Dublin Airport SIM Cards: A Guide and Map to the Best Options
A guide for the last minute traveller visiting Dublin and needing to find out where to buy a SIM card, and which SIM card to buy. I understand the confusion of visiting a new city and not knowing where to buy a SIM card, and then to be confused by all the plans and prices that are available. This guide is based on my experience and research on staying connected in the EU and UK.
There are two shops at Dublin Airport which sell prepaid SIM cards:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
4:30am - 9:30pm
|Terminal 1, to the left after leaving the secure area.||
Open 24 hours
SIM Local Vending Machine
T1: 4:30am - 9:30pm
T2: 24 hours
I like Eir Prepay plans starting from €20 out of all the options available at Dublin Airport1.
Both terminals at Dublin airport have shops that sell SIM cards to arriving passengers. Eir and Vodafone SIM cards appear to be regularly stocked at both of these shops:
- In Terminal 1, a WH Smith is located to the left of the security area,
- In Terminal 2, a Spar is located also to the left of the customs area.
I’ve heard stock can be limited for the ideal SIM cards at each shop. Some brands may not be available all the time. A lot of great value deals are represented at the airport regardless, and I find a few extra Euros to avoid the hassle of buying a SIM card later to be worth it.
SIM cards bought in Ireland may need to be topped-up with credit to apply a package for data and calls.
I found the best option is to buy an Eir Prepay SIM card when arriving at Dublin Airport, for travellers like me (in a rush and looking for convenience) the savings available by buying a SIM card outside the airport were not worth the trouble of looking for a store. If money is tight, I found the cheapest SIM cards to be from Tesco Mobile, starting at €152.
In Ireland, prepaid phone plans are often referred to as prepay or pay as you go
Which SIM cards are available at Dublin Airport?
Two providers, Eir and Vodafone, are available at Dublin Airport.
Eir prepay for €20 is my pick of the plans and options available at the airport. I like the look of more data on offer from Eir, including more data to use in the EU. It also includes unlimited calls. The trade-off is that text messages are not included at this price; I can’t recall ever sending a text message while in another country. Phone calls are helpful for restaurants, hotels, taxis etc.
I took a look at which of the SIM cards available at Dublin Airport are good for:
- Calling back home
I usually include coverage when I’m investigating which SIM card to buy at an airport. Vodafone and Eir have excellent coverage however, with signal reaching most of Ireland. Both have similar blackspots, mostly around hills and mountains where it’s hard to provide coverage (as a former telecommunications engineer, I have some empathy for them here).
Better for data: Eir, from €20
Eir offers unlimited data within Ireland for €20. Other inclusions:
- 7.3GB of data to be used in EU countries
- Unlimited calls OR unlimited texts
The catch with this plan is that you have to choose between unlimited calls and unlimited texts. When I buy SIM cards for a new country, I only consider calls to be important so this is perfect for me.
Validity of this plan is 28 days.
Vodafone offers a comparable plan for €30 for 8GB of data, all of which can be used in the EU.
Better for calls: Eir, from €20
For local calls to Republic of Ireland phone numbers, Eir includes the option for unlimited calls with their €20 prepay plan. Comparing with Vodafone, a sacrifice of data or an additional €10/28-days is required to get unlimited calls.
For international calls both Eir and Vodafone offer access to discounted international dialing to popular destinations by pre-registration.
For Eir, text international to 50104 to register. For Vodafone, text INT to 50223. Once registered, call rates drop to €0.15/min for many countries
From what I could find, Eir offers more countries in its international dialing discount, such as:
- UK for €0.10/min
- US for €0.15/min
- Australia, Canada, Malaysia, China for €0.15/min
I assume additional top-up value will be required to make these calls.
Is it better to buy a SIM card in Dublin city or at the airport?
Buying a SIM card at Dublin Airport looks like the best option for me. For short-term visitors, it’s hard to beat the value of the SIM cards available at the airport. Buying at the airport is also quick and convenient.
Leaving the airport to buy a SIM card opens up a few more options, such as:
- 3 Mobile
- Tesco Mobile
- Vodafone X
Which SIM cards are better value if bought in Dublin?
If buying in Dublin or anywhere else outside the airport, I found Tesco prepay, starting at €15/28-days to offer the best value.
Tesco Mobile can be bought at any Tesco, so it has wide availability after leaving the airport.
