Three is a major European mobile network operator, offering prepaid Three SIM cards and eSIM plans for travelers visiting Europe and the UK. With great coverage, fast speeds, and affordable rates across the continent, Three SIMs are a top choice for staying connected on your next European vacation.


I. Quick facts about Three in Europe

Three (3) is currently available in 6 European countries: the UK, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Italy, and Sweden. Here are some quick facts about Three (company) in Europe:

  • Three is a mobile network operator that operates in six European countries: Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  • It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings, a Hong Kong-based multinational conglomerate.
    Three was founded in 2003 and has since grown to become one of the largest mobile network operators in Europe, with over 40 million customers.
  • Three is known for its focus on data and its value-for-money plans. It offers a wide range of mobile phone plans, including prepaid and postpaid, as well as broadband and home phone services.
  • Three has been a pioneer in the rollout of 5G in Europe. It was the first mobile network operator to launch 5G in all six of its European markets.

So if you need hassle-connectivity during your European travels, Three has you covered. Keep reading to learn more about getting set up with a Three SIM or eSIM for your trip.

Three telecom logo
Three telecom logo

II. Three coverage and speed in Europe

Mobile connectivity has transformed how we live and work, yet access remains uneven depending on location. We will explore coverage and speed data for three mobile networks operating in Europe.

1. Three coverage

In countries where Three operates, the network blankets nearly the entire main population centers with strong 4G/LTE signals. This includes major cities, smaller towns, main roads and highways, tourist sites, and airports.

  • Northern region: Coverage reaches 85%, spanning major cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen along with rural areas. Strong 4G and 5G networks keep you connected.
  • Southern region: Sun and connectivity go hand-in-hand in this region with 90% coverage! Enjoy seamless 4G and 5G in Rome, Barcelona, and coastal havens.
  • Western region: The UK boasts 75% coverage, focusing on bustling cities like London and Manchester. Reliable 3G and 4G networks power your digital life.
  • Eastern region: Austria joins the party with 80% coverage, ensuring major cities like Vienna and Graz stay connected. 3G and 4G options keep you informed and entertained.

Remember, specific coverage within each region can vary. Check Three’s coverage map for your exact location before jumping in!

2. Three speed

In addition to broad 4G networks, Three also offers swiftly increasing 5G coverage in many parts of Europe. Parts of the UK, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Sweden now have 5G connectivity from Three.

  • Northern region: Generally considered to have the fastest Three speeds in Europe, with average download speeds exceeding 150 Mbps in major cities like Stockholm and Oslo. 5G availability in many areas further boosts download speeds, reaching up to 1 Gbps in some instances.
  • Southern region: Speeds are typically good, with average downloads exceeding 100 Mbps in major cities like Rome and Barcelona. 5G availability is increasing, but coverage is not as widespread as in the north.
  • Western region: Speeds can be variable depending on location, with average downloads ranging from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. 5G availability is limited, mainly concentrated in major cities like London and Paris.
  • Eastern region: Speeds are generally lower than in other regions, with average downloads ranging from 30 Mbps to 80 Mbps. 5G availability is rare, with 4G being the dominant technology.

Important points to remember:

  • These are just general estimates, and your individual experience may vary depending on your specific location and network usage.
  • It's always recommended to check online speed tests or contact Three directly to get a more accurate idea of speeds in your area.
  • Consider your internet usage needs when choosing a plan, as higher speeds come at a higher cost.

III. Three connectivity options for travelers to the EU

As a tourist visiting Europe, you have two main options for connecting on Three’s network – a local prepaid SIM card or a multi-country eSIM plan, or go roaming in 71 destinations: 

Option Description Pros Cons
Prepaid SIM Physical SIM card purchased in Europe or online before arrival. Affordable, flexible data plans. Easy setup. Wide network coverage Requires physical card (eject home SIM). May need top-up. Potentially higher cost than eSIM
eSIM Virtual SIM downloaded directly to your phone. Convenient, no need for physical card. Easy to switch plans. Often cheaper than roaming Not all phones compatible. Limited eSIM providers. Activation might require internet
Roaming Use your home SIM card's data and calls in Europe. Familiar and convenient. No SIM swap needed Extremely expensive data charges. Limited call/text allowances


For most travelers, eSIM offers a good balance of convenience and affordability. However, if your phone doesn't support eSIM or your trip is very short, a prepaid SIM might be a good alternative. Roaming is generally the least cost-effective option unless your home plan has specific Europe-friendly offers.

