19 Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web (2022) | ExpressVPN Blog (2024)

The deep web is the part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. A part of the deep web is the dark web, which exists inside layered proxy networks—known as darknets. Of these darknets, Tor (short for “The Onion Router”) is by far the largest.

Tor and the Onion Browser

Inside the Tor network, sites cannot use regular domain names. Instead, they use pseudo-domain names ending in .onion. These domain names are not registered with a central authority but are instead derived from cryptographic keys.

You can’t access these .onion sites from your normal web browser—the one you’re probably viewing this page on. Before clicking any of the links below, you’ll need to get the Tor Browser (also called the Onion Browser).

Get step-by-step instructions on how to access the dark web and use the Tor Browser.

(Note that connections inside of the Tor network are end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning there is no separate encryption layer necessary as with regular websites. That’s why most onion sites do not have the S in HTTPS. Fear not; the Tor Browser will show an onion instead of the familiar lock icon when your connection is secure.)

Best onion sites by category

Though the dark web is infamous for hosting all manner of illicit content—dark web marketplaces for buying illegal drugs, gore sites, and worse—there are plenty of legitimate sites and services available if you know where to look.

Here are some of the best .onion sites on the dark web, grouped by category:

Dark web search engines



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Search engines on the dark web are a bit of a contradiction because dark web sites by definition are not indexed by traditional search engines.

Ahmia, however, is not a traditional search engine. Founded by security researcher Juha Nurmi, Ahmia is essentially a list of “hidden” sites that do want to be found. Onion sites are “crawled” and added to the list provided their “robots.txt” file permits it, and if it is not on their blacklist of sites with abuse material. Site operators can also submit their own .onion sites for indexing.



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Similar to Ahmia, Haystak also uses a custom dark web crawler and filters out dangerous content.

Haystak also offers a premium version that allows advanced search, access to historical content, and email alerts.



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Torch is one of the oldest and most popular search engines on the dark web, serving over 80,000 requests per day. Torch is funded primarily through advertising—purchased in BTC, of course—which is why you’ll find the front page blanketed with old-school banner ads of dubious origins.



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The internet’s favorite alternative to Google made a name for itself by not logging your search activity yet still providing decent results. This focus on privacy makes it the Tor Browser’s default search engine.

Unlike Ahmia and Haystak, however, DuckDuckGo doesn’t search .onion sites. Use it to search the normal internet from the privacy of your Tor Browser.

The Hidden Wiki


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One of the most popular ways to get around the dark web is not to use a search engine at all. Just like in the old days of the internet, the dark web maintains numerous indexes of sites, like The Hidden Wiki.

This community-edited .onion Wikipedia contains a bunch of links to a wide variety of services and sources running on the dark web. Many of those links are defunct, and even more of them link to scams or potentially illegal activities. Click at your own risk!

News, media, and other organizations



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The first online publication that won a Pulitzer is now also the first major publication with a .onion address.

ProPublica does a lot of things differently. Its source of funding is the deep wallet of the Sandler Foundation and various other similar organizations.

Browsing ProPublica’s work through its .onion site works well, and the site’s very existence is a big win for privacy and free speech.

Archive Today


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Archive.today (formerly known as Archive.is) is a platform that aims to preserve the web’s cultural and scientific heritage.

Founded in 2012, it stores snapshots of websites, making it possible to “go back in time” and see what websites used to look like and what information they contained.

Archive.today is considered an important tool to track changes across government and corporate websites, preserve cultural heritage, and keep knowledge outside of autocrats’ reach. You can archive any site you want, or retrieve historical records wherever available.

The New York Times


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To make their journalism more accessible to readers around the world, the New York Times launched their onion service in 2017. You won’t find any “hidden” stories here—it’s the same content as the normal web edition—but users in countries with government censorship will appreciate having a secure way to access it.



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Following the NYT, the BBC launched a dark web “mirror” of their international edition in 2019. Note that some features of the normal website are not available on the .onion version, including BBC iPlayer.



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Why would one of the largest organizations known for its invasive stance on privacy and controversial clear-name policy have a .onion address?

While Facebook might collect everything you say and do on its platform, it isn’t happy with sharing this information with others. Facebook is also keenly aware of attempts by many governments to restrict access to a tool that allows strangers across the web to talk and collaborate freely.

