The 18 Best Tours in New Orleans You Don’t Want to Miss

Rich in culture, music, cuisine, and history, this city has an irresistible charm. From spooky ghost walks to jazz-filled river cruises, there are so many things to do in New Orleans. Whether you’re a fan of the macabre, a jazz aficionado, or a foodie who wants to explore Creole and Cajun flavors, there’s a tour specially tailored for you. We have rounded up the best tours in New Orleans because the right tours will ensure you make the most of your time here.

Bourbon St, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA cityscape of bars and restaurants at twilight.

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Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

The 18 Best New Orleans Tours You Have to Book

Discover all of the best tours in New Orleans. Let’s dive in and discover the adventures you can have in this incredible city! There is no shortage of activities, as New Orleans is full of things to do!

1. Take a New Orleans Steamboat Natchez Harbor Cruise

A favorite way to see the city is aboard the Steamboat Natchez, an authentic sternwheeler, for an unforgettable 2-hour journey. This cruise lets you appreciate the charm of New Orleans from the mighty Mississippi. 

As you glide along the river, you’ll see the famous French Quarter and the sparkling city skyline. The cruise is a nod to the city’s rich history on the water, and you’ll be treated to stories that blend local culture and tradition. 

The steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi River.
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

One of the most memorable features of this tour is the live concert onboard, an authentic New Orleans jazz experience. Be sure to select the option to round out the experience with a bona fide Creole meal. 

You’ll never look at rice and beans the same way again. 

And if you’d love to explore the engine room and the boat itself, opt for the VIP ticket for an over-the-top experience.

If you’re visiting New Orleans, a river cruise is a must!

2. New Orleans Ghost, True Crime, Voodoo, And Vampire Walking Tour

New Orleans is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the country. You can’t say you’ve visited without having had a heart-stopping experience or two. This adults-only walking tour takes you to the heart of New Orleans’ eerie past. 

Your guide will take you deep inside the city’s most chilling true-crime stories, and the mystical worlds of voodoo and vampires. You’ll be introduced to the paranormal activity that the residents here live with every day.

Signs in the French Quarter offering ghost and cemetery tours, a popular tourist attraction in New Orleans. Sign is next to a real estate office advertising unhaunted homes.
Photo Credit: cdrin/Shutterstock.

The tour offers two unique routes, allowing you to experience it twice with different haunted locations. You’ll stop at the most haunted places in the French Quarter and throughout the city. 

These include Congo Square, Bourbon Street, and the infamous Lalaurie Mansion – aka the most haunted home in New Orleans. And that’s saying a lot.

This tour combines history, folklore, and mystery, giving you an unvarnished glimpse into the city’s dark and creepy past.

3. Swamp Boat Ride And Oak Alley Plantation Tour From New Orleans

A plantation tour in New Orleans is like stepping back in time, giving you an intriguing glimpse of vintage antebellum life. 

You’ll tour the mansion, a National Historic Landmark built in 1839. You’ll also see the grounds, where moss-draped oak trees stand that have been on the property for more than a century longer than the home.  

A swamp tour boat drifts on a waterway of the Barataria Swamps around New Orleans, Louisiana & a scenic view of an autumn forest on the background.
Photo Credit: LB Houston/Shutterstock.

As you stroll down the path among these 300-year-old trees, you’ll be given some insight into what life was like in the pre-Civil War South.

You may even find that you recognize different spots from one of several movies filmed here, such as 1998’s Primary Colors. Or from certain scenes of the soap opera ‘Days of Our Lives.’

It isn’t always a sunny journey, though. You’ll also be confronted with the plantation’s dark history of enslavement. It’s a sobering experience, and a chance to reflect, and pay your respects to enslaved people.

After your plantation outing, you’ll switch gears for an exhilarating swamp boat ride. Your expert guide will show you the wild side of Louisiana as you travel deep into the bayou. 

Keep your eyes peeled for turtles, snakes, raccoons and a variety of native birds. And of course the king of the swamp, the American alligator. Hands and feet inside the ride at all times! 

As you glide through the waters, your guide will fill you in on the local tales of the swamp and its inhabitants. Natural and supernatural!

4. City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

A great way to see all the sites of New Orleans is with a City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. This open-top double-decker bus tour lets you design your own New Orleans adventure. 

Hop off when you see something that looks interesting, then hop back on when the next bus comes along. Or the one after that. You can plan your itinerary in advance, or play it by ear. It’s your call.

