17 AWESOME Tours in New Orleans [March 2020]

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New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is an exciting city full of culture, history, and wonder. It’s one of the most unique places in the world – there’s really no other city like it.

If you’re planning a trip, tours are the best way to discover all the exciting elements this southern city is known for. Whether you’re looking for a musical experience, a locally guided walk, or a swamp tour, New Orleans offers many fun options. Even better, there’s something for everyone, and prices to suit all budgets.

Here are the absolute best tours in New Orleans.

#1 – Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

A scenic tour of New Orleans

Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

  • $$
  • 2 hours
  • The ultimate New Orleans riverboat tour
  • Late morning and afternoon start times

Hop aboard an authentic New Orleans steamboat and cruise down the Mississippi. Sway to live jazz music as you enjoy the sights and sounds of NOLA from the waterways.

Visit the Engine Room and learn how steam powers the boat down the “Mighty Mississippi.”You’ll be entertained with live narration, a Calliope concert, and the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Add on an optional lunch and feast on items like gumbo, seafood pasta, bananas foster, and more.

 

Trying to plan ahead? Start with the basics with our favorite neighborhoods in New Orleans!

#2 – Voodoo & Cemetery Tour

Uncover a unique aspect of NOLA

Voodoo & Cemetery Tour

  • $
  • 2 hours
  • Learn about NOLA’s famous voodoo culture
  • Visit the city’s oldest cemetery

This New Orleans cemetery tour starts in the historic French Quarter. Enjoy a quick wander around the district and visit a voodoo shop – full of unusual voodoo themed souvenirs.

Next, head to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. The cemetery is the final resting place of Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau – history’s most revered voodoo practitioner. Follow your tour guide and learn about NOLA’s elaborate above-ground tombs, known as the “Cities of the Dead”.

On this tour, you’ll learn the origin of voodoo and discover its place in New Orleans culture.

 

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our hotel guide for New Orleans!

#3 – Louisiana Bayous 2-Hour Swamp Tour

A leisurely boat tour

Louisiana Bayous 2-Hour Swamp Tour

  • $$
  • 2-3 hours
  • Visit the lush Louisiana wetlands
  • Ride on a typical swamp boat

New Orleans swamp tours are the best way to immerse yourself in the true Southern scenery. See the famous Louisiana bayous up close on board a swamp boat. Travel through Cajun country and learn about the local plants and wildlife.

Your captain will narrate your journey and provide you with plenty of fun-filled facts as well as local legends and lore. Keep an eye out for fish, snakes, deer, various bird species, and even alligators.

Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Downtown New Orleans!

#4 – French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour

Explore the heart and soul of NOLA

French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour

  • $
  • 2 hours
  • Discover the city’s most famous neighborhood
  • Small-group tour

The French Quarter is NOLA’s oldest and most iconic district. With this tour, you’ll discover the history, culture, and architecture of the area with a local guide. Visit the famous St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, the French Market, and more.

Learn about the neighborhood’s earliest inhabitants, and what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. When your tour concludes, make sure to ask your guide for recommendations for exploring the neighborhood further.

Planning a trip? See our list of the best things to see in New Orleans!

#5 – New Orleans Luxury Bus Tour

The perfect tour for every type of traveler

New Orleans Luxury Bus Tour

  • $$
  • 2.5 hours
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off included
  • One of the most comprehensive New Orleans bus tours

On this tour of New Orleans, you can sit back and relax as you sightsee from the comfort of a luxury bus. Venture outside of the busy French Quarter. Explore the scenic Garden District, Tremé, Marigny, 9th Ward, and other iconic areas of the city.

You’ll cover more ground than you would by walking, and get a nice overview of the city. Your knowledgeable guide will provide you with plenty of insight and information about each site you pass.

Excited to visit New Orleans? Get excited to take an amazing day trip too!

#6 – Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Discover the making of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

  • $
  • 1 hour
  • Free shuttle service pick-up from downtown
  • See where over 500 Mardi Gras floats are built each year

Take a behind-the-scenes guided tour through Mardi Gras World. This is a massive warehouse where artists create the iconic Mardi Gras floats used in the parades. Here, you can learn about the history of the celebration.

