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16 Best Dark Web Sites & How to Access Them Safely in 2022

Tim Mocan Tim Mocan

Short on time? Here’s how to safely access sites on the dark web using a VPN in 2022:

  • 1. Get a good dark web VPN. My top pick is ExpressVPN because all of its servers allow dark web traffic, it provides world-class security features, and it has fast browsing speeds.
  • 2. Download and install the VPN. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 1–2 minutes.
  • 3. Download and install the Tor browser. The browser is free to download and use, and the installation process doesn’t take more than 2 minutes.
  • 4. Open the VPN app. Connect to a VPN server that allows dark web traffic.
  • 5. Open the Tor browser. Use .onion links to securely access your favorite sites on the dark web.

DISCLAIMER: SafetyDetectives doesn’t condone using the dark web for illegal purposes. We also don’t condone using the dark web if it’s illegal to access it in your country. It’s best to do your own research to make sure it’s not against your local laws to browse sites on the dark web.

People often associate the dark web with criminal activities, but there are also legitimate reasons to use it. For example, some people use it to access unavailable sites in restrictive countries. You can also use the dark web to access clearnet (publicly accessible internet) sites securely, and to visit sites that aren’t available on the public internet.

What’s more, journalists, political activists, and bloggers use the dark web to communicate with sources and each other securely.

Accessing the dark web is actually legal in most parts of the world, and it’s pretty easy to do. That said, navigating the dark web is difficult if you’ve never done it before since there’s not much information about the sites you can browse.

I put together a list of the best sites on the dark web in 2022. I also included instructions on how to access the dark web, and outlined how to stay safe when browsing dark web links (the dark web is also home to many scams and malicious sites).

Quick summary of the best sites on the dark web in 2022:

What You Need to Securely Access the Dark Web

  • The Tor browser — To access the dark web, you’ll need to use the Tor network. It’s a privacy network that sends your traffic through at least 3 servers to change your IP address (concealing your location) and encrypt your traffic (making it unreadable). The easiest way to use Tor is to download the Tor browser, which is a free tool.
  • A VPN — A VPN changes your IP address and encrypts your traffic. I recommend using a VPN that supports Tor traffic to get more privacy. While the Tor network is generally secure, it can experience IP leaks. What’s more, anyone can run Tor servers, including malicious actors who want to log your IP address and traffic. However, if you connect to a VPN before you connect to Tor, Tor can’t see any of your data — so even if you suffer an IP leak, only the VPN’s IP address will be exposed, while your real IP stays hidden. I always use ExpressVPN (our #1 pick for the best VPNs in 2022).
  • An antivirus — An antivirus is a program that protects your device from malware infections. I recommend using an antivirus when you use Tor because there are many malicious sites out there. My favorite antivirus is Norton 360 (which is also our top pick for the best antiviruses in 2022) because it can detect and remove the newest and most advanced types of malware, and it includes dark web monitoring and ransomware protection.

In addition to these tools, you need to exercise extreme caution when accessing sites on the dark web because there are tons of phishing and malicious sites on there. Only use .onion links that come from legitimate sources like The Hidden Wiki.

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

1. The Hidden Wiki — Collection of Popular Dark Web Links

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

The Hidden Wiki is the best way to get started with accessing sites on the dark web because it contains dozens of links to popular .onion sites.

I really like that there are different site categories (like blogs, email services, file uploaders, forums, etc.) — it makes it very easy to find the content you want. The brief website descriptions are very accurate too. I tested all the website links on The Hidden Wiki and almost all of them work (I was able to access sites like Deep Web Radio and ProPublica without any issues). Only a few links are incorrect or no longer active.

But make sure you’re careful which links you access — some of them lead to sites that contain illegal content and services. Always read the site’s description before clicking the link.

2. Ahmia — Good Search Engine for the Dark Web

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Ahmia is a search engine for .onion sites — you search for a keyword and Ahmia retrieves relevant results. I tested it 10+ times and it always provided me with accurate search results. For example, I used the “radio” keyword and the third result was Deep Web Radio, which is a popular online radio station on the dark web. You can also filter the results by telling Ahmia to only display links from the last day, week, or month.

What’s more, Ahmia blacklists .onion sites that contain abusive content, so it’s safe to use it to browse sites on the dark web almost anywhere — you don’t have to worry about clicking on a link with a misleading name and being bombarded with disturbing content.

3. Daniel — .Onion Site with Chat, Link Checker, and More

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Daniel has an online chatroom, an .onion link checker, a list of dark web links, and an option to get an encrypted email address.

