Russia is probably not the most popular travel destination in Asia and Europe, but it still has a lot to offer.
Especially when it is a relatively affordable country for travel
What you should not do, in many cases, is roam internationally in Russia.
If you use your current SIM card in Russia, you would be charged excessive roaming rates.
One way to keep your costs low is by using a travel eSIM because international roaming can be crazy expensive.
Which is why using local and travel eSIMs is recommended to save money.
And if you get a travel eSIM, you do not have to deal with the SIM card registration bureaucracy and skip the queues in Russia.
So, how much do Russian (travel) eSIMs cost?
You can get an eSIM for Russia for as low as 5 USD up to 102 USD from Airalo (with Ruski Telecom), Holafly & Nomad, offering between 1 GB and 25 GB.
There are some mobile operators who will charge you 100 USD for only 100 MB of roaming data, so these travel eSIM offers are much better than most international roaming deals.
In this guide, I will go over the eSIM options offered by the Russian mobile operators, Airalo, Holafly & Nomad. Let's get started.
Original publication: 1st of September 2022. Last updated: 29th of November 2022.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Travel eSIMs for Russia
In order to get the best performance out there, it is often recommended to go directly with the local mobile operators because you will get a higher priority on the network compared to roaming.
And some travelers do not want to deal with any of that for privacy reasons.
Luckily, there is a way to avoid this registration scheme: by roaming (super expensive) or using a travel eSIM (affordable AND can be cheaper than local SIM cards in many countries).
Travel eSIM providers Airalo (with Ruski Telecom), Holafly & Nomad offer attractive eSIMs for Russia, allowing them to be set up before arriving in Russia and activating them as soon as you land.
Very convenient, right? And I have used eSIMs from Airalo, Holafly & Nomad before, and I can assure you they work well!
So let's check out all the options, shall we?
Airalo eSIMs for Russia (Ruski Telecom)
Airalo eSIMs are my favorite travel eSIMs out there because they are always good value for money compared to other travel eSIM providers (especially travel eSIMs not mentioned in this guide).
And the same can be said for the Ruski Telecom eSIM – 10 GB of data is available for only 36 USD.
The Ruski Telecom eSIM uses the Beeline Russia & MegaFon Russia, which is the best overall Russian mobile operator (coverage and speed-wise).
So even if you go to some remote Russian town, you will still have reception with the Ruski Telecom eSIM.
Alright, you have four Russian Ruski Telecom eSIM options:
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 2 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 9 USD
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 11.50 USD
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 17 USD
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 29 USD
- Russia/Ruski Telecom 20 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 48 USD
The Airalo links will automatically get you the available Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers – a code is unnecessary.
- Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews
Honestly, the Ruski Telecom eSIM gives you the best bang for your buck, and it is the eSIM I recommend the most for Russia.
Airalo Ruski Telecom eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Ruski Telecom eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- You can purchase and set up your Ruski Telecom eSIM before arriving in Russia (and activate it upon landing)
- You can skip Russia's SIM card registration requirements
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Russia's best mobile operator – MegaFon Russia
- The eSIMs are affordable and have generous data allowances
- You can avoid expensive international roaming fees
But it is not all good news with Airalo though – there are some disadvantages.
Airalo Ruski Telecom eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Ruski Telecom eSIM?
- The Russian mobile operators have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to MegaFon Russia's network, the best in Russia, your speeds will not be as fast as going with MegaFon Russia itself because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Ruski Telecom eSIM
- You cannot call or text with the Ruski Telecom eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- You cannot get in-person support (Airalo gets back to you by email fast, but you cannot visit an Airalo store because there are none)
Airalo Ruski Telecom eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Airalo Ruski Telecom eSIM is a great eSIM offering a lot for the money you pay (especially compared to many non-EU countries).
You get fast speeds and access to the best Russian network (MegaFon Russia) without standing in queues or dealing with SIM card registration bureaucracy.
But if making actual phone calls and sending real text messages are important to you (so not through an app like WhatsApp), you may want to buy a Russian SIM card instead.
Holafly eSIMs for Russia
The second eSIM provider I recommend is Holafly.
