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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

15 Best Onion Sites — Safely Visit the Dark Web in 2024

Husain Parvez Updated on 23rd April 2024 Fact-checked by Ryan Jones Cybersecurity Researcher

Entering the Dark Web gives you access to uncensored information such as global news and politics, private messaging services, and anonymous Bitcoin wallets with additional privacy and security. However, delving into the Dark Web can mean you are exposed to serious cyber threats.

To help you safely use the Dark Web, I’ve put together a list of the best .onion sites, a guide about how to access them (your regular browser can’t do it), and ways to keep yourself protected while you explore Tor. The best way to stay safe on The Dark Web is by using a VPN — an app that establishes an encrypted connection between your device and a VPN server. This shields your activities from prying eyes, including hackers and your ISP.

My best choice for accessing the Dark Web is ExpressVPN. It has top security features to keep your information private, impressive speeds to counter slow-loading pages, and a global server network so you can use it in most countries. You can test ExpressVPN risk-free as it's backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you find you don't like it, getting a full refund is hassle-free. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN for Accessing Onion Sites >>

Important: My team and I do not condone using the Dark Web for illegal activities. While the sites recommended in this article are legal to visit, there are plenty of sites within the Dark Web that are either illegal to access or dangerous. Always exercise extreme caution when using the Dark Web and carefully research the sites that you intend to visit.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best .onion Sites on The Dark Web in 2024

  1. The Hidden Wiki — A comprehensive directory of the deep web, providing categorized links and valuable resources.
  2. TorLinks — A curated list of onion sites offering a gateway to various services and content on the Dark Web.
  3. DuckDuckGo — A privacy-focused search engine that doesn't track user activity and provides unbiased search results.
  4. Dread — A forum resembling Reddit, primarily focused on discussions related to darknet markets, security, and anonymity.
  5. ProtonMail — A secure and encrypted email service that prioritizes user privacy and data protection.

See 10 More Great Onion Sites

Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web in 2024

1. The Hidden Wiki — The Wikipedia of the Dark Web

The Hidden Wiki serves as the Dark Web's equivalent to Wikipedia, providing a comprehensive directory of various sites and resources. As a starting point for many Dark Web explorers, it offers a curated list of links, ensuring you can navigate the intricate layers of the Dark Web safely.

Screenshot of The Hidden WikiThe types of listings and sections you might find include financial, commercial, and security services

Beyond its directory functions, the platform also serves as a community hub where users can discuss various topics, share experiences, and provide updates on the ever-changing landscape of the Dark Web. Its longevity and reputation have solidified its position as a cornerstone of the Dark Web community.

The Hidden Wiki URL: http://zqktlwiuavvvqqt4ybvgvi7tyo4hjl5xgfuvpdf6otjiycgwqbym2qad.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

TorLinks is a robust backup directory for the Onion sites, ensuring uninterrupted access to the Dark Web's vast content. Designed to act as a safety net, it offers a categorized compilation of links, providing users with an alternative means to access essential resources when primary directories face unexpected downtimes.

Screenshot of TorlinksTorLinks is constantly updated and has an easy-to-use interface

While TorLinks strives to curate its content, the vastness and ever-changing nature of the Dark Web means the safety, legitimacy, and content of the individual sites it lists can vary significantly. As always, when navigating such directories, it's essential to exercise caution and ensure you're taking steps to maintain your online security and privacy.

TorLinks URL: http://torlinksge6enmcyyuxjpjkoouw4oorgdgeo7ftnq3zodj7g2zxi3kyd.onion/

3. DuckDuckGo — A Private Search Engine to Browse Without Tracking

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that, unlike many mainstream search engines, claims not to track user activities or searches, ensuring a private browsing experience. Its commitment to user privacy extends to the Dark Web, making it a preferred choice for those who prioritize anonymity and security. It’s the default search engine in the Tor browser.

Screenshot of DuckDuckGoDuckDuckGo is an alternative for those seeking more private online search experiences

DuckDuckGo is becoming increasingly popular on the clearnet (outside of the Dark Web) due to its firm commitment to user privacy. With its intuitive interface and promise not to retain search histories, it's highly regarded by privacy enthusiasts.