IV. Three vs. Other European mobile operators

Some of Three’s major competitors in Europe include:

  • Orange: Strong brand presence, international reach, and diverse service portfolio. More expensive than Three.
  • T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom): Extensive network coverage, strong focus on 5G, bundled services with broadband. More expensive than Three.
  • Vodafone: Global reach, diverse service portfolio, strong brand recognition. More expensive than Three.
  • Telefónica: Strong presence in Spain and Latin America, integrated services with broadband and TV. More expensive than Three.

Compared to other providers, the key advantages of Three are:

  • Unbeatable Prices: Save significantly compared to major operators.
  • No-Contract Flexibility: Enjoy plans without commitment or hidden fees.
  • Data-Centric Options: Get generous data allowances without extra baggage.
  • Digital Convenience: Manage your account and services easily online.
  • Younger Generation Appeal: Modern approach resonates with tech-savvy users.

In essence, Three offers a budget-friendly, data-driven alternative for mobile users who prioritize value and online convenience.

Note: This is a brief comparison based on publicly available information. Specific details and strengths/weaknesses may vary depending on the market and individual operator.

V. Best Three SIM cards for tourists & costs

Based on network strengths and prepaid plan pricing/inclusions, here are our recommendations for Three SIMs to get as a visitor to Europe:

Three Pay As You Go Data Pack

Plan Price (USD) Data Validity Calling & Texting
Three Pay As You Go Data Pack ~$11 10GB 1 month Unlimited
~$16 60GB 1 month Unlimited
~$21 120GB 1 month Unlimited
~$38 Unlimited 1 month Unlimited

As you can see, with very reasonable base prices coupled with generous high-speed data amounts, you can top up/extend as needed.

VI. Does Three support eSIM in Europe?

Alongside traditional plastic SIMs for foreign tourists, Three does provide eSIM functionality in certain European countries. This allows compatible devices to download a Three plan digitally without inserting any physical card.

Here’s the availability of Three eSIM plans across different European markets currently:

  • Three UK – Supported, with both prepaid data eSIMs and monthly contract plans.
  • Three Ireland – Supported for both consumer and business accounts.
  • Three Denmark – Yes, eSIMs are available.
  • Three Sweden – If you have a mobile subscription from Tre, you can order a free e-SIM for mobile and tablet via Mitt3.
  • Three Italy/WindTre – eSIM support for business customers.

So travelers with eSIM phones can access Three mobile data in the UK, Ireland, and Austria. But physical SIMs are still needed for their Italy, Denmark, and Sweden networks until further notice.

We’ll now walk through exactly where and how to purchase Three’s SIMs and eSIMs before your European trip.

VII. Where to buy a Three SIM card and eSIM?

Whether you’re visiting somewhere new or want to change carriers at home, Three offers SIM cards and eSIMs that provide cellular connectivity. Here are the options for getting a Three SIM or eSIM.

1. Where to buy Three SIM Cards for EU travel

As a tourist, the most convenient way to buy a Three SIM card is online before you leave or upon arrival at the airport/downtown in your European destination city. Here are some top options for grabbing a Three SIM when visiting:

  • Online – Three UK, Ireland, Austria, and Sweden websites all sell micro/nano-size prepaid SIMs for delivery domestically or worldwide. Easy self-setup.
  • Airport Kiosks – Major airports like London Heathrow, Manchester, Vienna, Stockholm, etc have Three stores/resellers for last-minute SIMs.
  • City Stores – Various Three company shops or other mobile outlets across top tourist cities also stock prepaid SIMs.

Once purchased, follow the provided instructions to triple-check that the SIM is activated and that data/calling working properly on your device. Then you’re all set to explore Europe with Three!

Three store in Dublin, Ireland
Three store in Dublin, Ireland

2. Where to buy Three eSIM

To get set up with a Three eSIM before or during your travels, you’ll need to visit:

  • UK – Order online from Three’s website or download via the Three UK app
  • Ireland – Request through Three Ireland’s online account portal or mobile apps
  • Austria – Available for online delivery or in Three stores

Then navigate to your phone’s eSIM settings to install the scanned QR activation code and follow on-screen prompts.

Take note Three only supports eSIM functionality for consumers in the UK, Ireland, and Austria currently. As mentioned above, travelers will still need physical SIM cards for Three Italy, Sweden, and Denmark.

Stay connected in Europe with 1 eSIM

Get an eSIM from and access Three network across 31 countries. Flexible plans from $5 for 3 days – no ID needed, just scan and go. Reliable data wherever you travel.

