The top 5 secret places to visit in Kraków, Poland

We hear the secrets from a Kraków local about the top 5 secret attractions in this beautiful city.  Read our five minute guide below!

Author: Top secret! 

Kraków (pronounced ‘Krak-Ov’) is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Poland. It sits in the south of the country, near the border of the Czech Republic. It has a well preserved medieval core and a vibrant Jewish quarter. Enlisted on the UNESCO heritage list since 1978, Kraków is surrounded by two major tourist sites: the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (which includes the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau) and the Salt Mines in Wieliczka (both sites are also on the UNESCO list as well).

Now, let’s be frank from the very start – one or two days in Kraków is definitely not enough to even catch a glimpse of the historical centre and former Jewish district. In order to get to know the city, to immerse yourself in the special atmosphere of the place, you need at least four full days.

The guidebooks and your online searches have no doubt told you about the enormous Main Market Square, St. Mary’s Basilica with Veit Stoss’s exceptional altar inside and Wawel castle hill with the Cathedral. These places are indeed definitely worth visiting, however, if you have a little extra time, here are the top 5 secret attractions to visit on your vacation to Kraków. Best of all they’ll be away from the tourist buses and selfie takers!

The Józef Mehoffer house

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries Kraków was the spiritual and symbolic capital of Poland. The only professional School of Fine Arts (converted into the Academy in 1900) attracted future artists from across Poland. One of them was Józef Mehoffer (1869 – 1946): a painter and stained glass window and interior designer and definitely one of the best Polish Art Nouveau artists. In the 1930s he bought a house in Krupnicza Street, which is currently a branch of the National Museum in Kraków.

The house is exceptional as it represents in detail what a bourgeois house from the beginning of the 20th century looked like.

The biggest surprise is hidden behind the house – it’s a marvelous garden with a charming cafe. This place is a secret even to many inhabitants of Kraków!


After leaving the Józef Mehoffer house, take a few steps into Dolnych Młynów Street and you’ll come across a post-industrial area called TYTANO. Sounds hip enough? TYTANO is often described as Berlin in Kraków and indeed it’s not just a funny comparison. A few years ago a former tobacco factory was turned into the coolest place in the entire city. The builidings still look as if they are about to collapse within seconds, but inside them you will find the best restaurants, pubs and clubs in the city.

You can easily spend the whole evening in TYTANO and crawl from one pub to another. Rumour has it that the complex will be closed by 2020, so enjoy it while you can!

St. Francis Church

In the past there was the famous saying that if Rome didn’t exist, Kraków would be Rome. In a city with more than 100 churches, becoming indifferent to them is one of the ways to survive. However, St. Francis church is a must see on your list! The gothic structure dates back to the 13th Century, when St.  Francis was invited to Kraków and the interior has amazing Art Nouveau decorations. It was created at the end of the 19th century by Stanisław Wyspiański (1869 – 1907) (Józef Mehoffer’s school friend) and most of all a total genius: playwright, poet, painter and designer.

Wyspiański died very young and the interior of St. Francis Church is one of the few tasks finished by him. Take a closer look at the outstanding stained glass windows with St. Francis blessing Salomea and God the Father above the entrance.

Street art in the Jewish and Podgórze district

Kazimierz, known widely as the former Jewish district, along with Podgórze, are visited mostly because of the Jewish heritage in Kraków and the story about the ghetto during WWII. For a few years Kazimierz has also been known as one of the best places to have a drink in the evening and Plac Nowy is the beating heart of Kraków’s party life.

If you look around while wandering from pub to pub, you might discover great examples of street art spread all over the place. Some murals were done by international stars such as Blu, Broken Fingaz and David Shillinglaw and some others by local artists. The most beloved one is the stencil showing Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain on the corner of Bożego Ciała Street, created by Trololo from Kraków. This is one of the best selfie spots in Kraków!

Nowa Huta

After WWII, when Poland was under the USSR influence, the communists decided to build a brand new city next to Kraków. It was called Nowa Huta, which means the ‘New Steel Mill’. The whole complex was planned as an ideal communist city, in the shape of a pentagon. If you’ve also visited Warsaw,  then Nowa Huta will ring a bell. Wide streets, heavy monumental architecture and the impression that time stopped in the 1980s.

Nowa Huta, a souvenir of the communist era, is slowly becoming one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city, but it’s still occupied mostly by the locals. Many companies organize crazy tours to this district, but you can easily go there by public transport (get yourself a Europe SIM Card for your mobile phone with high speed data so you can find your way with Google Maps).

The central square is named after American President Ronald Regan – and it’s not a joke!

The top 5 FREE travel apps for your Italy holiday

5 Best Free Mobile Apps to Use in Italy

Italy is a diverse, confusing, wondrous country where cutting-edge modernity and style live alongside the treasures and traditions of several thousand years of civilisation. With so much contrast, the Boot of Europe kicks up its fair share of travel challenges.

What do we mean? Well, English is spoken less commonly than in some other European countries. So even if you learn some Italian, the different dialects north to south mean this preparation can still strand you.

Further, some cities (such as the 9000-year old Matera), overbuilt again and again for eons, the resulting delightful hodgepodge of little alleyways and winding cobblestone streets can also mean finding the fastest way from A to B is a confusing headache.

So, give thanks to the digital gods for the convenience of the smartphone. Nowadays, great travel apps have made travelling through Italy so much easier.

Here are our top 5.

  1. Google Maps, but offline

There’s a reason this is probably the world’s most used travel app. It just works. However, most people think it requires you to have an active mobile data or Wi-Fi connection. Not so. You can download maps for entire cities and store them on your phone.

Yes, these downloaded maps are missing some features (such as bike routes) and are only valid for a few weeks (until Google’s next Maps update) but they’re still really useful. Be aware that downloading an entire city map can use around 1GB of data, so try to do it on unmonitored networks (such as the one in your hostel or hotel). The Download Area Map function is under the Options menu in Google Maps.

A further bonus is you don’t need to be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi to find your location when you’re out and about and using on one of your downloaded maps. Your phone can usually triangulate your location based on the signal strength of the local mobile phone network – even if your phone isn’t connected to a phone carrier in that country. Your phone can also use the Wi-Fi networks it can detect (but not necessarily connect to) to fix your position. If both of these fail, you can always activate your PrePaid data SIM card for a few seconds and your current position should pop up.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows

  1. izi.TRAVEL

Billed as ‘the storytelling platform’, izi.TRAVEL is a great way to explore Italian heritage and culture in a structured way. This globe-spanning platform of free audio guides features more than 100 guided walks and audio tours of Italian attractions. There’s quite a range: from archaeological discussions accompanying countryside walks, to a 21-stop lap of Venice, to more inventively narrated tours that play out like scavenger hunts.

