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7 Best VPNs for Dark Web & Darknet in 2023

Best VPN for Dark Net

For most online users, the dark web and darknet primarily draw up associations of illegal activities and dangerous websites. While this is true to an extent, the dark web is much more than that. It’s also a great place for those who want to avoid censorship and remain anonymous online. Unfortunately, many governments generally find usage of the Tor browser shady and suspicious.

To avoid looking suspicious and protect your online privacy while using the Tor browser, it’s best to use a VPN for the dark web. A strong and reliable VPN will protect you from any tracking attempts and enable you to enjoy Tor in countries where it’s blocked. 

Looking for quick pointers?

Here are the top 7 VPNs for Dark Web:
  1. NordVPN – Best VPN for dark web
  2. Surfshark – Fast, light, and affordable
  3. AtlasVPN – Great all-around VPN
  4. PrivateVPN –  Simple and cheap service
  5. ExpressVPN – Robust and sophisticated
  6. Private Internet Access – Fast with tons of servers
  7. CyberGhost – Strong privacy

How to Access Dark Web

The simplest and quickest way to access the dark web is to use a Tor browser and a VPN. You can download the Tor browser by searching it up on Google and installing it directly from the Tor Project website. 

Once you’ve done so, you’ll need to download and set up the VPN of your choice. To help you in this process, we’ve created a step-by-step guide. This is how to access the dark web with a VPN:

  1. Pick one of the trusted VPNs from this guide (We recommend NordVPN)
  2. Download and install the appropriate app for your device
  3. Open the app, pick a server, and connect
  4. Wait a few seconds and open the Tor Browser
  5. Enter the .onion URL you want to access
  6. Enjoy surfing the dark web!

The Tor-VPN combination is the best way to access the dark web, ensuring you’re completely safe and private. By using this method, your traffic is effectively encrypted twice. First, Tor encrypts it, then your VPN service encrypts it. That way, no one, not even your ISP, can detect that you’re accessing the dark web or using the Tor server.

7 Best VPNs for Dark Web

1. NordVPN

The NordVPN dark web service is the most complete VPN package you can get in the current industry. It comes with very powerful geo-unblocking features and can access even the most restrictive regions. Plus, with over 5,400 servers at your disposal, you can use NordVPN to access any corner of the world.

NordVPN is packed with great security and privacy protection features. It protects your data non-stop with a reliable kill switch and offers server obfuscation. NordVPN’s servers are protected with private DNS. You can also get a dedicated IP address that would only be available to you. There are also some advanced features like double IP protection, which allows you to route your connection through two VPN servers.

Another aspect particularly interesting in the context of this page is NordVPN’s Onion over VPN feature. While it is a bit of overkill when you’re already using Tor, it is still very valuable in this situation. The Onion over VPN feature hides your real IP right from the entry node, meaning that even if someone is monitoring a particular Onion network, they won’t be able to see you.

NordVPN is based in Panama and has a zero-logs policy, so you don’t have to worry about any potential privacy issues when using this service. Moreover, this VPN allows you to purchase a subscription using cryptocurrencies, most notably Bitcoin and Ethereum. That way, you can remain completely anonymous while enjoying the best VPN in the industry.

  • Thousands of lightning-fast servers
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 65 countries, with at least 1 Gbps port available on every server. Moreover,  there’s an increasing number of 10 Gbps servers available. Every Surfshark server runs on RAM only and supports trusted and reliable protocols like WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2

The service doesn’t make any compromises on your security, as it has a zero-logs policy and features private DNS on every server. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside of the jurisdiction of any online surveillance organization. Surfshark also has a nifty Camouflage Mode, which hides the fact that you’re using a VPN service.

Looking at its features, there are a few more very valuable ones. Firstly, there’s the CleanWeb feature that protects you against any ads, malware, and trackers. There’s also a NoBorders Mode that allows you to use Surfshark anywhere in the world, regardless of the country’s online censorship levels.

Another thing that makes Surfshark great is that it allows you unlimited simultaneous connections per one subscription plan. In addition, you can pay with one of three supported cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple.

  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Allows split-tunneling and has multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and strong security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN is an excellent all-around VPN for the dark web. It offers a solid server network of over 750 servers across 40 locations worldwide. Not only this, but these servers support several great features. The two that we found most impressive were MultiHop+ and SafeSwap. In short, MultiHop+ allows you to rotate multiple VPN locations simultaneously, while SafeSwap enables you to access the Internet from several IP addresses at the same time.

All of Atlas VPN’s servers come with private DNS and support the WireGuard protocol. You can also rely on advanced features like malware and phishing protection, a tracker blocker, and split tunneling. The latter is particularly convenient, as it allows you only to route your Tor browser through the VPN tunnel while keeping the rest of your network on your real IP address.

