Want to venture onto the dark web? The hidden side of the internet can feel like a scary and mysterious place to be. And it is — if you don’t know how to navigate it correctly.
Fear not — we’ve done the digging for you! Find our round-up of the 15 best dark web websites, alongside the specific .onion links you need to start browsing on Tor. We’ll also look more closely at the dark web, what it is, and how it works so you can stay safe when exploring the unknown.
The dark web can be…dark. It’s not always safe. Malicious sites could easily compromise your safety, as can the cybercriminals waiting for you on Tor nodes. To make sure you stay protected, use Tor with a VPN. CyberGhost VPN adds another layer of encryption to stop your information from falling into the wrong hands as you weave through the Tor network.
15 Best Dark Web Sites to Visit in 2024
DuckDuckGo isn’t just your go-to search engine for privacy on the surface web. It can also help you access the dark web. It won’t log your information or track your dark web sessions. If you couldn’t locate a certain .onion link through Torch, try to find it on DuckDuckGo!
Ahmia is another dark web search engine. It indexes sites by crawling hidden .onion pages on the Tor network, so you can track down hard-to-find websites easily. It filters pages using a blacklist to try and stop abusive pages from appearing in search results.
You can also use Ahmia to explore insights and statistics about the Tor network. A word of caution, though — some results are risky. The blacklist isn’t foolproof and questionable sites often find their way onto Ahmia search results pages.
Riseup is another anonymous email provider that lets you create private email and chats. It doesn’t keep any trace of your communications, making it particularly useful for email activists.
Riseup also provides mailing lists for activist organizations filtered by various topics, including animal rights, economic justice, human rights, and disability rights. You’ll need a Riseup code to sign up though — and you can only get this from an existing user.
4. The Intercept
The Intercept is your unfiltered source of fearless journalism. The Intercept always relied on the Tor network to receive anonymous reports and investigate powerful people and organizations. It later launched its .onion service so readers could browse their newsroom secretly and bypass government-imposed news censorship.
ProPublica is another independent, non-profit newsroom. It’s had an .onion version of its website since 2016. ProPublica’s onion site is a go-to news publication source if you’re in an oppressive country and need to hide your digital footprints. It’ll also be good for you if you’re interested in unfiltered, thought-provoking news reports.
SecureDrop is Tor’s onion service for whistleblowers. It allows them to share sensitive information with news outlets and independent journalists secretly and securely. Several news organizations, including The Intercept, ProPublica, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have set up their own SecureDrop links to receive documents and tips from people anonymously.
7. Impreza Hosting
If you’re looking for a secure and anonymous hosting website, Impreza Hosting is your answer. It lets you securely host a site on the Tor network, with a specific .onion link. You can easily manage and edit your website via the Impreza Hosting interface. It doesn’t ask for any personal details when signing up either, which is helpful for additional privacy.
ZeroBin lets you send private and encrypted messages via the dark web. It wraps your communications in 256-bit AES encryption to stop others from peeking at your messages or stealing sensitive information.
It doesn’t keep traces of your messages either — everything sent between ZeroBin’s servers stays private. You can also add password protection for additional security, or set messages to delete automatically once the receiver has opened the shareable link.
9. Hidden Answers
Tor’s Hidden Answers is an unfiltered, uncensored, and anonymous Reddit-style platform. Unlike other forums, it doesn’t kick you out for asking a politically charged question. Be careful though: conversations can become creepy or disturbing without any community guidelines, monitoring, or supervision.
10. Archive Today
Archive Today is an on-demand webpage capture and storage service. If you’d like to request a capture anonymously, use its .onion version. You could also request a retrieval to see how certain websites have evolved over the years. It’s an interesting time pass — until you discover something controversial on past versions of government or corporate websites. Good luck exploring!
11. BBC Tor Mirror
Even well-known news websites have dark web alternatives. BBC Tor Mirror is the dark web copy of the international BBC News site. It’s essentially an unfiltered version of BBC News. You can anonymously and freely read news stories that might be restricted elsewhere, especially in countries with tough censorship.
BBC Tor Mirror has one international site, alongside individual pages for specific countries, including Ukraine and Russia.
12. The CIA
The Tor copy of the CIA’s website is much like other news pages. It gives you access to unfiltered content, even if you’re located in a country with intense restrictions. The US Navy first developed the site to help others communicate safely, but now it’s designed for anyone who needs private and free access to news and information about the CIA.
