Turkey is one of the few places where you can enjoy four seasons, cheap hotels and restaurants, and a combination of culture and architecture. While you may sample these options for free, there are numerous issues that tourists and ex-pats are concerned about: your online privacy!
When visiting Turkey, you must be extra mindful of your privacy. Each website you visit must be documented for at least two years, according to the legislation. Furthermore, you cannot visit any websites you want since censorship is at an all-time high.
In such a difficult scenario, I always choose to use a VPN service to reclaim my privacy and avoid Turkish censorship. However, there is another issue. VPNs are blocked in Turkey!
Keeping this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 VPNs that really work in Turkey. However, please remember the advantages and downsides of VPNs since various internet service providers block different VPNs.
Here is a quick list of the best VPN services for Turkey:
1. SurfShark: Best of all. Budget-friendly, all-in-one solution. It works with all internet providers.
Website access ✓; No log ✓, Speed (Super Fast), Streaming servers ✓; Vodafone ✓, Türk Telekom ✓, Turkcell ✓.
2. ExpressVPN: Proven no-log policy. Worldwide server coverage. Not recommended for Turkcell users.
Website access ✓; No log ✓, Speed (Average), Streaming servers ✓; Vodafone ✓, Türk Telekom ✓, Turkcell ✕.
3. NordVPN: Amazing price/performance ratio. Dedicated apps for all platforms. Not recommended for Turkcell users.
Website access ✓; No log ✓, Speed (Average), Streaming servers ✓; Vodafone ✓, Türk Telekom ✓, Turkcell ✕.
4. VeePN: Cheapest option. It works with all internet providers. Yet, the VPN apps may crash from time to time.
Website access ✓; No log ✓, Speed (Super Fast), Streaming servers ✕; Vodafone ✓, Türk Telekom ✓, Turkcell ✓
5. StrongVPN: US-based provider. Limited coverage. It works with all internet providers*
Website access ✓; No log ✕, Speed (Super Fast), Streaming servers ✓; Vodafone ✓, Türk Telekom ✓, Turkcell✓
How to choose the best VPN for Turkey?
Choosing the best VPN for Turkey is difficult. As a Turkish citizen, it is my responsibility to guide you to the finest possibilities. I’ve enlisted the help of numerous checkpoints to do this. They are as follows:
- Accessible websites: When you are in Turkey, the VPN website must be accessible. Otherwise, you cannot download proper apps or complete your purchase.
- VPN service is not blocked: Turkey started to block VPN connections. That is why we need providers whose servers are not blocked by ISPs.
- Clear log policy: In order to bypass the data retention law in Turkey, I made sure that you are using the right no-log provider.
- Speed performance: Good speed performance is a must. Otherwise, a slow VPN connection may ruin your online surfing and social media experience.
- Streaming servers: Our pick will help you enjoy streaming services, such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer…
5 Best VPNs that really work in Turkey
SurfShark is a relatively unknown VPN provider in Turkey. SurfShark has never been prohibited by an ISP since it is a new firm. As a result, you will have no trouble accessing, buying, or installing their programs.
Furthermore, Surfshark features like “NoBorder” and “ShowdowSocks” circumvent VPN restrictions in Turkey. We don’t need them right now.
SurfShark is not obligated to retain logs since it was founded in the British Virgin Islands. As a result, your IP address, browsing history, total internet traffic, session information, and connection timestamps are in secure hands. To put it another way, SurfShark is a fantastic answer for dealing with Turkey’s data retention regulations.
VPN may slow down your internet connection due to data encryption. To address this issue, a good VPN company must offer solid and fast servers. Only in this manner will we be able to have a seamless online experience. According to a recent speed test I performed with SurfShark, I had an average download speed of 35+Mbps and an upload speed of 10+Mbps. This speed is sufficient to download large files and enjoy lightning-fast web browsing.
Finally, SurfShark has dedicated streaming servers. When these servers have high-speed connections, we may view our favorite programs in Turkey. Netflix and BBC iPlayer are both wonderful examples of this.
What is more amazing is we can make use of all of these features starting from 2.49$/month.
- It works with all three Turkish ISPs (Turkcell, Türk Telekom, Vodafone)
- Strict no-log policy
- 3500+ servers in 60+ countries
- Superfast connection with dedicated streaming servers
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Unique “CleanWeb” feature to block ads and trackers on all your devices.
- Limited protocol options
- Desktop software is not user-friendly
- No discount on renewals
ExpressVPN is one of Turkey’s most popular premium VPN providers. Despite being banned multiple times, the firm continues to function via a mirror website. As a result, if any version of the ExpressVPN website is prohibited, you will be forwarded to the most recent and operational variant.
We made certain that ExpressVPN is always available in Turkey. However, there is a problem. Unfortunately, ExpressVPN is unable to circumvent the Turkcell/Superonline block. It is only compatible with Türk Telekom and Vodafone.
ExpressVPN is yet another VPN service provider situated in the British Virgin Islands. ExpressVPN, like SurfShark, does not maintain any logs, as shown in this post. In addition to a no-log policy, ExpressVPN operates all of its infrastructure on the RAM disk, making server-side logging impossible.