In general though, guides follow interesting routes and pack in a lot of history. They tend towards being informative rather than entertaining. And fair enough, as the newest, latest and most exciting stuff tends to fade away fairly fast, while historical facts last longer – and in Italy that can be thousands of years!

Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows

  1. Hostelworld

Like the rest of Western Europe, Italy has a rock-solid backpacker hostel industry. There is so much variation in what a backpacker hostel can be – and we have stayed in some doozies. In both the good and bad sense. Hostelworld helps you figure out where to stay and where to avoid.

Looking for flashpacking? You can find it. Looking for privacy? It covers that too. Just looking for a basic bed? Yep. And if you are looking for the full communal backpacker experience – the sort of place from which life-changing pub crawls being – well, you can find that too. Oddly, despite how well this app works, it’s still in Beta – but then again, it might be one of those that is always in Beta.

As for comprehensive, it lists over 350 places to bed down in Rome alone! Each is profiled by price, room type and facilities. Crucially, the reviews section is also not the usual ghost town. A few hostels have thousands of testimonials.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android

  1. Tripadvisor

It is the big daddy of travel apps for a reason. The volume of listings is colossal, the user base is massive, the reviews are pretty accurate and the info is good. Yes, TripAdvisor is everywhere and ranks just about everything – that’s why it is great and also a bit of a problem. See, it puts everything in a neat order, when in fact a good backpacking trip should be filled with shambolic spur-of-the-moment discoveries.

If you follow TripAdvisor to the letter, you end up having the same Italian holiday as everyone else. However, we’re including it in our list because when you need the easy answers for where to eat, where to stay and what to do in the tiny town you’re stuck in on a 5-hour coach trip layover, then TripAdvisor is golden.

If, on the other hand, you want to immerse yourself in local culture, go off the beaten path (to attractions that might not be listed anywhere near the top of the charts) and have unique experiences, well you wouldn’t use TripAdvisor until it all turns a bit south and you once again need reliable advice fast. So, choose it to help solve service industry problems, not to uncover hidden surprises.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows

  1. WeTap

Bottled water is heavy. Bottled water is expensive. If only it came free out of a pipe… In terms of water on the go, Rome was a pioneer. In the 1870s around 2500 public drinking fountains – called ‘nasone’ or ‘fontanella’ –  were installed all around the city to provide cool, free and fresh water to the citizenry. They were popular then and have become part of everyday life for the locals now.

Better yet, the water these continually flowing stone fountains circulate is exactly the same as the clean and safe tap water you get from the city grid. There is a little trick in how to use them, but you’ll easily figure it out (or just watch the locals).

Best of all, using WeTap to find and fill up at the nasone near you will take you into new areas of the city and is far, far more romantic than dropping a few € into the vending machine at the nearest convenience store. Plus, it’ll save you a lot of money too, because Italy gets really hot in summer.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, with Android soon to launch

Download and get out there

Now that you have our top 5 FREE apps for making your Italy holiday so much easier, you better get downloading.  Because, your smartphone will be a lifesaver when you are on the road. So, getting the most from it just makes sense. And remember, every app you have saves you from spending your precious data balance on internet searches, leaving you more space to upload photos or keep in contact with friends or check out the latest rumours about something cool happening later on wherever you happen to end up.

When planning your trip to Italy, check out our pre-paid SIM card for Italy and learn how to make the most of your pre-paid phone card. We hope you will enjoy your stay!

What do the locals eat out in Paris? Local secrets unveiled

Parisian secret restaurants unveiled

Paris is the most romantic and cliched of all the world’s travel destinations. People dream of its art, cafes, history, food, gardens, style and endless historical and cultural icons. Its poetic name is even the City of Lights. These are big boots to fill. And, to its credit, Paris often lives up the mythos.


Paris is also a living, breathing, heaving world city. Every day some 12 million residents mill around its various arrondissements. Among them is a daily load of 90,000-odd tourists. So behind the fairytale, Paris is still a very big, extremely busy and globally important city. The touchstones of its glamour obscure a place that’s always rebuilding itself, innovating, changing and thriving.

How do you find this “ living Paris” behind the wall of tour buses at the Eiffel Tower? Where is it when you’re stranded on the Arc De Triomphe in the middle of the biggest roundabout you’ve ever seen? What does real Paris look like, you may wonder, while crammed into a large room in the Louvre to look at a small, old painting of some Italian woman named Mona?

This blog, written with the advice of NM, a fashionable young thing, strong with seven years of harbouring the trendiest and up-coming spots of Paris, shares with us her hot tips and must-eats.


Q: Where are the good but less well-known areas to stay in Paris?

NM: Great question. For me there are 6 you should keep an eye out for:

MOB Hotel of the People – A funky, stylish and whimsical place to stay in the hipsterish area of Saint Ouen, 7 clicks north of central Paris.

Mama Shelter Paris – Decorated and design by the cutting-edge style guru Philippe Starck, this is the Paris outpost of a chain of boutique hotels that are as cool as they come. Great prices too.

Les Piaules – A hostel and a bar, this place is actually more stylish than you might expect. Some bill it as the best backpackers in central Paris.

The Hoxton – A fancy new hotel operating from an 18th Century house, it has an outstanding bar, restaurant and fitness centre. Treat yourself?

Hôtel Edgar – The restaurant is great but it’s the rooms that are the major draw. Each has been individually styled by a fashion designer, photographer, theatre director or sculptor.

Yooma Urban Lodge – Modern, socially aware and brighty coloured. It’s not badly priced and is in a brilliant location right on the Seine and just a stroll from the Eiffel Tower.


Q: What are some places you personally recommend for a meal or snack?

NM: I love going out to eat and there’s almost too much to choose from in Paris. These are the ones I recommend:

52 Faubourg Saint Denis – The street address is actually the establishment’s name. Great for French tapas and good wine. I love the light, airy atmosphere. Plus, it’s very close to my place, is open late and the staff are friendly.

Bambou – This Thai place has a great outdoor seating area, amazing cocktails and is also in my neighborhood: the 2nd Arrondissement. It’s also right across the street from great shopping.

