With a host of countries to choose from, Europe is a fantastic destination for digital nomads wanting to sate their wanderlust. Online services can be as diverse as cultures, however, so if you want to access the internet on your terms, you’ll need a VPN. Take a look at our roundup of the services available and find out which is the best VPN for Europe.
On top of travelers, people living in Europe can make great use of a VPN, too: want to buy a computer? Pretend you’re ordering from Germany and pay lower VAT. Security is also an issue: online laws will also differ from place to place, from the UK’s Snooper’s Charter to the Dutch sleepwet. It pays to stay abreast of these and make sure you’re always browsing from a secure connection.
If you go further afield and leave the EU, you may need to be doubly on your guard. Users in Russia and Turkey, for example, will need to be careful about how they express themselves if they don’t want to fall foul of local laws. Fortunately, a VPN can go some way to preventing any secret police visits.
We’ve culled five providers from our VPN reviews that will do all this, and more, but first let’s see how we selected them.
Best VPN for Europe 2018
What Makes a VPN the Best for Europe?
The first job of a VPN is getting around geoblocks for reasons of security and convenience. The last thing you want on your travels is to find your Netflix account off limits all of a sudden (so your Europe VPN should also be one of our best VPN for Netflix, if possible).
Browsing experiences differ from country to country, too, often with Google results coming back in the country’s primary tongue. With a reliable VPN for traveling, you can both get around geoblocking and keep your searches in the language of your homeland.
The upshot is that what you want when traveling in Europe is a VPN that has plenty of servers around the continent, as well as good security and good access to streaming services (you’ll notice some overlap with our best VPN for streaming piece, here). Note that for Russia and Turkey you may want to check out our best VPN for China picks as you’re dealing with a similar level of censorship.
We’ve taken a look at what we think are five great options for European users. While all offer different advantages, our winner is CyberGhost for delivering a great all-round package at an acceptable price. Have a look below to find out more.
The Best VPN for Europe: CyberGhost
CyberGhost has a broad network, and, as mentioned in our CyberGhost review, that network is especially strong in Europe. This is good news for those moving around the continent who may find themselves needing to connect from various locations.
Streamers are well-served by CyberGhost. We connected to most services with little fuss in our testing and also found the speeds fast enough to limit buffering. CyberGhost offers special profiles for streaming, which are a real plus if you want to keep geoblocking from spoiling your Netflix time.
The VPN is highly secure, using 256-bit AES encryption and is equally solid on privacy, keeping no logs of user activity so that you can Google funny Vladimir Putin memes without fear of reprisal. It features a nice “app protection” system where profiles are selected based on what apps you use. This makes it a very wise choice for torrenting too.
Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost
CyberGhost is hard to beat when it comes to pricing. The three-year deal for $99 is very attractive, though there are options for monthly subscriptions that don’t offer the same level of value. The monthly plan is also more expensive if you want to connect more than one device so keep in mind that if you pick the cheapest deal, you’ll be limited to one connection.
Setup and configuration are very easy with CyberGhost. On startup, you’re presented with a range of options. It also offers some useful features for mobile users. We particularly like its compression option, allowing you to automatically downgrade high-bandwidth content to play smoothly on a mobile connection.
Overall, CyberGhost is a fantastic choice for both Europeans and digital nomads with its ease of use and quality streaming being highlights, along with affordable pricing. CyberGhost comes highly recommended and is our top pick for your European travels.
- Great for streaming
- Easy to use
- Affordable pricing
- No split tunneling
NordVPN is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t need to be tweaked too much to get it running well. The many choices it offers are presented in terms that make sense to the user as opposed to technical jargon, which is great if you don’t want to spend hours researching what settings are best for, say, streaming.
Its fast streaming and gaming capability make it a fantastic choice for those on the go. It managed to connect to every service we tried it with during our NordVPN review and, speedwise, NordVPN scores well.
NordVPN does have a minor problem with not giving enough detail about server location. You can tell what country a server is in but not more than that, so in a larger country, particularly Russia, there isn’t an easy way to ensure your server isn’t very far away.
Security and privacy are both highly valued by NordVPN. Its default security settings are excellent and so users valuing security don’t need to do much other than accept the default setup. It also offers the brilliant CyberSec utility, protecting you from adware, malware and many other online dangers.
NordVPN uses double-hop servers meaning anyone trying to crack your VPN tunnel will find another one waiting for them if they succeed with the first. There is also a killswitch which will shut your connection down completely if the VPN drops.
Other Reasons We Like NordVPN
NordVPN’s specialty servers make it a good choice for gamers and torrenters and also offer dedicated options for those worried about DDoS attacks or government surveillance.
Pricewise, NordVPN is neck and neck with CyberGhost. Its three-year plan comes in at a NordVPN, though of course service gets more expensive if you sign up for a shorter period.
- Versatile with its speciality servers
- Affordably priced
- Fast streaming & gaming
- Lack of detailed server information
Private Internet Access is, as you’d expect, very solid indeed when it comes to privacy. As a high-profile voice in the fight for net neutrality and against government surveillance, PIA has a reputation to maintain and as far as we’re concerned it does a great job of doing so. It keeps no logs and you can sign up without providing any personal information.
