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:
- ExpressVPN: Best all round VPN for Turkey. Fast speeds, excellent security, good for streaming and content unblocking.
- NordVPN: Best budget VPN choice.
- Cyberghost: Another great budget VPN with fast speeds.
- PrivateVPN: A newcomer with fast speeds. Good for streaming.
- VyprVPN: Own all their servers. Works well with streaming services.
With a VPN enabled and connected to another country, users can unblock all restricted social media, as well as 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 logs
- Fast customer support
- Unlimited bandwidth and data
- Built-in port forwarding is a big plus (more on this further down)
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. Additional 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 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.
- High-speed connections
- Great for streaming
- Strong security features
- Anonymous registration possible
- Advanced configuration for power-users is a little limited
BEST FOR TURKEY:ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. It has fast speeds for torrenting and streaming, great content unblocking capabilities and class leading 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.
NordVPN is going strong in Turkey. One of our top-rated VPNs, the provider offers some of the strongest security features available including Tor over VPN, Double VPNs, and anti-DDoS 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.
- Excellent unblocking ability
- Expansive server network
- No-logs policy
- Desktop app takes a while to connect
GOOD BUDGET OPTION:NordVPN is a good all-round low cost VPN. It works well for streaming, keeps no logs and is packed with great security features. Includes 30 day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN here.
CyberGhost has a network of more than 3,000 servers in 60 countries. Turkey is not included but this provider makes the cut due to its superior encryption features and an impressive ability to unblock geo-restricted content. CyberGhost’s app can help you pick a server to unblock sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video. Just select Unblock Streaming mode on the main screen and choose the service you want to unblock.
CyberGhost’s security protocols will keep you protected on the web. Specifically, CyberGhost uses 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. Additional features include an ad blocker, anti-malware defense, and anti-tracking.
You can access the service on Android, iOS, Windows, or MacOS. At the moment, a single subscription allows for seven devices to connect concurrently.
- Fast enough for HD streaming
- Use up to seven devices simultaneously
- Accepts bitcoin
- Few options for advanced users
GREAT VALUE:Another good budget option, CyberGhost offers fast speeds, works with US Netflix and various other streaming services which are usually restricted by location. Includes 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full user review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN burst onto the VPN scene fairly recently but has quickly risen through the ranks. It focuses on quality over quantity and does its job well when judged from a speed, 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.
- Faster than most similar VPNs
- Keeps no logs
- Anonymous sign up possible
- No live chat available
- Fewer servers than its rivals
GOOD FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN works well with streaming services. Unblocks Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and many other streaming services. 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.
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 around the globe, including an option in Turkey. It offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. A single subscription allows for five simultaneous connections.
- Unblocks Netflix US, and others
- Keeps no logs
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Doesn’t accept bitcoin
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.
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 targed by Turkish authorities:
- VPN Master
- Hotspot Shield
- Zero VPN
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?
One of the consistent issues plaguing Turkish internet is the rampant clampdown on social media apps, email providers, and websites that are deemed to be critical to the Turkish state. The current administration has also consistently targeted human rights activists, bloggers, and online influencers if they feel their commentary is against the principles that the government espouses.
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.
Tips for using 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.
Follow these steps to start browsing the web safely and anonymously:
- Decide on a provider and a plan that works for you. Some users might want a long-term option, while others simply need a VPN for a few weeks.
- Sign up and register with your credit card information.
- Proceed to download the relevant apps from your device.
- Restart all devices when installation is complete.
- Open the relevant VPN apps, and sign in with your login information. Select a server in a location of your choice.
- 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 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 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 traveling to and from ports that are often used by VPNs. 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.
If one of the VPNs we listed isn’t working in Turkey, or you know of another one that does reliably operate, let us know in the comments.
- 1 Best VPNs for Turkey
- 2 1. ExpressVPN
- 3 2. NordVPN
- 4 3. CyberGhost
- 5 4. PrivateVPN
- 6 5. VyprVPN
- 7 Which VPNs are blocked in Turkey?
- 8 Are VPNs legal in Turkey?
- 9 Should I use a free VPN for Turkey?
- 10 How can I blog safely in Turkey?
- 11 Tips for using a VPN in Turkey
- 12 VPN not working in Turkey? Try port forwarding