When traveling in Ireland, obtaining a local Three SIM card or eSIM for your mobile device enables you to remain connected with unrestricted internet access, phone calls, and text messaging throughout your vacation. This guide will provide tourists with all the essential details on utilizing Three, including network coverage, internet speeds, recommended SIM card packages, purchasing options, and other pertinent information.

Three SIM card and eSIm featured image

1. Quick facts about Three

Three mobile operator store

Three mobile operator store

Three Ireland is the second largest mobile operator in Ireland after Vodafone. Three has the best 4G and 5G coverage in Ireland due to an infrastructure sharing agreement with Vodafone.

Some key facts about Three Ireland:

  • Owned by Hong Kong based CK Hutchison Holdings
  • Founded in 1996
  • Launched in 2005 as the third mobile operator in Ireland
  • Over 4.1 million customers (as of June 2023)
  • Provides 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services
  • Has over 90% 5G coverage and 99% 4G coverage
  • Offe prepaid, postpaid and business mobile plans
  • Has free roaming in 70+ destinations

Both Three Ireland SIM card and eSIM provide you with excellent high-speed connectivity throughout Ireland due to their vast 4G and growing 5G networks.

2. Three Coverage and Speed in Ireland

Prior to obtaining an SFR SIM card in France, it is beneficial to have a grasp of their network coverage and speeds throughout the nation.

2.1. Three coverage in Ireland

Three coverage map

Three coverage map

Three has the best mobile network coverage in Ireland thanks to an active infrastructure sharing agreement with Vodafone.

This allows Three to leverage Vodafone’s sites and equipment across Ireland to provide better coverage and speeds.

Some key highlights of Three’s mobile network in Ireland:

  • 4G/LTE coverage: Three has 96% population coverage on 4G which is available in most major towns and cities. You’ll get good 4G speeds on Three.
  • 5G coverage: Three’s 5G network is available in over 150 locations covering cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and more. Expect fast speeds on 5G with over 175 Mbps downloads reported.
  • 3G coverage: Almost entire country covered by Three’s 3G network. Falls back to 3G in rural areas.
  • 2G coverage: Good coverage on 2G as well for calls/text.

With widespread access to both 4G and 5G, Three offers unlimited data at high speeds for your entire trip, and allow you to explore bustling cities or remote countryside areas.

2.2. Three speed

Three download speed experience
Three upload speed experience

Following Opensignal’s September 2023, Mobile Network Experience Report, 3 wins 5G Download Speed with a score of 205.1Mbps, while eir and Vodafone are in second and third place, respectively, with scores of 166.5Mbps and 95.1Mbps. 

  • Three’s 5G speeds offers phenomenal download speeds of up to 10 times faster than 4G. It means revolutionising the quality of your internet, whether it is to work more productively or stream movies faster. Three’s users enjoyed 5G 75.6% of the time when connected to 5G networks, indicating a wide availability of Three’s 5G coverage nationwide.
  • Three’s 4G speeds are also very good. Three users experienced an average 4G download speed of 29 Mbps. 

In summary, Three offered the fastest average 5G download speeds in Ireland while maintaining strong and consistent 4G speeds across both median and average measures.

3. Three connectivity options for travelers to Ireland

Here are some of the main connectivity options provided by Three for travelers visiting Ireland:

Connectivity Option Pros Cons
Three Prepaid SIM - Inexpensive and convenient for short trips - Requires purchasing card upfront
- Plans available online before travel - Coverage may be limited on certain networks
- No credit checks - Balance expires after 30 days if not recharged
Three eSIM - Instant activation, no physical SIM needed - Limited device compatibility
- Easy to switch profiles between devices  - Requires compatible phone purchased in Ireland
- No risk of losing physical SIM - Plans slightly more expensive than prepaid
Three WiFi Hotspots - Free basic connectivity at airports/transport hubs - Limited to hotspot locations only
- No need to purchase mobile plan - Speeds depend on number of users
Hotel or residence WiFi - Often included in room rates - Restricted to hotel/residence only
- No mobile data costs while connected  - Reliability can vary by location

In summary, Three provides both flexible prepaid SIM for budget travelers and ideal eSIM for business travelers. WiFi Hotspots and hotel WiFi are available in specific areas.

4. Best Three SIM cards for tourists & cost

The best Three SIM card for tourists is the prepaid SIM card. It promotes around €20-€30 28-day prepaid plan offering data for calling and text benefits for tourists visiting Ireland.

Here is a table of the different Three SIM card options for tourists:

PlanPriceDataCalls/TextsRoamingValidityOffer Details
3 Prepay 20€20N/A60 mins to other networks, unlimited 3 to 3 textsN/A28 daysUp to €90 back when switching and topping up
3 Prepay 30€30N/AUnlimited calls and textsN/A28 daysUp to €90 back when switching and topping up

If you are planning to use a lot of data, you may want to purchase an eSIM from other providers such as esimireland.com. They typically offer more affordable data plans than Three.