According to our research, ExpressVPN provides acceptable speed performance with Disk RAM infrastructure. While the service is suggested for everyday use and streaming movies from other countries, P2P server performance may disappoint you. If you are dissatisfied with the server’s performance, connect to another server using a less secure protocol.
Finally, ExpressVPN servers in over 90 countries will allow you to watch your favorite programs in Turkey. I’ve been using the service since 2013, and ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN services that can easily overcome Netflix and BBC iPlayer limits.
Under 30-day moneyback protection, you can purchase ExpressVPN starting from 6.67$/month.
- Accessible in Turkey and works with Turk Telekom and Vodafone
- A proven no-log VPN provider
- Decent speed for daily usage
- 5 simultaneous connection
- 3000+ servers in 90 countries
- Dedicated streaming servers
- One of the most expensive VPNs on the market
- Does not work with Turkcell/Superonline users
- Poor P2P server performance
NordVPN, a Panama-based VPN service, is another accessible and still operational VPN provider for all Turkey ISPs. However, it is not compatible with all systems.
To begin, if you utilize Türk Telekom or Vodafone, you must use NordVPN’s obfuscated servers. These masked servers will make your connection seem neutral. Turkcell/SuperOnline, on the other hand, disables all NordVPN connections. The only method to use NordVPN with Turkcell/Superonline is to use the Google Chrome extension to connect to the VPN service.
Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is also an offshore-based provider. This location sets the company free of data retention laws. Furthermore, NordVPN got its service audited by a third-party company and shared it with its users.
Besides no-log policy and military-grade encryption, NordVPN offers acceptable speed performance to us. As for mobile users, the speed hits up to 30 MBps. However, you might not like the speed on your PC as it idles at around 5 Mbps. For further performance tests, make sure to visit the NordVPN review.
Last but not least, NordVPN has 50+ countries covered as well as 5000+ servers. Such extensive coverage will allow you to broadcast your local platforms internationally. NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature enables streaming, and I have validated the service’s operation with Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Under a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can have all these features starting from 3.49$/month and use NordVPN simultaneously with 6 of your smart devices.
- Accessible by all internet providers
- Works with Türk Telekom and Vodafone users (Only obfuscated servers)
- Audited no-log policy
- Covers 50+countries with 5000+ servers
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Does not work with Turkcell/Superonline (You have to use a browser extension)
- Poor PC speed performance
- No protocol option
VeePN is another new VPN provider in the market. I have never encountered any news or tech blogs mentioning their services. That is the reason VeePN’s website is still accessible in Turkey. Furthermore, VeePN works with all internet service providers.
What is more alluring about the company is VeePN’s jurisdiction. Based on Panama, VeePN does not keep any logs like any other provider on our list. With 256-bit strong encryption, you can bypass all censorship in Turkey and enjoy a super-fast P2P experience.
So far, VeePN may appeal as an expressing option yet, we have problems. First of all the map coverage is not great. Secondly, VeePN offers inconsistent speed performance. According to our test, some servers might give you terrible speed performance.
Last but not least, FastestVPN’s streaming servers may let you down. It does not have dedicated servers and I could not watch Netflix US.
In case we go for VeePN for as low as 1.67$/month, we will get 10 simultaneous connections, a free NAT firewall, AdBlocker, P2P allowed servers, and unlimited traffic. Make your choice after evaluating the pros and cons of this service.
- Cheapest accessible and working option for Turkey
- No log policy
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Acceptable speed performance
- Free NAT firewall and ad blocker
- Buggy apps and inconsistent speed performance
- Not recommended for Netflix fans
Because StrongVPN is not a well-known VPN service, Turkish ISPs never targeted it or disabled its applications. You will be able to browse the StrongVPN website, make your payment, and download the service regardless of your ISP.
While accessibility is not an issue, Turkcell/Superonline seems to be blocking StrongVPN protocols. However, you may evade the restrictions by using the “OpenVPN – Scramble” function in the settings menu. There is no need for concern for Türk Telekom and Vodafone customers.
Leaving accessibility aside, StongVPN is a US-based company that operates under US law. In other words, it must retain user data. StrongVPN, on the other hand, states that they do not maintain any activity records. Just a polite reminder: do not use StrongVPN to participate in any illegal activities. Your primary goal should be to circumvent censorship and get access to a prohibited website.
Another thing I dislike about StrongVPN is the lack of server coverage. VPN servers are available in 30 different locations, according to the provider. The coverage map may seem inadequate. You will, however, like the speed! StrongVPN proved to be one of the fastest VPN providers in our thorough study.
StrongVPN’s speed will allow you to have a fantastic browsing and streaming experience. However, there is another crucial matter to discuss. StrongVPN does not offer specialized streaming services, despite the fact that it works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer. If the streaming platforms restrict the servers, you may need to contact customer service.
