Planning a trip to New Orleans and aren’t sure how many days you should spend there? We’ve got you covered.
There’s no question that New Orleans is one of the most culturally and historically rich cities that that US has to offer. No matter what you’re looking for out of your vacation, NOLA almost certainly has it.
This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know in order to plan the perfect number of days for your vacation.
If you’re the average traveler looking do to a little bit of everything…
Most travelers fall into this category and are looking to take a regular vacation to experience a variety of things in New Orleans. They want experience the French Quarter during the day and the night, eat amazing NOLA food, see local museums, take some tours, and all that (very literal) jazz.
If this is you, we highly recommend that you start with a minimum of 4 full days in New Orleans and work up from there. It’s a big city and there’s a good reason that it’s referred to as “The Big Easy”- it’s one of the worst places to be in a hurry. NOLA culture is laid back and time goes by slowly when you’re there.
You won’t have enough time to comfortably see everything in 4 days, but you’ll definitely be able to hit the main New Orleans highlights at a reasonably comfortable pace.
Start by ranking the experiences by how important they are to you on your trip. Once you’ve got them laid out, it will be easy for you to start filling in a 4 day schedule. You’ll know pretty quickly whether or not you’re going accomplish what you want in 4 days or if you need to add more days.
I think that most people will find the sweet spot to be right around the 5 or 6 day mark. You can get quite a bit done in that span of time.
Top Things to do in New Orleans on a 4-6 Day Schedule
- French Quarter During the Day: It goes without saying that most New Orleans trips begin and end with the French Quarter. It’s so much more than just Bourbon Street, though. Daytime in the French Quarter means food, tours, sightseeing, carriage rides, and countless other activities. Here’s a link to the Official New Orleans website’s guide with all of the info you need for visiting the French Quarter.
- French Quarter at Night: The French Quarter also needs no introduction as one of the best party locations in the country. This is where you’ll likely find yourself most nights when the sun goes down. That is, however, if you’re an adult traveler. Leave the kids at home if you’re planning to take a nighttime stroll down Bourbon Street.
- National WWII Museum: The National WWII Museum is something that every traveler should experience, whether or not they’re a history buff. The museum is very interesting and well-executed, covering just about every aspect of WWII.
- Garden District: The Garden District is the most scenic part of the city. It’s where you’ll find the beautiful historic houses and sprawling trees. If you’re looking for some relaxation in the midst of the New Orleans craziness, this is your spot.
- Frenchmen Street: Think of Frenchmen Street as the slightly less touristy, slightly less cramped alternative to Bourbon Street. It’s also walking distance from the French Quarter. Music, bars, nightlife, food- it’s all here. Like crowd levels, prices are also a bit lower than on Bourbon. Tons of travelers even prefer Frenchmen Street, so make sure you check it out.
If your sole purpose is to party in the French Quarter…
Lots of people visit New Orleans just to party in the French Quarter. It’s a well known mecca for adult travelers, so that’s no surprise. Every day is a party, Mardis Gras or not.
If the single focus of your trip to New Orleans is to party, we recommend at least 2 or 3 nights. Trust us when we say that you’ll be able to get more than enough nightlife in that span. Bourbon Street comes at you hard.
Truthfully, (even though we don’t think it’s the optimal way to spend a whole New Orleans trip) you could stick to Bourbon Street and the rest of the French Quarter the entire time and not run out of things to do. It’s jam-packed with live music, bars, clubs, food and more.
Realistically, you’ll probably want some time to experience other parts of New Orleans when the sun is still up. Chances are good that the most hardcore partiers will still want to see more of the city once they realize its charm. 3 days will give you the time to do some light adventuring during the day before you turn up after dark.
Top Must-Visit New Orleans Bars
- Erin Rose Bar: Erin Rose is a classic French Quarter neighborhood bar. It’s a block off of Bourbon Street and has plenty of the character you may not find at many of the areas more touristy drinking spots.
- Pat O’Brien’s: This is a legendary New Orleans bar, famous for being the inventing the hurricane cocktail. Dueling pianos and a great patio make it a great place to kick back anytime.
- The Sazerac Bar: The Sazerac Bar is another staple for New Orleans visitors. It’s a pricey upscale bar located in the Roosevelt Hotel and named for the famous NOLA cocktail.
- Carousel Bar: The Carousel Bar & Lounge is located in the Hotel Monteleone. You’ve probably seen it before- it’s the bar that rotates around like a merry-go-round. It’s a very popular stop for travelers, even if it’s a bit gimmicky.
If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in everything New Orleans has to offer…
Believe the hype, because New Orleans truly is a special place. It has the pesky habit of captivating visitors, keeping them longer and luring them back once they’re gone.
If you’re willing to spend the time and money, a 7+ day stay in New Orleans will give you ample time to see and do just about everything. And, unlike what’s common in some cities, it’s unlikely that you’ll run out of things to do. NOLA doesn’t really do “boring”.
The rich history and culture in New Orleans is something that could easily take up a week of your time exploring. Add in all of the other sights, activities, and nightlife and you’ll have no problem filling your days.
A trip of this length should include everything we’ve mentioned up to this point, plus some longer tours and excursions.
Top Things to do During Longer New Orleans Trips
- Everything we already mentioned above: The French Quarter, museums, Garden District, bars, nightlife, etc. All of the main New Orleans highlights are obviously the top priority.
- New Orleans School of Cooking: There’s no better way to celebrate incredible New Orleans cuisine than learning how to make it. Demonstrations involve multiple courses and alcohol is provided!
- Natchez Cruise: A cruise on the Natchez riverboat is definitely a tourist thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great way to spend an afternoon.
- Nontraditional Tours: There are obviously plenty of regular city/historical tours, but you also have all sorts of specialty tours to choose from in NOLA. Voodoo tours, ghost tours, etc. They’re fun and weird, just like the city itself.
- Swamp Excursions: Those who aren’t accustomed to the swampy areas around New Orleans will definitely find a tour interesting. You can go on a regular boat or on an airboat. Either way, you’ll get to see quite a bit of Louisiana scenery and wildlife.