Best VPNs for Turkey

Social media are often targeted during times of political unrest in Turkey, and the frequency of such shutdowns seems to be increasing. The latest incident involved the arrest of several pro-Kurdish politicians–political opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and WhatsApp were among the social networks blocked by internet service providers in the latest case of internet censorship in the country. You can bypass these blocks with a VPN.

If you’re living in or traveling to Turkey, there’s never been a more critical time to use a VPN. Short for virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through a server of the user’s choosing.

If you don’t want to read the whole article here is a summary of the best VPNs for Turkey:

  1. ExpressVPN Best all-round VPN for Turkey. Fast speeds, excellent security, good for streaming and online content unblocking. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN Best budget VPN choice.
  3. Surfshark Reliable provider with strong security and online privacy credentials. Unblocks plenty of geo-restricted services.
  4. Hotspot Shield A security-conscious provider with solid connection speeds.
  5. PrivateVPN A newcomer with fast connection speeds. Suitable for streaming.
  6. VyprVPN Owns all their servers. Works well with streaming services.

With a VPN enabled and connected to another country, users can unblock all restricted social media, and other websites and apps. Internet service providers, who implement the blocks on behalf of government authorities, can not know the final destination of your internet traffic nor what it contains. The VPN providers we’ve recommended in this article have server locations across the globe. This means it’s possible to get an IP address from Turkey from anywhere else in the world.

It’s important to note that Turkish authorities have caught on to VPN users and started blocking certain providers. That’s why Comparitech reached out directly to several VPN providers to confirm which ones are still up and running.

Best VPNs for Turkey

Our criteria for choosing which VPNs are best for unblocking social media in Turkey are as follows:

  • Not blocked in Turkey
  • Uses OpenVPN protocol with strong encryption
  • No traffic logging policy
  • Fast customer support
  • Unlimited bandwidth and data
  • Built-in port forwarding is a big plus (more on this further down)

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Aug 2020 Works in TurkeyTested Aug 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN was listed alongside several other VPN providers as being blocked, according to local news sites, but we have confirmed with the company that it is up and running inside Turkey. Express is a tad on the pricey side but it’s money well spent for a logless, limitless, heavily-encrypted connection to your choice of nearly 80 countries. Port forwarding is not included. Customer support staff are available on live chat 24/7.

Some of the services it unblocks reliably are US Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. If you’re stuck, rest assured that 24/7 live chat customer support will be on hand to resolve any issues.

ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption – that’s the ‘military-grade’ standard we referred to earlier. Advanced security features include an internet kill switch, perfect forward secrecy, and DNS leak protection, so your information always remains secure within the encrypted tunnel. What’s more, it only stores non-identifying metadata, and real IP addresses are not recorded.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and certain wifi routers. You may connect up to three devices at a time.

Pros:

  • High-speed connections
  • Great for streaming
  • Strong security features
  • Anonymous registration possible

Cons:

  • Advanced configuration for power-users is a little limited

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST FOR TURKEY:ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. It has fast connection speeds for torrenting and streaming, great online content unblocking capabilities and advanced security features. Works with services blocked in Turkey including Skype and Twitter. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN here.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPN Works in TurkeyTested Aug 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is going strong in Turkey. The provider offers some of the strongest security features available including Tor over VPN, Double VPNs, and anti-DDoS internet connections. With up to six simultaneous connections, it’s also one of the most generous plans for the price. NordVPN is completely logless and based in Panama–far beyond the reach of government-run spy agencies. It can also unblock anti-VPN streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Some of the sites NordVPN unblocks are US Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Sky, and Sling TV.

Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect concurrently.

Pros:

  • Excellent unblocking ability
  • Expansive server network
  • No-logs privacy policy

Cons:

  • Desktop app takes a while to connect

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GOOD BUDGET OPTION:NordVPN is a good all-round low cost VPN. It works well for streaming, keeps no-logging policy and is packed with great security features. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of NordVPN here.