Facebook’s .onion address doesn’t make it much easier to maintain an anonymous account, but it does make Facebook more accessible in places where it’s censored.



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The CIA might seem an odd inclusion in a list for privacy enthusiasts, but Tor actually has an unlikely history with the U.S. government: it was first developed by the U.S. Navy to help informants posted in foreign countries to relay information back safely. In that spirit, the CIA launched an Onion site to help people around the world access its resources securely.

Bitcoin wallets

Wasabi Wallet


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Wasabi Wallet is a Bitcoin wallet that not only hides all your data in the Tor Network but also allows you to ‘join’ your transactions with others to increase your anonymity. This makes it incredibly difficult to find out who you are paying.

The process costs a fee, but unlike with other ‘tumbler’ or ‘mixing’ services, there is no risk that Wasabi or any of its users could scam you out of your coins.

Email services



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Based in Switzerland, ProtonMail is an encrypted email service that is very popular with cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It’s not free, but it’s extremely secure.



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Riseup is a volunteer-run email provider for activists around the world.

Founded around 1999 by activists in Seattle, it has since grown to over six million users worldwide. It publishes a newsletter in multiple languages and not only runs Onion services for its website but all its email and chat services.

Other privacy tools and services



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Keybase is an exciting identity service that aims to make it easy for you to link the presence of your online identities together in a cryptographic way. You can upload your PGP key, or have the site create one for you, and use it to cryptographically link your Twitter profile, Github account, or Bitcoin address together.

Keybase also offers extremely user-friendly secure chat and file-sharing services through its app.



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Pastebins are text sharing services, useful for sending and sharing large snippets of code or text. ZeroBin offers an extra secure version of this service by only encrypting and decrypting text in the browser, meaning their servers have no knowledge of what is passing through it.



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A favorite of journalists and their anonymous sources, SecureDrop makes it easy to share confidential information without revealing your identity. Many news publications, like the ones listed above, have a SecureDrop on their .onion sites.



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MegaTor is a super-simple anonymous file sharing service that’s not available on the normal internet. Best of all, it’s free and decently fast.



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The tools we’ve listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re interested in privacy and the dark web, take a deep dive into PrivacyTools, an extensive directory of anti-surveillance tools, services, and educational materials.

FAQ: More about onion sites

What are onion sites used for?

Onion sites are used for a variety of purposes, but the common thread is privacy and anonymity, both for users and service providers. It is nearly impossible to trace the activity on onion sites, including the identities of people who use them.

Naturally, this makes the dark web a breeding ground for illegal activity. But onion sites can also serve nobler goals, like providing access to information and independent journalism in countries with government censorship.

Activists, whistle blowers, and journalists also use the dark web to communicate securely with sources and news organizations.

Is it illegal to visit onion sites?

It’s not illegal to visit any of the onion sites listed above. But as the dark web does contain illegal activity, we can’t guarantee you won’t stumble across illicit material as you dig deeper into it, nor can anyone guarantee your activity will remain completely untraceable. This is why we say to explore at your own risk!

What kind of content is on the dark web?

As mentioned above, much of the content on the dark web is the same as you might find on the normal internet (news, message boards, web services) but made accessible on a more anonymous platform.

Some content, however, is only available on onion sites so as to evade detection by law enforcement: namely gore sites and other illegal media, and marketplaces selling illegal items such as drugs, weapons, and fake documents.

Needless to say, we don’t condone any content forbidden by law.

What can you buy on the dark web?

You can buy almost anything on the dark web with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, from secondhand furniture to illegal drugs, p*rn, exotic animals, and all manner of criminal services-for-hire.

But that doesn’t mean you should! As stated above, we don’t condone any activity—on the dark net or otherwise—that is forbidden by law.

Can you access the dark web with a VPN?

Yes, you can connect to a VPN server before launching the Tor Browser to hide your IP address from any node in the Tor network, and to hide the fact that you are using Tor from your network operator.

This method is called Tor over VPN, and it’s a great way to increase your privacy over using Tor alone.

