New Orleans in 3 Days: everything you need to know

New Orleans is synonymous with jazz, great food, mystery, voodoo, Mississippi River and cotton plantations. Only going to be in the city for 3 days? No problem, you'll be able to see the highlights.

Verónica Álvarez

Verónica Álvarez

9 min read

New Orleans in 3 Days: everything you need to know

New Orleans | ©rulenumberone2

New Orleans is one of the most culturally rich cities in the United States and is distinct in its cuisine, music, religious beliefs and historical legacy. There are many things to see and do in New Orleans, so be prepared for an activity-packed trip.

Even if you only have three days to get to know New Orleans, you will see that with the itinerary I suggest you will get the most out of your stay and you will arrive back home being able to say that you knew the essence of the magnificent New Orleans. In these three days you will sail, listen to good music, eat delicious Creole dishes, learn about the sad history of slavery and get scared in the cemeteries of the city.

Day 1: Bus Tour, French Quarter, National World War II Museum and Night Cruise

Hop-on-Hop-off on Canal Street| ©Joyce Thoma
Hop-on-Hop-off on Canal Street| ©Joyce Thoma

On the first day of the itinerary, you will have a general overview of the city, touring it in a tourist bus.

During the afternoon you will visit one of the world's best World War II museums and finish the day aboard a relaxing cruise. What do you think? Are you ready? Hurry up or you'll miss the bus!

New Orleans hop on hop off bus tour of the city of New Orleans

You'll start the first day of your visit with a tour onone of New Orleans' tour buses, boarding at 09:30 at the stop closest to your hotel.

The hop on hop off buses run for two hours, with 18 stops where you can hop on and off as many times as you like. You can opt for 1 or 3 day tickets, on this itinerary you will only need a one day pass.

Tickets cost approximately 35 euros per person. You will do the complete tour to get an overview of the main points of the city. After finishing the tour you will get off at the French Quarter stop.

Buy your New Orleans hop on hop off bus ticket

French Quarter Tour

Getting off the bus at the French Quarter stop (around noon), you will walk around the area on your own or if you prefer you can hire one of the tours of the French Quarter with professional guides.

Guided tours last between one and a half and three hours. You should choose a tour that lasts no more than two hours to complete this itinerary. You will have a light lunch at one of the many restaurants in the area.

After finishing this tour you will return to the hop on hop off bus stop in the French Quarter to get on and continue to the National World War II Museum stop .

Book a tour of the French Quarter of New Orleans

National World War II Museum

It is now around 2:00 pm, time to enter the World War II Museum.

The WWII Museum is considered one of the best WWII museums globally. The entrance fee is around 30 euros per person. You will be able to visit it at your own pace, the visit has an average duration of 2 to 3 hours. In this visit you will learn all about the role of the United States in the war, through interactive content of first generation. Both the building in which the museum is housed and the exhibits are very modern and technology plays a key role in the museum's exhibits.

Hurry, it's already around 16:00 and you have to go to the bus stop to get back to the hotel, shower and head to the port for your cruise.

Buy your ticket to the National World War II Museum

Night cruise on the Mississippi with dinner on board and jazz concert

After a busy day, nothing better than relaxing aboard an evening cruise on the Mississippi, if it is with dinner and live music included in the price even better. There are several options for cruises on the Mississippi, choose one that makes night tours with dinner included.

The cruises with jazz concert and dinner have an approximate price of 50 euros per person and are really worth it.

You will be able to delight your palate with delicious regional dishes and your ears with the typical music of the city: jazz. After this evening, which is an excellent option to do with your partner, you will return to the hotel with renewed energy to face the second day of your itinerary.

Book your French Quarter tour

Day 2: New Orleans swamps boat trip and cotton plantation tour

New Orleans swamps| ©MJLope
New Orleans swamps| ©MJLope

On the second day of your itinerary you will visit the typical cotton plantations of the southern United States, while learning all about the slavery era. You will also take a boat trip to tour the swamps surrounding the city of New Orleans.

Boat ride on the swamps

The swamps surround the city of New Orleans and can be accessed by boats that travel along its waterways. For this second day of the itinerary you will take a full day excursion that includes a tour of the swamps by boat and a visit to the plantations, both included in the price. The tour of the swamps is done in comfortable boats with local captains and guides accustomed to navigating these waters. You will be able to observe the wonderful local fauna, including beautiful caimans, birds, turtles and snakes, among others.

Book your swamp and plantation tour

Visit the cotton plantations

The city of New Orleans is sadly linked to slavery in the southern United States. Its cotton plantations are known worldwide for the use of slave labor, mainly from the Congo in Africa.

In the tours to Oak Alley Plantation , one of the oldest cotton plantations in New Orleans, you will learn how life was lived in a cotton plantation at that time and you will be able to tour it at your own pace.

You will visit the gardens and the French-style mansion. Guided tours last approximately 35 minutes, the rest of the time is for you to tour the immense gardens at your own pace.

You can have lunch at the restaurant located inside the plantation and visit the gift store to do some shopping for local handicrafts.