A few other Dark Web search engines that you can use are Ahmia, Haystak, and Torch.

DuckDuckGo URL: https://duckduckgogg42xjoc72x3sjasowoarfbgcmvfimaftt6twagswzczad.onion/

Ahmia URL: http://juhanurmihxlp77nkq76byazcldy2hlmovfu2epvl5ankdibsot4csyd.onion/

Haystak URL: http://haystak5njsmn2hqkewecpaxetahtwhsbsa64jom2k22z5afxhnpxfid.onion/

Torch URL: http://xmh57jrknzkhv6y3ls3ubitzfqnkrwxhopf5aygthi7d6rplyvk3noyd.onion/

4. Dread — A Forum Focusing on Anonymity and In-Depth Discussions

Dread is the Dark Web's platform for unrestricted queries and responses. It was created in 2018 when Reddit banned over 200 thousand users from overcoming censorship and strict moderation. It offers a space where users can ask questions and receive answers without the fear of censorship or judgment.

Screenshot of the Dread home pageYou can find all the Dread channels on the right side of the homepage

From technical queries to personal dilemmas, Dread provides a community-driven platform for knowledge exchange in the most anonymous way possible. However, the lack of moderation makes it difficult to regulate, and trolling, misinformation, and offensive comments are quite common.

Dread URL: http://dreadytofatroptsdj6io7l3xptbet6onoyno2yv7jicoxknyazubrad.onion/

5. ProtonMail — Anonymous & Encrypted Email Service

ProtonMail is perfect for secure email communication. With end-to-end encryption and stringent privacy policies, it ensures that users' emails remain confidential and inaccessible to prying eyes. If you're looking for top-notch email privacy, ProtonMail is like a cozy hideaway on the Dark Web, keeping you safe from prying eyes and data leaks.

Screenshot of Proton MailProton also offers a secure drive you can use to store your sensitive information online

That said, there are several other email platforms you can use, such as RiseUp and Mail2Tor, if ProtonMail doesn’t suit your needs.

ProtonMail URL: https://protonmailrmez3lotccipshtkleegetolb73fuirgj7r4o4vfu7ozyd.onion/

RiseUp URL: http://vww6ybal4bd7szmgncyruucpgfkqahzddi37ktceo3ah7ngmcopnpyyd.onion/

Mail2Tor URL: http://mail2torjgmxgexntbrmhvgluavhj7ouul5yar6ylbvjkxwqf6ixkwyd.onion/

6. The Intercept — Unfiltered Informative News Site

The Intercept is renowned for its fearless and unfiltered journalism. Founded by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept has been at the forefront of investigative journalism, often delving into topics that mainstream media shy away from. Its dedication to truth and justice has earned it praise and a loyal readership.

Screenshot of The InterceptThe Intercept offers all the latest news and political analysis

While The Intercept is a great platform for news, you can also access the BBC Tor Mirror, The New York Times, and ProPublica for more coverage of what’s happening in the world.

The Intercept URL: https://gm64cjz7un7ucso4yegkssuqfzmg7ctn7mkb66c7l6sj7gzyo6syphid.onion/

BBC Tor Mirror URL: https://www.bbcnewsd73hkzno2ini43t4gblxvycyac5aw4gnv7t2rccijh7745uqd.onion/

The New York Times URL: https://www.nytimesn7cgmftshazwhfgzm37qxb44r64ytbb2dj3x62d2lljsciiyd.onion/

ProPublicaURL: http://p53lf57qovyuvwsc6xnrppyply3vtqm7l6pcobkmyqsiofyeznfu5uqd.onion/

7. Darknetlive — The How-to On the Dark Web From Anywhere

Darknetlive is a comprehensive guide for all things related to the Dark Web. From tutorials on safe navigation to the latest news and updates, it offers users a wealth of information. For those looking to delve into the Dark Web, whether out of curiosity or necessity, Darknetlive provides the tools and knowledge for a secure browsing experience.