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3. Surfshark

SurfShark VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark currently runs over 1,000 servers in 60+ countries, making it easy to obtain a low-latency connection wherever you are. It’s fast enough to stream live HD video without any noticeable buffering, and capable of unblocking major region-locked platforms like Netflix, ITV Hub, and Amazon Prime Video. Best of all, this service has no connection limit, meaning you can secure every device you own with a single account.

This VPN puts your security first. It boasts 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks, an ad-blocker, and a malware-scanner. There’s also a NoBorders feature that allows you to bypass web-blocking in countries (like Turkey) which have strict online censorship. Surfshark doesn’t log any information that could identify you but if you’re concerned, you can pay in Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum for added digital privacy. Customer support is available (via live chat and email) 24 hours per day.

Surfshark apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and iOS devices. Manual installation is required for wireless routers.

Pros:

  • Cutting edge online security features
  • No-logs policy
  • No connection limit

Cons:

  • Still has the occasional slow server speed
  • Relatively small network

Our score:

4 out of 5

PROTECT EVERY DEVICE:Surfshark offers powerful security and complete privacy protections, but also high connection speeds and great unblocking ability. This service lets you connect all of your devices at once and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full user review of Surfshark.

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4. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Hotspot Shield has fast, reliable connection speeds thanks to its network of 3000+ servers throughout 70+ countries. This service is particularly good at bypassing regional restrictions; as well as allowing you to beat the Turkish government’s web-filtering, it allows you to access services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video from abroad. Up to five simultaneous connections are permitted too, meaning you’re free to protect all of your most commonly-used devices.

This service comes with several powerful security features including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch (which stops all traffic if you lose your connection suddenly), and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. You can also choose to connect automatically whenever you’re using an unsafe wifi network. Hotspot Shield doesn’t log any identifiable information beyond the duration of your session. If you need help, you can reach customer support 24/7 over live chat.

Hotspot Shield has apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, and Windows.

Pros:

  • Strong unblocking ability
  • Fast, reliable connections
  • Powerful security features

Cons:

  • Past digital privacy issues
  • Doesn ‘t work with Linux systems

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

HIGH-SPEED VPN:Hotspot Shield is fast enough for HD streaming and secure enough for torrenting, blogging, or even just everyday browsing while in Turkey. This provider provides a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full user review of Hotspot Shield.

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5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Works in TurkeyTested Aug 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN burst onto the VPN scene relatively recently but has quickly risen through the ranks. It focuses on quality over quantity and does its job well when judged from a speed, digital privacy, and encryption standpoint. Some of the sites it manages to unblock easily are Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Hulu, and more.

PrivateVPN doesn’t have as expansive a server network as the other providers on this list, but it still does the job well. At the moment there are roughly 80 servers in 56 locations, including an option for Turkey.

This provider does not store any user data and encrypts web traffic using either 128- or 256-bit encryption, depending on the protocol you use. The service provides perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect simultaneously. Support for torrenting is included.

PrivateVPN offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

Pros:

  • Faster than most similar VPNs
  • Keeps no logging policy
  • Anonymous sign up possible

Cons:

  • No live chat available
  • Fewer servers than its rivals

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GOOD FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN works well with streaming services. Unblocks Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and many other streaming services. Connection speeds are good although the network of servers to choose from is smaller than other VPNs on this list. Includes 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our review of PrivateVPN.

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6. VyprVPN

Works in TurkeyTested Aug 2020

Apps Available:

VyprVPN was also reportedly targeted by Turkish authorities, but the company told us today that it is operating as usual from within the country. VyprVPN is one of the few providers that actually owns all of its own physical server infrastructure, rather than renting out space from someone else. That means connections are private and fast. Add in VyprVPN’s bespoke Chameleon protocol for an extra fee, and you’ll be protected from just about everything.

VyprVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol and offers features like DNS leak protection. Its proprietary Chameleon™ scrambling technology adds an additional layer of obfuscation so that your connection remains hidden. This provider is also one of the few that consistently thwarts China’s Great Firewall – no mean feat given that thousands of state-appointed engineers work around the clock to ensure sites and apps remain blocked in China.

At the moment the company has more than 700 servers worldwide, including an option in Turkey. It offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. A single subscription allows for five simultaneous connections.

Pros:

  • Unblocks Netflix US, and others
  • Keeps no logs
  • Offers 24/7 live chat

Cons:

  • Doesn’t accept bitcoin

Our score:

4 out of 5

INDEPENDENT NETWORK:VyprVPN is a good all-rounder that own all their servers resulting in a fast and secure service. Scores good marks for privacy and works well with streaming services but there are cheaper options in this list. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of VyprVPN here.

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How to use a VPN in Turkey

We’ve done our best to show the most suitable VPNs in Turkey, but the end decision is yours. Reading the mini-reviews gives a high-level overview of each service, but if you want more details then we encourage you to read the detailed user review which is referenced at the end of each one.

Here’s how to browse the web safely and anonymously in Turkey:

  1. Decide on a provider and a plan that works for you. We particularly recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Sign up and register with your credit card information.
  3. Proceed to download the relevant apps from your device.
  4. Restart all devices when the installation is complete.
  5. Open the relevant VPN apps, and sign in with your login information. Select a server in a location of your choice.
  6. A successful connection will usually be indicated in your taskbar or on the top of your smartphone screen. Now your internet connection is encrypted and private.

Accessing Netflix libraries in Turkey

While Netflix is technically available across the world, the fact of the matter is that libraries vary by country. Turkey has a fraction of the same online content that’s present on the Netflix app if you log in with a US IP address.

Some folks think that because the account was first registered in the US, then they’ll be shown that library forever. However, that’s not true. If you log in to Netflix in Turkey without masking your IP address then you’ll be automatically redirected to the local library.

So if you would like to regain access to US Netflix, then you’ll have to connect to a US VPN server first. Most of the VPNs recommended here unblock Netflix but it’s a good idea to ask customer support in case you run into any problems.

Free VPNs usually won’t work with Netflix because their location-evading tech is not up to the job and can’t bypass the US-based streaming giant’s sophisticated filters. That’s another reason not to opt for them.

Watching Turkish Television and Accessing Banking Services When Abroad

Turkish residents living abroad for work or education will benefit from a VPN connection as it allows them to stay in touch with friends and family, watch the Turkish Superliga, and access banking services.

Some of the popular channels in Turkey are TRT 1, TRT Haber, TRT Sport, ITU, and Star. They offer a range of programming including current affairs, entertainment, sports, and movies. However, to access their live streams, you’ll need a Turkish IP address first. That’s okay for people living in Turkey and logging on to the internet with a local ISP, but you’ll need a VPN to gain access from outside the country. The recommended VPN providers in this list should solve that problem for you.

Banking and other financial institutions have compliance controls in place and are bound to monitor incoming requests. To be on the safe side, it’s better to log in with a local Turkish IP address each time you try to engage in an online transaction. That’s because you won’t raise any internal red flags or be locked out of your account. It’s just easier to use a VPN for peace of mind.

VPN not working in Turkey? Try port forwarding

While we weren’t able to test it ourselves on the ground, some users on Reddit reported successfully bypassing VPN blocks by using a technique called port forwarding.

Basically, the Turkish authorities have two methods of blocking VPNs. The first is to identify every VPN server in the world and add it to a blacklist to be blocked by ISP’s firewalls. Because this would consume a lot of time and resources and need to be continuously performed, it’s likely only a handful of VPNs are being targeted.

The second method is to block internet traffic from traveling to and from ports that VPNs often use. Different ports are utilized for specific purposes. Most web browser traffic travels through port 80, for example, while port 22 is typically reserved for SSH traffic to servers.

One of the OpenVPN protocol’s greatest strengths is that it is not restricted and can be forwarded to any port on the TCP and UDP range. This method, therefore, bypasses censorship set up to block traffic traveling over specified ports. The most logical port to forward OpenVPN traffic to is 443.