A classic double-decker sightseeing bus driving through a street in the French Quarter. The service is free for tourists; just hop on and off to various destinations.
Photo Credit: Dr. Victor Wong/Shutterstock.

There are stops at dozens of points throughout the city, from the French Market to Bourbon Street to Canal Street, or even the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and Mardi Gras World- which gives you a glimpse into New Orleans family-friendly Mardi Gras culture.

This tour is one of the best New Orleans tours to experience the city on your own timetable. I would advise that you include fresh beignets at each stop along the way.

5. Airboat Adventures – New Orleans Airboat Bayou Tour

Of course, New Orleans has some pirates in its past, and here is your chance to get a feel for that period in history. 

This tour takes you past a park named for a 19th-century French pirate, the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, while your local guide fills you in on the nefarious details.

A tour airboat is looking for alligators in the swamps near New Orleans.
Photo Credit: Alena Vishina/Shutterstock.

You might have the chance to make eye contact with some of the alligators these swamps are famous for. You may also spot herons, ibis, and other swamp-dwelling creatures.

That is when you aren’t speeding through the waterways fast enough to make wildlife-gazing impossible. It’s a thrilling ride from beginning to end. Definitely another best tour in New Orleans.

6. A Garden District Walking Tour with Two Chicks Walking Tour

This is an enlightening walk tour through New Orleans’ beautiful Garden District.  The area is famous for its 19th-century mansions and live oak-lined streets. The grandeur and historical sights will set your imagination on fire.

Garden district new orleans mansion.
Photo Credit: Jade3234/Shutterstock.

The Garden District is popular as a setting for novels and films, as well as for wealthy home buyers, as its one of the safest neighborhoods in New Orleans. See if you can pick out the celebrity homes before your guide points them out!

These guides are experts when it comes to the local culture, fascinating history, and imposing architecture. You’re guaranteed a comprehensive introduction to this New Orleans neighborhood.

On foot is the perfect way to explore this architecturally rich New Orleans community, especially if you’re after a more intimate look at the area.

7. Destination Kitchen – New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter

New Orleans is famous for a lot of spectacular things, and one of the most important is its cuisine. This 3-hour New Orleans food walking tour will take you on a unique gastronomic journey of a city known for its food. 

You can’t even pretend to know this city until you’ve tasted its most famous dishes. You don’t want to miss a taste of the seafood, Creole, and Cajun flavors that make up the local palate. The best way to do this is with a guided walking tour. 

Spicy Homemade Cajun Jambalaya with Sausage and Shrimp.
Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.

You’ll get the chance to sample 6 or 7 of the most iconic offerings from the most notable eateries in the French Quarter. These might include classics like gumbo or jambalaya, or inventive creations like alligator bites.

In addition, this New Orleans tour visits some of the top recommendations from the many cookbooks that have come out of this gastronomically rich city. All the while you’ll be getting lessons in the culture and history of this city that can only come from its finest food.

Note, however, that this delicious excursion may not accommodate gluten-free or vegetarian diets.

8. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 Official Walking Tour

A walk through the local cemetery might not be your typical vacation experience, but this is New Orleans! 

The famous Louis Cemetery No. 1 is New Orleans’ oldest burial ground. It’s not the first, though. The original graveyard was buried, and today lies beneath the streets of the historic French Quarter.

Beautiful above ground graves in the famous St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana, site of the grave of Marie Laveau, Vodoo Queen.
Photo Credit: Page Light Studios/Shutterstock.

Louis Cemetery No. 1 has the privilege of hosting some of the city’s most notorious residents. These include a voodoo priestess, a female serial killer, and a pirate who would moonlight as an architect.

A lot of folklore and many legends surround those interred here, and your tour guide will share their stories. In fact, it’s important to note that access to the cemetery is only possible with a licensed tour guide.

Plus, if you’re a fan of the late James Dean, you might recognize this cemetery from the 1968 movie Easy Rider. 

9. Take a Scenic Cruise Along the Mississippi River

Take a 2-and-a-half-hour journey down the mighty Mississippi River on a historic paddlewheeler. This is quintessential New Orleans. As the Creole Queen travels along the iconic Mississippi, just steps away from the famous French Quarter, a licensed historian will provide commentary. 

They’ll narrate your cruise with insider facts about the bewitching city’s history that you just can’t get from books.