Other comparative offers I found are from Vodafone X and 3 Mobile. I found Vodafone X to be confusing with regards to top-up (you’re not supposed to top up a certain amount before a certain time of month), and 3 Mobile to offer terrible rates if making calls to non-3 Mobile users.
For better value data, Tesco Mobile
Tesco Mobile has a pre-pay plan for €15 that includes:
- 15GB of data for Ireland and EU
- Unlimited calls
- International calls starting from €0.01/min
Even though this is technically less data than Eir, I would find it hard to use this much data in a month while travelling. At €15, Tesco Mobile is also cheaper.
As far as I can tell, all 15GB can be used in the EU as well.
For better value international calls, Tesco Mobile
The same Tesco Mobile pre-pay plan (€15) includes international calls starting from €0.01/min. Only a few countries are available at this low rate. Even at a higher rate, Tesco Mobile often offers cheaper calls than Eir and Vodafone. No registration required.
Some examples of coverage include:
- Poland: €0.01/min
- UK, France, Germany: €0.03/min
- USA: €0.02/min
- Canada, Australia (landlines): €0.03/min
Where to buy Tesco Mobile
From the airport towards Dublin, the nearest Tesco is in the Omni Park Shopping Centre, about 15 mins drive from the airport towards the city.
If taking the 747 Airlink Express bus, there are Tesco Metro and Tesco Express dotted throughout the city centre that should sell Tesco Mobile SIM cards.
Is Wi-Fi available at Dublin Airport?
Yes, free Wi-Fi is available at Dublin Airport. Connect to
Dublin Airport Wi-Fi and it’s one click to get online. There is no registration required. The Wi-Fi is free and unlimited.
Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Dublin Airport?
Identification is not currently required to buy a SIM card at Dublin Airport, or anywhere in Ireland.
How to get from the airport to the city: Wi-Fi and staying connected
Bus, with free Wi-Fi
Airlink Express has free Wi-Fi on its buses, with two routes (747 and 757) running into Dublin from the airport.
Aircoach (services to Belfast and Cork) advertises Wi-Fi on its buses, but I read reports that it doesn’t work very well.
Bus Éireann is rolling out Wi-Fi on its buses that travel from Dublin airport to other parts of the country.
Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book
Uber appears to be available at Dublin Airport; research suggests that it isn’t endorsed by the airport however. This means that there is no dedicated pick up area for Uber, it could be a long walk to a carpark to find an Uber. I couldn’t find information on Uber’s website to help with this.
I don’t like to use Uber when it isn’t available at the terminal. Airport Wi-Fi often doesn’t stretch to remote Uber pick up locations (and I don’t like walking there with my luggage). If there is a problem finding the driver, it can be awkward walking back to the terminal to get Wi-Fi again.
Locals can book taxis through an app called MyTaxi, which I think has recently been renamed FREE NOW (yes, in capital letters). I haven’t used the app, and trying to google ‘free now’ is tough. Searching “MyTaxi” in play/app store seems to show the correct app. Whatever the name, the app can be used by foreigners too.
I assume Wi-Fi is not available once in the car.
Taxis in Dublin do not have Wi-Fi. Typical fare to the city centre is in the range of €30, traffic depending.
Can I roam with my Irish SIM card to another country
Most EU member states have a roaming agreement that allows use of one SIM card throughout. Ireland is included in this agreement, and an Irish SIM card can be used in much of Europe (including the UK at time of writing).
An Irish SIM card will work in Northern Ireland (e.g. Belfast), Scotland, England, and Wales at time of last update (October 2019, pre-Brexit).
Roaming rates are not charged extra, and usually include access to the amount of data and calls already included on the plan (with some quirks).
Some of the larger plans in Ireland have restrictions on how much of the data can be used when roaming in other European countries. Standard voice calls are usually included, though calls to non-standard EU numbers may be charged at very high rates.
United States and Canada
Eir offers a 1GB data add-on which lasts 30 days for €30. No calls are included. This can be good value, particularly if travelling to Canada where many plans start at $40 CAD.
Vodafone looks like it offers roaming with its prepay plans, charged per day and including 200mb of data. I can’t easily find the information on their website, and it’s not a plan that I’ve used before.
Tesco Mobile does not have good roaming rates for someone like me. In US and Canada, I can’t find any packages with Tesco Mobile and it seems their per megabyte rates apply.
Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.
I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.