Apart from being the best free VPN for the dark web, in our opinion, Atlas VPN also offers great payment methods for those who want to subscribe to one of its premium plans. While you can’t currently buy Atlas VPN with a cryptocurrency, you have a long list of credit cards at your disposal and can even use PayPal.

  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is the perfect beginner’s VPN service. If you just want to dabble in the dark web and are looking for an easy-to-use and stable VPN, this service is the ideal choice. It does offer a fairly small selection of servers, especially considering what some other VPNs on this list provide. 

More specifically, it currently has a bit over 200 servers in 63 countries. That said, this is more than enough for a casual user, even a more advanced one, but likely not enough for a technical online user looking for a huge server network for the dark web. It offers above-average connection speeds and an outstanding uptime of 99.98%.

While it is pretty straightforward and simplified, PrivateVPN also boasts some more complex features, including an Advanced View. There you can tailor both your connection type and the type of encryption you want to use.

You can utilize the Stealth VPN feature to disguise your VPN traffic as regular traffic if you want to use PrivateVPN in a country with tough censorship. There’s also a Connection Guard that serves multiple purposes. It includes IPv6 and DNS leak protection, as well as a kill switch.

  • Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Unblocks most streaming platforms
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Free Static IP servers
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Not as many servers as other VPN providers
  • No split-tunneling

5. ExpressVPN

Many reasons rank ExpressVPN so high on the list of the best VPNs for the dark web. For starters, it employs TrustedServer technology, meaning that it uses only RAM servers, which never write any user activity data. ExpressVPN also hides your IP address behind the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption. What’s more, the service doesn’t log any DNS queries, browsing history, or other identifiable data.

ExpressVPN offers servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. All servers support the provider’s Lightway protocol, as well as a handful of other common protocols. You will also find standard VPN features like split tunneling and a kill switch, both of which can be very useful when browsing the dark web. 

Although more expensive than its competition, ExpressVPN is known as one of the most powerful VPNs in the industry. It’s fast, stable, and works in every region worldwide. Plus, focusing on the main topic of this guide, it also has a .onion site.

ExpressVPN is based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. And, like any other VPN worth its salt, it has a no-nonsense zero-logs policy. You can also buy an ExpressVPN subscription with Bitcoin, so you don’t leave any trace when paying for it.

  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is an open-source VPN service, a fact that makes pairing it with Tor for dark web browsing even more enjoyable. You can rely on complete transparency with PIA and even inspect the code in its apps if you want to. Everything is transparently available for anyone to check.

Besides this, PIA is a very impressive VPN service on its own. It has over 30,000 servers across 84 countries, numbering the largest server network you can find in the current VPN industry. All servers offer unlimited bandwidth, ultra-fast connection speeds and adhere to a stringent no-logs policy.

Among other PIA features worth highlighting, you can count on advanced split tunneling, ad and malware blocking features, as well as sophisticated encryption settings. All of its servers support the popular and high-performing WireGuard protocol

On the other hand, we should also mention that PIA is based in the US, which is a part of all major international surveillance organizations. However, it clearly states that it doesn’t log any user data and uses a secure kill switch, so you don’t have to worry about any data falling into the wrong hands.

  • Thousands of servers
  • Great for torrenting and P2P
  • Strong security and encryption
  • Block ads, trackers, and malware
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Anonymous payment methods
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Based in the US
  • Not all streaming services can be unblocked

7. CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers one of the most impressive server networks in the industry, with over 7,800 servers in 91 countries, covering 112 locations. What’s even more remarkable in this case is that most of these servers are physically based in the actual location, as there are only a fraction of virtual servers.

This VPN service offers apps for all major software platforms, so you can conveniently use the Tor browser with CyberGhost on any platform it runs on. CyberGhost has AES 256-bit encryption, uses an automatic kill switch, and employs reliable DNS leak protection.

CyberGhost VPN is an excellent pick for privacy-conscious users, as it has a 100% zero-log policy. Moreover, it’s based in Romania, a European country with lax online privacy laws that’s not a part of any major international surveillance organization. 

Lastly, CyberGhost is another top-quality VPN for the dark web that allows you to purchase a subscription with Bitcoin. It also offers you one of the longest money-back guarantees in the business at 45 days, allowing you more than enough time to test it out and determine if it’s worth your subscription money.

  • Good for streaming and torrenting
  • WireGuard protocol available
  • No Logs
  • Offers Dedicated IP option
  • Free browser extension
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • No third-party audits
  • Messy app’s interface

Why do You Need a VPN to Access Dark Web or Deep Web

There are a couple of reasons you need a VPN to access the dark web or the deep web. Firstly, you’ll need a VPN if you live in a country that blocks the Tor browser so that you can download it in the first place. The second major reason you need a VPN for the dark web is to keep your data private and block anyone from seeing that you’re using the Tor browser.