Screenshot of DarkNetLiveDarknetlive serves as a source for current events and developments within the Deep Web and Darknet communities

That said, a good way to keep your Dark Web activity safe is by using a reliable VPN service. VPNs offer robust security and privacy features, ensuring your browsing sessions and data remain hidden from prying eyes.

Darknetlive URL: http://darkzzx4avcsuofgfez5zq75cqc4mprjvfqywo45dfcaxrwqg6qrlfid.onion/

8. Imperial Library of Trantor — A Vast Collection of Books and Literature

The Imperial Library of Trantor (also known as Galactic Library) is a bibliophile's paradise on the Dark Web. Hosting an extensive collection of books and literature from both the clearnet and darknet, it ensures that knowledge remains unbounded and accessible. From timeless classics to modern works, the library provides a varied selection of reads for everyone.

Screenshot of the Imperial Library home pageThere are many genres you can choose from, like fantasy, science, and history

That said, if you’re mostly interested in open-access scientific research papers and academic articles, try Sci-Hub or Library Genesis (LibGen). For graphic novel fans, I recommend Comic Book Library.

Imperial Library of Trantor URL: http://kx5thpx2olielkihfyo4jgjqfb7zx7wxr3sd4xzt26ochei4m6f7tayd.onion/

Sci-Hub URL: https://www.sci-hub.st/

Library Genesis (LibGen) URL: https://libgen.li/

Comic Book Library URL: http://nv3x2jozywh63fkohn5mwp2d73vasusjixn3im3ueof52fmbjsigw6ad.onion/

9. SecureDrop — Sends Anonymous Tips to Major News Outlets

SecureDrop allows you to anonymously provide news outlets with whistleblowing tips or facts. It was created by The Freedom of the Press Foundation as part of the ongoing battle against censorship and restricted media.

Screenshot of SecureDropClick on the “Get SecureDrop” button to start using the app on your PC

A complimentary service to SecureDrop is Whistleblower Aid, which offers a protective shield for those brave enough to expose wrongdoings. This non-profit organization provides legal and advisory support, ensuring whistleblowers can come forward without fear. There are also .onion sites for several mainstream press outlets where you can drop your tips, including:

  • The Guardian
  • The Washington Post
  • NPR
  • Forbes
  • Associated Press
  • Buzzfeed

SecureDrop URL: http://sdolvtfhatvsysc6l34d65ymdwxcujausv7k5jk4cy5ttzhjoi6fzvyd.onion/

Whistleblower Aid URL: https://whistlebloweraid.org/

The Guardian URL: xp44cagis447k3lpb4wwhcqukix6cgqokbuys24vmxmbzmaq2gjvc2yd.onion

Forbes URL: http://forbes.securedrop.tor.onion/

Buzzfeed URL: https://securedrop.org/directory/buzzfeed/

10. Facebook — The Official Facebook Mirror on the Tor Network

Facebook's .onion service is a testament to the platform's commitment to accessibility and privacy. By offering an official mirror on the Tor network, Facebook ensures that users in regions with internet censorship can still access the platform. This service upholds the principle of a free and open internet, allowing users to connect without boundaries.

Screenshot of FacebookYou can log in using your Facebook credentials just as you would on the regular site

While it might seem counterintuitive for a social media giant like Facebook to have a presence on the Dark Web, this service underscores Facebook's commitment to ensuring its platform is accessible to all, even in regions with internet censorship. Another social media platform on the Dark Web is Twitter.

Facebook URL: https://www.facebookwkhpilnemxj7asaniu7vnjjbiltxjqhye3mhbshg7kx5tfyd.onion/

Twitter URL: https://twitter3e4tixl4xyajtrzo62zg5vztmjuricljdp2c5kshju4avyoid.onion/

11. Impreza Hosting — Premier Hosting Solutions for Dark Web Websites

Just like regular websites, Dark Web sites require hosting, and Impreza Hosting stands out as a top choice. While using it to set up a site demands technical know-how, Impreza Hosting offers server rentals, domain registration, email hosting, and all the other features you'd find with providers like GoDaddy on the standard web.