If you are planning to travel outside of Ireland, make sure to choose a data pass that includes international calling and roaming.

5. Does Three Ireland support eSIM?

Yes, Three Ireland introduced eSIM support in 2019.

However, Three eSIM activation can be complicated, involving scanning QR codes and an app. So tourists may find getting a physical Three SIM card easier than Three eSIM.

But if you have an eSIM phone and want to try it, read on for details in eSIM Compatible Device List.

You have the option to experiment with a different carrier’s eSIM. One possibility is to explore the eSIM offered by esimireland.com, which operates on Vodafone’s network and provides access to multiple plans. 

Say Goodbye to Roaming Charges - Experience Ireland Connectivity Made Easy with eSIM plans

6. Where can you buy a Three SIM card and eSIM?

For individuals seeking to buy a Three SIM card or eSIM for staying connected in Ireland while traveling. Here are some options to purchase a Three Ireland SIM card or eSIM:

6.1. Where to buy Three SIM for Ireland

Three SIM card and eSIM store
Three SIM card and eSIM store

There are a few options to purchase a Three SIM card if you are visiting or traveling to Ireland:

  • Three Stores: Three has numerous retail stores located across major cities and towns in Ireland. You can walk into any Three store to purchase a SIM card. Find your nearest store on the Three website.
  • Dublin Airport: The largest airport in Ireland, Dublin Airport, has SIM kiosks and vending machines located in both Terminal 1 and 2 where you can buy Three SIM cards. WHSmith stores in the airport also sell Three SIMs.
  • Partner Stores: In addition to Three-branded stores, SIM cards can also be purchased from partner electronic retail shops like DID Electrical and Funtech shops nationwide.
  • Online: Three SIM cards can be ordered online on the Three website for home delivery within a few days. This requires advance planning before your trip.
  • Supermarkets: Larger grocery stores and supermarkets like Tesco, Dunnes Stores often have a mobile phone accessories section where Three prepaid SIM kits may be available for purchase.
  • Three Pop-Ups: During peak tourist seasons, Three also sets up temporary pop-up stores or stands in locations like major train stations for quick SIM card sign-ups.

6.2. Where to buy Three Ireland eSIM

Here are the options to purchase or activate a Three Ireland eSIM:

  • Online: Visit Three Ireland’s website and purchase an eSIM plan or activate an existing account for eSIM. Requires compatible iPhone or Android device.
  • My3 App: Download the My3 app from the app store. Existing customers can activate eSIM profiles within the app. New customers can purchase plans.
  • Three Stores: While physical SIMs are available in stores, eSIM activation is done remotely online or via My3 app once purchased in-store.
  • Phone Support: Existing customers can contact the Three Ireland phone support line to guide them through eSIM activation over the phone.
  • Partner Stores: Some partner retail stores like electronics chains may offer eSIM activations and support, but it’s best to check individual store policies.
  • Direct Carrier Billing: For certain device brands sold through Irish mobile carriers, eSIM plans can be directly purchased and activated through built-in carrier billing options.

Overall, it is easy to find Three SIM cards at airport shops, high street stores, supermarkets and petrol stations after you arrive. eSIMs can be set up before arrival conveniently through their app or website.

7. How to activate Three Ireland SIM/eSIM

 After acquiring a Three SIM card or eSIM, regardless of whether it is prepaid or rented, it must be activated before being able to use it on the network. The activation procedure typically includes

7.1. How to use Three Ireland SIM card

  1. Turn on the phone and insert the SIM card into the SIM tray
  2. It will auto-configure and show signal bars.
  3. Top up credit (prepaid only). Dial *123# or use the Three app/website
  4. Manage your account. Change phone number, view usage, upgrade plans etc
  5. You can now make calls, send SMS and use data.
  6. Top-up when required to recharge your prepaid credit.

Read more: How to Install Ireland eSIM: Full Guide

7.2. How to activate Three Ireland eSIM

  1. Download the Three Ireland app
  2. Create an account and verify an Ireland payment method.
  3. Go to eSIM section and scan the QR code you received.
  4. Follow prompts to download and install eSIM profile.
  5. May need to reboot phone to switch to eSIM.
  6. Top-up your eSIM through the app as required.

Please check your detailed instructions below:

That’s all! You should now have functional Three cellular service during your trip in Ireland.