19 Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web (2022) | ExpressVPN Blog (2024)


Where can I find legit onion links? ›

Best dark web sites
  • The Hidden Wiki. The Hidden Wiki is the dark web's unofficial Wikipedia, where you can find “.onion” links for many black web pages, services, and other content. ...
  • DuckDuckGo. ...
  • Sci-Hub. ...
  • ProPublica. ...
  • Impreza Hosting. ...
  • Tor Links. ...
  • Facebook. ...
  • BBC Tor Mirror.
Oct 28, 2022

Can you access onion sites on Google? ›

Your typical search engines won't list the onion sites, and you can't even access them through regular browsers if you have a link.

Can you legally look at the dark web? ›

While using the dark web may seem suspect on the surface, it is perfectly legal, and there are many legitimate uses of Tor and anonymous browsing.

Is the dark web 95% of the Internet? ›

Greenberg notes that while the deep web is vast and accounts for 90-something percent of the Internet, the dark web likely only accounts for about . 01 percent.

Can you be tracked on onion browser? ›

Onion routing is a sophisticated means to prevent tracking your location, but there's no such thing as perfect online anonymity. Although your internet traffic is encrypted on Tor, your ISP can still see that you're connected to Tor. Plus, Tor cannot protect against tracking at the entry and exit nodes of its network.

Why does the CIA have an onion site? ›

The CIA's . onion site will provide all of the same information, contacts and services the spy agency's normal website does. It's aimed at people who want to anonymously share information with the CIA, but are wary of being tracked.

Can police track you on the dark web? ›

Typical web browsers reveal their unique IP (Internet Protocol) address, making them traceable by law enforcement. But a dark web browser issues a false IP address, using a series of relays, to mask the user's identity. A significant portion of dark web activity is lawful.

Who owns the dark web? ›

The dark web was actually created by the US government to allow spies to exchange information completely anonymously. US military researchers developed the technology, known as Tor (The Onion Router) in the mid-1990s and released it into the public domain for everyone to use.

What kind of stuff is on the dark web? ›

The dark web is the scene of many illegal activities, including black markets for stolen credit cards and personal information, firearms, malware, prostitution, sex trafficking and drugs. Cyber attack services, like access to botnets that can conduct distributed denial-of-service attacks, are also available.

Which country has most dark web users? ›

1- United States. The United States has the current highest count of dark web users. That is of 34.81% that ultimately means a daily user count of roughly 831911. The U.S based darknet users mostly engage in buying and selling drugs, fake documents, malware, and data.

What is the darkest side of the internet? ›

What Is the Dark Web? The Dark Web is a group of websites that are viewable by the public, but their originating IP addresses are hidden via Tor. When using the Dark Web, a server typically uses a traditional IP address to access sites.

Can the dark web be destroyed? ›

With an open-source tool for accessing the dark web, website owners may not know when a Tor connection is from a U.S. government official. Due to these benefits, as well as the technical complexity, the dark web cannot be totally destroyed.

Is onion browser same as Tor? ›

The Tor (the onion routing) browser is a web browser designed for anonymous web surfing and protection against traffic analysis.

Does Facebook have an onion site? ›

The Facebook onion address located at facebookwkhpilnemxj7asaniu7vnjjbiltxjqhye3mhbshg7kx5tfyd. onion (formerly facebookcorewwwi. onion) is a site that allows access to Facebook through the Tor protocol, using its . onion top-level domain.

What is Google onion? ›

onion is a special-use top level domain name designating an anonymous onion service, which was formerly known as a "hidden service", reachable via the Tor network. Such addresses are not actual DNS names, and the .

Are onion sites https? ›

onion sites are not using https/ssl by default. But the connection inside the Tor network is always encrypted, so it is not really necessary to use https for . onion sites. Exit nodes aren't used at all with hidden services, because the connection stays inside the Tor network until the hidden service is reached.

How do I get onion on my VPN? ›

How to Use Onion Over VPN Safely
  1. Subscribe to a no-logs VPN service. ...
  2. Connect to a VPN server. ...
  3. Download the Tor Browser from the official Tor website. ...
  4. Follow the installation prompts to automatically install the Tor Browser on your device.
  5. Launch the Tor Browser while still connecting to the VPN server.

Is onion over VPN safer? ›

Is Onion Over VPN safe? Just like any other cybersecurity tool, the Onion network can be compromised. However, if you use the Tor browser with a VPN, your actual IP address will stay hidden even if the network is jeopardized.

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