Deutschland: home to the popular Oktoberfest, several fairytale-like castles and a mean bratwurst if you’re in the mood for one. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to travel to Germany. While you’re there, if you want to kick back with a lager for some good ol’ Netflix, chances are, you won’t be able to get the content you want. This is where knowing the best VPN for Germany comes in handy.
Compared to other countries you might visit, Germany’s actually quite chill with their internet censorship laws. Their policies remain culturally sensitive to their history, banning content that promotes Nazism or even games featuring World War II themes.
But if you’re like me and you want to continue streaming Dexter from the calm and quiet of your fluffy hotel bed, there is a solution that you can use to access geoblocked content. A solution made up of three letters: VPN — that is, a virtual private network.
Off the bat, I recommend using ExpressVPN while you’re in Germany. It’s a top-tier VPN provider, has a solid server network and offers connection speeds that will work for whatever you want to do — whether it’s torrenting, private browsing or streaming content from international libraries.
But apart from ExpressVPN, there are a couple VPN alternatives that might suit you better depending on your German browsing needs.
In this article, I’ll cover the various VPNs you can use in Germany. So sit back with a can of Beck’s, and let’s get started!
Why You Need the Best VPN for Germany
You’ve probably got enough on your plate already when you’re visiting Germany: popular tourist sites to hit, famous German beers to try and possibly even picking up a phrase or two of German while you’re at it. The last thing you want is to be tearing your hair out over why you can’t continue watching Arrested Development from where you left off (been there, folks).
From accessing U.S. content abroad to avoiding internet surveillance, there are a number of reasons you need a virtual private network in Germany. Before we get into those reasons, let me quickly list my top six favorite VPNs for Germany.
- ExpressVPN — The best VPN for Germany, with amazing speed and security
- NordVPN — An extensive VPN server network spread across 60 countries
- CyberGhost — A more affordable VPN option with subpar speeds
- Surfshark — Unlimited simultaneous connections for juggling multiple devices
- Windscribe — Excellent (but limited) free plan you can use to watch a couple of movies on Netflix
- Private Internet Access (PIA) — A cheap VPN with a reliable, secure connection and large server network
I will go into more detail later in the article about each of these VPNs, but let’s start with some of the arguments for using a VPN in Germany.
Let’s be clear here: torrenting copyrighted content in Germany is illegal. If you’re looking to torrent your favorite movie during your Deutschland adventures, you could land yourself in trouble if you’re not careful. If they catch you torrent-handed, you could be fined, or worse — thrown in jail.
Germany’s copyright protection laws cover not just torrented content, but also websites or platforms where you can stream copyrighted content. Think: a free, illegal Netflix.
In Germany, both law firms and internet service providers are on the hunt for those who dare to torrent. What to do? Stay safe and use internet protection, kids. A VPN will make your online activity anonymous, so not even your internet service provider (ISP) can tell that you’re torrenting or streaming illegally.
German Internet Service Providers and Data Retention
There are two reasons why I watched Snowden. One, it’s got Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Two, it’s got Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
I went into that film ready to watch one of my favorite actors do his thing and be charming on screen. I came out of it pretty horrified about the level of surveillance some governments use to monitor their citizens. And guess what? Germany just so happens to be one of them.
Germany undoubtedly has some of the best data protection laws. On the flip side, they also have some data retention laws.
The BND & Fourteen Eyes
The scary part is that the BND — or the “Bundesnachrichtendienst,” their version of the CIA with a very long German name I can’t pronounce — has previously partnered up with the U.S. National Security Agency (yup, those guys) to exchange data and invade citizens’ online privacy.
The German government is also part of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence group, a surveillance alliance formed to collect data to protect the national interests of participating countries.
Studies have shown that the BND sweeps 220 million sets of metadata per day into its database. This includes records of phone communications — like call length and participants — but luckily it doesn’t include the content of that communication. It also collects data from internet signals passing through Germany.