StrongVPN offers a super-fast VPN experience beginning at 39.99$/year. You may use the service concurrently on up to 12 devices. If you are unhappy with the service, you are eligible for a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Accessible in Turkey and works with all internet providers
- No activity logs
- Simultaneous connection up to 12 devices
- Superfast VPN service
- Several VPN protocol options
- A bit pricy
- US-based company. Keeps user data.
- No dedicated servers! You may not access Netflix or BBC iPlayer from time to time.
- Limited map coverage
VPN ban and censorship in Turkey
Censorship in Turkey was so straightforward a few years ago that we could use Google DNS to visit any website we wanted. Nonetheless, after the 2013 scandal, the government took action and blocked access to YouTube and Twitter. When news websites began to post VPN-related material to circumvent such filtering, DNS services, and VPN providers became the number one target for BTK (Information and Technology Agency)
To ban major DNS resolvers and VPN services, BTK developed a one-of-a-kind filter (Turkish article). Soon after the filter was completed, the government issued legislation requiring ISPs to include it in their services. If any ISP fails to follow BTK standards, they may be fined $50,000.
However, it was insufficient! People continued to use other VPN services despite website blocking. BTK chose to restrict VPN connections by acquiring Sandvine’s “Deep packet inspection” software. In 2014, Türk Telekom (Turkey’s largest internet network) was the first to test this technology. In 2018, Turkcell and Vodafone also entered the VPN war.
As of today, every internet service provider in Turkey must use the BTK filter and attempt to discover VPN connections. The BTK head adds up in relation to the filter:
- …VPN apps, offering private access to blocked websites, can change their IP addresses and bypass methods. The very reason is that they are being used in this way: Bypassing censorship. This is a global problem. We took precautions on these apps and now we are testing new tools. Once the tests are done, we will move step by step…*
* Partial translation of Turkish news.
Here comes the most important question…
Why does Turkey go so hard on VPN services?
I will answer this question in the following topic. Probably you will understand why you should use a VPN service in Turkey.
How does a VPN help you in Turkey?
Turkey is one of the most restricted countries when it comes to online freedom. The government wants you to access only the information they see appropriate. If something is not in their interest, the service or the website will be inaccessible. Furthermore, they want to control your online activities so much that, they passed a bill** forcing ISPs to keep user logs for at least two years.
When we compile up all of the issues we are facing now, here is why we should use a VPN service in Turkey.
Using a VPN can help you:
- Prevent ISP tracking
All of the websites you visit must be retained by your ISP in Turkey. Because your IP address is altered and your data is encrypted when you use a VPN, your ISP cannot determine which website you are accessing. If your primary worry in Turkey is privacy, a functional, no-log VPN will be an excellent answer.
- Accessing gambling and porn websites
Gambling is illegal in Turkey. As a result, you will be unable to access gambling websites throughout your stay. To avoid this limitation, connect to a local VPN server if you wish to bet on a local site (one that serves in your own country). This is the finest and most secure option.
Furthermore, all ISPs in Turkey are required to block pornographic websites. To view porn sites like Xhamster, PornHub, and RedTube in Turkey, just connect to a VPN server located outside of Turkey. This gives you access to all +18 sites.
- Bypass throttling
BTK can slow down any website they want. After the Istanbul bombing in March 2016 and the assassination of Andrei Karlov, social media users experienced slowdowns on Twitter, Facebook, and youtube. In other words, BTK throttled the internet during that period. A VPN service can help you access any content you want by avoiding ISP throttling.
- Use booking.com
Lawyers of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (Tursab) say:
- Netherlands-based Booking.com was engaging in unfair competition in the marketing of hotels in Turkey.
When you visit booking.com from Turkey, you will get a notification that you cannot use it in Turkey. Using a VPN will help you change your Turkish IP address so that you can book your favorite hotel room as if you are in your hometown.
- Access geo-restricted content
Are you in Marmaris and want to access BBC.co.uk? Then you must have a UK IP address. Using a VPN, you can quickly move your IP from TR to the UK with a single click and view your favorite programs.
Summing up the working VPNs in Turkey
In this post, we examined the best and most reliable VPN services for Turkey. The initial step in arriving at the correct decision was to locate accessible VPN websites. Second, I downloaded each provider and tested it with all internet service providers (Türktelekom, Turkcell/Superonline, and Vodafone). While you can use the recommended VPNs with all providers, you may need to employ certain technical capabilities to get over Turkey’s VPN prohibition.
Furthermore, I ensured that the VPN companies include extra features such as a no-log policy, specialized streaming servers, and a variety of protocols. Such capabilities will allow us to avoid the two-year data retention regulation, circumvent website restrictions, and view streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and HBO in Turkey.
Overall, the top options were SurfShark, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, StrongVPN, and FastestVPN. However, please read the linked article since certain VPN services may not operate with Turkcell/Superonline providers.
*translated from original sources
** article is in the local language
I am a privacy advocate excelling in cybersecurity and VPN services. Along with my 8 years of experience, I will teach you how to enhance your online privacy and enjoy the ultimate freedom anywhere in the world. On VPNxD, I am responsible for privacy guides, and how-to-do articles.