Tre network during peak usage times.

Unlike other companies, Holafly gives you unlimited data and their plans run from 5 to 90 days. However, Holafly/Wind Tre may throttle your data if you use excessive data but shouldn’t be an issue with most typical data users.

  • Prices For Unlimited Data (Check Holafly for details)
    • 10 Days: $34
    • 15 Days: $47
    • 20 Days: $54
    • 30 Days: $64
    • 60 Days: $84
    • 90 Days: $99
  • Service Speed: 5G/4G/LTE
  • Calls: None
  • Texts/SMS: None
  • Tethering: No
  • Service works everywhere in the EU

Holafly eSIMs are data only so you don’t get any voice calls or texting with these plans. Holafly doesn’t allow data tethering in most cases so you won’t be able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.

But I do like how Holafly offers multiple plan options to fit various trip lengths so you don’t have to over/underbuy for your particular trip.


MORE TIPS ON USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE IN ITALY

I’ve written extensively about using smartphones and data plans in Europe as well as tips for buying SIM Cards For Visiting Europe but below are some more helpful tips about using your phone in Italy.

GET A PORTABLE BATTERY CHARGER

Traveling with your phone will quickly drain your batteries so I highly recommend a portable battery. I use Anker PowerCore 10000 because it’s tiny and affordable but there are multiple options.

TAKE STEPS TO LOWER YOUR MOBILE DATA USAGE

Data can be expensive and it’s extremely easy to unknowingly burn through a lot of data because many apps use data in the background. Facebook, email, Instagram, Snapchat… those all constantly use data throughout the day without you knowing it. That’s it’s important to know how to limit your data usage.

USE AIRPLANE MODE AND BLOCK DATA TO SPECIFIC APPS

I’ll put my phone in Airplane Mode because that disables all data (but GPS still works in Airplane Mode). You can also go into the settings and disable data access to each individual app. I’ll go in and turn every off except for things like Google Maps or others that I’ll use more frequently — this way when I turn off Airplane Mode only those apps that will use data. Then I’ll turn Airplane Mode back on when I’m done.

DOWNLOAD OFFLINE MAPS

Google Maps lets you download entire city maps so they can be used offline. As an added bonus, GPS doesn’t use data so offline Google Maps works fairly well (but not all functionality works). Here is a good YouTube video that explains everything.


More Italy Travel Tips From The Savvy Backpacker

Check out more of my favorite articles to help you plan your trip to Italy and the rest of Europe:

James Feess is the creator of The Savvy Backpacker and the author of the book “The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide To Europe On A Budget”. He’s been blogging about budget travel in Europe since 2010.

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This article was originally published by Thesavvybackpacker.com. Read the original article here.