The Crescent City Connection Bridge on the Mississippi river and downtown New Orleans Louisiana.
Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

The voyage includes a stop at the monumental site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Here you’ll get to tour the Chalmette Battlefield and the Malus-Beauregard House. 

This is your chance to gain a better understanding of the famous conflict that helped to shape history, standing right where it happened.  

And don’t worry about packing snacks. There’s a cash bar and food available for purchase right on board. Plus, the paddlewheeler is airconditioned, perfect if you’re just not used to the Louisiana heat!

10. New Orleans Jazz Tour With Live Music And A Drink

This evening tour is full of authentic New Orleans jazz and the exhilarating nightlife of this unique city. Each outing is led by a local guide who knows all the best spots in town.

The route is flexible, changing each night according to where the action is. But each tour will begin at Louis Armstrong Park, built to honor the local jazz great. 

An unidentified local jazz band performs in the New Orleans French Quarter, to the delight of visitors and music lovers in town.
Photo Credit: GTS Productions/Shutterstock.

This will be your introduction to the Tremé neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the country, it’s located just outside the famed French Quarter.

The tour will take you through unforgettable landmarks and locales like Marigny and Frenchman Street. This is where you’ll find the largest concentration of live music in the city. It’s also the location of some of the best jazz in the world, played live in all its glory.

Along the way, you’ll learn about jazz’s origins and culture and how it’s changed and grown over the years.  You’re going to feel just a little bit cooler by the time you’re done. You might even be thinking about getting yourself a trumpet.

Plus, the operators of this tour are committed to environmental sustainability. This tour is carbon neutral, adding another reason to jump on this experience.

11. Whitney Plantation Tour

Get a unique perspective of history on this Whitney Plantation Tour. The small group tour lasts six and a half hours and lets you in on the enticing and often untold stories of the region. 

The tour includes mini van transportation and travels on an elevated expressway through the Louisiana swamp. You’ll pass by Lake Pontchartrain’s marshes and plantations like Evergreen, the filming location of Queen Sugar. 

An old farm house at the plantation. The view of an old slave house.
Photo Credit: Alisa_Ch/Shutterstock.

Your guide will be an expert on the area and provide commentary throughout the journey. The highlight of this tour is the guided tour of the Whitney Plantation itself. 

Unlike typical plantation tours, the emphasis here is on the stories of the enslaved people who worked and lived on these grounds. The narration offers a poignant and authentic insight into their lives that you shouldn’t miss. 

The visit allows you to roam the house and the plantation’s grounds, letting you catch a glimpse of this important time in American history. It’s one of the best New Orleans tours that explore this part of the city’s history.

12. Take a New Orleans Cemetery Tour to See Historic Tombs

No visit to New Orleans is complete until you’ve wandered through some of its historic cemeteries. And learned the secrets buried there.

On this New Orleans cemetery tour, you’ll get up-close and personal experiences in the local graveyards. These are places that are not accessible to anyone not accompanied by a licensed tour guide. 

Saint Louis Cemetery tour in New Orleans.
Photo Credit: Zack Frank/Shutterstock.

Your guide will be well-versed in all of the local lore and burial traditions. They’ll lead you through the winding pathways of some of the city’s most renowned cemeteries. 

As you pass by elaborate tombs, you’ll gain insight into how even in death, the residents’ wealth and status were prominently displayed.

You’ll learn about the unique, above-ground burial practices born out of necessity in this city built upon a swamp. These practices have led to some fascinating, ornate, and spooky structures.

The tour also includes a visit to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial, a moving reminder of the storm’s impact and the city’s ongoing recovery. 

13.  Kayak-iti-Yat Original Kayaking Tours of New Orleans – Big Easy Bayou Tour

Even if you’ve never set eyes on a kayak before, this is a terrific way to see the sights from the water. A kayaking tour will take you on a paddle through the waters of the well-known Bayou St. John.

People kayaking in still water swamp pond on tour with leaves floating on water.
Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock.

The marshy river outlet will take you from one historical neighborhood to the next. Along the way, you’ll be treated to the West Indies-style architecture of the 18th century. You’ll also pass by homes that echo the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. 

This tour offers a kayaking experience that is a real trip back in time, heavy on the rich architectural history of New Orleans.

