Stay – New Orleans is not a very big city. The costs for your stay won’t be too high. For a hostel you’ll pay around 20 USD (€18) a night. Definitely read the reviews though, because you probably wouldn’t mind spending a few dollars more for a bug free hostel…
A single room in a budget hotel just outside of the center will cost you between $50 and $70 (€45 – €65)
The public transportation is easy to use, so you definitely don’t need to book a place right in the city center to enjoy NOLA. A room in the center will cost you a minimum of $90.
A complete list of accommodation in New Orleans can be found here.
Eat – You definitely need to try out some local dishes while in N’Orleans. Use TripAdvisor to search a good restaurant and ask for the specialties. You’ll pay something between 30 and 40 USD (€28 – 37) for an entree, a main course, a dessert and a drink. Not super expensive.
Transport – Uber and Lyft in New Orleans cost as much as taxi’s, and they are quite expensive… The cheapest option is to take the public transport. There are regular busses who can bring you everywhere in New Orleans. Sometimes they are a bit hard to decipher so ask for help if you’re not good in taking public transport. A single ticket only costs $1,25.
Don’t take taxi’s – Taking a cab means spending a lot of money. Just take the public transportation or walk around. You don’t need to rush to see everything, because most sights are outdoors and they are to visit around the clock.
Free guides – There are multiple organisations in New Orleans who take you on all kinds of guided tours including ghost tours, cemetery tours, New Orleans history tours, … They are completely free, except that they ask you to tip the guides for what you think they are worth. If you know that the average guided tour cost between $40 and $60, a $20 bill really isn’t that much of money at the end of the tour.
Some tours need to be booked a lot in advance! Definitely try to do the ghost tour (get to know the horrible Delphine LaLaurie) and the cemetery tour (learn about Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of NOLA).
Mardi Gras – New Orleans is famous all around the world because of its amazing mardi gras celebrations! Lose yourself on the uplifting beats, refreshing alcohol (try a hand grenade, sold all around bourbon street) and of course the beautiful floats that parade all around N’Orleans. Watch out for people throwing necklaces all around the place!
Guided tours – Normally I don’t like guided tours that much, but in New Orleans I had to change that point of view. The free tours from Free Tours By Foot were super interesting and guided by a phenomenal and very funy guide. Definitely try to do a ghost tour if you want to know all about the bewitched places in the city.
Bayou boat tours – Book a tour to the bayous of New Orleans. In the morning you’ll be picked up with a minivan with which you then will drive through the area where hurricane Katrina destroyed so many people’s lives. Today there’s not much to see from that ravage anymore, but the unique stilt houses are nice to see. When you arrive at the swamps you’ll see hundreds of alligators. If you’re lucky, you might see the biggest one of them all: Brutus.
You will also go a little deeper into the mangrove forests. The chance that you see the wild boars over there is almost guaranteed, since they always get some food from the skippers. Don’t forget your phone for a unique selfie!
Visit the plantations – Around New Orleans there are lots of old plantations who show what life was like when black slaves were enforced to work at these giant houses.
The most famous ones are the Laura Plantation and the Oak Alley Plantation. The tours are rather expensive, but they definitely are worth a visit. By visiting one or more of these plantations you get a unique insight in the history of Louisiana. Oak Alley Plantation is especially beautiful.
Jackson Square – The central point of NOLA is Jackson Square. Daily hundreds of musicians play their uplifting tunes for you. At the other side of Jackson Square you can hop in a horse carriage to make a little tour around the city.
Checking out cemeteries – Uhm… What? It sounds a little creepy, but definitely go see one of the New Orleans cemeteries. The graveyards all have these giant tombs and some are a little dilapidated so you’ll get a unique photo opportunity. If you only go to one, try to go to the Lafayette cemetery n°1. Here you can see the grave of voodoo queen Marie Laveau and the future grave of Nicolas Cage.
EAT! – New Orleans has DELICIOUS food!!! Try some of the cajun and creole dishes for a unique tasting experience.
Maybe try out some alligator too. It tastes a little like chicken. Thé most famous dish of Louisiana is of course the fried chicken. Go to Coop’s place for a yummy yummy piece of fried chicken, creoly style.
Café Du Monde gets a lot of visitors for its wonderful beignets. But to be honest, the Belgian or French beignets are a lot better!
District Donuts – I didn’t like donuts. I though. Until now. District Donuts is located a tiny bit out of the center, but it is more than worth the trip! B-E-S-T donuts EVER!
Dehydration – NOLA has a very humid climate. After two minutes you’ll be soaking in sweat. Try to stay hydrated and keep a bottle of water near. During the day you can always go inside some places to enjoy the refreshing airco’s.
Swimming in rivers or lakes – All around Louisiana there are alligators. You really want to swim between those prehistorical monsters?!
Unfriendly people – Sometimes it’s just plain annoying, but in New Orleans there are quite some cranky people. If you think someone is treating you rude, just tell them.
Most of the time they just don’t realise it.