Internet freedom in Turkey is on a constant downward curve with rising instances of censorship on social media and even arrests for bloggers/reporters expressing criticism of the country.
Although Turkey is not a member of the 14 Eyes, it does enforce data retention laws on public-use ISPs in the country who must maintain IP address logs of users for a period of 1 year.
These problems make it important for Turkish people to use a VPN.
PureVPN is the top recommendation as the best Turkey VPN. It offers an excellent no-logs policy and safe jurisdiction, which allows the user to avert Turkish surveillance and data retention
5 Best VPNs for Turkey
The following VPN services are good for Turkey for countering the issue of censorship and waning privacy in the country:
PureVPN is a based in Hong Kong. There are no data retention laws in this country, making it excellent for those users in Turkey that want to avoid having their data logged by ISPs, putting their privacy at risk of non-consensual exposure.
But that’s not all that’s great about PureVPN if you’re a Turkish user. The provider has a network of 2,000+ servers that cover 141+ countries (6 of these are in Istanbul, Turkey) on the whole. If you connect to one of these offshore servers, you can gain access to censored content within Turkey that may not be accessible otherwise.
The ability to bypass restrictions in Turkey is important because social media is heavily regulated in the country and censorship is rampant. According to Freedom House, Turkey is among the countries with the highest content removal requests on Facebook and Twitter.
This shows that the local internet in Turkey is heavily censored which is why a service like PureVPN is useful if you want to circumvent these restrictions.
Or, if you’re traveling away from Turkey and need to access websites that are only available within Turkish borders, you can connect to one of the 6 Turkey servers available in PureVPN’s network to access these websites away from home.
In addition, PureVPN offers features such as split-tunneling which allows you to split your VPN-routed traffic from normal internet traffic. Besides, it offers a killswitch and ad-blocker to further enhance your online privacy in the Turkish web space.
Finally, with 5 simultaneous connections, 31-day money-back guarantee, and a price of $2.95/month, there are hardly any options better than PureVPN to navigate the privacy and censorship issues prevalent in Turkey. Its lowest pricing plans make it the best inexpensive VPN service so far.
See this PureVPN review for more information.
Surfshark is based in British Virgin Islands where no data logging regulations are enforced. As a result, you can count on this VPN to keep your privacy intact from the invasive surveillance of Turkish authorities. Having impressive speeds, it is the fastest VPN service in the industry.
In the 1,000+ server network of Surfshark which covers 60+ countries, there is 1 server located in Turkey as well. For this reason, Surfshark is more reliable as a VPN for Turkish users that want to connect to offshore locations as a means to hide their IP address and obtain better privacy.
At the same time, you can utilize the US servers of Surshark to unblock Hulu and Amazon Prime which are unavailable in Turkey. Although Netflix is a service available in Turkey, it has a smaller content library than that in the US. To access complete catalog of Netflix titles, Surfshark’s US servers come in real handy for Turkish streaming fans.
Surfshark also works with PuhuTV and BluTV, which are Turkish streaming services. You can access these services by connecting to Surfshark’s Turkey server.
The provider also delivers extra features which include WhiteLister, CleanWeb, and MultiHop for boosting your online privacy further and stay protected from data harvesters and Turkish agencies snooping around for your data.
With unlimited simultaneous connections coupled with all the features mentioned above at the meager cost of $1.99/month, Surfshark is a great choice for the average Turkish user seeking better online privacy.
You can get more information about this VPN in this Surfshark review.
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service, which is another country with highly privacy-focused laws. For Turkish users this is just as well.
However, the best aspect of NordVPN if you’re a user in Turkey is its large network of 5,500+ servers in 60+ countries, and 18 of these are located within Turkey.
Since a VPN’s speed is directly associated with the proximity of your actual location to the remote VPN server you are connected to, NordVPN’s Turkish servers will enable fast connection speeds for you at all times while keeping your real identity hidden.
What’s more, these servers are also highly valuable if you are a Turkish expat or traveling away from the country for a while. Just connect to a server in Turkey and you will be able to access all geo-restricted websites such as TRT 1, TRT Haber, TRT Sport, PuhuTV etc. that are blocked outside of Turkey.
To top it off, NordVPN offers privacy-enhancing features like Onion over VPN, DoubleVPN, and CyberSec which solidify your privacy even further. Agencies in Turkey will have a real hard time uncovering your real identity if you use NordVPN to surf the web.
At the price of $3.49/month, 6 simultaneous connections, and 30-day refund window, NordVPN is one of the best VPN service for Turkey.
You can read this NordVPN review for an in-depth evaluation.
ExpressVPN is another VPN based in British Virgin Islands. It is one of the most renowned log-free VPN in the industry, so privacy-seeking users in Turkey can instantly elevate their privacy online with this service.
The provider has an extensive network of 3,000+ servers available in 60+ countries, including Turkey. ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPNs for torrenting and unblocking streaming services. Although Turkey has lenient laws for online piracy and torrents, it is still better to be safe than sorry and keep your identity anonymous while downloading torrents.
All ExpressVPN servers support torrenting and do so at a high speed. It is also one of the best services in the market for bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming services like BBC iPlayer, which is unavailable in Turkey and Netflix, which has a small number of shows in Turkey.
Due to it’s strong unblocking capabilities, it also qualifies as one of the best streaming VPN.
In both cases, you can take advantage of the US servers of ExpressVPN to watch all the shows/movies you want to but can’t because of lack of availability in your region.
If you’re an expat that loves watching Turkish shows, you can simply connect to ExpressVPN’s Turkey server to access the streaming channel PuhuTV, which only works if you have Turkey IP address.