8. Ireland Three Call & SMS rates

Here is a table of Three Ireland’s call and SMS rates

Call TypeRate
Three to Three CallsFree
Three to Other Networks (Ireland)0.27 USD per minute
Three to Landlines (Ireland)0.27 USD per minute
Three to Three TextsFree
Three to Other Networks (Ireland)0.11 USD per text
Three to Landlines (Ireland)0.11 USD per text
Calls to Northern Ireland0.27 USD per minute
Calls to UK0.27 USD per minute
Calls to Rest of WorldVary by destination from 0.27 USD-1.07 USD per minute
Video Call to Three0.27 USD per minute
Video Call to Other Networks0.54 USD per minute
MMS to Other Networks0.27 USD per MMS

Additional notes:

  • All rates are per minute unless stated otherwise
  • Calls and texts within allowance or to Three numbers are free
  • Out of bundle rates apply for usage over plan limits
  • International rates may be subject to changes, see website for latest

9. Useful USSD codes for Three Ireland SIM/eSIM

USSD codes are useful shortcuts you can dial on your Three Ireland SIM to check info without an app.

Here are some handy USSD codes for Three Ireland:

  • *174# – Check airtime balance
  • *103# – Check data balance
  • *133# – Check bundled minutes/text balance
  • *100# – Customer service
  • *102# – Minutes used so far
  • *159# – Opt in/out data roaming
  • *125# – Activate roaming
  • *101# – Voicemail

Dial these codes directly on your Three Ireland SIM to save time. Useful to quickly check balances, turn on roaming or access voicemail.

10. How to top-up Three Ireland SIM/eSIM

Here are a few easy ways to top up your Three SIM card:

If you have a physical SIM, there are several convenient options:

  • Online at three.ie – Simply log into your account on the website and securely add credit with a debit/credit card.
  • On the My3 app – Download the My3 app from the app store. Once logged in, you can top up in just a few taps right from your phone.
  • At a retail location – Pop into any Three store, supermarket, or newsagent nearby and purchase a top-up voucher with cash. The voucher will have a special code to add credit.
  • By phone – Dial 1744 from your Three number for free. You’ll be prompted to enter your payment details to top up your account balance.

If you have an eSIM on your device, top-ups can be done:

  • Through the My3 app on your phone
  • Online at three.ie on your laptop or computer
  • By contacting Three customer support

11. Alternatives to Ireland Three

Some alternatives mobile operators you can consider in Ireland are:

  • Vodafone: Largest network, good connectivity
  • Meteor: Reliable provider, owned by eir
  • LycaMobile: Budget prepaid SIM, uses eir network
  • Tesco Mobile: Owned by Tesco, uses Three’s network
  • esimireland.com–  It offers eSIM data packages that enable you to remain connected in Ireland without the need to swap out your physical SIM card. These plans begin at approximately 5-7 euros and provide 1-2GB of daily data.

In brief, Vodafone and Meteor serve as dependable substitutes for the Three mobile network. Additionally, esimireland.com offers eSIM data plans that can be used as a convenient pay-as-you-go roaming option without the need to change physical SIM cards while visiting Ireland.

Reliable Data Plans for Exploring Ireland

Ireland eSIM 3 Days
Ireland eSIM 3 Days
From $3.50
Ireland eSIM 7 Days
Ireland eSIM 7 Days
From $3.71
Ireland eSIM 15 Days
Ireland eSIM 15 Days
From $3.94

12. FAQs about Three Ireland

Can I buy a Three SIM card/eSIM as a tourist visiting Ireland?

Yes, Three is one of the largest mobile operators in Ireland and offers pay-as-you-go SIM cards that are perfect for tourists. You can buy a physical SIM card or activate an eSIM online before your trip.

How do I get a Three SIM card in Dublin Airport?

You can purchase a Three SIM card kit from the WHSmith stores located after security in both Terminal 1 and 2. Some vending machines in the airport also sell Three starter packs.

Can I activate a Three eSIM online before I visit?

Yes, you can purchase and activate a Three eSIM plan through their website as long as you have a compatible iPhone or Android device. This allows you to set up service in advance.

What plans and rates do Three offer tourists?

Three offers affordable 28-day prepaid plans for tourists with data, calls and texts included. Their €20 “Welcome” pack provides over 19GB of roaming data throughout Europe.

Is Three’s network reliable for traveling around Ireland?

As one of the largest operators, Three has strong coverage throughout urban and rural Ireland. Their network delivers fast 4G/5G speeds for browsing, streaming and staying connected while sightseeing around the country.

Does Three have good coverage in Ireland?

Yes, Three has excellent coverage in Ireland thanks to network sharing with Vodafone. You’ll get strong 4G and 5G from Three.

Can I use Three SIM in Europe?

Yes, Three has EU roaming allowing you to use it across Europe.

13. Final words

Hope this detailed guide has provided everything you need to know for getting a Ireland Three SIM card or eSIM for your visit. Three offers excellent connectivity through unlimited prepaid bundles, wide coverage, good speeds and EU roaming. Simply purchase a Three SIM or eSIM before your trip and stay connected across Ireland with fast mobile internet and cheap local calls/text.