The online chat feature is useful for getting information about websites on the dark web — there are only a few users, but they’re very active. I asked them how to surf the dark web securely and I received a helpful reply in just 30 seconds, which told me to only access links from legitimate sites like The Hidden Wiki, use a VPN, and use an antivirus.

The link checker is also very useful, because it lets you test an .onion link to see if it’s active or not. Some dark web links take ages to load or don’t work on the first try, so this tool lets you quickly check if they’re active. There’s a list of 100+ dark web links, and each site comes with a quick, helpful description.

You can also get a free encrypted email address with 50 MB of storage, but I recommend using ProtonMail instead because it’s available on the dark web and its free plan comes with 500 MB.

4. Facebook — Dark Web Version of Popular Social Media Site

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Facebook has its own dark web version, which works just like the clearnet (publicly accessible internet) site. You can access Facebook via the Tor network if you travel through or live in restrictive countries, which might block access to the site.

I tested the dark web version of Facebook and it worked very well — I successfully logged into my account (I only had to verify my identity via an email message), browsed my news feed, and chatted with my friends.

But remember that using Facebook’s dark web version doesn’t mean the site won’t log your data. It can’t see your IP address, but it can still collect information you share on your profile.

5. ProtonMail — Free & Secure Email Services

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

ProtonMail lets you create and send secure emails for free that come with end-to-end encryption (nobody can share your encrypted emails with third parties).

ProtonMail is based in a privacy-friendly country (Switzerland), and all of its apps are open-source, meaning anyone can inspect the code for security vulnerabilities.

Its free plan comes with up to 1 GB of storage, 150 messages per day, and 1 email address. The Mail Plus plan adds up to 15 GB of storage, unlimited messages, and 10 email addresses. Proton Unlimited includes up to 500 GB of storage, 15 email addresses, and access to a Proton VPN account. This is a great VPN for the dark web since it lets you surf sites on the dark web using regular browsers like Chrome and Firefox. ProtonMail accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and even cash, but it doesn’t have a money-back guarantee.

6. Darknetlive — News Site about the Dark Web

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Darknetlive is a useful news site that contains articles about everything related to the dark web. Articles are published regularly, and they contain interesting information, images, and quotes from officials.

In addition, Darknetlive has a list of dark web vendors, which is very convenient — it offers detailed information about each vendor, including .onion addresses and frequently asked questions (FAQs). You can use the list to avoid shady or illegal marketplaces.

Darknetlive also has a list of resources for people interested in cryptocurrencies, a list of dark web forums (the descriptions include FAQs, screenshots, and .onion addresses), and a massive list of dark web links (each site comes with a description).

7. ProPublica — Investigative Journalism News Site

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

ProPublica is a popular news site that exposes corruption and abuses of power through investigative journalism. The articles are very in-depth and informative, and the site is completely free to access — I really like how there are no random paywalls popping up in the middle of articles.

While ProPublica has a clearnet site, accessing its dark web version means the site won’t see your IP address. You can also use its .onion link via the Tor network to access the site in restrictive countries, where it might be unavailable.

8. Surveillance Self-Defense — Cybersecurity Blog

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Surveillance Self-Defense is a blog with cybersecurity tips created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a popular non-profit that specializes in digital privacy. The blog contains tons of useful guides about how you can avoid online surveillance.

I read most of the guides on Surveillance Self-Defense, and they’re very useful — they cover everything from phishing attacks and encryption to creating secure passwords and deleting data on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

I also like that the security guides are very easy to read — the format is easy to scan, complicated terms are explained very well, and there are videos and screenshots. It’s great how the site has a Security Scenarios section too, where it offers personalized security tips for specific audiences (activists, academic researchers, journalists, and more).

9. Archive.today — Lets You Save and Look Up Web Pages

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Archive.today calls itself a “time capsule for web pages,” meaning it allows you to take a snapshot of a web page, which will remain online even if the original web page disappears. The site saves text and images, but it can’t save videos and sounds.

You can also search for snapshots using keywords. For example, I looked up google.com and was able to find a snapshot of Google’s home page from 2008.

10. SecureDrop — Secure File Sharing for NGOs, Journalists, and News Organizations

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

SecureDrop is an open-source submission system that non-profit organizations (NGOs), journalists, and news organizations can use to share and receive sensitive files securely. It’s used by 50+ news organizations, including ABC, Bloomberg News, CBC, and The New York Times.

SecureDrop protects your privacy by encrypting your data, which makes it unreadable. Also, it doesn’t log your IP address or any information about your browser and device. And it doesn’t use third-party servers — the servers are owned by the organizations that use the service.

I really like that SecureDrop’s dark web page includes a list of news organizations that use its service — each entry includes a description of the news organization and a link to a submission guide for if you want to share sensitive information with the organization.