Impreza Hosting URL: https://imprezareshna326gqgmbdzwmnad2wnjmeowh45bs2buxarh5qummjad.onion/

12. Cypher Market — Well-Known Darknet Market

Cypher Market stands as one of the Dark Web's most iconic marketplaces. With its vast array of products and services, it has catered to a diverse user base for years. As one of the oldest and most trusted darknet markets, Cypher Market has set the standard for secure and anonymous online transactions.

Cypher Market URL: http://6c5qaeiibh6ggmobsrv6vuilgb5uzjejpt2n3inoz2kv2sgzocymdvyd.onion/signin

13. OnionShare — Open-Source Tool That Lets You Securely and Anonymously Share Files

OnionShare provides a multifaceted platform for secure and anonymous file sharing, website hosting, and chatting. Its open-source nature ensures that it remains transparent and trustworthy. The platform goes beyond file sharing. Its multifunctional platform ensures that you can collaborate, share, and communicate with utmost privacy.

OnionShare URL: http://lldan5gahapx5k7iafb3s4ikijc4ni7gx5iywdflkba5y2ezyg6sjgyd.onion/

14. Keybase — Unify Your Online Profiles to Ward Off Imposters

Keybase offers a cryptographic solution to prevent hackers from mimicking your online presence. You can either obtain a PGP key directly from Keybase or upload your personal one, enabling you to connect your GitHub, Twitter, Bitcoin address, and Facebook profiles seamlessly.

Using a VPN is also a good solution to keep your activity safe on the Dark Web and protect your login info from online leaks.

Keybase URL: http://keybase5wmilwokqirssclfnsqrjdsi7jdir5wy7y7iu3tanwmtp6oid.onion/

15. Blockchain — Pay and Be Paid Securely and Anonymously With Cryptocurrency

Blockchain allows you to send and receive bitcoins anonymously. The site is fully protected with an HTTPS certificate, so you can manage your cryptocurrency without compromising your security. Since purchasing anything on the Dark Web is risky, you should always use cryptocurrency to keep your funds and data secure.

A similar platform allowing you to buy, sell, and manage your cryptocurrency is Wasabi Wallet. It allows you to get access to CoinJain and Neutrino protocol to keep your transactions safe.

Blockchain URL: https://www.blockchain.com/

Wasabi Wallet URL: http://wasabiukrxmkdgve5kynjztuovbg43uxcbcxn6y2okcrsg7gb6jdmbad.onion/

Why You Need a VPN for .onion Sites

Tor, although an essential tool for anonymity, isn't without flaws. The very backbone of Tor relies on volunteers who run its nodes, which opens avenues for vulnerabilities. There's a possibility some could exploit the system, compromising end nodes or snooping on data. Moreover, while browsing .onion sites isn’t illegal, ISPs might label you suspicious merely for using Tor. This can also lead to throttling, where your ISP deliberately slows down your internet speed.

This is where a VPN steps in. A VPN works by routing your traffic through its servers, encrypting the data along the way. This encryption ensures that outsiders, including ISPs, can't see what you're doing online or even detect that you're using Tor. Imagine you're browsing an Onion site that discusses sensitive topics. With a VPN, your Tor usage is masked, so it'll appear to your ISP as if you're just doing typical internet browsing.

Moreover, .onion sites, although offering privacy-focused content, can sometimes be risky in terms of security. They may host harmful software or be under surveillance by malicious actors. The Tor network encrypts your data only until it reaches the final relay before the target site; the data is decrypted at the exit node, which can be a vulnerability. However, a VPN makes it more difficult for malicious parties to intercept, monitor, or tamper with your data.