Security is good: PIA uses OpenVPN by default. There are options to enable you to trade security for speed, or vice versa, which may be useful for those traveling from place to place. We threw a range of security and privacy tests at it during our PIA review process and it passed them all with flying colors.
PIA has clients for all major OSes on desktop and mobile. A particular strong point for Linux users is that PIA is the only VPN in our testing to offer a dedicated client, making it the best VPN for Linux.
With a minimalist feel to the UI, PIA is simple and easy to use. On a desktop, controlling the VPN is done through a tray icon, so the nuts and bolts are kept out of your way unless you go digging for them. PIA uses safe, secure default options on install so this is a good choice for users that want to set their VPN up and then get on with things without having to tweak options left, right and center.
Other Reasons We Like PIA
Ping scores are very low for PIA, which, along with its speed, make it a great choice for gaming. We got pings in the 40s when testing within Europe so can’t ask for much more there. Download and upload speeds are similarly impressive.
Customer service is very good, with a comprehensive knowledgebase enabling you to solve many problems yourself. There is no live chat available but email support provided us with useful answers to our problems within a few hours of asking.
- Comprehensive privacy options
- Low pings for fast gaming
- Dedicated Linux client
- Access problems when streaming
ExpressVPN is the best VPN available we find here at Cloudwards, with its great connectivity and lightning fast speeds backed up by a range of security and privacy features that we detail at length in our ExpressVPN review.
For those in a hurry, ExpressVPN has a very easy-to-use client but for more demanding users, it doesn’t disappoint, either, with plenty of options and features available underneath the main interface. ExpressVPN also features a diagnostic tool enabling you to sort out connection problems without too much fiddling about.
Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
For features, ExpressVPN is hard to beat. A particular favorite of ours is split tunneling, which allows you to use your VPN for some services, while using a normal connection for others. This means you don’t need to compromise on speed if you only need to connect securely to something like a torrent service, for example.
ExpressVPN has great security with its 256-bit encryption and allows you to configure that security further to suit your needs. Like most top services, ExpressVPN keeps no logs of any kind, ensuring you maintain your privacy at all times.
Despite being one of our favorite services, it isn’t all roses with ExpressVPN. The service is not cheap with its annual plan coming in at a hefty $99. This doesn’t compare well to CyberGhost or NordVPN, for example, who offer three years of service for the same price.
Despite these flaws though, ExpressVPN is an outstanding service for those prepared to stump up the cash for it and comes highly recommended for its speed, performance and all-around quality.
- Broad range of features
- Easy to use
- Tough on the wallet
- Limited simultaneous connections
Like PIA, AirVPN is built by people fanatical about privacy, perhaps even more so. Those of you worried about government surveillance will find AirVPN the perfect choice for keeping yourself to yourself. The AirVPN team has also taken the trouble to ensure their service is compliant with a range of European privacy laws — like GDPR — making it ideal for use within Europe.
Privacy-wise, AirVPN assigns each IP address to a range of users, making it very difficult to identify an individual user based on this information. Users are not required to provide any personal information to sign up for the service, and can pay with Bitcoin should they wish, as noted in our AirVPN review.
AirVPN connects to the internet via the Tor network, meaning that even the VPN provider itself can’t see your real IP address. This potentially means that users signing up with Bitcoin would be completely anonymous online. Even if AirVPN itself was somehow compromised, the company has no record of who its users are unless those users have chosen to supply that information.
Users can also wrap their OpenVPN encryption in an SSL or SSH encrypted tunnel which means that the fact they are using a VPN at all is hidden from prying eyes.
Other Reasons We Like AirVPN
AirVPN offers very detailed information on its servers, with users able to view the user count, ping and route information when picking what to connect to. It also guarantees 4Mbit/s upload and download speeds, so you shouldn’t find your connection slowing to a crawl when you least expect it.
AirVPN’s commitment to openness also extends to its client. The client, “Eddie,” is open source, so you are free to inspect and modify the source code at your convenience.
Customer support consists of a forum and a ticket system. Ticket response is geared to European office hours which is clearly ideal for those of you in Europe, though night owls will have to wait until morning should they require assistance. As the support is high on detail, less technical users might find themselves as much in the dark as before, but techies will no doubt relish the level of help available.
Overall, AirVPN is an excellent, high-quality service, with lots of options for customization while not necessarily the most user-friendly VPN around. Readers will likely know whether this makes AirVPN a good choice for them or one to avoid.
- Strong on privacy
- Detailed server information
- Highly secure
- Not the most user-friendly service
- Customer support limited to office hours
There you have it: a clear winner for VPN service while in Europe. As well as CyberGhost, other great options for European travelers and nationals concerned about their privacy are PIA and AirVPN. NordVPN caters well to gamers and streamers and ExpressVPN offers a great, although pricey, service.
With so many locations to choose from, European users’ needs are highly varied, but we think our list has something for everybody. There are so many countries in Europe it is impossible to cover performance in all of them, however, so if you know anything we don’t, please let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.