Tallinn old town

Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Estonia

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Perhaps more than any other country in the world, Estonia loves the internet. There are more mobile phones than people, and data speeds are incredibly fast.

Depending on where you go in the country, you may not even need to bother with a local SIM: Tallinn is blanketed in Wi-Fi hotspots, and it’s not the only place you’ll find them.

In fact, even more than a decade ago, a Guardian article stated: “You could walk 100 miles – from the pastel-coloured turrets here in medieval Tallinn to the university spires of Tartu – and never lose internet connection.”

Even so, Wi-Fi doesn’t reach everywhere in Estonia. If you do want to pick up a SIM card while you’re in the country, you don’t need to pay much for it to get plenty of that high-speed data for yourself.

Travel eSIMs are also a good option for anyone who doesn’t need vast amounts of data, but wants to have phone service before they get even off the plane or ferry. However you choose to do it, here’s what you need to know about staying connected in Estonia.

Companies

  • I recommend Tele2/Smart for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from aloSIM is the best option if you only need data

There are three cell networks in Estonia, operated by EMT, Elisa, and Tele2. All three providers offer LTE service covering the vast majority of the population, and prices are low enough that it doesn’t matter all that much which company you choose.

Tele2 was offering the best rates at the time I visited (under its Smart brand), so that’s who I went with.

Travel eSIM for Estonia

Because phone service is so cheap in Estonia, anyone looking for the most bang for buck is better off with a local provider than a travel eSIM. If you don’t need a lot of data, though, that becomes less true: it’ll only cost a few euros to stay connected either way.

If you’re new to eSIMs, they offer big benefits to travelers in terms of how quickly, easily, and (often) cheaply you can get connected when you arrive in a new country. Most recent phones support them.

I’ve found that of the better eSIM companies, aloSIM and Airalo have the best (and typically very similar) prices for service in Estonia. I’ve usually had better speeds with aloSIM so that’s who I’m recommending, but you’ll likely be happy with either.

There’s a pricing table below that I update every week, with details of all of the plans from the companies I recommend.

Like most travel eSIMs, they’re data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.

One thing worth noting: if you’re planning to travel to several European countries within a few weeks, it might be worth looking at some of the regional eSIM packages on offer.

There are too many to list each one separately (and they change all the time), but as a starting point, these are the Europe eSIM options from companies I’d actually consider using:

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Estonia

There are several places to buy Smart SIMs, including many supermarkets, R-Kiosks, and the company’s own stores. After arriving in Tallinn, I sought out an R-Kioski—there are a bunch of them in the Old Town.

The guy behind the counter spoke excellent English, understood exactly what I wanted, and sorted out absolutely everything for me, including entering in the APN details. Easy! He handed it back to me and I was all done in under two minutes!

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

I paid €1 for the SIM card, with 3GB of data valid for a month costing €5. That was plenty for the short time I was in the country, but there was also a 15GB version that cost €10 if I’d needed it.

Unlimited domestic calls and texts are included with both bundles, and you can use all of your allowance to roam elsewhere in the EU as well. This makes these packs a good deal if you’re visiting other nearby countries.

Given how much English is spoken, at least in Tallinn, you’ll be able to ask about other data, call, and text options if you need something different. You can find the current offers here as well: just run it through Google Translate if you need to.

aloSIM

As I say, if you need lots of data during your time in Estonia, you’ll get better value from the local companies. For smaller packs up to about 3GB or so, though, there’s far less in it.

I’ve listed the details below for the companies I typically use around the word: I prefer aloSIM, but they’re all good options. Prices and package details were last updated on 17 June 2024.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $7

  • $9.50

  • $13

  • $21

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $4.50

  • $7

  • $9.50

  • $13

  • $21

  • $32

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

  • 15 GB

  • 20 GB

Price (USD)

  • $6

  • $12

  • $14

  • $19

  • $27

  • $33

Topping Up

Tele2

You can buy top-ups from many different stores in Estonia: supermarkets, post offices, kiosks, and more. Just look for the Tele2 or Smart sign on the window.

aloSIM

Topping up with aloSIM (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Estonia eSIM, hit the top-up button, and buy the same package again.

The top-up packs have exactly the same pricing and duration as the original eSIMs: there’s little difference between topping up your current eSIM and buying a new one, other than not having to activate it.

Coverage and Data Speeds

I was impressed with the coverage I received with my Tele2 SIM card: I had a full-strength signal pretty much anywhere I went in Tallinn.

LTE speeds, too, were great. I never had to wait around for maps or web pages to load, and everything from watching YouTube to video calls with my family went without a hitch.

If you’re going for the eSIM option, expect even better coverage: aloSIM can use both the Tele2 and Elisa networks, so you’ve even less likely to encounter service black spots with that.

EU Roaming

Estonia is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.

When it comes to roaming elsewhere in the EU with an Estonian SIM, though, beware. The low price of cell service in Estonia allows providers to restrict the amount of roaming data they provide for free, or opt out from the roaming regulations entirely.

It’s less of an issue with the smaller data bundles, but larger and unlimited ones will almost certainly have significant restrictions. Be sure to double-check the exact details at time of purchase, or go for one of the Europe regional eSIMs I mentioned earlier.


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5 Comments

  1. April 2016 update: we have just been in Estonia and bought the €1 SIM from Elisa. A 7 day 4G data pack with 1GB allowance is now €5 which worked very well and gave us 50 Mbit/s speeds.

    We had some difficulties setting up. After you purchase €5 of credit, the instructions have you sending an SMS to 95000 with a code denoting the data package you wish to purchase (for us, NET4G7). For some reason our phones kept failing when trying to send to this number. We found an Elisa shop and the sales guy ended up putting the SIMs in his own phone to initiate the data pack.

    Once this was done we reinserted in our phones and were up and running.

    Great deal.

  2. Great post! Exactly what I was looking for. Im going on a Baltic States trip, so made a little research myself as well. Found out, some providers from other two countries. In Latvia LMT (https://www.lmt.lv/lv/internets-telefona). There you buy sim for 1€ with 1 € credit inside and charge it for more, if you wanna have internet or more calls. In Lithuania I found Ežys (http://www.ezys.lt/en/). There you buy a sim for 2,29 € and there are already 1 GB of internet and 250 min local calls and 6000 SMS.

  3. Firstly, the title says “Estonia” and the information here is about Latvia!

    Can you please let me know if there’s a SIM card that would work in all 3 Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Or do I have to get different SIMs? I will be visiting all 3 countries, but for 2 days EACH.

    Thanks

    1. Ooops! Sorry about the Latvia info – that’s an embarrassing mistake I made while moving across to the new design a few weeks ago. All fixed now!

      Any SIM card you buy will work across all three countries, but you’ll usually pay roaming charges outside the country you bought it in. Fortunately those charges have dropped significantly lately, so it’ll likely only be one or two euros a day unless you’re using a lot of data.

      Elisa’s roaming prices are here, but if you want to be certain, just go into a store (probably an official store is best) in whatever country you’re starting in, check the roaming options you’ve got, then top up with enough money to last the duration.

  4. My experience with Elisa has been very different: the Rimi employee who provided the SIM card left it to me to figure out how to navigate the Estonian and Russian only website. I don’t speak or read either and see that the Elisa store nearest me isn’t convenient.