Best VPNs for .onion Sites — Full Analysis (Updated in 2024)

1. ExpressVPN — Impressive Speeds to Reliably Access the Dark Web Without Interruptions

Best Feature Fast speeds and reliable servers for accessing .onion sites from anywhere without slowdowns
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries to access your desired Dark Web platform
Security and Privacy Military-grade encryption and an audited no-logs policy to protect your data from snoops
Average Speed 49.25Mbps (5% slower than my usual connection)
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

ExpressVPN comes with excellent speeds for reliably accessing the Dark Web without slowdowns. It has a proprietary Lightway protocol, which is designed to be lightweight, reducing latency. This helps to improve connection speeds and overall performance. My average download speed dropped by only 5%, which is quite impressive, as many VPNs can reduce your speeds by over 50%.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's protocol settingsLightway UDP is slightly faster, but Lightway TCP is more reliable on certain networks

ExpressVPN includes built-in obfuscation on all its servers to combat Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Some countries or entities utilize DPI to identify Tor traffic. This feature ensures your browsing remains private by disguising your VPN traffic as regular traffic, thus making it challenging for prying eyes to detect when you're using Tor.

It also protects your Dark Web activity from prying eyes by scrambling your traffic with military-grade encryption. During my ExpressVPN tests, I didn't encounter any IP/DNS leaks, meaning my real IP address was never revealed on the Dark Web sites. The VPN also adheres to a strict no-logs policy, which has been shown to be in full compliance with by multiple independent firms, including KPMG and PwC.

One downside is that the plans are pricey. Luckily, ExpressVPN frequently offers discounts to make it more affordable. I subscribed for the 12-month plan and got 49% off and 3 extra months for free for a final price of only $6.67/month. Better yet, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not entirely satisfied, getting a refund is very straightforward.

Useful Features

  • User-friendly apps. All ExpressVPN apps are easy to install and use. You can even quickly set up ExpressVPN on a router to protect your whole home network while browsing on the Dark Web.
  • Extensive server network. ExpressVPN helps you reliably access .onion sites and other websites across the world without restrictions and helps to avoid server overcrowding.
  • Split tunneling. You can designate specific apps to route through the VPN while others continue to use your standard connection. For instance, I configured the Tor browser to utilize the VPN for private access to .onion websites. Meanwhile, my regular browser remained on my fast, low-latency internet connection, ensuring smooth streaming and online gaming (VPNs increase ping).
  • TrustedServer technology. ExpressVPN uses RAM-based servers that ensure all of your data is wiped with every server reboot.
Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.
ExpressVPN Offer June 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — NoSpy Servers for Private .onion Site Browsing Sessions

Best Feature Premium NoSpy servers for accessing Onion sites safely without worrying about bad actors
Server Network 11,690 servers in 100 countries to easily access your favorite Dark Web platforms anywhere
Security and Privacy Headquartered in privacy-friendly Romania, outside data-sharing agreements
Average Speed 47.69Mbps (9% slower than my usual connection)
Editors' Note: CyberGhost VPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

CyberGhost offers NoSpy servers that are optimized for privacy, a great pick for .onion sites. They’re based in privacy-friendly Romania and are entirely operated by the CyberGhost team. This is notable as most VPNs host their servers in third-party data centers, which risks the server (and your data) being accessed by unknown third parties.

Screenshot of CyberGhost's NoSpy serversThese servers offer an additional layer of security and privacy for users navigating the Dark Web

You get automatic WiFi protection with CyberGhost to keep your online activity safe on the Dark Web, even when using public hotspots. Your connection is also secured with AES 256-bit encryption and a kill switch that protects you from data exposure by instantly disconnecting the internet if the VPN tunnel unexpectedly drops. This allows you to access the Dark Web anywhere securely.

The apps are well-organized, making them an ideal choice for VPN first-time users. The Smart Rules feature also allows you to automate the VPN in various ways. For example, I set up CyberGhost to automatically connect to a server whenever I opened the Tor browser on my PC. This enhanced online protection while accessing the Onion sites.

The drawbacks? Monthly plans are costly, and their money-back guarantee period is shorter (only 14 days). However, long-term subscriptions are more affordable, starting at just $2.03/month, and offer an extended refund period, allowing you to try CyberGhost for free for up to 45 days.

