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Holafly eSIM Review | Testing The New eSIM Data Plan from Holafly

Testing the unlimited Holafly eSIM data plan to see how it works while traveling in Europe.

phones and technology, Product Reviews

Holafly is a new startup eSIM data plan company based out of Spain. I thought their service looked interesting, especially since many of their data plans are unlimited, include some calling minutes, and the prices are affordable.

But I’ve found that there can often be technical quirks when using any international eSIM data plan so I wanted to do a hands-on Holafly eSIM Review to see how they stacked up against other eSIM data plans I’ve used in Europe.

Are you just interested in seeing how Holafly performed when I used it in Italy? Click here to jump straight to the Holafly Real-World Performance section.

Save 5% on your order at Holafly with the code: THESAVVYBACKPACKER

How I Tested My Holafly eSIM & Why Trust Me

Testing my Holafly service off the island of Capri in Italy.

For this Holafly test, I used Holafly’s 15-day unlimited data eSIM plan on my iPhone 14 Pro for a two-week trip to Italy. This trip was split between Rome and Naples but I took frequent day trips outside the cities (Capri, Pompeii, on the train between Rome and Naples, etc.).

During past trips to Europe, I’ve tested the Orange Holiday Europe data plan and the Bouygues Telecom Vacation Prepaid Data Plan. I’ve also tried using T-Mobile’s international data plan (the mobile carrier I use at home).

I’ve also written extensively about using data plans in Europe so check out The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide To Using Data Plans in Europe and How To Buy A SIM Card and Data Plan in Europe.

Holafly Plan Options, Prices, and Country Coverage

Holafly’s Italy eSIM Plan Prices and Options

Ok, let’s dive into how Holafly works and things you might want to know before buying their service.

Country/Region Options

Holafly offers eSIM data plans for over 110 countries. Visit the Holafly website to see the full list of countries they cover.

As mentioned before, I tested their Italy eSIM but Holafly also offers a “Europe” eSIM that covers more than 32 European countries—including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Unlimited Data and Set Data Plans

Holafly offers a range of data packages that vary by country.

Holafly’s Europe and North America eSIM plans all come with unlimited data for a set amount of days—i.e. 5 days, 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, etc.

But other countries have packages with a set amount of data (i.e 6GB) for a set amount of time (typically 15 days). You’ll want to poke around the Holafly website to see the exact specifics of your destination’s data package options.

NOTE: I’m always a little skeptical about “unlimited” data plans because local providers might throttle data if the user starts consuming excess data—for example, your data might get slowed down if you stream lots of Netflix, etc.

What Mobile Networks Does Holafly Use?

Holafly isn’t a mobile provider—i.e. they don’t own the mobile towers. Holafly simply partners with local providers and essentially rents bandwidth from those large companies. So, in Italy for example, you’re actually connected to the Wind Tre network (in France you connect to SFR, the US is AT&T, Germany is T-Mobile, etc.).

In most cases, you’ll get the same service and speeds as everyone else on the network but during heavy network usage, some users report slightly slower speeds (again, this varies by network).

European Phone Number With 60 Minutes of Calling Credit

In June 2023 Holafly updated their European eSIM data plans to include a European phone number which includes 60 minutes worth of calling to other European phones—you can make 60 minutes of calls and receive 60 minutes of calls. However, you can’t make/receive calls from Iceland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Turkey.

But this is an amazing addition for those times you need to call your Airbnb host, make restaurant reservations, etc.

Setting Up, Installing, and Activating Your Holafly Service

The email you get from Holafly after buying your data package.

UPDATE (March 2024): Apple’s iOS 17.4 update included a great new automatic eSIM installation and activation feature—making setting up and managing your eSIM much easier. Simply follow the prompts on your phone and it will walk you through the process.

It’s important to not activate your Holafly eSIM until you’re at your destination.

That said, this process is a little confusing since you can install the eSIM while you’re home but then it’s kind of easy to accidentally activate the service while you’re setting everything up.

If in doubt, wait to install your Holifly eSIM until the morning of your flight—this way you won’t eat too much into your plan’s validity period if you do accidentally activate your plan too early.

So in this section, I’ll try to walk you through the process of installing the eSIM and then activating the service.

Installing and Activating Your Holafly eSIM

Activation instructions and QR Code included in the email from Holafly

Once you purchase your Holafly data package you’ll get an email with a QR code (you can also type in a code if you can’t scan the QR code). You simply scan the QR code with your phone and it walks you through the activation process.

Your phone will prompt you to make a few setting changes and then your service is activated. It will automatically connect to the local provider.

It was surprisingly simple.

Holafly eSIM Real World Performance

I was skeptical of Holafly before using their service (especially since they offer “unlimited data”) but I was extremely happy with Holafly’s performance. I mostly got 5G speeds but sometimes got LTE/4G speeds—I never noticed any data throttling.

My Google Maps/Google searches worked flawlessly, my iMessage never had any issues sending photos and videos, all my social media posts went through quickly, and my mobile data never had any issues. I will note that I never used Holafly for streaming large amounts of data so I can’t comment on how that might affect performance.

In short, my Holafly data worked very well for the entire two weeks of my trip to Italy.

Naturally, I can’t comment on how Holafly works in other parts of the world but I’m confident that it will work similarly throughout Europe and other developed nations.

UPDATE: Holafly now gives all European eSIM plans (except Iceland, Norway, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Turkey) a phone number that includes 60 minutes of calls to/from any European phone number. This is great if you need to call your Airbnb host or make restaurant reservations.

Is Holafly A Good Deal and My Final Thoughts

I still got fast service at Pompeii with Holafly

I think Holafly is a great deal for travelers who want an affordable, no-hassle international data plan that gives great speeds for a very fair price. I was seriously expecting to have slow speeds (or at least some kind of issues) but everything worked super well.

And Holafly is even more impressive now that their European plans come with a European phone number.

My 15-day service was $47—which comes out to basically $3 a day (they have plan options that range from 5 days to 90 days). Most people’s domestic carriers will charge $10+/day for international service and data speeds are often still slow so $3/day is a great deal.

Save 5% on your order at Holafly with the code: THESAVVYBACKPACKER

James Feess
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