Pizza Popolare : Right in the very cool 2nd Arrondissement. The food here is both inexpensive and fantastic. Sometimes there’s a wait for service though.

Also check out: We Are Juice, Echo, Panache, Elmer, Saturne, Septime and Rivié (at The Hoxton)


Q: Where can you go for true Parisian food – not the usual tourist stuff?

Kevin Lacote – A pâtisserie and tea room with great cakes and pies. But the cookies are where they truly shine. They’re friendly people and have excellent cooking classes too.

Raoul Maeder – Since 1957 this Alsatian-inspired bakery has been relied on by Parisians for good bread and even better cakes.

Popelini – Perfect for an after pick-me-up this is simply the best place for choux à la crème (traditional Parisian cream puffs) that I know of.


Q: What are the best shopping areas in Paris in your experience?

NM: If you want to shop, there are so many places. Here are my picks:

Grands Boulevards – This is a whole neighbourhood of old-world glamour. Good for big fashion chains like Zara, Mango and Promod.

Rue du nil – A tiny cobblestoned street that couldn’t be farther from its world’s-longest-river namesake. Super trendy for fresh food and great wine.

Le Marais – Very close to the cool Saint Paul area, this is where you go to find indie shops, art galleries, crafts and designers’ studios.

Rue du Commerce – The name literally translates to Shopping Street. And that’s what you do in this 15th Arrondissement locale. It offers a little bit of everything.


Q: One or two lesser-known areas of Paris that are good to explore without a plan.

NM: Wandering around Paris is always a fabulous thing to do. It’s a big city though, so some direction does pay off. Here is where I go:

11th Arrondissement between Rue Keller and Boulevard e Ménilmontant – Great for street art and up-and-coming culture
Batignolles – An area of the 17the Arrondissement, a young place with new urban developments.


Q: What are the big tourist traps you’d skip?

NM: Everyone seems to come to Paris to tick a few things off a list. But because there is so many tourists also doing the same thing you’ll find that the Champs Élysée is just too busy. As for going up the Eiffel Tower, honestly it’s better to look at it than to be in it. Go to the restaurant at the top of Tour Montparnasse instead. That way you get a high-level that includes the Eiffel Tower.

The Top 5 FREE Travel Apps for your Spain holiday

The Top 5 FREE Travel Apps for your Spain holiday

Spain is a lively, colourful and often delightfully confusing country. It’s double the size of the UK and includes far-flung destinations like the Canary Islands and Ceuta (which is actually in Africa!). The beaches are famous, the cities are famous, the nightlife is famous.

There are, however, are wealth of less noted aspects that deserve your attention: autumn leaves in the vast mountain forests; a head-spinning history as the crossroads of European, African and Middle Eastern culture; stunning art and museums… Spain even has its own royals who are, if anything, more fascinating than anyone living in Buckingham Palace (look up the Duchess of Alba!).

Inevitably, when the travel cliches collide with travel secrets in a country that has five official languages you’re going to need advice on the fly. And the apps on your phone can give it to you.


  • Using Google Maps offline

Like most European countries, the most interesting parts of Spain’s cities and towns are the oldest bits. Built centuries before urban planning rules, the charm of these districts is their tangle of boulevards, squares, streets, alleys and, sometimes,  passageways so narrow you cannot believe they are officially a “public road”. If getting lost is half the fun, finding your way out is half the headache. Google Maps offline is your painkiller.

Nope, you don’t need an active internet connection for Google Maps to function. Instead, you can download maps for entire areas and save them to your phone’s memory. A city will take up about 1GB. When Google Maps finds your location in one of these saved areas, it just uses the saved map. It still pinpoints you (through various non-data-using ways) and can calculate directions too.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows


  • izi.TRAVEL

It calls itself a ‘storytelling platform’, but really izi.TRAVEL is a worldwide source of free audio guides – often compiled by locals who are enthusiastic about their burb. As much fun as it is to just randomly wander around a new place, having some structure helps you get the most from your time. And that’s what we like most about izi.TRAVEL – getting your bearings while also learning your way around.

Some of the best guides are a 23-stop dusk-till-dawn walking and public transport ramble through Barcelona and Madrid’s “Ruta dels Àustries” which is a straightforward way to hit the cultural highlights of the capital before ending at the exact geographical centre of the entire country.

These are just two of the 100-plus free audio tours for Spain that the app hosts. The guides generally follow interesting routes and pack in a lot of history. While there are things like spy quests and treasure hunts in there, most of the guides are more informative than entertaining.

Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows


  • Hostelworld

Spain has an excellent backpacker hostel sector and it’s a place where it really pays to book in advance. This means you need a good source of info, because almost by definition you’ll be paying for your bed sight unseen.

Because it is so popular as a destination and some Spanish hostels have an offhand approach to standards, there is definitely a minority of places to avoid. And Hostelworld gives you all the goss – good and bad.

It has deep filtering and search capabilities, so whether you’re looking for something clean but cheap or a place that is just like a hotel, but more fun, you can drill down to find it, compare it and book it through this great directory. It’s also very comprehensive, and has more than 140 listings for Barcelona alone!

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android


  • Tripadvisor

Billing itself as the world’s largest travel site, Tripadvisor is like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but for Earth and everything is rated by the crowd. Everything about TripAdvisor is big – the number of listings, the number of users, the number of reviews. It’s all super useful … up to a point. Because so many people are using it, the crowd-pleasing attractions tend to rise to the top.

Reducing travel experiences to a number that can be crunched by a website ranking function is handy, but also gives you the misapprehension that the ordering of attractions, hotels, etc really is as neat as they are presented. However, a good backpacking trip isn’t a neat thing. So, TripAdvisor keeps you out of trouble but doesn’t encourage the leaps of travel faith that make for great stories.

Every step you take informed by TripAdvisor is walked in someone else’s footsteps. But, for the easy answers for where to eat, where to stay and guidelines for what NOT to see and do wherever you are, TripAdvisor is a peach.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple, Android, Windows


  • Infomedusa

You’re going to Spain: you’re probably going to the beach. The Mediterranean sometimes feels like Ocean-lite. There are virtually no sharks, no waves and generally far fewer hazards than the actual ocean. However, the Med has one thing you might not be ready for: jellyfish! Over the past decade, swarms of the blobby stingers have been mobbing tourist beaches.

There are several kinds and while they are not the absurdly poisonous types found in Australian waters, an encounter with the worst of them, the mauve stinger jellyfish, can definitely ruin your outing.

