Revered for its unique cultural diversity, New Orleans is one of USA's most distinctive and enticing cities. Framed by several lakes and traversed by the mighty Mississippi River, this eclectic city has enough good looks and substance to attract almost 20 million tourists annually. Visitors come to New Orleans to experience the rich cultural heritage that has made it world-famous, feast on what is undoubtedly the best and most varied cuisine in the country and revel in the unparalleled nightlife.
Shaped by a mixed bag of cultures over the centuries, New Orleans is part African, French, Spanish, and Creole; and all parts addictive. A New Orleans adventure is a truly unforgettable travel experience.
Are you heading to Louisiana's Big Easy for the first time? Here's some invaluable info all NOLA newbies ought to know!
New Orleans is, well, unlike any other city you've ever visited
NOLA (a local moniker for New Orleans, Louisiana) is often described as the most distinctive city in the USA. In truth, New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world and a place everyone should experience at least once in life. With centuries of hard-fought history etched in every stone, and a cultural identity that infuses many essences, NOLA boasts a vibe that is hard to describe and impossible to replicate.
The French Quarter is THE city's best springboard!
Locals love to tell visitors that there's so much more to NOLA than the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, the much-revered heart of the city. But, to be honest, tourists who plan to spend just a few days in the city barely have enough time to experience what the French Quarter has to offer, let alone explore the outskirts. You'll be astounded by the stunning architecture of the quarter (the only remnant of French colonial architecture in the country), the ever-vibrant Bourbon St (the city's party central), and the insane concentration of bars and restaurants.
Get cozy with the public transport
The street cars in New Orleans are a highlight in their own right, yet they are also a marvellous mode of transport. The city boasts an impressive public transport system that's easy and inexpensive to navigate. For just USD 3 a day (24hr Jazzy Pass), you can take unlimited rides on buses, trains, streetcars, and even ferries. Not only is this an excellent way to get around, but given that a single ride costs USD 1.25, it also saves you a pretty penny when exploring various hoods.
If you have time only to take ONE street car, make it the Garden District Streetcar
Heralded as the most iconic street car experience in New Orleans, the ride from the CBD to the Garden District is a must for all first-time visitors. Why so special? Because this historical relic still boasts original décor (think mahogany seats and brass fittings) that are not seen in any other street car. Consider this a time-travel machine ride!
Traveling solo? Join a pub crawl
New Orleans' pub scene is the stuff of legends, and you don't need to miss out just because you're traveling sans company. Join one of the many (many) organized pub crawls, and you'll get to (safely) drink your way around town with a great bunch of like-minded travelers. Here are TourScanner's best-rated pub crawl tours in New Orleans.
Talk to anyone who's been to NOLA, and they'll undoutedly say: come hungry! We'd have to agree!
A hub for soul-comforting food, New Orleans stands alone as a refreshing culinary destination in the south, with its unique fusion of Cajun and Creole cuisines that serve up delights such as po’ boys, gumbo, beignets and jambalaya. If you’d love to discover what all those local specialties are, check out FreeToursOnFoot's food recommendations.
Stay safe – make security a priority
New Orleans is a fantastic travel destination. It's also a bustling southern US city with high unemployment and one of the country's highest poverty rates. As a tourist, you should prioritise safety when visiting. Don't stray far from the top tourist areas, don't drink to excess, don't go out late at night alone, and make sure you're using an Anti-theft Bag to prevent petty theft. Keep your wits about you and adopt the usual 'big city safety precautions,' and you'll have a fabulous time in New Orleans.