See how the floats are created and admire them in various stages of completion. Try on fun costumes and enjoy a sample of traditional King Cake (Mardi Gras cake). This all-access tour is the perfect way to learn about New Orleans’ most famous annual event.

You may not have heard this in History class! Read up on New Orleans’ impressive past!

#7 – New Orleans: Garden District Tour

Perfect for fans of architecture

New Orleans: Garden District Tour

  • $
  • 2 hours
  • Tour New Orleans’ charming Garden District
  • Admire the beauty of southern architecture

Discover the rich history of the Garden District on a guided walking tour. This is considered one of the most picturesque areas of the city and is filled with lavish mansions. See sweeping front porches, cast-iron balconies, and towering oak trees that characterize the neighborhood.

You’ll also visit the city’s oldest cemetery – Lafayette #1 (outside only) and learn about the above-ground burial practices. If you’re looking for New Orleans walking tours outside of the busy city center, this is a great option.

Insider tip – Use our expert guide to see when the best time to visit New Orleans is!

#8 – Original Cocktail Late Afternoon Walking Tour

A fun social tour

Original Cocktail Late Afternoon Walking Tour

  • $$
  • 2.5 hours
  • Discover NOLA’s cocktail culture
  • Drinks are available for purchase along the tour

A New Orleans cocktail tour is the perfect social activity. Start your afternoon outing with a complimentary Natchez punch. Then, travel around the French Quarter and sample cocktails that originated in NOLA.

You’ll hit up the most happening bars and restaurants along Bourbon Street and St. Peter Street. Discover the other “spirits” of the city and mingle with fellow drink enthusiasts.

Love to tan? Check out the 15 best beaches in New Orleans!

#9 – From New Orleans: Whitney Plantation Tour

One of the best day trips from New Orleans

From New Orleans: Whitney Plantation Tour

  • $$$
  • 5 hours
  • Gain a unique perspective on slavery
  • A great educational experience

If you’re looking for plantation tours, New Orleans offers a small selection. However, the Whitney Plantation tour is the best in terms of history and insight. This is the only plantation in Louisiana with a focus on slavery. It also has a 262-year history.

Travel back in time to the Antebellum south. Tour the Big House and the restored buildings on the property. This tour provides visitors with a rare insight into Louisiana’s past.

#10 – Ghosts & Vampires Walking Tour

Perfect for fans of the paranormal

Ghosts & Vampires Walking Tour

  • $
  • 2 hours
  • Evening walking tour
  • A fun and frightful New Orleans ghost tour

New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted cities in America. If you’re the kind of person who delights in being scared, this tour is a must.

Travel through the dark alleyways and dimly lit streets of the French Quarter. Your guide will entertain you with spooky stories and terrifying tales of ghosts, ghouls, and vampires. Learn about the mad butcher, the Octoroon mistress, Madame Lalaurie, and more.

Before the tour, guests can enjoy a 2-for-1 hurricane drink special at The Voodoo Lounge.

#11 – High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

Perfect for adventurous travelers

High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

  • $$$
  • 2-4 hours
  • Small group airboat ride
  • One of the best New Orleans tours for thrill-seekers

Enjoy an enthralling, high-speed airboat ride through the swamps just outside New Orleans. Cruise around in the shallow water – an area where traditional boats cannot go.

Admire the incredible scenery of the area – and keep an eye out for alligators. There will be plenty of picture stops and chances for the captain to tell you local information about the area.

This is hands-down one of the most exciting swamp tours New Orleans has to offer.

#12 – New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

The easiest way to see the city

New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

  • $$
  • 24 hours
  • Lafayette Cemetery walking tour included
  • 18 well placed bus stops

Hop on board this iconic double-decker red bus and enjoy a day of easy sightseeing. Visit the city’s top attractions, including the Garden District, the French Quarter, Esplanade, and more.