Useful Features

  • Content blocker. CyberGhost automatically blocks domains associated with ads, trackers, and malware. This ensures your Dark Web browsing sessions are free of annoying ads and threats to your privacy.
  • Fast speeds. When exploring the Dark Web, maintaining quick connection speeds is essential. While testing CyberGhost, I recorded average speeds of 47.69Mbps on the US and UK servers. This helped me get a smooth gaming and streaming experience, even while using Tor.
  • Regular transparency reports. When browsing the Dark Web, transparency is crucial. CyberGhost regularly publishes transparency reports outlining all requests they've received for user information and how they've responded. Owing to their verified no-logs policy, they've never met any of these data requests.
Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.
June 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access — Customizable Security Features for Safely Browsing the Dark Web

Best Feature Adjustable encryption levels and protocols to make your Dark Web browsing sessions safe
Server Network 29,650 servers in 91 countries to safely access .onion sites
Security and Privacy The MACE ad/malware blocker stops intrusive and dangerous ads
Average Speed 45.31Mbps (13% slower than my usual connection)
Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

PIA is highly customizable, allowing you to tailor your VPN experience for browsing on the Dark Web. For example, the app allows you to select the level of encryption and VPN protocol. I chose AES 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN protocol during my PIA tests for better online privacy while using .onion sites. You can also go with AES 128-bit encryption and WireGuard for faster speeds.

Screenshot of PIA's security settingsYou can configure the data packet size, encryption levels, protocol, port, and more

During my PIA tests, I got average speeds of 45.31Mbps on the nearby servers. This let me reliably browse the Dark Web without interruptions. Besides, thanks to the unlimited bandwidth, you can stream, torrent, or play online games without worrying about data caps.

The only drawback is that PIA can seem a bit overwhelming for first-time VPN users due to its customization options. However, the default configuration is already optimized for a good balance of speed and security for surfing the Dark Web, so there's no need to tweak any settings yourself unless you want to.

Subscription plans begin at just $2.03/month, and thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try PIA for free.

Useful Features

  • The MACE ad blocker. This built-in ad/malware/tracker blocker lets you browse sites on the Dark Web without annoying pop-ups and malicious third parties collecting your data.
  • Multi-Hop. This feature routes your connection through a SOCKS5 or Shadowsocks proxy before the VPN server. It obfuscates your VPN traffic, allowing you to bypass VPN-blocking firewalls and avoid ISP throttling.
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections. With one subscription, PIA lets you securely browse the Dark Web on all your devices at the same time.
Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.
June 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 83% off!

4. NordVPN — Onion Over VPN Servers to Safely Access Onion Sites From Any Browser

Best Feature Specialty servers to quickly set up an Onion over VPN connection
Server Network 6,420 servers in 111 countries to access .onion sites from anywhere
Security and Privacy Threat Protection to stop web tracking and avoid malicious ads
Average Speed 44.79Mbps (14% slower than my usual connection)

NordVPN's app offers an integrated Onion over VPN feature with dedicated servers. These servers are fine-tuned for efficient routing through the Tor network, guaranteeing both ease of use and confidentiality. Furthermore, they allow you to visit Onion sites using standard browsers without needing the Tor browser. But if you use Firefox, you'll need to follow a few more steps to open .onion websites.

Screenshot of NordVPN's Onion over VPN serversThis setup allows you to access the Onion sites without using the Tor browser

The service comes with an in-house NordLynx protocol and unlimited bandwidth for a reliable browsing and streaming experience. In my tests, I got fast speeds to stream my favorite shows without interruptions — an average of 44.79Mbps.

You also get access to a server network that covers many locations around the world. Using NordVPN, I easily accessed the Dark Web without geo-blocks. That said, the only issue I encountered was that some servers (especially those far from my actual location) were hit-and-miss in terms of speed and reliability. However, switching to another server always resolved the problem, and it only took me a few seconds to find a working alternative.

With plans starting at $6.39/month, NordVPN offers good value for your money. If you’re not 100% happy with the VPN, the 30-day money-back guarantee lets you get your money back.

