The Dark Web may have a sinister and sordid reputation, but it isn’t exclusively malicious.
News sites, human rights organizations, and various other institutions maintain a Dark Web mirror of their primary indexed website. We’ve compiled a list of the best onion sites—our top picks of the best sites on the dark web.
While there isn’t much need for the average person to access Onion Sites, particularly because the anonymity associated with Tor creates a breeding ground for criminality, it may surprise you to find out that it also opens the door to plenty of legitimate sites.
A variety of organizations keep an Onion Site available to ensure citizens in countries with strict censorship can access their resources. In addition, Tor creates the means for people who are targeted, discriminated against, or persecuted to access information and communicate without being placed under surveillance.
To give you an idea of what is available on the Dark Web, in this article we have listed the best and most popular Onion Sites. If you want to, you can use our guide on how to use Tor to access these resources.
What are onion sites?
The so-called Dark Web is a collection of websites not listed by regular search engines like Google or Bing. Users cannot visit onion sites using normal browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. Instead, visitors must access sites on the Tor Network using a special browser developed by the Tor Project.
Onion sites do not use regular domain names that are registered with a central authority (domain name registry) on the clearnet. Instead, onion sites are derived from a cryptographic key and must be accessed using the Tor browser.
Tor project coined the term Onion Routing (TOR stands for The Onion Router) to describe the process by which users gain online privacy and anonymity using the network. Tor works by directing internet traffic through a global network of volunteer nodes. This network of more than 6000 relays conceals the user’s location from anybody engaging in online surveillance, as well as the websites visited.
What you may not know is that you can use Tor browser to access regular HTTPS websites on the surface web. This prevents tracking and fingerprinting, because Tor browser isolates each website you visit, meaning that third-party trackers and ad networks can’t follow you around.
That said, Tor is not suitable in all cases. The anonymity that onion routing provides slows down your internet considerably. For this reason, anybody who wants to privately stream in HD, play games, torrent, make video calls—or do anything else that requires fast speeds—is advised to use a VPN.
Should I use a VPN to access Tor?
The Tor network is designed to provide you with privacy and anonymity. That said, most experts agree that at least some nodes on the Tor network have been compromised by intelligence agencies like the CIA and the NSA.
For this reason, it is always better to use a trustworthy VPN for Tor while accessing the Dark Web, as this will provide a robust additional layer of privacy.
Here’s how to access Tor safely with a VPN:
- Subscribe to a VPN for Tor. We recommend NordVPN because it has a no logs policy, secure servers in 59 countries, and servers optimized for Tor (Tor over VPN).
- Navigate to the VPN’s website and subscribe.
- Download the VPN software onto your device.
- Choose a VPN server from the list and click connect (remember to use servers that are optimized for Tor over VPN).
- Launch your Tor browser and use the Dark Web with the added privacy of your VPN.
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What are the best onion sites?
In this section, we have listed the most popular resources on the Dark Web. Please note that you must take great care when using the Dark Web as sites often contain adware, spyware, malicious links, and scams.
With this in mind, it is essential that you are careful about what you choose to visit and where you choose to click. As always, we strongly recommend using a reliable antivirus and a robust VPN to increase your security.
Here are the best onion sites:
1. The Hidden Wiki
The Hidden Wiki is one of the easiest ways to find useful resources and websites on the Dark Web. It is essentially a list of all the notable websites available on the Tor Network that is kept in a single, organized place.
You can use this community-edited link database to find everything from anonymous chat rooms, to Dark Web social networks, and blogs about various interesting subjects.
Just remember to proceed with caution because you should only use services you feel comfortable with, and that have a low risk of leading to scams or illicit content.
In addition, it is worth noting that users should not blindly trust links on the Hidden Wiki because this is a community resource that anybody can update, and some of the links are malicious. As a result, it is probably a good idea to double-check and verify any onion links you find using a secondary source such as Onion Links or DarkWebPug.
We also urge you to remember that there are various versions of the Hidden Wiki circulating on the dark web. The original (linked below) is still considered the most reliable, so try to avoid counterfeit versions.