With these features combined with a reliable logging policy, ExpressVPN offers a great balance between speed, privacy, unblocking power for users in Turkey at a cost of $8.32/month. All ExpressVPN’s packages offer 30-day money-back guarantee and 5 simultaneous connections.
To learn more, check out this ExpressVPN review.
CyberGhost is based in Romania, a country free from data retention requirements. Turks that are worried about their private information being out there in the open for law enforcement agencies to see.
Having a network of 3,200+ servers located in over 60+ countries, you can surf the web in Turkey with privacy that naturally comes when you connect to an offshore server location. Keep in mind, however, that CyberGhost does not have any servers in Turkey, which means that you won’t have any means to access geo-restricted services that only work in Turkey, if you are living abroad.
What’s more, the VPN offers average download speed and the lack of Turkish servers means that sluggish speeds are even more pronounced because you can only connect to servers with large physical distances.
However, CyberGhost possesses powerful unblocking abilities which can be quite useful if you want to bypass local geo-restrictions on social media by using an offshore server from its network.
The key benefit of CyberGhost for Turkish users is its affordable price of $2.75/month, 7 simultaneous connections, 45-day money-back guarantee, and strong privacy controls.
For more information, read this CyberGhost review.
Free VPNs that Work in Turkey
Luckily, few free VPN services still exist that allow you to secure your privacy in Turkey. However, you may not be able to select a server of your choice as they offer a handful of servers to subscribers. Furthermore, these VPNs are pretty much useless for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as streaming, since they come with low data limits.
In fact, many VPNs that claim to be free are actually dangerous because they are data harvesting apps pretending to be privacy-protection tools.
This research found serious vulnerabilities and shady logging practices being performed by multiple free Android VPN apps.
As such, you should only go for a legitimate paid VPN service if privacy is something that you value.
Nonetheless, if you want to use a free VPN for Turkey for basic uses, you can count on the following providers:
Internet Freedom in Turkey
President Erdogan’s rule in Turkey has led to constant decline in internet freedom in the country. You can penalized with jail time for up to 4 years for insulting Erdogan online in Turkey.
Criticism of the ruling members of the state is obviously not taken very lightly in the country. Arguably, this is one of the reasons why content removal requests on social media are so high in the country. These facts reveal the severity of censorship and the lack of freedom on the internet as a prevailing problem in Turkey.
Furthermore, public internet providers in hotels, resorts etc. are obligated by authorities to maintain IP distribution logs of their users for a period of 1 year.
Amidst these totalitarian measures, the government correctly anticipated heightened use of VPN services and called for regular monitoring and restrictions on VPNs.
However, the VPNs listed above are all tested and confirmed to be working in Turkey at the time of this writing. It is advised for users to do their research before choosing any VPN in Turkey.
Which VPNs are blocked in Turkey?
Unfortunately, not all the VPNs are accessible within Turkish territories. This is because the official authorities have cracked down on different VPN services in recent past.
Here is the list of VPN services that do not work in Turkey:
- VPN Master
- Hotspot Shield
Unblocking Turkish Streaming Channels Abroad
Turkey cinema and TV shows have gotten fairly popular over the past few years, especially in Muslim-majority countries. However, the rights to broadcast these shows are given only to a few local streaming services in Turkey such as BluTV and PuhuTV.
This leaves many fans of these shows deprived from some good ol’ entertainment if they are living abroad, since the above-mentioned streaming channels are only accessible with a Turkish IP address.
To unblock these channels abroad and watch your favorite Turkish shows and cinema, you need one of the VPNs mentioned above with servers in Turkey and do the following:
- Download and install a VPN having servers in Turkey
- Launch the VPN app on your PC/device
- Connect to a Turkey server
- Access BluTV or PuhuTV and enjoy streaming!
VPN not working in Turkey? – Try these tips
Authorities in Turkey deploy two different methods to block VPNs. These methods are VPN server identification and internet traffic blocking. The authorities recognize VPNs servers globally and add them in the list of VPN services to be blocked through ISPs firewall.
You can try out some tactics if your VPN service does not work in the country. You can opt port forwarding mechanism that allows you to overcome VPN blocks issues to certain extent. You may forward OpenVPN protocol to any port on TCP and UDP range.
The internet traffic blocking phenomenon is based on various ports that are used by VPN providers. Hence, you should use OpenVPN protocol that allows you to forward traffic on port 443. The said port is meant for HTTPS traffic primarily.
HTTPS is mandatory when it comes to accessing the internet securely from users’ point of view. Therefore, it becomes next to impossible that the authorities can block it. This way, you can take huge benefit from port forwarding tactic.
Are VPNs Legal in Turkey?
The legitimacy of VPN services in Turkey is a bit of a grey area. Though VPNs are not illegal by law in Turkey, in 2018, authorities started targeting VPNs, banning many of these in the process.
However, the country hasn’t had complete success in this task as some powerful VPNs are still working perfectly fine in the country, including those mentioned above.
So, while VPNs are not illegal per se, the Turkish government isn’t too happy about the use of VPNs to challenge the censorship that they have imposed.
Other countries with censorship and privacy issues
Turkey isn’t the odd one out when it comes to privacy and censorship issues. Here are a few articles focusing on workarounds for these problems in specific countries:
Best Turkey VPN: Final Thoughts
The state of the internet in Turkey is far from ideal and is under a serious need of extensive reforms in the interest of promoting freedom of expression and the right of individuals to have privacy.
As per our findings and recommendation, PureVPN is the best VPN for Turkey for its capabilities of unblocking blocked websites, its 6 servers in Istanbul, and a lavish 31 days money back guarantee.
Hence a VPN especially PureVPN is the only proven method to counter authoritarian measures of the Turkish government and circle around censorship routinely applied on the web.