Infomedusa can let you know whether there is a swarm near a range of 107 popular beaches up to three days in advance. Unfortunately, it is only available in Spanish as yet. It is simple enough to use regardless.

Price: Free

Platform: Apple and Android

Download and get out there

Now that you have our top 5 FREE apps for making your Spanish holiday so much easier, you better get downloading.  Because, your smartphone will be a lifesaver when you are on the road.

Every app you have saves you from spending your precious data balance on internet searches, therefore  leaving you more space to upload photos or keep in contact with friends or check out the latest rumours about something cool happening wherever you happen to be.

When planning your trip to Spain, check out our pre-paid SIM card for Spain and learn how to make the most of your pre-paid phone card. We hope you will enjoy your stay!

Visiting Spain, Barcelona and Madrid: Your 10-minute travel guide

Visiting Spain - View of Barcelona

Reading time: 10 minutes

¡Hola Espana! Spain is where you find the good life. There are more bars, more beaches, more wilderness and more ski resorts than you can imagine. The country also packs a lot of cultural diversity – and more than a few languages – into its half-million square kilometres.

As perhaps the most “fun” of all European countries, Spain attracts millions of international tourists who come to party and the Spanish themselves get by on less sleep than anyone else in Europe.

But if you’re only here for sun and sangria, you’ll miss out on the country’s vast wealth of art, history and museums. And we haven’t even mentioned the food yet.

This guide gives you insider information on the what, where and how-to of having as great Spanish sojourn.

The big two of Spanish airports

Far and away the two biggest airports in Spain are in Madrid and Barcelona. Combined they account for some 95 million arrivals each year – that’s 260,000 people every day! When you’re caught in that crowd, it pays to have a bit of insider info.

About Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (code: MAD)

  • Barajas is the biggest airport in Europe by area.
  • Terminals 4 and 4S are far away from T1, T2 and T3. Further, T4S seems to be an island in the middle of the runways – you can only get there by underground train. It can be confusing.
  • Lines can be long. Spanish people in general are pretty patient about waiting – it fits with the country’s distinctive ideas about time.

About Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN)

  • Its two terminals are 4km apart by bus! Know well in advance which one you need to go to.
  • Check your flight to Barcelona isn’t actually to Girona or Reus. The airports of both towns serve the city. Connecting transport is good, but takes time.
  • El Prat T1 is actually … nice. So much so it’s worth arriving early just to wander around.

Escaping the Madrid (MAD) and Barcelona (BCN) airports

  • Getting out of Madrid Airport is easy. It’s only 12km into town, so taxis are a reasonably priced option. However, if you plan where you’re going, the regular 24-hour metro is a better option: both faster and cheaper. Other public transport connections are good.
  • Transit from Barcelona Airport into the city is also easy. A train service runs roughly every half hour into the city and takes 25 minutes. If you’ve actually landed at Girona or Reus, the connecting buses are pretty good, but it can take over an hour to get into Barcelona proper.

Safety in Spain

Spain is safe. But what does that mean? Firstly, violent crime – especially against tourists – is really rare. However, certain parts of the country also deserve their reputation as pickpocket paradise.

Pickpockets – and their scammer cronies – are very sneaky. It’s easy to get caught out. So, leave your passport in the hotel safe, don’t sling your bag over the back of a restaurant seat and keep your wallet/phone out of your back pocket.

If someone – say a busker or street vendor – invades your personal space, they’re probably dodgy! We even know of one guy who took a beach nap while still wearing his backpack. When he woke up, it was gone!

As for violent crime, natural disasters, scary diseases, dangerous wildlife or precarious infrastructure, Spain doesn’t really figure in the stats. It’s among the physically safest countries in the world.

Female travellers

Spanish society expects and supports women to live full and independent lives. However, while catcalling and obvious flirting from men is on the decline, it is still more common than in Australia.

It is also usually done in a more lighthearted way. It’s a deeply held part of Spanish male culture (“machismo” is a Spanish/Portugese invention after all).  Annoying, perhaps. Harmless, almost always.


Getting around Madrid

Madrid is smack-bang in the middle of the country. We mean literally. The exact geographical centre of Spain is marked by a plaque at number 3 on the street of Plaza Puerta del Sol – a short walk from the main train station.

The best way to get around this city of some 6 million people is the metro. It’s an extensive and straightforward system of underground stations.

Madrid on foot

You can knock off many of Madrid’s must-sees in one 5km stroll. Start at the towering neo-gothic Almudena Cathedral, then head east through a succession of plazas, palaces and monuments to end at the glorious Parque del Buen Retiro. There are relentless numbers of bars, cafes and restaurants along the way. Thankfully for your feet (but less fortunate for pretty photos) Madrid got rid of almost all its cobblestone streets a while ago.


Getting around Barcelona

Barcelona, about half the size of Madrid, probably packs even more in. When we’re there, we literally only use comfortable shoes and the metro to get around. Do note, some underground stations are not air-conditioned or well ventilated. Instead, fresh air comes from the rush of incoming trains. The system actually works well, except for sweltering nights when the trains are less frequent and you’re surrounded by sweaty nightclubbers.

Barcelona on foot

The old city of Barcelona – the famed Barri Gotic – is a treat. An alleyway maze of cool shops, hidden bars and street art. And forming its western edge is Spain’s most famous street: the wide boulevard of La Rambla. This eternal carnival leads down to a Mediterranean beach and is the perfect vague goal for a wander that begins at the extravagantly bizarre Sagrada Familia and takes in historical Placa de Catalunya or gorgeously old-school Parc de la Ciutadella on the way.

What to wear

Spanish people dress well. What you think of as smart casual is to most Spanish just plain-old casual. You don’t have to look outright chic (though many Spanish do), but it pays to look well groomed.

There’s also a practical side to this regarding pickpockets: they often target people who dress like tourists. So avoid, shorts, thongs and t-shirts unless you are on the way to or from the beach.

Weird fact: Spanish law permits public nudity anywhere. Some cities have well-known eccentrics who take full advantage; no one else does.

Myths about Spain

  • Bullfighting only takes place in a few areas. Most of the country is not proud of this tradition, now considered outright animal cruelty.
  • Siestas are somewhat uncommon, having been replaced by the long, late lunch.
  • Sangria has roughly the same place in Spanish life as punch does in English-speaking countries, i.e. pretty much just a festive treat.
  • While the summers are famously warm and sunny, Spain also gets bitterly cold in winter. Central Madrid sees snow almost every year.