So, let’s go over the primary reason first. In some authoritarian countries, for example, China, you can’t download or use the Tor browser. Plus, seeing that the Great Firewall of China is very robust, the only way to get around it is by using a very capable VPN service. When you connect to a VPN server, you can reroute your traffic to a country where Tor isn’t banned and download this browser without any issues.

This brings us to the second key reason for using a VPN for the dark web. While Tor can keep you anonymous online while browsing the dark web, it doesn’t hide that you’re using it. So, your ISP or any snooping third party can easily see that you’re using Tor. But, with a VPN, you can hide this fact and stay private from any government agency or snooper trying to track your activities.

How to Pick the Right VPN for Deep Web

When selecting the most suitable VPN for dark web and deep web, of course, you need to factor in aspects like server quality and quantity, connection speed, and others. But, more importantly, you need to focus on privacy and security-oriented features. Doing so will help you ensure you’re as anonymous as you can be online. With that in mind, we’ve picked our top VPNs based on a handful of such criteria. Here’s what to look for when picking a VPN for the deep web:

  • Data Logging Policy – Arguably the most important feature to look for is the VPN’s data logging policy. Ideally, the VPN should have a 100% no-logs policy and be based in a privacy-friendly country. That way, you don’t have to worry about your data falling into the government’s hands or getting stolen by any malicious third party.
  • Encryption Standard – The VPN should offer strong encryption, preferably military-grade AES 256-encryption. This is the standard for top VPN services, and you shouldn’t pick a VPN offering anything less than that.
  • Data Protection Features – Apart from strong encryption, the VPN for the deep web should also have some data protection mechanisms. The two most common ones you’ll find in nearly every top VPN are DNS and IP leak protection.
  • Payment Options – To stay as anonymous as you possibly can, you should look for payment methods you can use without sharing any personally identifiable information. For instance, acceptance of cryptocurrencies is a great feature every VPN for the deep web should have.

Free VPNs for Dark Web

We generally advise our readers to avoid using free VPN services. In this case, using a free VPN service can be particularly dangerous, as the last thing you want while browsing the dark web is for your privacy to get exposed. Free VPNs tend to be less secure as they don’t have the advanced privacy and network protection features you can find in premium services.

Moreover, free VPNs don’t rely on subscription income to improve their services. This means that they can’t offer as many servers or the connection speeds you can count on with premium VPNs. Not only this, but many free VPNs don’t have your best interests in mind, and many even sell your data to third parties.

That said, there are some free VPNs that you can use for the dark web that are reputable and trustworthy. Primarily, AtlasVPN stands out as our top pick for the best free VPN for dark web. This free VPN service comes with many great privacy and security features and isn’t very limiting for a free service. 

The only aspect you’ll be limited in with AtlasVPN’s free feature is the number of servers, as the free plan only offers three server options. If you find this inconvenient, you can easily upgrade to a premium AtlasVPN plan for just a few bucks per month.

Dark Web VPN FAQs

What is the difference between the dark web and the deep web?

The dark web is a term we use when talking about the part of the Internet that you can access through the Tor browser. Sites on the dark web use a .onion domain. On the other hand, the term deep web refers to everything on the Internet that isn’t indexed by mainstream search engines, including dark web content.

Can you be tracked on the darknet?

It’s generally not possible for anyone to track your activities through the Tor browser. That said, your Internet Service Provider can see that you’re accessing the darknet if you don’t use a VPN service. For this reason, it’s best to use a VPN to add an additional privacy layer when accessing the darknet.

Is it legal to use a VPN on the Dark Web?

Yes, it’s legal to use a dark web VPN service. This is not to say that everything you do while using a VPN on the dark web is necessarily legal. While many websites on the dark web are perfectly legal and legitimate, some platforms are used for exchanging illegal goods and services.

VPN alternatives for accessing Dark Web

There aren’t any solid alternatives for VPNs when accessing the dark web. While you can rely on Tor to provide you with a good dose of anonymity on the dark web, a VPN with strong privacy features is an irreplaceable tool for accessing the dark web.

Is it better to use VPN over Tor or Tor over VPN?

We advise you to use the VPN over Tor option, as it’s the more secure way of browsing the dark web. When you use a VPN over Tor, you’re first connecting through the VPN’s tunnels and then opening Tor and browsing through it.

Oppositely, when you use Tor over VPN, your traffic is first sent through the Tor network and then through your VPN server. This is not the preferred option as your ISP, and anyone watching will be able to see that you’re using the Tor browser.


Hopefully, this detailed guide has helped you better understand the intricacies of the dark web and why you need a VPN when accessing it. A VPN is an essential tool to have by your side if you’re aiming for maximum privacy, which is key when browsing the dark web.

And, if you won’t settle for anything less than the best VPN for the deep web, we recommend NordVPN. Although all seven VPN services on our list provide great protection, NordVPN stands out as the most capable and overall best VPN for the darknet and the deep web.

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