If scientific papers are your thing, Sci-Hub is for you. It gives you open access to tons of scientific papers and journals — sometimes including journals locked behind paywalls. It currently has over 80 million scientific documents to sift through.
Beware, though: Sci-Hub can come with copyright concerns, and it’s considered illegal in most countries to download papers without paying for them. Always check local laws before accessing any paid-for material. If you’re unsure, stick to papers you know you don’t need to pay for. At CyberGhost VPN, we don’t condone any illegal activity.
Like BBC news, Facebook also has a dark web alternative. It’s designed specifically for people in high-surveillance or restricted countries who can’t access Facebook freely. It’s the same as the original social media platform, just with greater anonymity. Since you access it through the Tor browser, it helps shield your identity and get around firewalls.
Make sure you use it carefully! Whether or not you’re on the dark web, Facebook loves to collect data. Your information could easily end up elsewhere, so think twice about what you post online.
15. Deep Web Radio
Deep Web Radio is the dark web’s 24/7 onion radio link. It’s nice to have since we recommend not running any other application on the internet while you’re surfing the dark web. Tune into the deep web radio if it’s getting too quiet, and you’ll definitely find something interesting to listen to. (Psst…it’s on the dark web even though the name suggests otherwise).
What Is the Dark Web?
The dark web is a section of the internet that hosts websites and links you can only access via the Tor network. The Tor network is encrypted and sends your traffic through a series of nodes. This adds a layer of anonymity to your traffic, so you can privately and safely access dark web websites.
The dark web often gets a bad rep due to the sheer number of illegitimate and potentially harmful websites it hosts. Many crime groups use the dark web to access and share certain types of content, making it a risky place to be. While the dark web is a hub for criminal syndicates, it’s also a platform for free press and private communication.
Activists, whistleblowers, and journalists often use the dark web to access news and content that’s otherwise accessible. They also use it to encrypt their communications and keep their identities under wraps via Tor — especially in countries where reading or sharing content could lead to harm.
Dark Web vs. Deep Web
Underneath the surface web is the deep web, which is not indexed by regular search engines. The deep web makes up 90% of the overall internet. This includes pages behind paywalls, your internet banking, and anything else requiring authentication. You can’t access these pages without using credentials or entering other login information.
The deep web is essential for keeping the surface web running and it’s mostly hidden background data. This includes web hosting and intranets — the cogs that keep the machine turning.
Beyond that is the mysterious dark web, which makes up a small amount of the deep web. The dark web is a hidden network hosting .onion sites that are only accessible through the Tor browser. You need to know the .onion dark web links before you can visit these sites as they aren’t all indexed like on Google or Bing.
What Are .onion Sites?
Still wondering what .onion sites are and how they work? Let’s explore this in more detail. Websites you visit with normal browsers like Chrome or Firefox have familiar URL extensions (.com, .org, .net, or .us). Onion sites have URLs ending with .onion and they don’t follow the typical domain name format. They use more unique and complex domain names. For example, Facebook’s .onion link is “facebookcorewwwi.onion.”
Onion sites are not indexed on the regular surface web or “clearnet.” Unlike regular websites, you can’t search .onion sites using a regular browser, and they’re not registered in a central database. To access .onion sites, you need a private network and browsers — in other words, you need Tor (more below).
You might be wondering why Facebook has an .onion link. Well, .onion sites provide anonymity for site visitors. This is especially valuable in countries with oppressive surveillance and censorship regimes.
When governments block Facebook, activists or dissidents can use its .onion link to communicate. Bear in mind, increased privacy attracts illegal activity. This is why the dark web is a hub of scams and criminal activity.
Dark Web Tools: What Is Tor Browser?
Now that you have a better idea of what .onion sites are, you might be wondering how to access them. You need Tor to access onion sites on the dark web.
Tor is a free open-source browser offering more privacy and anonymity. It masks communication through layers of encryption and routes traffic through relay servers.
When you visit a website through a regular browser, your access request goes directly to the website’s servers through your ISP. The website can see your IP address and your ISP, government, advertisers, and malicious actors can easily track you. When you use the Tor browser, it adds several layers of encryption — like an onion. Then, it sequentially sends your request through three random relay servers.
Each Tor node replaces your IP address with its own and removes exactly one layer of encryption. The final server (or the exit node) fully deciphers your request and sends it off to the website you’re trying to reach. That way, outsiders can’t see your original IP address or trace your online activities back to you.