Getting along with the Spanish

You need to know some Spanish. Beyond simple manners, the simple fact is that English has not penetrated Spain as much as it has, say, Denmark. Surveys report that perhaps two-thirds of the Spanish don’t “know” English. We’ve included some basic terms below.

Before we get to them, we have to point out that Spain is a country of distinct regional identities and dialects, notably Catalonia in the east, Basque Country on the northern border and Galicia of the far north-west. The people tend to be more proud of their region than of Spain itself. Especially Basque Country: it has its own laws and many there speak a unique language that has no relationship to Spanish (or, amazingly,  any other language). Read up on the cultural sensitivities of each area before you go.

The basics for the dominant Castilian language:

Some phrases you’ll actually use

Most phrasebooks cover all sorts of bizarre things, however the bulk of your conversations will be around accessing services or requests for information. Here’s a few good phrases:


In Spanish:  lo siento interrumpir, pero..

Say: ler-see-ento in-tair-rom-pee, peh-roh..

In English: Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but…

Note: Use this before asking for directions as asking for directions in the street usually involves stopping someone or interrupting a conversation?


In Spanish: ?para aqui o para llevar?

Say: parr-uh uk-EE oh parr-ah yev-uh?

In English: Do you want to be seated or takeaway?

Note: A question you will be asked in restaurants. Respond with aqui (uk-kee) if you mean to stay or .


In Spanish:  café con leche por favor

Say: caff-eh kon letch-ay por fav-orr

In English: Coffee with milk, please

Note: A café con leche is a great local substitute for the cafe latte you’re used to in Australia.


In Spanish: no gracias, estoy solamente mirando

Say: Noh gruth-yuss, ess-toh solla-men-tay meer-ann-doe

In English: No, thank you, I am just looking for now.

Note: Say this in the shop when you are approached by a staff member but not ready to buy.


In Spanish: Tengo un seguro de viaje

Say: Teng-o oon seg-oor-eh dev-yuk-eh

In English: I have travelling insurance


In Spanish: ¿Dónde está la embajada de Australia?

Say: Don-day ess-ta lah em-bah-ha-tha th’Oss-trull-ya

In English: Where is the Australian embassy


In Spanish: lo siento, no hablo  español  muy bueno

Say: ler-see-ento, no abb-lo ess-pan-yoll moo-ey bwen-oh

In English: Sorry, my Spanish is not very good yet


In Spanish: Me puede decir la manera de …

Say: Me pu-ey-th theth-eer lah man-air-a they

In English:  Can you tell me the way to …


In Spanish:  cuanto cuesta?

Say: kwan-to kwess-ta?

In English: How much does it cost?

How the locals eat out in Spain

These are personal recommendations from our time in Spain.

Hot tip: The Spanish take their meals later in the day than almost any other country. You might well find every restaurant still shut when your belly is rumbling for lunch at 12pm sharp.

Breakfast – el desayuno:

Federal Cafe – Madrid

Spain doesn’t really do breakfast, but this place does. So while you’ll usually have to make do with a coffee and pastry on the go elsewhere, at this Aussie-owned cafe you can do a “proper breakfast”, with all the regular comforts that implies. It’s one of the small chain of “Federals” popping up across the country.

Price: $.

Hours: 9am ‘til late – 7 days

Address: de las Comendadoras 9, 28015 Madrid


Morning tea (but more like “second breakfast”) – almuerzo:

La Bernarda – Valencia

At about 10:30 am everyone feels peckish. In Spain the solution is almuerzo – it’s your standard morning tea, but upsized so it’s more involved than a snack but less than a proper meal. Bocadillo sandwiches are the traditional go-to and in Valencia (which has a strong almuerzo culture) there’s none better than La Bernarda.

Price $$.

Hours: From 8am

Address: Carrer del Cobertís de Sant Tomàs, 7, 46001 València


Lunch – la comida:

In Spain, lunch is late. As in, you might not sit down to eat until 3pm. It’s worth the wait, for lunch is when you can really dig into Spain’s stunning food. You’ll want to try paella, the Valencian specialty that has become Spain’s national food (with all the cliches that implies).


La Pepica – Valencia

Classic, standard paella in a really easy-to-get-to spot right on a Mediterranean beach.

Price: $$ (never buy cheap paella)

Hours:  Lunch 1-3:30 pm; Dinner 8:30- 10:30 pm, 7 days

Address: Paseo Neptuno, 6 Valencia


Dinner – la cena:

Tapas time! Yes, Spanish people eat late by the standards of other countries. Wrapping a mid-week restaurant dinner after midnight is normal. That said, the meals you commence at 10pm tend to be small. Hence tapas. This is also your time to properly savour Spain’s excellent wines. Just wander around and look for a neighbourhood place that’s busy – it’ll probably be really good value too. Or, if in Barcelona, splash out a with…

Disfrutar – Barcelona

Price: $$$$ – as fits a Michelin-starred joint

Hours: Tues-Sat, Lunch 10am–1pm, lunch-dinner 3:30–8:30pm; Mon-Sun, closed

Address:  c/Villarroel 163, Barcelona 08036


Outside the cities

It’s easy to anchor your Spanish trip entirely around the national capital Madrid and tourism capital Barcelona (with a side trip to Mediterranean beach capital Valencia). You’ll miss out on a lot if you don’t branch out though.

Getting around Spain is easy. The country’s highway and rail networks are world-class. (The trains can be expensive though). Also, as some of Spain’s attractions – such as Ibiza and the Canary Islands – are far off the coast, you’ll be happy to know that domestic airfare is good value for money.

Note: Spain is Europe’s second-most mountainous country (after Switzerland) and mountains mean air turbulence. The flying conditions aren’t “bad”, but a perfectly smooth flight is rare.

Regions and maps

Map of Spain dialects/languages – some dialects, like Castilian and Catalan, are similar; some, like Basque, are as different from Spanish as Swahili is from Swedish:

Map of some of Spain’s most famous destinations

Map of Spain’s best beaches: Spain’s best beaches extend from the stunning, virtually desert, landscapes of the Canary Islands thousands of kilometres south of the mainland to milder northern foreshores and to the world’s most famous (infamous?) party islands:

Map of Spain’s best skiing (and it’s really good).


When planning your trip to Spain check out our Spanish SIM card and learn how to make the most of your pre-paid phone card. We hope you will enjoy your stay in Spain!

