Best VPNs for Germany – Comparing 22 Providers

Martin Gschwentner

Streaming has made it possible to enjoy video content from around the world practically anywhere, so long as your Internet connection is up to the task. All the same, expatriates, language learners, and business travellers are just some of the people who might want to keep or forge a stronger connection with Germany while not physically being there. Geo-blocking has made this difficult, however, there is a way to enjoy German media while abroad, namely, with a VPN.

These make it possible to not only securely and anonymously navigate the Internet, but also to go on a virtual world tour. Annoying geographic restrictions are easily surmounted by connecting to servers in dozens of countries. For those interested in watching German content from abroad, this is as easy as selecting a server based in Germany, something offered by practically all VPN services.

Annoying: ZDF's media library doesn't allow those living outside of Germany to access most content.

For our comprehensive VPN evaluation, we thoroughly assessed the performances of 22 providers. Keep reading to find out which are best for accessing German content.

Best VPN for German Content

To create this Top 5, we started with the scores from our overall evaluation, looking thereafter at how each provider's servers performed in Germany and whether they were able to grant us access to German media libraries and streaming platforms.

Specifically, we tested four platforms, ARD, ZDF, TVNOW, and Sky. For more on how our sample performed when accessing international streaming platforms, be sure to check our individual reviews for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

We measured performance daily, creating a speed average over a period of time. These results can be found under the "Performance" section of this article.

Without further ado, here are our Top 5 VPNs for German content:

1.

NordVPN

Best Overall 2021
NordVPN Test
NordVPN
(728,033)
5400+ servers, 60 countries
Excellent performance
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
NordVPN combines speed, user-friendliness and functionality into a coherent overall package that is also fairly affordable.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Summer Deal
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.30
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Best Overall
4.7 / 5
excellent

NordVPN took first place in our EXPERTE.com evaluation, impressing across the board: It was the fastest provider from our sample, offers intuitive applications, plenty of features, high security standards, and regularly submits to external audits.

With more than 5,400 servers across 59 countries, the provider also possesses a strong network. Of those 5,400 servers, 240 are in Germany (Berlin and Frankfurt). For Germany, NordVPN also takes first place in terms of speed, making it possible to enjoy content on ARD, ZDF, and TVNOW. Only Sky blocked our way, but this is a particularly tough nut to crack (only 2 services from our sample were able to grant access to it).

Has 240 servers across Germany (Berlin and Frankfurt)

Performs excellently

Enables access to ARD, ZDF, and TVNOW

Does not allow access to Sky

Review Score
4.7 / 5
04/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Server Network
4.3 / 5
2.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Test
ExpressVPN
(404,846)
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Excellent performance
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN impresses with strong performance, a huge server network and excellently designed applications, but this quality also comes at a higher price.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
3
Protocols
7
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent

ExpressVPN's biggest disadvantage is its price: The service is considerably more expensive than its competitors, with its most affordable subscription costing double that of NordVPN. You won't get any unique or special features for this price either, since ExpressVPN provides the basics (we don't have any complaints about these, however).

The service took third place in our German speed test, offering servers in Frankfurt and Nuremberg (the provider doesn't provide insight into how many it has). ExpressVPN is as reliable as NordVPN, also enabling access to the ARD and ZDF media libraries, as well as TVNOW. Once again, however, we didn't have any luck with Sky.

High speeds

Large server network (94 countries)

Enables access to ARD, ZDF, and TVNOW

Doesn't allow access to Sky

Relatively expensive

Review Score
4.4 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5
Server Network
4.0 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.0 / 5
3.

Surfshark

Surfshark VPN Test
Surfshark VPN
(79,079)
3200+ servers in 65 countries
Unlimited number of devices
Many apps (Linux, FireTV, ...)
Saves no logs
Very cheap on the 24-month plan
Surfshark is one of the cheapest providers on the market, but besides the price also impresses with strong protection, many features and a great support with 24/7 live chat.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
Surfshark 24 months
$2.49
monthly price
Visit Website »
Get 83% Discount
Review Score
4.4 / 5
good

When it comes to price, Surfshark is at the opposite end of the spectrum as ExpressVPN: Our price-performance champion scores thanks to its excellent VPN clients and multitude of configuration options and settings. During speed testing, Surfshark took second place, both overall, and specifically for Germany, allowing it to punch above its weight.

For accessing German content, Surfshark is able to provide access to the ARD and ZDF media libraries, but not TVNOW or Sky. As far as server coverage goes, the provider's servers are located in Berlin, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, and Munich.

Price-performance pick

Four server locations in Germany

Enables access to the ARD and ZDF media libraries

Doesn't unlock TVNOW or Sky content

Review Score
4.7 / 5
04/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.7 / 5
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.3 / 5
4.

Mullvad

Mullvad VPN Test
Mullvad VPN
(425)
750+ servers in 36 countries
Anonymous registration / no logs
Independent security audit
Excellent Performance
Very simple pricing
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
5
Protocols
2
Contract Period
1 month
Mullvad Flatrate
$5.90
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good

During our comprehensive evaluation, Mullvad VPN wound up in the middle of our sample, dropping points for its small server network (754 servers in 36 countries), sparse support, and lack of features.

Still, the Swedish provider did perform well and take maximum points in terms of security, not least owing to its regular external security audits. Mullvad has 29 VPN servers in Germany (Frankfurt and Dusseldorf), helping it to take an impressive fourth place in the national speed test. As with Surfshark, we were able to access the ARD and ZDF media libraries but barred from Sky and TVNOW.

Grants access to the ARD and ZDF media libraries

Possible to register and pay without inputting personal information

Has submitted to independent security audits

Doesn't provide access to TVNOW or Sky

Review Score
3.7 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Security and Privacy
5.0 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
3.3 / 5
Installation and Features
3.3 / 5
Server Network
2.7 / 5
5.

