Internet in Iran is a little tricky. Find out what a VPN is, why it’s a good idea to access the internet in Iran through a VPN and which VPN is best VPN for budget backpackers in Iran.

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There are many lovely things in Iran, but good and uncensored internet isn’t one.

When backpacking in Iran, you’ll notice Wi-Fi is actually widely available in hostels and tourist restaurants. The thing is that once you connect, you’ll realise the internet in Iran is slow as balls. And we’re talking proper slow. As in 2 MB/s slow. Compare that to the US average of 21 MB/sec and you’ll never ever complain about Netflix lagging at home, eh?

But the lack of speed is not the only challenge about the internet in Iran. The Iranian government has also put up a pretty massive firewall blocking a long list of Western websites such as Facebook, Skype, and Instagram. Does this mean nobody in Iran uses Facebook? No, it does not. It means a lot of people in Iran use a VPN.

Don’t want to read the whole article? No worries here’s a nice summary of what we think are the 3 best VPNs for Iran.

Name Score The gist Price
PureVPN 5/5 High speed, travel-friendly, cheap, easy to use $10.95 for 1 month
NordVPN 3/5 Useful features, varying speed, smooth design, low number of countries $11.95 for 1 month
ExpressVPN 4/5 Strong connections, user-friendly design, advanced encryption, expensive, overkill for the average backpacker $12.95 for 1 month

Why Do You Need A VPN In Iran?

Lowering the speed and creating a massive firewall are two tools the Iranian government is using to censor the internet in Iran and minimise the access to Western media. The list of blocked websites is long, but here’s just a few more:

  • Twitter
  • CNN
  • BBC
  • Gmail (you can still use Google search)

Luckily, there’s a way to get around this firewall. That way is called a Virtual Privacy Network or VPN.

Further reading: What To Wear In Iran As A Female Backpacker

How Does A VPN Work?

Our trip to Iran was our first time going to a country with internet censorship, and we had no idea what a VPN was or how to use it. All we knew was it’s something people use to watch the US version of Netflix.

A VPN basically works by tricking the internet into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not and encrypting your data.

How does it do this? Good question. When you turn on your VPN, you’re asked to choose which country you want the internet to think you’re in. Your VPN then connects to a server in that country through a sort of “tunnel”. The server connects to the internet and finally, information is sent back to you through the “tunnel”.

In other words, no one else can listen in on the “tunnel” or know where you’re browsing from when your VPN is on.

This means you can:

  • Use public Wi-Fi without worrying about people stealing your data
  • Watch Netflix or other geo-specific streaming services
  • Have sweet internet freedom!
Anti American Graffiti in Tehran

What’s The Best VPN For Iran?

Alright, you get it, VPNs are your best friends in Iran. Next step is to find the right one, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are thousands of companies out there, but here’s the three we think give the most bang for the buck:

750+ servers in 141 countries

Unlimited data

5 simultaneous logins

7-days money-back guarantee

PureVPN is an excellent VPN for backpackers looking to save money. It’s a bit like the station waggon of VPNs; it’s not overly sexy or fancy, but it does the job at an affordable price. On top of that, PureVPN also takes the prize as the most travel-friendly VPN on the list with server locations in no less than 141 countries. That’s a good chunk above the average which means you’ll have fast connections on other trips around the world and not just in Iran.

In terms of user interface, it’s beautifully designed and easy to navigate, even for VPN newbies. The speed is generally good and it comes with five different browsing modes so you can customise the VPN to fit your internet needs.

On the downside, PureVPN does have occasional connection issues on a few specific servers. The high number of countries available should offset that pretty easily as you’ll always have a wide selection of global servers to choose from. So, as for the verdict for PureVPN: if you’re looking for a solid, not-too-pricey VPN, this is an excellent budget backpacker option.

PureVPN costs:

  • $10.95 for 1 month
  • $8.95/month for 6 months
  • $10.95/month for 2 years