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The 5 best smartphone apps for your London trip

The 5 best apps for your smartphone to make the Best of your London trip

Arriving in a foreign city can be a little overwhelming for some. Others feel comfortable from the moment they land and want to maximise their time.

Whatever type of traveller you are, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 mobile apps to download onto your smartphone on your next trip to London. From navigating the public transport system to finding a laundry valet service, these apps will make your London trip even more enjoyable.

We’ve personally used all these apps during London vacations and can attest to how much easier and enjoyable they made our time in the UK’s Number 1 destination.

#5: Laundrapp, the Uber for your laundry


If you’re travelling for more than a few days, it’s nice to be able to wash your clothes or get your shirts or blouses pressed. One great benefit of being able to do laundry when you travel is you don’t need to pack as much in the first place. But no one wants to pay the often exorbitant hotel laundry prices — some hotels might charge $5 just to launder a single t-shirt!

That’s where the Laundrapp app saves the day. Laundrapp gives you dry cleaning and laundry to your door. Download the app, create your account, book a collection, then Laundrapp will collect it from your London accommodation, Airbnb or hotel, professionally clean and press it, and then it’s all delivered back to you.

Think of it like Uber for your laundry! You can even watch in real-time as the driver is on approach to pick up and drop off your laundry.

Laundrapp best mobile app when travelling to London UK
Screenshot from the Laundrapp app for London

It’s an extremely flexible service and you can book a collection or delivery from early morning through to late in the night. The pricing is great value, and you get up to 6kg (13 pounds) of laundry washed, tumble dried and folded for just £12 (AU$21). If you just need your shirts or blouses pressed, then it’s just £12 for five men’s shirts washed, ironed and hung, and just £24 for five women’s blouses cleaned, hand-finished and hung.

Want a free £25 credit to use on Laundrapp? Just use the referral code MYUKSIM and you’ll automatically get a free £25 credit.

#4: Opentable, treat yourself to London’s top Michelin star restaurants for less


We love the Opentable app so much that we wrote an entire blog article about it already.  The Opentable app unlocks discounted specials at some of UK’s finest restaurants, including London’s top Michelin starred restaurants as well as celebrity restaurants, including those of Gordon Ramsay. We also used it a lot on our weekend in Manchester

Just download the Opentable mobile app, choose your dining time and the number of people, and the app will give you live availability at restaurants near your location. You’ll get to see any special offers available only for Opentable bookings. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at some of the great offers available, particularly at lunchtime. Paying half price is common!

Visit the website and get eating at some of London’s best restaurants.


Opentable best mobile app when travelling to London UK
Screenshot from the Opentable app for London

#3: Citymapper, your holy grail for navigating the London public transport system


London’s public transport system is one of the best in the world. The idea of owning a car is a foreign concept for many Londoners. With an efficient underground train system (called “The Tube”), an extensive bus network, as well as aboveground trains, getting anywhere in London (or in the UK) is fast and efficient.

We devoted an entire blog post to navigating the London public transport system so make sure to check it out. The ONLY app you need to download to get around London is the Citymapper app.  It’s free and you can download it from your phone’s app store.

Citymapper is the holy grail for navigating the London public transport system because it:

  • Gives you point-to-point detailed instructions, including your arrival time (and takes into account live traffic information)
  • Gives you a variety of options (just the Tube, Tube + Bus, walking etc)
  • Tells you the best train carriage to board so that you get the fastest exit or transfer at your destination.

You can save your “Home” location (e.g. your hotel or Airbnb) so you can just tap Home wherever you are looking for quick directions. This app is just awesom. We cannot speak highly enough about it.


Citymapper best mobile app when travelling to London UK
Annotated screenshot from the Citymapper App for London

#2: Uber, cheapest taxi fares in London


Right, you probably already know about Uber so we won’t go into too much detail. Suffice to say that using Uber is a great addition to using the London public transport system.

If you’ve not used Uber before, then it’s a must-download app for your London vacation. Uber fares are about 20% less than a traditional taxi in London, and your payment details are stored in the app, so when you get to your destination there’s no fumbling about with cash or cards.

Want a free ride when you first use Uber? Just download the app and enter the invite code nickb2423.

#1: Visit London, your new favourite list of best things to do and see in London


The Visit London app is your one-stop shop for London. It will help you get the most from your vacation, with handpicked lists of the best things to do and see, all viewable as a list or on a map. You can find free attractions, the best markets, cheap eats, weekend activities and secret venues.

It’s a customisable app and you can create your own personalised map and itineraries by saving all of your favourite things to see and do.  And you can save money and skip long lines by buying tickets for top West End theatre shows, famous attractions, comedy nights, gigs and more, all through the app.

One final tip: get a local UK SIM card and avoid expensive international roaming costs


Unless you’re a millionaire, the idea of using international roaming on your mobile phone is probably something you’re not contemplating. But all the apps above require data on the go, along with all those apps you’ll use to share your experiences with your family and friends back home.

Fortunately, you can now buy a prepaid UK SIM Card right here in Australia and have it shipped to you before you leave home.  UK Pre-Paid SIM Card offer a great value SIM Card with 12GB of high speed 4G LTE data, minutes and texts. And if you’re travelling through Europe too, the SIM Card works seamlessly in more than 30 European countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

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How to activate your UK SIM Card and use it in a mobile broadband device

Activation instructions for using your data SIM as a hotspot

Want to activate your SIM card and use it in a mobile broadband device?

No problem, but first…


Do not open your new SIM card yet.

Read this whole article first!

It is a mandatory condition of your purchase that you read all of the information here.

This page explains how to use your UK Data SIM card in a mobile broadband device. If you don’t follow the instructions below, your SIM card might not work.

We do not provide post-sale support for questions answered on this page.

While we provide your SIM card, how it works is partly controlled by technical and network considerations beyond our control. Get the technical side wrong and the network could permanently and instantly void your SIM.

As this is totally outside our control, we cannot offer refunds or replacements related to technical and network issues.

Now that the worst-case warnings are out of the way, let’s get you set up.

Follow the advice in this article and you have nothing to worry about.

Activation instructions for using your data SIM in a mobile broadband device

  1. When you arrive in the UK, open your data SIM card pack and put the card into your mobile broadband device. Note: different devices behave slightly differently with our data SIM cards. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of hotspot devices, so we simply can’t give instructions for each one. The good news is that you can find instructions from the maker of your device online.
  2. Some mobile broadband devices just connect instantly, with nothing more for you to do. Other devices require you to adjust the APN settings through your device’s configuration page.