The Original Hidden Wiki: http://zqktlwiuavvvqqt4ybvgvi7tyo4hjl5xgfuvpdf6otjiycgwqbym2qad.onion
This onion site was created as a place for whistleblowers to pass information to journalists. It is a safe haven where anybody with information can share it anonymously and without fear of being tracked.
The great thing about sharing via the Dark Web on SecureDrop is that users can do so without fear of persecution and without the possibility of being tracked down and punished.
The popularity of SecureDrop as a resource for whistleblowers has actually led to leading publications hosting their own SecureDrop URL. This allows whistleblowers to pass their information directly to those important news outlets.
Below we have included a list of notable publications with their own SecureDrop:
- Reuters: http://smb7p276iht3i2fj.onion/
- Forbes: http://t5pv5o4t6jyjilp6.onion/
- The Financial Times: http://xdm7flvwt3uvsrrd.onion/
- The Guardian: http://xp44cagis447k3lpb4wwhcqukix6cgqokbuys24vmxmbzmaq2gjvc2yd.onion/
3. Tor News
This is a news resource about Tor that is hosted by its developers at the Tor Project. It brings you useful information about updates to the Tor ecosystem and its apps, and important news about privacy, defending the open internet, defeating censorship, and ongoing threats to internet freedom.
DarkNetLive is an onion news site that provides up-to-date information related to the dark web and its use. Visit it to find out about Dark website closures, arrests, drug seizures, and other news topics related to the dark web and its use.
DarkNetLive link: http://darkzzx4avcsuofgfez5zq75cqc4mprjvfqywo45dfcaxrwqg6qrlfid.onion/
5. Archive Today
This resource is similar to the surface web’s Wayback Machine. It is an archive stored on the Dark Web that keeps a snapshot of websites on the surface internet. The useful site allows you to see how a website looked at an earlier date. This lets you check what information it contained at a previous point in time.
You can head over to Archive Today to look at snapshots taken by other users. Alternatively, you can take a snapshot of a web page that you consider important and want to ensure is archived for freedom of information purposes.
Archive Today link: http://archiveiya74codqgiixo33q62qlrqtkgmcitqx5u2oeqnmn5bpcbiyd.onion/
6. BBC News (and other leading news sites)
Most people would not expect to find BBC News on the Dark Web. However, as with many other important publications, the BBC maintains a Dark Web mirror of its publication to ensure that anybody, anywhere in the world, can access the important global news coverage it publishes.
When corrupt and authoritarian governments seek to oppress their electorate, it is common for news that criticizes those regimes to be blocked. The BBC understands the importance of making its coverage of world events accessible to people living in totalitarian regimes, which is why it maintains a .onion site.
BBC News link: https://www.bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion/
Other news outlets that maintain a Dark Web mirror include:
Facebook doesn’t have the best reputation, privacy advocates frown upon it because of the way it harvests data and profiles users. These concerns are valid because using Facebook undoubtedly exposes users to some of the highest levels of surveillance capitalism anywhere on the web.
Despite these privacy concerns, Facebook has become a critical place for communicating and expressing opinions. During times of political upheaval, Facebook and Facebook Messenger have become vital for the dissemination of information; often used by activists to coordinate protests and to promulgate dissenting opinions.
No matter how you feel about the platform, it is undeniable that Facebook provides benefits in terms of free communication. In fact, restrictive governments understand this better than just about anybody else, which is why Facebook’s services are regularly blacked-out during elections and demonstrations.
Facebook provides an Onion Site for this very reason. Its Dark Web mirror ensures that even when governments force ISPs to block its services, anybody who relies on its services can leverage Tor to continue communicating with friends and family.
Since it was first launched in 2014, ProtonMail has risen to be one of the most recommended and trusted private email providers. The Swiss-based email service allows anybody to send and receive encrypted emails securely, and without concerns that the contents of their emails are being intercepted or scanned automatically; as is the case with email providers like Gmail.
Anybody can start a basic ProtonMail account for free and can use Tor to access their emails if they want to. Creating a Proton Mail and accessing it via the Dark Web creates added anonymity for the user, which is useful for ensuring greater levels of privacy. It also ensures that the service is available in countries with severe censorship; important due to many governments’ desire to crack down on encrypted communications.
