Milan – known for being Italy's most fashionable city, cathedrals & museums.
It is also Italy's second-largest city (behind Rome).
Surprisingly, Milan is home to three airports: Milan Malpensa (the largest), Milan Linate (LIN – second-largest) & Milan Bergamo (BGY – low-cost carrier airport 45 KM away from Milan) – one more than Rome.
Generally, most international flights, especially intercontinental ones, will fly into Milan Malpensa, so you are on the right guide.
Writing a list of all the cool things to do in Milan would require another blog post (or a dedicated Milan blog), so I will save you from that because you want to know what SIM card options are available at the airport.
Anyway, which SIM cards are available at the airport?
You can get a TIM Italy, Vodafone Italy, or Lycamobile Italy SIM card for between 64 EUR (68.50 USD) and 85 EUR (90.95 USD) at Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP).
But… is Italy not known for having the cheapest mobile data rates in Italy (as I mentioned in my Italy SIM card buying guide)?
That is true… but SIM cards that are sold at Italian airports are severely overpriced 🥲.
Anyway, let's review all your options and see if getting a SIM card at Milan Malpensa Airport is even worth it.
Original publication: 5th of October 2023. Last updated: 7th of November 2023.
Table of Contents
Mobile Operators in Italy
Before I tell you about the SIM card and eSIM options you have at Milan Malpensa Airport, you first need to know about all the mobile operators in Italy.
Italy has five mobile operators and various Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) offering prepaid services easily accessible to travelers:
- Wind Tre (formerly Wind and Tre)
- TIM Italy (Telecom Italia)
- Vodafone Italy (Italia)
- Iliad Italy
- Fastweb Italy (Italia)
- Coop Voce (TIM Italy MVNO)
- Digi Mobil Italy (TIM Italy MVNO)
- Ho Mobile (Vodafone Italy budget sub-brand)
- Kena Mobile (Wind Tre budget sub-brand)
- Lycamobile Italy (Vodafone Italy MVNO)
- Postemobile (Wind Tre MVNO)
- Tiscali (TIM Italy MVNO)
- Very Mobile (Vodafone Italy budget sub-brand)
Only TIM Italy, Vodafone Italy & Lycamobile Italy SIM cards are sold at Milan Malpensa Airport (which is better than at Milan Linate Airport (LIN), where only Vodafone Italy SIM cards are available).
Moreover, Vodafone SIM cards are only sold in pairs of two… even if you only need one.
Why this is the case, I cannot tell. But if you are lucky (mostly kind), the salespeople may sell you a single SIM card for half the price of a pair (imagine if they still charged you full price, lmao).
TIM Italy and Lycamobile Italy SIM cards are sold by a reseller (Tutto Communications) at outrageously high prices.
Yes, they may sell SIM cards with up to 130 GB of data, but you would spend much less if you were to go to Milan proper.
This is the airport/tourist tax people talk about regarding airport SIM cards 🗿.
Alright, back to what Milan Malpensa Airport has to offer to us.
Where to Buy a SIM Card at Milan Malpensa Airport
TIM Italy, Vodafone Italy & Lycamobile Italy SIM cards are sold by currency exchange offices (Forexchange) and Tutto Communications in Terminal 1 at Milan Malpensa Airport.
Terminal 2 is a somewhat rundown terminal exclusive to EasyJet (yes, it used Terminal 1 during COVID-19, but it went back to its private terminal).
If you fly into Terminal 2, you are out of luck. No store sells SIM cards there, and traveling between the two terminals is not as smooth as other airports (the promised shuttles do not show up, and Uber drivers cancel your ride when they see it is a short one… speaking of experience).
Back to Terminal 1 – you have two “halls” in the arrivals hall, even though they are connected, and you do not notice the difference between them – A & B.
The currency exchange office, Forexchange, has a store selling Vodafone Italy SIM cards in both halls.
You can also go to the departures hall and get your Vodafone Italy SIM cards there (the prices are not different from the ones in the arrivals hall).
You will find this pop-up stand from Tutto Communications closer to arrivals hall B.
Here, it sells SIM cards from TIM Italy (one option) and Lycamobile Italy (two options).
While Italy is known for having insanely generous data plans, like the example below, the activation fees are high, negating the savings for short-term travelers.
So, while paying 85 EUR for 130 GB of data may sound alright/cheap compared to what you can get in your country, it is outrageous by Italian standards 🥲.
But besides the currency exchange offices and Tutto Communications, no other store sells Italian SIM cards.
So let's review each mobile operator to see what they offer us at the airport.
What SIM Cards & Plans Does TIM Italy Sell at Milan Malpensa Airport (+Prices)?
What SIM Cards & Plans Does Vodafone Italy Sell at Milan Malpensa Airport (+Prices)?
Vodafone Italy SIM cards are available at Milan Malpensa Airport, costing 64 EUR (giving you two SIM cards) from Forexchange in Terminal 1.
Yes… you cannot buy a single Vodafone Italy SIM card if you simply need one (unless you are lucky – more about that later).
Vodafone Italy (Italia) is the third-largest mobile operator in Italy.
But it is the mobile operator with the fastest 4G/LTE speeds.
Vodafone Italy SIM cards are only available from Forexchange (in Terminal 1 only) – a foreign currency exchange store.
It has three stores at the airport: two in the arrivals hall and one in the departures hall (upstairs).
If you fly into Milan Malpensa Airport, it makes the most sense to get your SIM card in the arrivals hall anyway, unless the queue is somehow crazy long (as they mostly deal with currency exchange, of course).
Officially, two types of SIM cards are sold by Forexchange – one with 100 GB of data and unlimited data.
The unlimited data was out of stock at all three Forexchange stores, so I almost think it does not exist (anymore).
But the 100 GB version is not even 100 GB of data… it is the combined data allowance of two SIM cards.
So you get 50 GB each… plus 100 minutes (so 50 minutes each again) – for a combined total of 65 EUR (32.50 EUR per SIM card).
So… why do I not talk about the allowances for each SIM card individually – does that not make more sense?
Yes, it would, but Forexchange only sells Vodafone SIM cards in pairs.
So if you are a solo traveler like me… sucks to be you. Pay up for two SIM cards or get none 🥲.
The Arrivals Hall B store, as shown in the photo below, was willing to sell me two SIM cards for about half the price (34 EUR).
Why she still gave me two SIM cards, I do not know – but at least I could give them both to my boyfriend and his mom, who joined me for our Europe trip that summer 😎.
Because I was paying half the price, the salesperson told me (verbally) that I would only get 25 GB per SIM card – I could deal with that.
You know what is funny? The plan she sold me is Vodafone C'all Power, which officially costs 8.99 EUR for a month (excluding a 3 EUR activation fee), giving you 70 GB of data and unlimited minutes and SMS.
Look how you get done dirty by Forexchange 🥲.
One thing Forexchange cannot do for you either is give you Vodafone Italy eSIMs (even though they are available to prepaid customers).
Fortunately, travel eSIMs for Italy are available for reasonable prices.
Even unlimited data options are available.
Another perk with them is that you do not have to deal with Italy's SIM card registration (which is mandatory – even at Forexchange).
I write about the best travel eSIMs for Italy in my Best Italy eSIM buying guide.
I even tried many of them extensively for my Italian eSIM review series.
What SIM Cards & Plans Does Lycamobile Italy Sell at Milan Malpensa Airport (+Prices)?