11. OnionName — Buy Readable .Onion Domains

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

OnionName lets you buy readable .onion domains. Dark web domains are generated in a cryptographically secure way, so they look like random strings of 16 characters or more (like 3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion, for example).

OnionName lets you generate an .onion domain name that starts with a specific keyword — like onionamev33r7w4zckyttobq3vrt725iuyr6xessihxifhxrhupixqad.onion/, which is OnionName’s dark web link. The keyword in that example is “onioname,” which is right at the start of the .onion link. With a readable site name like that, people will know what to expect when they click on the link.

OnionName only accepts payments in Bitcoin.

12. Deep Web Radio — Listen to Different Music Genres

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Deep Web Radio is a great site if you want to listen to music in the background while you surf the dark web. It’s easy to navigate and use, and there are around 10 streaming channels available, each with different music — jazz, Baroque, country, folk, Celtic punk, heavy metal, and more.

13. Image Hosting — Upload and Share Images

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Image Hosting is a free service that lets you upload images to share them with other people. This site allows people who live in or travel through restrictive countries to securely access and use image hosting and sharing services, which might be unavailable where they are.

Once you upload an image, the site provides you with shareable links for email messages, instant messaging, message boards, and websites. I tested Image Hosting and was able to upload and share an image on Facebook in less than 10 seconds.

Image Hosting supports 6 image formats and a maximum image size of 3 MB.

14. Google Feud — Fun Trivia Games

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Google Feud provides quick and fun Google-themed trivia games. There are different categories — my favorite one is Multiple Choice, where you need to pick the most popular autocomplete answer for a random Google search (like “is it ok to swim with …”).

There are also convenient integrations — for example, you can play Google Feud with chat bots on platforms like Skype and Telegram, or you can play it using only your voice via Alexa.

15. Legal.Cases — Public Court Decisions From Different Countries

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Legal.Cases is a free site that lets you access publicly available texts of court decisions from around the world. This site is useful if you’re a lawyer or law student who needs to research specific cases that are publicly available, or if you’re simply interested in reading court decisions from a specific country.

Legal.Cases lets you pick court decisions from 10+ country categories (including the US, the UK, and Russia). There’s also an International category, where you can find cases from tons of other countries like Austria, Romania, and Portugal.

16. Beneath VT — Exploring Virginia Tech’s Steam Tunnels

16 Best Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Beneath VT is an educational and entertainment blog dedicated to exploring the steam tunnels beneath Virginia Tech. I included Beneath VT in this guide because it stands out from other sites on the dark web, and it’s also interesting and fun to read.

The site contains information about the dangers of exploring steam tunnels, Virginia Tech’s buildings, and around 10 steam tunnels. Some photos are available, and there’s also an interactive map of the tunnels.

There are tons of other interesting and entertaining sites like this one on the dark web that are unique, safe, and have their own niche.

Best VPNs for Accessing the Dark Web Safely in 2022

Quick summary of the best VPNs for accessing the dark web:

  • 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for accessing the dark web in 2022.
  • 🥈2. Proton VPN — Enables access to dark web via regular web browsers.
  • 🥉3. Private Internet Access — Great for accessing the dark web on a mobile device.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best for Accessing Sites on the Dark Web in 2022

Quick summary of the best VPNs for accessing the dark web:

ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for browsing pages on the dark web in 2022 — it supports Tor traffic, provides excellent security and privacy features, and has very fast speeds.

I really like that all 3,000+ of ExpressVPN’s servers support Tor traffic, because I was able to use a nearby VPN server in my country to get faster speeds while accessing dark web links. On average, I only experienced a 30% slowdown — .onion sites loaded in 2–3 seconds, HD videos loaded in 5 seconds, and there was only minor buffering at the start of the videos.

ExpressVPN provides high-end security features that are ideal for surfing the dark web. It has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited and verified and it uses RAM-only servers, meaning every server reset wipes all data. Perfect forward secrecy (PFS) is also available, which changes your encryption key for each VPN connection to prevent hackers from compromising past or future encryption keys to spy on your traffic.

I also like that ExpressVPN offers split-tunneling, which lets you choose which apps use the VPN and which use your local network. I used ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling feature to only send dark web traffic through the VPN, which increased my speeds by 5–10%.

ExpressVPN is also very easy to use — its apps are intuitive and there’s a quick-connect feature, which automatically connects you to the fastest VPN server for your location.

