What’s an eSIM? (and why get one to travel to the Netherlands)

Ah, cruising the canals of Amsterdam, sipping on a biertje on an Amsterdam terrace, and tiptoeing among the tulips. What a vacation!

But wait: want to video call your Mum back home and show her the sights? Oh, and what about posting that picture on your Instagram Story? Internet, wherefore art thou!

Sure, you can rely on unsecured WiFi hotspots, spend a stack on an international data plan from your home country, or spend precious holiday time hunting down a Dutch SIM card — or you can sign up for an eSIM before you even catch your flight. 

But what is an eSIM, where can you get one, and more importantly: how can it help solve your internet problems while abroad? 

An eSIM: what is it?

As the name suggests, an eSIM (or e-SIM) is an Embedded SIM that provides you with a cellular plan without replacing your physical SIM card from back home. 

With an e-sim, you’ll have data at your everyday convenience! Image: Depositphotos

In other words, it lets you change your mobile plan digitally, no external chip needs to be inserted in the phone, as the eSIM works “virtually.” 🤓 (New phone number, who dis?)

It also means it doesn’t work per se with every phone, check our list of compatible phones at the end of this article.

READ MORE | Mobile phones and SIM cards in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

Because it doesn’t require a physical card, it’s ridiculously easy to install, making an eSIM perfect when you’re on the go and want to have a fast and easy connection. 🛫

Picture this: you’re on a trip to the Netherlands and want to show your parents how you’re exploring Amsterdam’s spectacular museums in real time (don’t worry, you can visit an Amsterdam coffeeshop later). 

With an eSIM, you can do that in a matter of seconds — no need to search for the nearest available WiFi or beg the locals for a hotspot. 😉 

Should I get an eSIM when coming to the Netherlands?

There are so many benefits when it comes to having an eSIM when visiting the Netherlands, or practically any place you don’t call home.  

Upon getting an international eSIM, you immediately have access to the internet and, depending on your chosen plan, sometimes even unlimited data!

The digital SIM also lets you keep your WhatsApp number as if you were contacting your friends and family back home. 

Speaking of digital, since an eSIM works via software, you’ll also be able to switch back to your original SIM if you need to call someone using your personal number. 

Looking for more reasons to get an eSIM? Well, you should probably know that it’s really easy to activate! Setting up an eSIM is usually done by scanning a QR code and starting it up via your phone using simple instructions. 

If you’re just not planning to travel to the Netherlands, but other countries in Europe as well, we suggest you buy an eSIM with unlimited data, as it works in 32 (!) other European countries.

How do I get an eSIM?

When purchasing an eSIM online, your chosen service will tell you the next steps you have to take to actually activate your plan. 

You can find loads of eSIM plans from Holafly online that will fit different needs. Certain plans offer 3G or 4G data roaming, while others offer unlimited 4G data altogether.

If you’re big on sharing things with your friends and family (and your Instagram followers 😉), you’ll probably prefer having unlimited data, just in case you see a really cute flower bike somewhere.

Things to know

Most importantly, you’ll have to first check if your phone is compatible with an eSIM. 

You can check your phone’s compatibility by going to your phone’s Settings app and clicking on Mobile or Cellular Data. If you see the option to add a data plan, you’re good to go!  

Some phones that are compatible with an eSIM: Apple iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 Mini, Fairphone 4, Google Pixel 3, 4, 5, Oppo Find X3 Pro, Oppo Reno 5A, Motorola Razr, Motorola Razr 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20, S21, and S22.

Additionally, some eSIMs are data-only, meaning that they won’t necessarily allow you to make cell phone calls or send SMS messages — you’ll have to use your personal number for that! 

Of course, you can always call people using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 📞

What data plan do you usually use when visiting the Netherlands? Will you be using an eSIM from now on? Tell us in the comments below!

Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).

Liked it? Try these on for size:

What do you think?


  1. I wish you would write this is an “ad” on top of this article. Pricing is unjustifiable, one could simply have it cheaper by getting a prepaid sim.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

This Dutch city is in the best economic position in Europe (and it doesn’t surprise us!)

Where is the best place to live and work, you ask? According to Trouw, Utrecht is your answer, beating out 230 regions for the...

More breathing room: the Netherlands introduces a ‘smarter academic year’

Today, pilots for a "smarter academic year" are starting in the Netherlands. Kicking off the project is the University of Amsterdam. Over the next few...

This week’s Dutch regional public transport strikes cancelled, conversations continue

After weeks of strikes affecting regional public transportation in the Netherlands, transport staff will not strike this week.  This is the result of the talks...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.