My relationship with Holafly is quite funny.
I knew they existed when they offered travel SIM cards for the Spanish market only.
Then they pivoted to the global market, still offering travel SIM cards.
Eventually, they started offering travel eSIMs for the Spanish market only again before going global.
There are many travel eSIM providers nowadays – new ones pop up every week like mushrooms, so I did not bat an eye.
Until they did something revolutionary.
In 2022, Holafly started offering unlimited data plans for its eSIMs.
And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in Russia… yet.
I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 100+ countries.
And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast Asia, Europe & North America; they love these eSIMs.
You have the following seven options with Holafly:
- Russia 3 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 20 USD/19 EUR/19 GBP/27 AUD/24 CAD
- Russia 5 GB eSIM for 10 days, costing 35 USD/34 EUR/29 GBP/49 AUD/44 CAD
- Russia 7 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 48 USD/47 EUR/44 GBP/67 AUD/55 CAD
- Russia 10 GB eSIM for 20 days, costing 59 USD/57 EUR/49 GBP/84 AUD/74 CAD
- Russia 12 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 71 USD/69 EUR/59 GBP/99 AUD/89 CAD
- Russia 18 GB eSIM for 60 days, costing 89 USD/87 EUR/77 GBP/127 AUD/114 CAD
- Russia 25 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 102 USD/99 EUR/87 GBP/144 AUD/129 CAD
As I recently started my collaboration with Holafly, it offers 5% off each purchase whenever you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – how cool is that?
- Check out my Holafly reviews
Of course, there are some pros and cons with going with Holafly, so let's go over them.
Holafly Russia eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Holafly eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- Holafly Russia eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Beeline Russia network
- You can activate your Holafly Russia eSIM as soon as you land in Russia
- The Holafly Russia eSIM offers the most data
But it is not all good news with Holafly though – there are some disadvantages.
Holafly Russia eSIM eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get a Holafly Russia eSIM?
- You cannot call or text with the Holafly Russia eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- Russian mobile operators, including Beeline Russia, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get full (4G/LTE) access to Beeline Russia's network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Beeline Russia directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- You cannot top up your Holafly Russia eSIM – you would have to buy another eSIM if you need more data
- There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly Russia eSIM (yet)
- The registration for the Holafly Russia eSIM is required and you cannot skip the registration
Holafly Russia eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Holafly Russia eSIM is an excellent eSIM with a lot of options to choose from.
You get fast speeds and access to the Beeline Russia network.
However, Holafly is the most expensive option in this guide and may not be the best for budget travelers.
Luckily, we still have one more Russia-specific travel eSIM to go through, which is cheaper than Holafly.
Nomad eSIMs for Russia
The last eSIM provider I recommend is Nomad.
Nomad is just in the middle.
But that does not mean Nomad is bad – not at all.
The Nomad Russia eSIM uses the Truphone network, which is active in any country you can think of.
In Russia it uses a combination of networks, allowing your eSIM to switch to the network with the best reception automatically.
This way, you will always be connected!
Nomad is a bit more expensive than Airalo's Ruski Telecom eSIM but cheaper than Holafly.
That is because, unlike the other two eSIM providers, the Nomad Russia eSIM uses a combination of several Russian networks (MegaFon Russia, MTS Russia, Beeline Russia & Tele2 Russia), allowing you access to the best network at your location.
And for this feature, you pay a little more than Airalo, which only uses Beeline Russia & MegaFon Russia.
You have the following three options with Nomad:
- Russia 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 20 USD/20.50 EUR/17.50 GBP/26.50 CAD
- Russia 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 48 USD/48.50 EUR/41 GBP/63 CAD
- Russia 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 54 USD/54.50 EUR/46.50 GBP/70.50 CAD
By the way, you can get 3 USD off of your first Nomad purchase by using code ADU – how cool is that?
- Check out my Nomad reviews
Of course, going with Nomad has some pros and cons, so let's go over them.
Nomad Russia eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Nomad eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- You can purchase and set up your Nomad Russia eSIM before arriving in Russia (and activate it upon landing)
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access on all Russian networks, allowing you to have the best reception at all times
- The eSIMs have generous data allowances
- You can avoid expensive international roaming fees
But it is not all good news with Nomad though – there are some disadvantages.