ExpressVPN allows 5 simultaneous connections and has affordable plans that start at $6.67 / month — it’s pricier than some its competitors, but it provides excellent value. ExpressVPN also backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get ExpressVPN Now

Read our full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. Proton VPN — Best for Accessing Sites on the Dark Web in Regular Browsers

Quick summary of the best VPNs for accessing the dark web:
Proton VPN allows Tor traffic on all servers, and also has Tor over VPN servers in 7 countries, which automatically route your traffic through the Tor network. This allows you to browse .onion sites in regular browsers. In my tests, I was always able to access sites like Darknetlive and Daniel in my Firefox browser while connected to Proton VPN’s Tor over VPN servers.

Proton VPN also provides high-end security and privacy features. All of its apps are open-source (meaning anyone can inspect the code for security vulnerabilities) and audited. And Proton VPN has advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy and full-disk encryption, which keeps all data on a Proton VPN server secure and unreadable even if the server is compromised.

Proton VPN gave me fast speeds (my speeds only slowed down by 38%), but it wasn’t as fast as ExpressVPN — dark web links loaded in 5 seconds and HD videos took 7–8 seconds to load.

Proton VPN has the best free plan out there — it allows unlimited data and comes with decent speeds, but it limits you to 3 server locations (the US, the Netherlands, and Japan) and 1 device. Some people might consider Proton VPN’s free plan sufficient for accessing sites on the dark web, but I think upgrading to its paid plans offers better perks.

The Plus plans (starting at $4.99 / month) add Tor over VPN servers and 10 connections. Proton VPN backs all purchases with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Proton VPN Now

Read our full Proton VPN review

🥉3. Private Internet Access — Best for Accessing Sites on the Dark Web on Mobile

Quick summary of the best VPNs for accessing the dark web:
Private Internet Access (PIA) has very user-friendly and customizable apps (especially on mobile), allows Tor traffic on all servers, and provides great security.

All of PIA’s apps are very easy to use, but I especially like its mobile apps because they made it simple for me to access dark web pages on my Android smartphone and iPhone. The interface is simple to navigate and all features and settings have helpful explanations.

Also, PIA’s mobile apps are very customizable — for example, you can change the encryption level (256-bit or 128-bit) and make the app automatically connect to a VPN server when you use mobile data (so there’s no risk of browsing dark web links without first connecting to the VPN).

I like that all of PIA’s servers are Tor-friendly because PIA has servers in 80+ countries, so it’s very easy to find nearby VPN servers for good speeds. That said, PIA isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN or Proton VPN. In my speed tests, I experienced a 43% slowdown on average — dark web links took 8–10 seconds to load, HD videos took 13–15 seconds to load, and I noticed frequent buffering while skipping through the videos.

But I like how secure PIA is — it has advanced security features like RAM-only servers, and is one of the only iOS VPNs with a kill switch. Also, its no-logs policy has been proven true in court many times, and all of its apps are open-source (but not audited like Proton VPN’s apps).

Private Internet Access allows up to 10 connections and has very affordable plans, which start at $2.19 / month. It backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Private Internet Access Now

Read our full Private Internet Access review

How to Choose a VPN for Accessing the Dark Web

  • Tor support. If the VPN doesn’t support Tor traffic on its servers, you can’t use it to access sites on the dark web. All the VPNs I recommend allow Tor connections on all their servers.
  • Strong security. Security and privacy are vital when accessing the dark web, so I only recommend VPNs that have industry-standard VPN security features. They all come with 256-bit AES encryption, kill switches (which disable online access if the VPN connection drops), leak protection, and no-logs policies (ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy has even been independently audited).
  • Fast speeds. VPNs slow down your speeds due to the encryption they use. Combined with Tor (which adds 3 layers of encryption), the slowdown is even bigger. But the best VPNs (like the ones on this list) minimize the speed loss to provide smooth browsing.
  • Ease of use. All the brands on this list are easy to install and come with intuitive apps for popular platforms, making it simple to find and connect to servers that allow dark web traffic.
  • Good value. I only recommend VPNs that have affordable plans and back all purchases with generous money-back guarantees.

Legitimate Reasons Why People Use the Dark Web

The dark web is often associated with illegal activities, but there are also legitimate uses for it:

  • Democratic reformers in restrictive countries use the dark web to get around censorship, so they can access and post content that might be unavailable in their countries and securely share sensitive information.
  • People in restrictive countries use the dark web to access social media sites like Facebook.
  • Journalists, bloggers, government protesters, and political activists use the dark web to protect their privacy and the privacy of their sources.
  • Many people simply use the dark web to protect their privacy.
  • People who aren’t comfortable discussing their health issues with doctors use the dark web to get medical advice.