If you’ve had to create a new APN before you’ll know what to do: you need to log into the device through your web browser. If you don’t know how to do this, just do a quick Google search using your device model name plus the keywords “homepage” or “change APN”. For example: “Sierra Wireless MF810 homepage” or “Change APN on ZTE MF910”.

Creating a new APN on your mobile broadband device

Change your APN configuration options to match the following:

  • Name: Three UK
  • APN: (or, if that does not work, try 3internet)
  • Username: Leave blank
  • Password: Leave blank

Once you have set the APN, make sure to save it, and set it as the “default” APN (if such a setting exists). Then connect your laptop or tablet to the mobile broadband device and navigate to any website. You may be instantly connected, or you might see some set-up messages on your screen about the activation of your SIM card. If you see these messages, just follow the instructions.

Note: to use the data SIM card in Europe beyond the UK, you will always have to configure your device APN settings. This is the case even if your device connected in the UK without you having to change the APN settings.

Need more help?

We understand that a lot of this might be new to you. Most people don’t configure APNs every day.

So, if you have any issues with activation when you’re in the UK, please call Three UK Technical Support on 0333 300 0500.

Why aren’t these 3 London museums on your travel list?

Why aren't these three London museums on your travel list

The London Museum scene is truly epic. You can spend many days exploring them all – from the Natural History Museum, to the British Museum to the Science Museum.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a whole host of truly unique museums. Here’s three we think you might not know about, but which you must absolutely visit! And, they’re all free!

The Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian Museum is located at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields, inside the Royal College of Surgeons, just a short walk from Holborn underground station.

Here you’ll find a unique display about the history of medical surgery. You’ll see some gruesome medical instruments, as well as preserved specimens from both humans and animals. You’ll want to spend a few hours here, exploring one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK.

Make sure to check out the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne, the collection of surgical tools from the seventeenth century, carbolic sprays used by Lister (the 19th Century pioneer of antiseptic), the tooth of a megatherium (an extinct giant sloth) donated by Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill’s dentures!

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm (closed on Mondays and Sundays). Admission: free!

The Grant Museum of Zoology

The Grant Museum is located in a grand room in the University College London, just a short walk from Euston and Goodge St underground stations.

This zoological museum is the only one of its kind in London. It’s a real eye-opener about the natural world. You’ll see a jar of moles, a collection of human brains, bones of the now extinct Dodo and the skeleton of a giant deer.

It has limited opening hours: Monday to Saturday between 1pm and 5pm. Admission: free!

London Silver Vaults

The London Silver Vaults are located in Chancery Lane, between Oxford Street in the West End and The City, just a short walk from Chancery Lane underground station.

They were opened in 1885 and were originally rented out to store household silver, jewelry and documents. Today the tradition remains, where you’ll still find about 30 silver dealers, in underground bunker-style rooms filled with all sorts of modern, vintage and antique silver products, from jewellery to cutlery to ornaments and more.

Security is tight here (as you’d expect) and photography is strictly prohibited. CCTV is monitored. Expect to be stopped on the way out if you’ve been seen taking photos.

The Vaults are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm. Entry is free.

Read more on must-see London museums: The five best alternative London attractions

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Will my Australian mobile phone work in the United Kingdom?

Will my Australian mobile phone work in the United Kingdom?

So you’ve booked your flights and hotels, you’ve created a list of the “must see” tourist attractions in London and you’ve downloaded the best UK travel apps to your phone. But will your Australian mobile phone work in the United Kingdom?

In order for your smartphone to work in the UK, there’s three things to check:

  1. It needs to be technically compatible
  2. It must be network unlocked
  3. You need to have the correct UK SIM Card for your phone.

In this handy five-minute guide, we’ll provide you with the necessary information to ensure your smartphone will work when you reach the UK so that you can keep a seamless connection on your vacation in London.  (HINT: all iPhones are technically compatible — so if you have an iPhone you’ll just need to check that it’s network unlocked).

If your mobile phone works in the UK then that means you can buy the best UK SIM Card from us and get it delivered to your home or office anywhere in Australia. You’ll be good to go as soon as your plane lands in London!

Technically Compatible

First up, your mobile phone needs to be technically compatible to work in the UK.

What does “technically compatible” mean?

It means your phone is able to operate on the cellular frequencies used in the UK. If it’s not technically compatible then it can’t connect to the network, meaning you won’t get any connection on your phone (no calls, no texts, no 4G data).

Thankfully, though, most of today’s smartphones are considered “world phones”, meaning they can operate in different countries on different cellular networks using different cellular frequencies.

It wasn’t that long ago that your mobile phone operated perhaps on just one or two frequencies, and was only compatible with your regular home network. It might not have even been compatible with another mobile network in Australia!

The good news is that all iPhones (including iPhone X) are technically compatible, so you don’t need to check technical compatibility if you’ve got an iPhone.

And most other smartphones are also technically compatible (as many are considered “world phones”) but you’ll still need to check technical compatibility. It will need to operate on 4G/LTE 800MHz and/or 4G/LTE 1800MHz and/or 3G 2100MHz.

You can refer to your phone’s specifications, or just use the search feature at the Will My Phone Work website: all you need to do is select “United Kingdom” as the country, then select “3” from the carrier list.  If it says your phone is compatible, then you’re on your way to being able to use your phone in the UK. The next step is to check it’s network unlocked.

Read more on the topic: How To Check If Your Mobile Phone is Compatible With Using a UK Pre-paid SIM Card?

Network Unlocked

So your mobile phone is technically compatible? Awesome! The second thing you need to check is if it’s network unlocked.

But what does “network unlocked” even mean?

First, a bit of background. Many mobile phones are network locked. This means they’re restricted to work only on one single network. Not only is a locked phone prevented from working overseas, it won’t even work on a competing network here in Australia. For example, if your phone was locked to Telstra, it simply wouldn’t work on Vodafone.

But why would a mobile phone be network locked? Many smartphones are sold on a contract basis, heavily subsidised by the carrier. The full price for your phone might be $500, but your carrier sells it to you for $99, and then puts you on a 12 or 24 month contract and “locks” the phone to the carrier’s network. And this is fair, because the carrier has given you a heavily discounted phone, so requires you to stay with them (just as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch!).

In contrast, if your phone is network unlocked then you can use it on another network. It’s effectively been let of gaol and can be used on another network (either domestic or international).