VIII. How to use Three SIM cards and eSIM

With a Three SIM or eSIM in hand, you’re just a few quick steps away from the internet and call connectivity wherever Three has coverage. Learn how to properly activate and utilize your Three service.

1. How to install and activate a Three SIM card

Here is a step-by-step guide to installing your Three plastic SIM cards correctly:

  1. Unlock your smartphone if it is carrier-restricted to accept other SIMs
  2. Loc the SIM tray slot – often on the side or corner of the device
  3. Eject and gently slide out the existing SIM card if present
  4. Carefully place your new Three SIM inside the empty tray
  5. Re-insert the SIM tray and turn your device back on
  6. Choose your preferred language when the activation menu pops up
  7. Follow the rest of the on-screen instructions to set your plan

You may need to enter specific pack codes or payment info. But within a few minutes, your Three SIM card should be live for placing calls and surfing Europe!

2. How to install and activate Three eSIM

If you have a dual eSIM phone like newer iPhone or Samsung Galaxy models, here is how to install a Three eSIM for your trip:

  1. Check compatibility – visit Three websites and confirm your device works
  2. Order eSIM – purchase via Three’s app or website account dashboards
  3. Download eSIM – open the email link or SMS directing you to the QR code
  4. Install eSIM – go into Settings > Cellular Data > Add Cellular Plan > Scan QR code
  5. Follow prompts – activate your eSIM plan by accepting terms etc
  6. Connect! – Three eSIM should now show in settings for calls/texts/data

It only takes 5-10 minutes to get set up with a Three eSIM on an iPhone, Pixel, or Galaxy. No need to fumble with physical SIM cards and trays!

IX. Three Call & SMS rates in the EU

One major perk for Three users traveling anywhere inside the EU is low standard call charges plus free texting between Three countries:

Outgoing Calls

  • Within a Three EU countries = Available mins from your base prepaid pack
  • To EU numbers = €0.288 per minute
  • To other countries = Higher ‘world countries’ rates

Incoming Calls

  • EU and domestic = Free
  • Rest of world = Up to €1 per minute

SMS Text Messages

  • Three countries = Free
  • EU countries = €0.07 per text

So calling or texting friends/family on Three back home is always free. Default roaming charges to make calls across the EU are very reasonable as well.

Plus many Three SIM packs include 100s of national minutes and texts anyway. This keeps your wallet happy when staying connected across Europe!

X. How to top-up your Three SIM card

When the initial 30-day validity on your Three prepaid SIMs ends, you’ll need to add more credit via an international/foreign top-up.

Here are simple ways for tourists to recharge a Three SIM card while traveling in Europe:

  • Online Top-Up: The fastest way is through Three’s website/app for your country. Enter your phone number and payment details. Extra data, minutes, and texts will be instantly added
  • Vouchers: Purchase top-up vouchers from Three stores, supermarkets, kiosks. Scratch to reveal a PIN code. Dial *100 then enter the code to add credit
  • Auto Top-Up: Set up recurring top-ups so your Three SIM never expires. Configure via Three’s mobile app in 30 sec

So whether you want a one-off data boost or to enable automatic payments, it is straightforward to recharge from abroad!


Can I use my Three SIM card across multiple European countries?

Yes! All Three prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs allow free call/text + cheap data roaming between Three countries. So the same UK SIM works in Austria, Italy, Ireland, and vice versa.

How long does a Three prepaid SIM card last?

Each prepaid pack you buy has a set validity period before needing a recharge/top-up – usually 30 days or a year depending on the amount paid upfront.

Can I make calls and use data simultaneously on Three?

No problem – Three’s networks fully support Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and high-speed data alongside calls across Europe.

How do I check my Three SIM card balance or data used?

Dial *10# and press call or check Three’s app. You’ll see the balance, data remaining, expiry date, etc.

I’m having issues with call quality or slow data on my Three SIM. Help!

First, try manually selecting network mode 2G/3G/4G from device settings. Move location and test SIM in another phone if possible. Contact Three customer support as needed.

XII. Final words

We hope this detailed guide has cleared up all aspects of getting set up with the right Three SIM card or eSIM plan for your upcoming Europe travels! With excellent connectivity, great value prepaid packs stuffed with data/call allowances, and widespread local store availability – Three is undoubtedly one of the top operators for worry-free EU mobile coverage. Safe travels and happy roaming!