Nomad Russia eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get a Nomad Russia eSIM?
- While you get access to four networks, your speeds will not be as fast as going with the Russian mobile operators themselves because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Nomad Russia eSIM
- You cannot call or text with the Nomad Russia eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- You cannot get in-person support (Nomad gets back to you by email fast, but you cannot visit a Nomad store because there are none)
- Airalo is cheaper than Nomad with all variants
Nomad Russia eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Nomad eSIM is a great premium eSIM offering.
You will always have the best reception because the Nomad because it automatically switches to the best network at your location.
However, just like the other travel eSIMs mentioned in this guide, you do not get a (local) phone number with the Nomad Russia eSIM.
Moreover, Nomad is not the cheapest option out there (that would be Airalo).
Best eSIMs for in Europe (not just Russia)
So what if you plan to visit neighboring China? Mongolia? Kazahkstan? Or any other country in the European Union?
Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Ruski Telecom, Holafly Russia, or Nomad Russia eSIMs in any country than Russia.
There are some eSIM providers do have eSIMs covering all of the European Union and European Economic area + some other countries.
Sadly, Russia is not one of them, but I still want to introduce them to you because they will be much cheaper than buying multiple eSIMs, or SIM cards for that matter, per country.
I highly recommend these Europe eSIMs if you plan to visit multiple European countries to save money!
The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular Airalo eSIM, per Phone Travel Wiz readers.
Most readers tend to visit multiple European countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one (like Russia).
The Eurolink eSIM can be used in 39 countries in Europe, including all nations in the European Union (EU).
The eSIM can be used from Iceland to Ukraine and Norway to Spain.
Below is a complete overview of countries the Eurolink eSIM works in:
- Austria 2
- Belgium 2
- Bulgaria 2
- Croatia 2
- Cyprus 2
- Denmark 2
- Estonia 2
- Finland 2
- Gibraltar 1
- Greece 2
- Ireland 2
- Italy 2
- Latvia 2
- Luxembourg 2
- Malta 2
- Poland 2
- Romania 2
- Spain 2
- Sweden 2
- Switzerland 2
- United Kingdom 2
1 on 3G only
2 (limited) 5G NR availability at no additional cost!
With the Eurolink eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit – averaging 10.78 USD/country in Europe (and get 5G NR access at no additional cost)!
But, as you can see, this eSIM cannot be used in Russia, so it would be useless here but useful in the aforementioned countries.
Below is an overview of how much each Eurolink eSIM costs:
- Europe/Eurolink 1 GB eSIM for 7 day, costing 5 USD
- Europe/Eurolink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
- Europe/Eurolink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Honestly, the Eurolink eSIM is my favorite Europe travel eSIM out there. Affordable, extensive & good value for your money.
I also used it during my 1-month tour throughout Europe in 12 countries.
- Check out my Airalo Eurolink eSIM review (tested in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia & Spain)
So yeah, you can say I have some experience with the Eurolink eSIM 😏.
Holafly & Nomad eSIMs for Europe
Holafly and Nomad also have eSIMs covering all of the European Union (and more).
This eSIM cannot be also used in Russia but once again, it would be useful for the aforementioned countries listed above.
But honestly, the Eurolink eSIM is superior (but you can consider the Holafly Europe eSIM if you want unlimited data in 30+ countries – just do not forget about code PHONETRAVELWIZ if you go with Holafly).
Overview of the Best eSIMs for Russia
But you still have to deal with SIM card registration regulations when you get their eSIMs.
Luckily, the travel eSIMs mentioned in this guide allow you to circumvent these laws (legally, of course!).
In terms of the travel eSIMs, this would be my recommendation order:
- Airalo's Ruski Telecom Russia eSIM (best value for money)
- Holafly Russia eSIM (generous data plans at premium prices)
- Nomad Russia eSIM (switches to the best network, allowing for excellent reception at all times)
Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs and code ADU123 for Nomad eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.
Buying a SIM Card in Russia
Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?
Consider getting a Russian SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.
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