The full day trip is coming to an end, it's time for you to go to your hotel to sleep because tomorrow, your last day in New Orleans is full of activities. Good night, have a good rest!

Day 3: Garden district, Lafayette Cemetery, food tour and voodoo and occult tour

Lafayette Cemetery| ©President Rhapsody
Lafayette Cemetery| ©President Rhapsody

On the third and final day of your tour of New Orleans, the activities are going to be centered on two of the characteristics that make this city famous: gastronomy and the occult.

You will take a tour of the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery, later on you will visit the best of Creole cuisine and end the day with a tour of the most mysterious and hidden aspects of the city.

The itinerary I propose for the third day includes activities that are not suitable for children as they may be frightened. If you are traveling with your kids I recommend you to change the visit to the Garden District with the Lafayette Cemetery and the voodoo and occult tour for some of these 10 things to do in New Orleans with kids.

Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery Tour

The first leg of the third day's itinerary begins outside the Lafayette Cemetery, where your guide will tell you all about the cemetery's peculiar burial method and occult stories.

The Lafayette Cemetery is world famous and has been associated with voodoo due to the alleged performance of rituals inside the cemetery. The cemetery is currently closed to the public, but you can see it from the outside and learn all its secrets.

You will then tour the magnificent Garden District, where you will see impressive mansions and breathtaking gardens. Your guide will show you the homes of some of the celebrities and the sites that were the sets of series and movies. You will have time to take pictures, so bring your camera.

There are guided tours of about two hours that include the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery for about 30 euros per person. These tours are recommended because the guides can show you places that only locals know about.

Book your Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery Tour

Gastronomic Tour

After your two-hour stroll through the Garden District, you should be quite hungry. Lunchtime is approaching and there is nothing better than tasting the best that New Orleans cuisine has to offer, while a guide teaches you the history behind the dishes.

During this three-hour gastronomic tour of New Orleans, you will taste the most emblematic dishes of the city in the best restaurants.

You will learn the differences between Cajun and Creole food and the ethnic contributions each culture has made to New Orleans cuisine. The price per person is around 67 euros and tastings are included in the price.

New Orleans Mysteries Tour: Cemeteries, Ghosts, Vampires and Voodoo

You will end your three-day visit to New Orleans with a tour that will make your hair stand on end. The city of New Orleans as well as Haiti have a huge heritage of people from the Congo who gave birth to an African-American religion, which mixes African practices with Christian beliefs.

The voodoo of New Orleans is explained on these tours as you walk through other points of interest.

On the New Orleans ghost, voodoo and occult tours you will get an overview of the mysteries and myths of the city, they last about 2 hours and cost between 20 and 30 euros.

You can also opt for a tour of the cemeteries of New Orleans, which in about 2 hours of duration will give you a tour more focused on the historical and architectural and not so much on the myths.

That's it for the suggested itinerary of things to see and do in New Orleans in three days. As you can see, you can get around and do a lot in a short time if you stick to the itinerary.

Day 1

  • New Orleans Bus Tour
  • French Quarter Tour
  • World War II Museum
  • Mississippi River Night CruiseDay 2
  • Swamp Boat Tour
  • Cotton Plantation TourDay 3
  • Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery
  • Food Tour
  • New Orleans Mysteries Tour

Useful tips to plan your itinerary

Nightlife in New Orleans| ©christopher 000
Nightlife in New Orleans| ©christopher 000

When you are organizing your trip to New Orleans with a certain amount of days, as in this case 3 days, you must keep in mind that there is not much margin for error.

You will have to organize from the first to the last detail in order to avoid setbacks and make the most of your stay in the city. To help you plan your trip to New Orleans and stick to your itinerary:

  • Start planning ahead once you have decided on the date of your trip.
  • Book your tours and visits to the different attractions in advance to ensure the availability of the activities on the date you want to do them.
  • Choose serious and recognized companies to book your tours, look at the comments of the clients on their web pages.
  • Choose companies that have a clear refund policy in case you have to change your plans and cannot travel.
  • If you do not speak English, opt for activities in Spanish or you will not enjoy the experience.

Tips for first-time visitors to New Orleans

St. Joseph Plantation| ©Elisa Rolle
St. Joseph Plantation| ©Elisa Rolle

If this is your first visit to New Orleans you should know that it is a city with a very special culture and rooted in traditions that may seem strange to you. You may not like some things, but as in all trips, the cultural exchange is the best thing you will take back home. So keep the following in mind:

  • Go with an open mind and without prejudice
  • Respect all the beliefs of the locals, even if you find them strange or do not share them, maybe they find your beliefs strange
  • Do not joke with the religion of others, you may find it funny or hard to believe, they may think the same of your religion
  • If you are going to eat traditional dishes (they are delicious), keep in mind that the food has African roots and the flavors are intense and many combinations of ingredients may seem strange to you, once again I say, leave your prejudices aside and try
  • Listen, observe, smell, touch and taste New Orleans, it is a city that deserves to be lived to the fullest!