It’s worth noting that your phone may already be unlocked. Some phones are sold already unlocked (sometimes called “SIM free”), meaning you’re free to use any SIM Card you want.

In any case, you must ensure your phone is network unlocked to use it in the UK. If your phone’s locked to your home network in Australia, it won’t work in the UK (and it won’t work on any other network anywhere in the world).

So how do I get my phone unlocked? If your cell phone is network locked, all you need to do is contact your phone provider or click on these handy links to unlock your Telstra device or Vodafone device. If you have an iPhone, then the Apple website provides instructions on how to unlock your iPhone.


Read more on the topic: How to unlock your mobile phone or check if it’s already unlocked

Choose the correct UK SIM card

So your phone is technically compatible and it’s network unlocked? Super awesome! This means you can use your phone in the United Kingdom on your upcoming holidays.

It also means you can buy a local SIM Card, rather than relying on expensive international roaming. You can now buy a UK and Europe SIM Card and get it shipped to your home or office so everything’s good to go from the moment your plane lands in the UK.

There’s a lot of reasons why it makes sent to buy a UK and Europe SIM Card:

First, you’ll get a much more generous allowance of data (in fact you’ll get a huge 12GB of high speed 4G data). And you’ll need lots of data to update Facebook and Instagram, send pictures and videos on Whatsapp, use Skype or FaceTime or navigate your way in London using Google Maps.

Second, you’ll get an allowance of minutes and texts to call and text local numbers. For example, calling for a taxi, booking a restaurant, calling your airline to check your reservation or updating Uber with your new number.

Third, and most important, is you’ll have a local phone number. While global roaming has its benefits, you’ll still be using your OZ phone number, which can be a burden if you need the tour operators, hotels or people you meet on your trip, to call or text you. A good example is using Uber – a local SIM card means a local phone number. You can update your Uber profile with your UK cell number and that way your Uber drive can call and text you (or vice versa). Try getting a London Uber driver to call your OZ mobile number: no way!

The best local SIM card offering is from UK Pre-Paid SIM Card. You’ll get a local UK mobile number, 12GB of high speed 4G data, minutes and texts. And if you’re travelling to Europe too, you can use your allowances in 34 European countries including France, Italy, Germany and Spain. There are no overage charges, no contracts and it’s 100% pre-paid.

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How to: Activate your UK Pre-Paid SIM Card

How to Activate UK Prepaid SIM Card

Here are the things you must know before you activate your SIM card and get connected with us. First…


Do not open your new SIM card.

Read this whole page first!

It is a mandatory condition of your purchase that you read all of the information here.

This page explains how to activate your UK Phone SIM card and gives important information about its use.

If you don’t read and understand the instructions below, your SIM card may not work properly or at all.

We do not provide post-sale support for questions answered on this page.

While we provide your SIM card, how it works is partly controlled by technical and network considerations beyond our control. These can permanently and instantly void your SIM. As they relate to factors outside our control, we cannot offer refunds or replacements related to technical and network issues.

Important points:

  1. These instructions are only for a phone SIM card, not a data SIM card. NEVER put one of our phone SIM cards in an iPad, Tablet or Hotspot device – it will be instantly cancelled by the network. If you have incorrectly purchased a phone SIM card and need a data SIM card, please contact us by email
  2. DO NOT insert the SIM card into any phone until you arrive in UK/Europe. If you do, the SIM is instantly and permanently cancelled by the network. This is completely out of our control and we cannot offer refunds or replacements if you break your SIM card by doing this.
  3. Our SIM cards only work with phones that are unlocked (also called “SIM-free phones”). We cannot unlock your phone. If you’re unsure if your phone is unlocked, please contact your network carrier. No refunds are provided under any circumstances if your SIM doesn’t work because your phone is locked.
  4. Our SIM cards only work with phones that are technically compatible. All iPhones are compatible. For other phones, you can check the phone specifications or check your phone make, model and variant at or visit and select “United Kingdom” as the country then select “3” from the carrier list. Generally speaking, your phone will be compatible if it matches one of:
    1. 4G/LTE 800MHz
    2. 4G/LTE 1800MHz
    3. 3G 2100MHz

No refunds are provided under any circumstances if your phone isn’t technically compatible (and therefore the SIM Card doesn’t work).

Once you are in Europe, you can safely activate your SIM:

Step 1: Find the size of SIM your phone needs and pop out the correct size SIM from the packaging. If you remove the smaller SIM first, the larger SIM will no longer work. If you don’t know which SIM size to use, refer to your device owner’s manual or search online for your phone’s SIM size.

Step 2: Insert the SIM card into your phone upon arrival in the UK or Europe. As mentioned above, if you insert the SIM card before you are on the ground in UK/Europe, the card is instantly and permanently voided by the network. We cannot offer a refund or a replacement in this case.

Step 3: Within a few seconds of your phone first connecting to a UK/Europe network, you’ll receive a text message saying that your SIM card is being set up. You must leave your phone switched throughout this period. You won’t be able to call, text or use data during setup.

If you’re using an iPhone, you might also get a pop-up telling you that there are new carrier settings. Accept the new carrier settings.

Step 4: Once your SIM card has been set up, you’ll soon get another text message asking you to turn your phone off and on again. Once you’ve done this your SIM card will be ready for use.

(Note: Sometimes these text messages do not appear. This is normal. If you can call, text and use data then your SIM card has been successfully activated. You do not need to contact us for confirmation.)

Step 5: If you do not have an iPhone, you may need change a certain setting on your phone. (Usually this is automatic, but sometimes it’s not). First, you may receive a text message about setting up data and picture messaging. Make the changes suggested. If, after setting up your SIM card, data isn’t working on your phone, you must now manually change your phone’s APN settings – follow these instructions.

Step 6: If you’re going to use your phone in any of the included 34 European countries, you must turn data roaming to ON in your phone’s settings.

Step 7: If you want to call or text Australian, US or Canadian numbers it will cost extra and you’ll need to add extra credit.

If you have any difficulties with the activation of your UK phone SIM card, please call Three UK as follows:

  • On your phone – call 333
  • From other UK phone – call 07782 333 333
  • A phone outside the UK – call +447782 333 333 (standard international direct dial rates apply).


One last point:

After you’ve activated your SIM card you might receive text messages from the network provider Three UK. We do not control this.

These texts might be promotional or requests that you refill/recharge your SIM card. Ignore them.

Your 30-day plan is with UK Pre-Paid SIM Card, not Three UK. There is no need to call or email us about Three UK’s texts.