Take as much time as you’d like exploring each area. Then, hop back on board when you’re ready to head to the next stop. Bus tours of New Orleans are a great option for first-time visitors, or travelers short on time.

#13 – New Orleans: Afternoon Food History Tour

Taste your way through NOLA's history

New Orleans: Afternoon Food History Tour

  • $$$
  • 3 hours
  • Starting time of 1:00 pm
  • Sample the city’s unique flavors

On this New Orleans food tour, you’ll take a guided walk through the old French Quarter. Visit six locations and indulge in a total of 10 different foods. Sample the very best Louisiana food staples, like gumbo, po-boy sandwiches, beignets, and pralines.

Each establishment you visit will be totally different, from a high-end eatery to an old fashion candy shop. Throughout your journey, you’ll learn about the culinary heritage of the city from your local guide.

#14 – New Orleans: Haunted Pub Crawl

A history tour with a twist

New Orleans: Haunted Pub Crawl

  • $$
  • 2 hours
  • A fun adults-only tour
  • Guests can bring their own drinks on the tour

If you’re looking for haunted tours, New Orleans has a few to choose from. However, none are as exciting as a haunted pub tour. During this nighttime excursion, you’ll visit the city’s most haunted bars and locations.

In the French Quarter, it’s totally legal to carry an open container of alcohol in public. With a drink in hand, you’ll visit sites such as the Sultan’s Palace, the infamous Lalaurie Mansion, and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Of course, regular bar breaks are made along the way to grab another drink.

#15 – Evening Jazz Discovery Tour With a Local Guide

The best New Orleans tour for music lovers

Evening Jazz Discovery Tour With a Local Guide

  • $$$
  • 2.5 hours
  • One beer is included with the tour
  • Explore New Orleans’ lesser-known areas

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. On this music-themed walking tour, you’ll discover the history and importance of this musical genre in NOLA culture.

Visit the city’s most popular places tied to music. These include Louis Armstrong Park, Frenchmen Street, and the Marigny neighborhood. You’ll also stop into a few local music clubs and discover the local talent.

With the knowledge you’ll learn on the tour, your night will be set up to visit the best places for live music in NOLA.

#16 – The Neighborhoods of New Orleans: 3.5-Hour Bike Tour

Perfect for the active traveler

The Neighborhoods of New Orleans: 3.5-Hour Bike Tour

  • $$
  • 3.5 hours
  • Leisurely bike tour
  • Visit seven NOLA neighborhoods

On this New Orleans bike tour, you’ll learn about the history of the city as you pedal through its gorgeous neighborhoods. With no hills, well-marked bike lanes, and picturesque scenery, it’s perfect for cycling.

Ride along the famous Mississippi River. Cycle through the buzzing French Quarter and the oak-lined Esplanade Ave. See the beautiful mansions in the Garden District and admire the uniqueness of the nearby St. Louis Cemetery.

You’ll go at a leisurely pace and have plenty of stops for breaks and photos.

#17 – 2-Hour Sinister Criminal Intentions Murder Tour

For fans of the macabre

2-Hour Sinister Criminal Intentions Murder Tour

  • $$
  • 2 hours
  • Evening tour
  • Discover a different side of the French Quarter

Explore NOLA’s’ dark history on an evening crime-themed walking tour. If you’re a fan of true crime, this tour will entertain you from start to finish.

Travel to locations in the French Quarter where the echoes of murder and crime still ring out. See the home of the socialite and serial killer, Madame LaLaurie and hear the tale of the “Hurricane Katrina Cannibal”.

Learn about the most gruesome crimes ever committed in New Orleans. Warning: this tour is not for the faint of heart.

Final Thoughts on the Best New Orleans City Tours

New Orleans city tours provide a convenient way to experience your favorite aspects of the city. Whether you’re interested in NOLA’s history, music scene, food culture, or whatever else, these guided excursions will fit perfectly with your travel plans.

All of the tours we’ve listed are different, yet they share in the fact that they provide guests with the full NOLA experience. Explore the highlights, discover the hidden gems, and immerse yourself in the colorful culture of the city.

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!