Port 443 is primarily used for HTTPS traffic. HTTPS traffic is encrypted using the same algorithm as VPN traffic, SSL, so the two look pretty much identical from an outsider’s point of view. HTTPS is frequently used on websites that require extra privacy, such as online banking, log in pages, and making payments. It is doubtful that authorities would block this port because it is so necessary for users to safely browse the web.

Port forwarding usually takes place on a wifi router, although some VPN apps and operating systems support port forwarding. The exact process depends on your router firmware, suffice to say you’ll want to forward all OpenVPN traffic over port 443 to keep it hidden from authorities.

Turkey VPN FAQs

Is it legal to download a torrent in Turkey?

Torrenting is allowed in Turkey, but piracy---downloading copyrighted material without permission---is not.

Popular torrent trackers like ThePirateBay are blocked in Turkey. You need a VPN to access them.

Some users report that internet service providers in Turkey will send a warning message to customers who they catch downloading copyrighted materials, followed by bandwidth throttling for repeat offenders. However,  anti-piracy laws and rules are rarely enforced.

Is a VPN really private?

As long as you use a reputable VPN provider, yes, VPNs are really private. The encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server ensures no third-parties can spy on your connection. Be sure to choose a VPN that keeps no logs of your online activity (all of the providers we recommend meet this requirement).

Which VPNs are blocked in Turkey?

While we can’t test every single VPN out there, here are the VPNs listed by local news sources as being targeted by Turkish authorities:

  • VPN Master
  • Hotspot Shield
  • Psiphon
  • Zenmate
  • TunnelBear
  • Zero VPN
  • IPVanish

Additionally, Tor connections are reportedly being blocked by ISPs.

Are VPNs legal in Turkey?

Yes, using a VPN is legal in Turkey. While Turkey began taking steps to block access to Tor and VPN services late last year, it is not illegal to actually use one. We’ve seen no reports of anyone being arrested or charged with a crime simply for using a VPN.

That being said, what residents of Turkey do online while connected to the VPN is still subject to the laws and regulations of Turkey. We do not encourage readers to break the law while using a VPN, even though the VPN is intended to hide your online activity.

Furthermore, Turkish authorities have been rather active in 2017 when it comes to blocking access to VPN servers. We’ve received several comments saying that the VPNs we recommended have been blocked, but thankfully these blocks were only temporary. They have been rectified by the VPN companies and continue to operate, but users should still expect occasional downtime.

Should I use a free VPN for Turkey?

VPNs help mask your identity but the free ones you might find on the internet are a poor choice for navigating the web safely and securely. As such, you may be setting yourself up for a nasty surprise if you choose to use a free VPN.

On a practical level, free VPNs deploy weak encryption standards, regularly engage in bandwidth throttling, and don’t have wide server networks to choose from. Data-intensive tasks like streaming video, playing online games, and accessing banking and financial services are beyond their capacity.

At the same time, there are examples of free VPN providers that have willingly infected host devices with malware in order to mine data to sell to third-party advertisers. One has even piggybacked on idle user bandwidth to build botnet armies. That completely goes against the ethos of using a VPN in the first place, which is why a paid service is definitely worth the few dollars it’ll cost each month.

How can I blog safely in Turkey?

As we’ve outlined in the previous section, any attempts at free speech on the web or even thinly-veiled criticism of the government can land you in jail. This is a troubling phenomenon and indicative of the government’s totalitarian instincts. However, all is not lost.

Blogging safely in Turkey necessitates the total elimination of your digital footprint while you write and publish your thoughts. This process requires you to be extremely prudent and take careful steps because the ramifications can be serious.

The web is an extremely powerful tool and Turkish authorities are well aware of that. Our guide to blogging safely has all the information you need to keep you secure on the internet as you begin to write and publish anonymously.

Turkish flag” by alexeyklyukin licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0