Finally, according to ProtonMail, it also maintains a .onion mirror as an insurance policy against DDoS attacks. Due to the unlisted nature of onion sites, they are harder to attack, which means that if its clearnet site went down during a cyberattack, account holders would still be able to access their emails via Tor.
Proton Mail link: https://protonmailrmez3lotccipshtkleegetolb73fuirgj7r4o4vfu7ozyd.onion/
9. Dark Web Search Engines
Finding useful information on the Dark Web can sometimes seem perplexing. The reality, however, is that many useful resources and services can be found using search engines similar to those on the surface web.
Below we have included a list of the most useful search engines capable of finding .onion sites:
- Ahmia: http://juhanurmihxlp77nkq76byazcldy2hlmovfu2epvl5ankdibsot4csyd.onion/
- Deep Search: http://search7tdrcvri22rieiwgi5g46qnwsesvnubqav2xakhezv4hjzkkad.onion/
- Torch: http://xmh57jrknzkhv6y3ls3ubitzfqnkrwxhopf5aygthi7d6rplyvk3noyd.onion/
- Haystack: http://haystak5njsmn2hqkewecpaxetahtwhsbsa64jom2k22z5afxhnpxfid.onion/
- Dark Search: http://darkschn4iw2hxvpv2vy2uoxwkvs2padb56t3h4wqztre6upoc5qwgid.onion/
The nice thing about Ahmia is that it lists .onion sites that want to be found. Many of those sites are listed because their devs have submitted the site directly to the search engine for indexing.
In addition, Ahmia and Haystack make every effort to filter out and blacklist sites known to contain harmful, abusive, or illegal content. This makes them a safer option for searching the Dark Web.
Torch is the oldest and largest .onion search engine with more than 1 million .onion sites indexed. Just bear in mind that many of those will be out of date, and using this index will require a lot of discretion, due to its size.
Always remember that searching the Dark Web may provide results that link to immoral or illegal content. For this reason, it is imperative that anybody searching the Dark Web takes great care to stick to topics and categories that are risk-free.
Looking for somewhere to post your thoughts and read those of others on the Dark Web? Dread is the Tor Network’s equivalent of Reddit. It was created in 2018 after Reddit decided to ban a large number of accounts.
On Dread, you can make an account and start leaving your thoughts on a variety of topics, all while maintaining complete anonymity and privacy. Just bear in mind that the addition of anonymity to a platform like Reddit causes people to behave without a filter.
On the one hand, this is considered beneficial for people living under strict regimes where censorship is common. On the other hand, it can lead to trolling, the spread of misinformation, and unsavory comments that users wouldn’t be allowed to make on the surface web. For this reason, we recommend proceeding with caution.
That said, Dread is a place where you can find useful information and help on a variety of topics and it is an interesting resource that some people may find useful.
11. Imperial Library
Looking for a good book to read? The Imperial Library is home to more than a million books that have been broken into over 40 categories for easy searching. You can find everything from fantasy novels to self-help books—as well as literature about traveling, biographies, and anything else that takes your fancy.
Just remember that this is a Dark Web resource, which means that much of the content is likely in breach of copyright. With this in mind, we neither condone nor encourage its use. That said, it is one of the most famous and popular Dark Web sites, and it does have legitimate uses…
In the UK, any book older than 70 years old (past the date of the author’s death) is no longer subject to copyright restrictions. This number is only 50 years in many countries. This means you are safe to download older manuscripts from the Imperial Library, so you can do some research and use the library legally.
Even if you don’t want to chance accidentally downloading a pirated book, you can stick to buying books on Amazon and use the Imperial Library’s discussion forums. These are packed with interesting people who talk about their favorite books!
Imperial Library link: http://kx5thpx2olielkihfyo4jgjqfb7zx7wxr3sd4xzt26ochei4m6f7tayd.onion/
If you want to access regular HTTPS websites (on the surface web) via the Tor network for added privacy and anonymity, DuckDuckGo is what you need.
It is a private search engine that lets you search the regular internet via Tor. This allows you not only to visit sites with the added privacy provided by the Tor network, but also search the web as privately as possible from inside the Tor browser.
DuckDuckGo link: https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/