Let me put into perspective how daunting this is. Have you watched Kingsman: The Secret Service? One of the villains offers humanity something pretty amazing: free WiFi worldwide through SIM cards. But as the case usually is with the bad guys, there’s a catch. In exchange for the free goodies, the bad guy gets data…and more.
While I’m sure that the BND isn’t going to activate a switch triggering parishioners who attempt to kill Colin Firth, the plot point is slightly relatable. It’s loosely inspired by what real-world intelligence firms already do.
Don’t get the reference? Go watch the movie…for… research, you know.
German Data Retention Laws
The German government has pushed for the enforcement of more serious data retention laws. If these are passed, German telecommunication companies would be legally mandated to keep user metadata for up to 10 weeks. That’s the exact opposite of a no-logging policy. Even incognito mode won’t save us, guys.
German internet users may be used to these laws but for tourists and expats like me, it can be overwhelming. This latest regulation hasn’t come through…yet. But, why take the risk? Just use a VPN to stop the bad guys from snooping on you.
Do you really want German surveillance hovering over you like an invisible overlord and collecting your real IP address while you’re on their internet turf? That’s the kind of voyeurism no one likes.
Germany’s surveillance measures aside, you’ll also be restricted by Netflix itself if you try to access content outside the library of the region you’re in. For example, you won’t be able to watch shows or movies in the U.S. library while you’re physically located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Using a VPN will take care of this issue.
With a VPN, all you have to do is choose a VPN server from the country whose library you want to access. The VPN will give you an IP address in that country, which will make Netflix think that’s where you’re located. Just hit “connect” and boom — you can watch whatever you want from that region’s Netflix library.
If you’re a cinephile like I am and love ending a nice long day of tourism with an entertaining flick, you should choose a VPN with good speeds and bandwidth caps (like ExpressVPN).
The 6 Best VPNs for Germany
Now, let’s move on to the good stuff: Germany VPNs you can use to get up to whatever you want. These are the six best VPN providers you can choose for Germany, starting with ExpressVPN.
- Secure & safe
- Fast speeds
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Servers in Germany
ExpressVPN tops the list for best VPNs out there. Apart from having unlimited data and 3,000 servers in 94 countries (including Germany), it’s also one of the fastest VPN providers. Like most VPNs, it’s got a secure kill switch but it also has split tunneling. This allows you to choose which apps run through the VPN’s network and which can remain untouched: internet multitasking at its finest.
ExpressVPN has also launched a new protocol called the Lightway protocol (yes, it’s as cool as it sounds). Lightway attempts to improve on areas where the standard OpenVPN protocol falters. Namely, its code is extremely concise, which means it should improve speed performance. It also supports both ChaCha and AES encryption, which bodes well for security.
Streaming & Ease of Use
When it comes to accessing streaming sites and torrenting, ExpressVPN covers all these bases. It unblocks all six major streaming sites: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and BBC iPlayer. It’s definitely got you covered in terms of entertainment. If you do get geoblocked during a Netflix ’n’ chill session, you can easily switch to another server and be up and running in two to three tries.
Also, ExpressVPN is super easy to install, so even if you’re just getting started while in Germany, it shouldn’t take you too long to figure it out. Its customer support team is also uber helpful (although the speed in that department isn’t the best around).
The biggest downside to ExpressVPN is its pricing. Compared to the other VPN contenders on the market, it’s more expensive. However, if you’re in it for the long haul, you get better value for your money by opting for long-term plans. In any case, you have the option to test it out first, as ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all first-time users.
- Secure & fast
- 240 servers in Berlin & Frankfurt
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Speed varies on different servers
- Less detail on server location
NordVPN comes very close to ExpressVPN in terms of its security features and speed. Featuring double-hop servers (which means your connection is encrypted twice, making your online identity doubly protected) on top of commonplace features like a kill switch, the runner-up VPN brings a lot to the table.