Useful Features

  • Threat Protection. NordVPN automatically blocks ads and malware, so you can safely access .onion sites on the Dark Web. It even scans the files you download for malware, similar to an antivirus.
  • Dark Web Monitor. This feature probes the Dark Web for exposed email addresses. Should your email be found, NordVPN will promptly alert you, allowing you to fortify your account.

5. Surfshark — Obscure Your Tor Browsing Traffic Using Nexus Technology

Best Feature Nexus Technology rotates your IP address for added security from hackers and snoops
Server Network 3,200 servers in 100 countries to safely access your favorite .onion sites
Security and Privacy AES 256-bit encryption for safe connections while using .onion sites
Average Speed 41.94Mbps (19% slower than my usual connection)

IP Rotator is a part of Surfshark’s innovative Nexus Technology. This feature periodically alters your IP address while keeping you connected to the VPN, enhancing your anonymity and making your online footprint even more elusive than with a standard VPN, which can be especially beneficial for Dark Web users.

Screenshot of the Surfshark's settings panelYou can find the Rotating IP option in the settings

With 3,200 servers worldwide, Surfshark’s network isn’t as big as CyberGhost or PIA. However, the VPN covers 100 countries, so you get plenty of options for accessing the Dark Web safely from anywhere.

The performance is definitely a bit slower than the other VPNs on my list, but I got decent speeds of 41.94Mbps to surf the Dark Web without any noticeable stutters. Enabling the WireGuard protocol offered me the fastest connection, so I recommend switching to it before any streaming sessions.

You can get Surfshark for only $2.19/month, which is a cost-effective option for accessing your favorite .onion sites if you don’t mind a slightly slower connection. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to try Surfshark for free.

Useful Features

  • Camouflage Mode. This feature ensures that your ISP can't tell that you're using a VPN. When combined with the Tor network, it offers a robust solution for those wanting to access the Dark Web without raising any flags or attracting undue attention.
  • NoBorders Mode. Some countries and networks heavily restrict or monitor internet use and may block access to VPN services and the Tor network. NoBorders Mode allows users to bypass these restrictions and access the open internet, including the Tor network and Dark Web.
Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

Quick Guide: How to Access the Onion Sites on the Dark Web Safely in 2024

  1. Download a VPN. The best way to safely access .onion sites is by using a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN as it combines military-grade encryption with impressive speeds for safe and interruption-free Dark Web browsing.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose a location that is the closest to you or is considered secure. For example, with a Switzerland IP address, you can safely access your favorite Dark Web platforms.
  3. Open the Tor browser. If you don’t have it yet, you can download it from the official website. Once installed, you’re ready to privately browse the Dark Web.

Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Tips on How to Access .onion Sites on the Dark Web Safely

To access the Dark Web safely, you need to use a method called “Tor over VPN”. This means you first connect to a top-rated VPN, such as ExpressVPN, then use a Tor browser to access specific .onion sites. By connecting to a VPN before you go anywhere near the Dark Web, your personal IP address is never revealed.

Below are the primary methods for ensuring your safety while navigating the Dark Web:

  • Insert the correct URL. Tor doesn't work as a regular browser, as it doesn't have a built-in search engine. So, in order to access the page you need, you have to copy and paste the exact URL. This way, you won't be at risk of accessing shady or disturbing websites or landing on dangerous sites.
  • Keep contacts to a minimum. The Dark Web is unregulated, so it can be a haven for people with poor intentions. This means that you shouldn't give away any personal information and, if possible, don't engage in public chat rooms where your online footprint can be tracked.
  • Mind the links you access. While a good VPN keeps you protected, it's always wise to avoid cyber threats. Links and scripts can be packed with malware, and downloading files can put you and your device at risk.
  • Use a Dark Web email account. You should never use your personal email accounts when you’re on a.onion site, even if you believe it to be trustworthy. It just isn’t worth the risk.
  • Use complicated passwords. By creating strong passwords and making them individual for every account you open, you’ll reduce your risk of hacking. Don’t ever use the passwords you keep for personal banking, etc.
  • Avoid proxy services such as Tor2Web. These connect using your regular browser, meaning you lose the protection of the layers of encryption. It also means that you are more readily exposed to threats.
  • Cover your webcam and block your microphone. Some hackers use technology that infiltrates your camera and microphone, meaning they can spy on you. This isn’t just creepy, it is potentially very dangerous.
  • Avoid downloads. Downloading files from the Dark Web can be risky. They might contain malware or other malicious software. This means your best bet is to avoid downloads from the Dark Web altogether.
  • Use cryptocurrencies. If you make any transactions, use cryptocurrencies to remain safe and private on the Dark Web.
  • Stay updated. Regularly update your Tor Browser and any other software you use while on the Dark Web to ensure you have the latest security patches.
  • Be skeptical. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scams are prevalent on the Dark Web.