PureVPN

PureVPN Test
PureVPN
(51,411)
Huge network (6500+ server)
140+ countries
good performance
31 days money-back guarantee
Saved connection data
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
5 - 10
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
PureVPN 2 years
$2.91
monthly price
Visit Website »
7-day trial
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good

PureVPN is playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to the trust of its users. This is because the service has broken its "No-Logs" promise several times in the past. Since then, the provider has updated its privacy policy and submitted to external audits. To be fair, in the other areas we examined, the provider received "good" scores, or higher and also offers a massive server network.

For our German speed test, PureVPN only reached 10th place, but still squeezes into our Top 5 since it was the fastest service to provide access to German content on all four streaming platforms.

Allows access to the ARD and ZDF media libraries, as well as TVNOW and Sky

Offers impressive server infrastructure

24/7 live chat

Has shared data with government authorities in the past

Only the 10th fastest VPN in Germany (from our sample)

Review Score
3.9 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Performance
3.7 / 5
Installation and Features
3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.3 / 5

How We Tested

To test all 22 services from our sample, we purchased a subscription to each, evaluating their clients and apps thoroughly. Each review is divided into six main areas, five of which were scored and are listed below:

Installation and Features

We begin by examining how many desktop clients and mobile apps the provider makes available, as well the user-friendliness of these. Then, we take a look at what features and configuration options are on offer. To score highly, a provider's clients and apps should be easy-to-use while providing access to plenty of features.

Server Network

For this, we looked at how many servers the provider has in total, as well as how many countries these are based in. In this article, we looked specifically at how many servers are in Germany, and which cities they are based in.

Performance

This score is comprised of a few different aspects: As part of our speed test, we continually assess how each provider performs, but we also took a closer look at how the services performed on a daily basis, for surfing or video streaming.

To compare services for Germany, we clocked the speeds of each's servers in the country. The 10 fastest (as of the time of testing) can be found below:

The chart below shows which German media libraries or live-streaming platforms were accessible with which VPNs:

PlatformARD MediathekZDF MediathekTVNOW LiveSKY

NordVPN

Surfshark

ExpressVPN

Mullvad

TorGuard

HideMyAss

ProtonVPN

hide.me

IPVanish

PureVPN

Security and Privacy

Do VPN services handle your data with the care and security that it deserves? We examine each provider's privacy policy to let you know if they do, as well as whether we can discern any red flags. Beyond that, we also assess their overall security standards, including what VPN protocols are made available, what type of encryption is offered, and whether the provider passes our VPN leak tests.

Customer Support

To receive a high score in support, it's critical that a provider offers direct contact methods, such as a live chat, as well as an informative, clearly arranged, and full-text searchable help center, preferably with guides and FAQs. For email support or tickets, we expect answers within 24 hours or less.

Overall Result

Should you want a VPN solely for watching German content while abroad, our Top 5 VPNs are likely just what you're after. On the other hand, if you're looking for a reliable VPN that also performs well in Germany, we recommend taking a look at the providers in our overall ranking below:

NordVPN
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent
Visit Website
ExpressVPN
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent
Visit Website
Surfshark
Review Score
4.4 / 5
good
Visit Website
ProtonVPN
Review Score
4.3 / 5
good
Visit Website
HideMyAss!
Review Score
4.3 / 5
good
Visit Website
hide.me
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good
Visit Website
Private Internet Access
Review Score
4.1 / 5
good
Visit Website
CyberGhost
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good
Visit Website
Windscribe
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good
Visit Website
PureVPN
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good
Visit Website
VyprVPN
Review Score
3.8 / 5
good
Visit Website
Hotspot Shield
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good
Visit Website
IPVanish
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good
Visit Website
Mullvad
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good
Visit Website
VPN Unlimited
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good
Visit Website
PrivateVPN
Review Score
3.6 / 5
good
Visit Website
TorGuard
Review Score
3.6 / 5
good
Visit Website
TunnelBear
Review Score
3.5 / 5
good
Visit Website
ZenMate
Review Score
3.5 / 5
satisfactory
Visit Website
Avast
Review Score
3.4 / 5
satisfactory
Visit Website
Perfect Privacy
Review Score
3.3 / 5
satisfactory
Visit Website
Avira
Review Score
3.2 / 5
satisfactory
Visit Website

Conclusion

Should you be thirsting for German content, but not physically be in Germany, you can easily and legally access German media libraries (and navigate the Internet more securely and anonymously) with a VPN. However, not every VPN provider is equally good at enabling access to the ARD or ZDF media libraries, or streaming platforms like TVNOW or Sky.

Our Top 5 will allow you to reliably stream German content. Detailed reviews of all 22 providers from our sample can be found in our comprehensive evaluation.

FAQs

Why should I use a VPN to access German content?
Most German streaming content is geo-locked, meaning that you'll need a VPN to access the ZDF or ARD media libraries when abroad. A VPN allows you to trick these platforms into believing that you're physically in Germany, granting you access to the content.

What is the best VPN for German content?
Our overall champion NordVPN cut a good figure when it comes to accessing German content, allowing us to stream from ARD, ZDF, and TVNOW. ExpressVPN and Surfshark took second and third place, respectively. Only PureVPN provided access to all four streaming providers we examined (ARD, ZDF, TVNOW, and Sky), however, its speeds were lower than those of the other services, which might cause some issues.

Is it legal to use a VPN in Germany?
At the very least, it isn't illegal. Generally speaking, usage of a VPN conflicts with the terms of use for most media libraries, since these license content by country, prohibiting access from abroad. You won't have to worry about any legal consequences, though, and we're unaware of any cases of accounts being suspended or locked.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
Deutsch Italiano 
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