With NordVPN, you aren’t limited in your choice of servers to bypass the geoblocks. With servers in over 60 countries, you’re all set to stream, torrent and browse to your heart’s content. This includes German streaming platforms, should you wish to watch German TV (Dark, anyone?)
Server Locations & Speeds
In addition to two server locations in Berlin and Frankfurt, NordVPN also offers 15 server locations in the U.S. that you can use to stream content if that’s your end goal. While that’s awfully generous on the VPN’s part, not all of those servers are 10/10 on the speed front.
You’ll have to be a bit more patient with NordVPN. While the speeds are still pretty good, it can take a bit more time when you’re connecting to a server farther away from Germany. You’ll have to tinker around a bit to find the one that works.
Compared to ExpressVPN, NordVPN’s pricing is a bit more reasonable, but again, you get the best deals when you get a long-term package. NordVPN also offers a 30-day refund, so if you change your mind in the first month, they’ve got you covered.
- Dirt cheap
- Perfect servers for streaming
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- 3 server locations in Germany
- Inconsistent speeds
- Unreliable access to streaming services other than Netflix
CyberGhost is a fantastic VPN for those of you who are on a tight budget. It’s super affordable, has great security features and also doesn’t store any logs, keeping you 100 percent incognito. With servers in over 60 countries — plus three server locations in Germany — you can easily hop around different cities (virtually speaking, of course) to do your business online.
CyberGhost has servers in 11 U.S. locations, which is fewer than the other VPNs, but still has you covered if you’re planning to stream U.S. shows in Germany. Again, you’ll have to spend some time testing and finding the one with the best speed for you (not just for streaming, but torrenting and browsing in general).
Speeds & Streaming
Admittedly, the speeds aren’t as great, but you get what you pay for with this VPN. You can still stream Netflix as much as you want (thank you, unlimited data!) but you’ll have a harder time if you’re looking to tune in for shows on platforms like Hulu and HBO Max.
CyberGhost is the cheapest option on this list and will have your bank account sighing in relief. The monthly price is attractive, but the longer plan is even more tempting (and that’s the one that will give you the savings you want). The VPN also offers up a seven-day free trial for Android and iOS devices and a longer 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Cheap pricing
- Unlimited connections
- Several servers in underrepresented regions
- Server locations in Frankfurt & Berlin
- Only select servers work for streaming
- Streaming speed is slower
Surfshark is a newer VPN company, but it’s been making waves since its arrival (sorry for the pun; I’ll see myself out). With more than 3,200 servers across 65 countries — including two server locations in Germany — Surfshark has quickly become known as a quality, affordable VPN. It offers the standard VPN features like a kill switch and split tunneling and can access Netflix’s content and circumvent geoblocks.
But as far as streaming U.S. Netflix content goes, you’ll have to exercise patience with this VPN. Not all of its servers are fully functioning with the streaming service and you might be seeing that dreaded geoblock error more often than with other VPNs. Finding a server that works can take a while.
Surfshark is surprisingly cheap compared to the premium VPNs on the market if you opt for a two-year plan. However, if you only plan on using it short term, its monthly plan is more expensive than even ExpressVPN’s.
Thankfully, it offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections to make up for it.This is great, especially if you’re on the go around Germany. You can have your phone, laptop, tablet and other devices connected to Surfshark without incurring any extra cost.
Want to test the waters? Surfshark offers a seven-day free trial for mobile devices. You can also make the best of their 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Free plan
- Simple & easy-to-use UI
- German server is included in the free plan
- Limited to 10GB of free data
- Limited servers available on the free plan
Windscribe is my go-to free VPN and is hands-down the best free VPN for Germany. Not only does Windscribe offer a 10GB a month free plan, but the speeds are pretty good too. With the free plan, you’re limited to a select number of locations, but thankfully, Germany is one of them.