Tor also uses a similar relay system to let website owners host their websites anonymously. The website URLs end with a .onion domain name extension. They’re encrypted, and users can only access them via the complex and hidden Tor routes. This is the infamous ‘dark web’ where people can publish websites without revealing their identities.
How To Access Dark Web Websites Safely
Using dark web .onion sites is legal as long as you avoid illegal activities. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started safely.
1. Download Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is the only way to safely access .onion sites. While proxies like Tor2Web let you visit onion sites without running Tor, it’s not at all private. You can download Tor at The Tor Project for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. If you’re an iPhone user, you can download Tor from the App Store.
2. Install/Update Your Anti-Malware
Many dark web websites are malware hotspots and without the right protection, you could get infected before you know it. While it’s best to stick to links you know are safe, you should also protect yourself from accidental clicks. A strong up-to-date anti-malware with real-time protection will make a big difference if you’re subject to cyber attacks.But remember — no program can protect your device against everything.
3. Know How to Navigate Tor Safely
Here’s our checklist of extra precautions to keep you safe:
- Don’t click on unfamiliar .onion links
- Always double check the link address
- Never give out your personal information
- Cover your webcam
- Avoid downloading files from the dark web
- Close other apps while using Tor
- Avoid making purchases on the dark web
- Always use a VPN with Tor
Do I Need a VPN for the Dark Web?
It may be the most private browser, but Tor still has its fair share of loopholes. Authorities use these flaws to trace criminals and uncover fraudulent organizations. Let’s take a look at a few of the privacy risks of using the dark web:
- Unknown volunteers own and control Tor’s server nodes. If your traffic ends up on a bad exit node, malicious website owners could monitor the node and see all your traffic and browsing history.
- Tor replaces your IP address at its first relay node. This means your ISP and other snoopers can see your IP address before you connect to Tor. Unless you use a VPN, your ISP knows you’re connected to Tor.
- Tor is home to many cybercriminals and creeps. Cybercriminals exploit security vulnerabilities to steal from and de-anonymize you. Law enforcement agencies also spy on .onion websites (and have even been reported to operate some Tor nodes) to identify criminal activity. Your seemingly innocent quest could instantly land you in trouble.
It’s essential to protect yourself with a VPN on Tor. We don’t recommend connecting to the Tor browser without one. Tor hides your IP address, but your ISP can see you’re connected to Tor.
Some ISPs and governments take a special interest in anyone they detect using Tor to track potential criminal activity. Loopholes exist, and if your government is motivated enough to track what you’re doing, they can.
A VPN adds another layer of anonymity to your traffic with a Tor-over-VPN connection, encrypting your traffic before you use Tor. It masks your IP address and traffic before you’ve even opened up the Tor browser. This stops malicious actors from intercepting your connection, especially cybercriminals lurking on Tor relay nodes.
Using a VPN also means your ISP can only see that you’re using a VPN — not Tor. Your ISP can still see your original IP address, but everything else stays concealed by the VPN connection. This keeps you safe from any ISPs or authorities trying to detect Tor traffic. You can download CyberGhost to use Tor-over-VPN and keep your activities safely concealed from snoopers.
No. Visiting dark web websites through Tor isn’t illegal. Many activists, journalists, and even regular internet users browse the dark web to access content freely and more anonymously. But others abuse the dark web’s freedom and use it to spread hateful and abusive content. Others also use the dark web to commit crimes. Using the dark web is risky, so proceed with caution.
Some are. Your connection is encrypted Tor which adds a layer of privacy to your traffic, but this doesn’t mean every link is safe. Cybercriminals use the dark web to lure you in with suspicious links and malicious content. Always be vigilant about links, downloads, and the sites you visit.
Yes. Tor hides your IP address at the entry node. Your IP address stays concealed as it moves through the Tor relay nodes. Third parties can still see your IP address before you use Tor though, which means your ISP knows if you’re using the browser. That’s why we recommend using Tor-over-VPN so you can hide your Tor activity too.
Tor helps to boost your privacy, but it’s not a 100% anonymous method — nothing ever is. Tor makes it difficult to trace your activity because it hides your IP address and bounces your traffic through a series of nodes. Some nodes and unsafe .onion links have vulnerabilities that can leave you exposed, which means others could track you. You can also be tracked at the entry and exit Tor nodes as your IP address is visible to others.