How to Access the Dark Web on Any Device

How to Access the Dark Web on a Windows PC

  1. Get the Tor browser. Download and install the free Tor browser — the whole process only takes 1–2 minutes. I also recommend getting a VPN like ExpressVPN, which allows Tor traffic on all of its servers.
  2. Open the Tor browser. Wait a few seconds until the browser connects to the Tor network.
  3. Surf dark web links. Copy-paste .onion links in the search field to access your favorite sites on the dark web.

How to Access the Dark Web on a Mac

  1. Download and install the Tor browser. The program is 100% free to use. Also, you should get a secure VPN — my top pick is ExpressVPN for its world-class security features.
  2. Run the Tor browser. You’ll need to wait up to 10 seconds (sometimes more) for the browser to connect to the Tor network.
  3. Use .onion links. Copy-paste them into the URL bar to start surfing pages on the dark web.

How to Access the Dark Web on a Linux System

  1. Download the Tor browser. It’s free to download and the installation process is simple — just follow the on-screen instructions. I also recommend getting a good dark web VPN like ExpressVPN, which provides blazing-fast browsing speeds.
  2. Open the browser. Start the Tor browser and wait for it to connect to the Tor network (on average, it takes up to 10 seconds).
  3. Access sites on the dark web. Use .onion links in the search field to browse dark web pages.

How to Access the Dark Web on an iPhone or iPad

  1. Get the Onion Browser. Download and install it from the App Store — it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes. In addition, you should get a secure VPN like ExpressVPN, which supports dark web traffic on all of its servers.
  2. Open the browser app. Wait a few seconds for it to connect you to the Tor network.
  3. Surf the dark web. Use .onion links to access tons of sites on the dark web.

How to Access the Dark Web on an Android Device

  1. Install the Tor browser. Look for the Tor browser app on the Google Play Store, download it, and wait for the installation process to finish. You should also get a good VPN for accessing dark web links — I recommend ExpressVPN for its state-of-the-art security features and lightning-fast speeds.
  2. Open the Tor browser. Tap Connect and wait a few seconds until the app connects to the Tor network. If you’re prompted to choose a security level, pick Safest.
  3. Browse the dark web. Start using .onion links to surf your favorite sites on the dark web.

Is it safe to access .onion sites on the dark web?

Yes, but you need to be cautious because there are many malicious sites on the dark web. Always make sure you’re using the correct .onion link. The best way to do that is to get the link from legitimate sources, like The Hidden Wiki.

What’s more, you should always use a VPN (like ExpressVPN) with Tor to protect yourself from IP leaks. I also recommend using an antivirus (like Norton 360) to protect your device from malware infections.

Is it illegal to use the dark web?

It depends on what country you’re in. It’s legal to use the dark web in most countries, but there are places where using the dark web might be against the law. I strongly advise doing your own research to make sure you’re not breaking any local laws by accessing the dark web.

Also, even in countries where accessing the dark web is legal, it’s still against the law to use or host sites that promote criminal activities.

Is it safe to access the dark web on an iOS or Android device?

Yes, but you need to take some precautions to avoid cyber threats. In addition to the Tor browser, you should use an antivirus program (like Norton 360) to protect your device from malware infections, and a VPN (like ExpressVPN) to secure your IP address and traffic. Also, only use .onion links from legitimate sources like The Hidden Wiki.

Which is better — Tor over VPN or VPN over Tor?

Tor over VPN means you’re first connecting to a VPN and then to Tor, while VPN over Tor means you’re first connecting to Tor and then to a VPN. I personally recommend Tor over VPN because it’s the safer option — the VPN encrypts your traffic and changes your IP address, so the Tor network can’t see them.

That’s helpful because Tor can suffer IP leaks and malicious actors can run Tor servers. Basically, if a Tor IP leak occurs before you connect to the VPN, your real IP address will be exposed. But if you connect to the VPN before connecting to Tor and an IP leak occurs, only the VPN’s IP address will be exposed.

If you need a great Tor VPN, I recommend ExpressVPN — all its servers allow Tor traffic, it has excellent security and privacy features, and it provides fast browsing speeds.

What’s the difference between the dark web and deep web?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. The deep web is a part of the internet that doesn’t show up on conventional search engines — basically, it includes unindexed web pages like pages hidden behind paywalls, medical records, and email accounts. The dark web is a part of the deep web that is intentionally hidden and is fully encrypted (it can only be accessed via the Tor browser).

To sum it up, the deep web is the internet that search engines can’t access. The dark web is encrypted online content that regular search engines like Google don’t index (to access it, you need specific software like the Tor browser).

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About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Lead Contributor

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a cybersecurity journalist who has been writing about the VPN industry for the past 5 years. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, eating good food, video games, using VPNs (yes, really!), and watching anime.