Windscribe used to offer special “Windflix” servers designed for streaming; however, their functionality has since been folded into its other servers. This means that all of its servers are now fully capable of unblocking Netflix and other streaming sites.
Best Free VPN for Germany
If you’re going to be focused on sightseeing and touring around majestic German castles with little to no need for internet usage, I would recommend opting for Windscribe VPN. If you’re not set on streaming movies back-to-back, the 10GB plan may be just right to get you through basic activities like streaming and torrenting (with the latter depending on the file size of downloads, of course).
But like anything free in this world, Windscribe has its limits. If you use it for streaming, 10GB won’t last long, at which point you’ll have to opt for one of the paid options.
The paid plans are still pretty affordable overall, and Windscribe also has an attractive “build-a-plan” model you can use to customize your VPN needs and pay for exactly what you want. As far as your free options go, Windscribe is a catch!
You can check out Windscribe’s free plan and pricing here.
6. Private Internet Access (PIA)
- Extensive server network
- More affordable
- Easy to use
- 2 server locations in Germany
- Internet speed is unreliable
- Streaming capabilities aren’t consistent
If you’re looking for a fast VPN packed with an attractive amount of features that’s easy on the purse strings, Private Internet Access (PIA) should be on your list.
If you’re using a VPN for the first time and thinking of opting for PIA while adventuring about in Germany, fair warning: the user interface can be a bit tricky to navigate. If you like to customize your VPN experience, PIA has a ton of settings to do so, but this also makes the interface a bit unwieldy. If you’re impatient and ease of use is a priority, then you might want to reconsider.
A prime example of this is the kill switch, which gives you three options to choose from: “auto,” “off,” and “always.” There’s no reason to ever turn this feature off, as a VPN drop will compromise your IP address. I do understand that some folks might want to turn it off for their own reasons, but an “auto” option just adds unnecessary complexity to the equation.
Most Affordable VPN for Germany
With regard to pricing, PIA is dirt cheap, outranking even CyberGhost in this department (or should I say out-ghosting?). There’s no free plan, but for the features and benefits it offers, it’s well worth the cost. Compared to its competitors, PIA’s monthly plan is a lot more appealing to look at too. Of course, you can do a trial run and use PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee as a cushion before committing to the VPN.
You can check out Private Internet Access’ pricing here.
Can I Use a Free VPN Service in Germany?
The short answer is: yes. Can you also yell “Bomb!” at an airport? Yes, you can. But that doesn’t mean you should.
A free VPN option might seem more appealing to you if you’re on a tight budget, don’t plan to spend much time on the internet, or are just more cautious about spending in general.
But remember this: when you choose a free VPN, you are usually settling security-wise. Free VPNs generally don’t come with no-logs policies, which means they can take your data and use it however they want. You might be wondering, “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using a VPN in the first place?”
The last thing you want is to be digging into a döner kebab and get a message from your mobile device’s anti-virus software that you’ve been infected (true story, folks. It can happen).
With free VPNs, there’s no 100 percent guarantee of safety and security. Your internet connection won’t be as secure, which makes downloading torrents much riskier. They may have hidden malware or unattractive low data caps, and most will suck up your valuable time due to slow or faulty servers.
That being said, Windscribe is a secure free VPN and definitely worth checking out. It’s one of the few free VPNs I trust. The VPN’s free plan is easy to use, secure and fast enough to do the job.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Germany and accessing the internet while you’re there, it’s worth planning ahead and figuring out whether or not you want a VPN to protect you.
ExpressVPN is the go-to for most, due to its strong performance and overall security features. Keeping in mind Germany’s data laws and peeping surveillance networks, it’s always safer to consider drawing the curtains on your internet prowls.
Have you been to Germany and explored the many VPN providers you can use yourself? Which provider did you use — the fast and handy ExpressVPN or something cheaper and for limited usage like CyberGhost? Let me know in the comments!
And to conclude this article Deutschland style: Das ist alles. Danke!