FAQs on Best .onion Sites on the Dark Web

Is it illegal to enter the Dark Web?

No, simply entering or browsing the Dark Web itself isn’t illegal in most jurisdictions. However, many of the activities and transactions that occur on the Dark Web are unlawful. The legality depends on your actions and local laws. It’s important to steer clear of shady sites and illegal activities — exercise caution and use your judgment. To navigate the Dark Web with an added layer of security, use a reliable VPN.

Are onion sites safe?

There are both legitimate and malicious sites. So avoid sketchy .onion sites and use official links to browse on the Dark Web. It’s also advised to connect to a VPN server for increased security while using .onion sites.

Will a VPN protect you on the Dark Web?

A VPN enhances your privacy and security on the Dark Web by masking your IP address and encrypting your connection. However, not all VPNs come with robust security and privacy features. For better protection, it's advisable to use premium VPN services like ExpressVPN. It’s also crucial to remain cautious and use additional tools and practices for maximum safety on the Dark Web.

Is Tor the best browser to access the Dark Web?

Tor is the most widely used browser for accessing the Dark Web due to its strong focus on anonymity and privacy. However, there are other browsers besides Tor that can access the Dark Web, like I2P and Freenet. Each has unique features and focuses on different aspects of privacy and security. No matter which browser you choose, it’s advised to complement it with a VPN to shield your sensitive data while exploring the Dark Web.

Can I access the Dark Web without Tor?

Yes, while Tor is the most popular method, there are other networks like I2P and Freenet that can be used to access parts of the Dark Web. However, each network accesses different parts of the Dark Web, and none are as extensive as Tor's Onion network. You can also use NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN servers to access the Onion network using regular browsers.

Can I access the Dark Web from my iPhone or Android device?

You can access .onion on iPhone or Android using Tor browser apps, but it may not be safe to do so. Although you’ll find the Tor browser on Android devices, iOS users can only access it using third-party applications. No matter which device you use, you should always couple it with a quality VPN to keep you as safe as possible.

Can I use a free VPN to access the Dark Web?

It may be possible, but it’s not recommended. Free VPNs often have limitations such as data caps, slower speeds, and fewer server locations. More importantly, not all free VPNs are trustworthy. Some might log your activities, display intrusive ads, or even sell user data. It’s a better alternative to opt for a premium VPN service with a trustworthy money-back guarantee that has a proven record of preserving user anonymity and robust security features.

Access the Onion Sites on the Dark Web with a VPN Now

Navigating the Dark Web can expose you to cyber threats, risking your safety and data. Combining a VPN with Tor is a smart move, as it adds an extra layer of disguise to your online activities, safeguarding you from cyberattacks. The good news is, there are reliable VPNs out there that work well with Tor, keeping your online anonymity intact.

I recommend ExpressVPN for accessing .onion sites safely. It has excellent speeds for uninterrupted browsing and scrambles your data with military-grade encryption to keep you safe when accessing the Dark Web. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for accessing .onion sites…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 84%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 83%!
4
9.4 /10
9.4 Our Score
Save 72%!
5
9.3 /10
9.3 Our Score
Save 86%!
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Husain Parvez is a Cybersecurity Researcher and News Writer at vpnMentor, focusing on VPN reviews, detailed how-to guides, and hands-on tutorials. Husain is also a part of the vpnMentor Cybersecurity News bulletin and loves covering the latest events in cyberspace and data privacy.

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