14. New Orleans Small-Group Haunted History Carriage Tour

In 1700s New Orleans, a resident of the city would get around in a pulled carriage. Enjoy the experience yourself with this evening tour of Vieux Carré, the French Quarter, one of America’s most haunted districts.

Of course, the destinations of those 18th-century residents were probably a little different than yours. You will be headed to the locations with the most unearthly histories. 

Tourists enjoy a narrated horse drawn tour of the historic New Orleans French Quarter.
Photo Credit: Chuck Wagner/Shutterstock.

The French Quarter’s history is full of the supernatural, from mysterious events to natural disasters. Spend an hour being regaled with the spookiest stories and all of the haunted details. 

All while you stroll past dark alleyways and old southern homes, with their somehow eerie wrought-iron balconies. If any sites can look like they’re full of scary stories, it’s these ones.

15. Cajun Encounters – Daily Swamp Tour

A swamp tour is as much a part of visiting New Orleans as sampling the jazz and the Cajun cooking. Ride a 22-passenger flat-bottomed boat through Honey Island Swamp, under ancient cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss.

Tourist on a boat for swamp tour in New Orleans Louisiana.
Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

You’ll experience silence that’s broken only by the sounds of wildlife. You might see anything from bald eagles and osprey to feral hogs and beavers. And, of course, the famous gators. This is one of the best New Orleans tours that will get you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the calmness of nature.

16. Take a City Highlights Tour & See See New Orleans’ Most Famous Landmarks

Step outside of the French Quarter and see what the rest of the Big Easy has to offer. This tour takes place on a bus, so your 2-and-a-half hours cover a lot of ground.

You’ll see the theatres, museums, and churches of Tremé, the oldest African-American neighborhood in the country. This is the home of jazz funerals, authentic Creole food, and the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

People visit historic building in the French Quarter in New Orleans, USA.
Photo Credit: travelview/Shutterstock.

The Garden District and its historic homes are also on the itinerary. As well, you’ll get to see the trendy restaurants and jazz clubs of the Marigny.

This is just a sample of the sights you’ll see on this tour. You even have the option of having lunch or a coffee and a classic, delicious beignet included.

17. Doctor Gumbo Tours – Food History Tour in New Orleans

A food tour in New Orleans is a dream for anyone who loves incredible, multicultural food. The dishes you’ll find here have their origins in the city’s blended European, African, and Native American communities.

Added in is the strong French influence and other global flavors like Italian, Spanish, and Caribbean. It’s a culinary world that can only be found in this Louisiana city.

Spicy New Orleans chicken and andouille sausage Gumbo with fresh crusty bread.
Photo Credit: Ezume Images/Shutterstock.

Prepare yourself for dishes like chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, muffulettas, and red beans and rice. And you won’t believe the variety of hot sauces that are concocted in this town until you try them.

This 3-hour walking tour takes you from the French Quarter down Bourbon Street and onto Jackson Square. You’ll cover about a mile and a half – and you might be rolling by the time the tour is over.

18. Go Kayaking in Manchac Swamp

Kayaking in the Louisiana Bayou is an adventure absolutely worth taking. Join a small group to explore the magical, cypress-lined Manchac Swamp.

Tandem kayaks and an expert guide make this the ideal paddling opportunity for any level of kayaker. The tour starts with a quick lesson, so have no fear if it’s your first time holding a paddle.

Swamp scene with bald cypress trees and Spanish moss in New Orleans County, Louisiana.
Photo Credit: Dejan Stanisavljevic/Shutterstock.

A kayak permits you access to shallow and narrow waterways that you just can’t get with a larger boat. In them, you can see swamp wildlife like alligators, frogs, herons, and marsh rabbits.

This is your opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of the marsh. Listen to the sounds of the swamp, glide through the water, and feel a part of New Orleans’ natural world.  

Red old streetcar on Canal Street and palm tree alley in New Orleans, LA
Photo Credit: Nina Alizada/Shutterstock.

And there you have it – our picks of the top 18 tours in the exciting city of New Orleans! If you’ve had an unforgettable tour experience in New Orleans that you think we should know about, don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments section below. Happy planning!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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Marquita Wright

Marquita Wright, also known as The Traveling Twin Mama, has lived in New Orleans with her husband and twin boys for over a decade. When they’re not exploring the uniqueness of their own city, you can find them traveling the world. At the tender age of 5 years old, her boys have already journeyed on 50+ trips, including world wonders like Machu Picchu and Christ the Redeemer.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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