If you're looking for the short answer, most visitors will want to consider spending at least 2-3 days in New Orleans for a first visit.
That is unless you plan to be back for certain, which you almost certainly will want to do.
Trust me. I visited in 2006 and I'm still here.
For those who really want an immersive experience, 5-7 days should be more than enough to both see as much as possible and get a feeling for the vibe of NOLA.
The time you need to explore New Orleans can vary from a short trip to an ample stay, depending on your interests, budget, or time.
In this post, you'll find tips suitable for a variety of travelers, from foodies to history buffs, so you can plan a trip that's just right for you.
We also grabbed ideas from the roughly 42k members of our popular NOLA Travel Tips Facebook group.
The group consists of locals, like our tour guides, expats, veteran travelers, as well as newbies to New Orleans.
You don't need to join in order to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.
Check out the group once you are finished reading this post. A link can be found at the end of the post.
1 Day in New Orleans
Spending just one day in New Orleans won't give you the full experience, but it can offer a peek at some top spots.
A more detailed one-day itinerary is available to help you plan, but some places you should aim to visit include:
Starting with Jackson Square, it's a hub of activity where you can experience art, music, and even street performances.
This is the heart of the French Quarter, which is famous for its thriving culture and historic architecture.
For a laid-back but scenic ride, hop on the St. Charles Streetcar.
Finish off your day by visiting Frenchmen Street, which is known for its live music and a more relaxed atmosphere than the busy French Quarter.
For a more detailed plan for one day, take a look at this one-day itinerary.
2 Days in New Orleans
Spending two days in New Orleans allows you a bit more room to explore, but it still won't be enough to capture the full essence of the city.
You could cover the attractions suggested for the one-day visit, but now you also have the time to add some other engaging experiences.
Consider taking a river cruise on the Mississippi, where you can enjoy views of the city from a unique perspective.
You could also visit City Park, which offers a peaceful setting and lovely scenery.
Adding a bit of history to your trip, the St. Louis Cemetery Tour provides an interesting look at the city's past.
For music lovers, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is a must-see attraction.
And for those curious about local festivities, the Mardi Gras Museum explores the history and pageantry of this well-known celebration.
3 to 4 Days in New Orleans
With three to four days in New Orleans, you get a decent window into the city's rich culture and history.
This time frame allows you to go beyond the must-see spots like the French Quarter and Jackson Square.
Here are a few of the better attractions to see if you've got at least 3-4 days in NOLA:
You can add other enriching experiences, such as a visit to the National WW2 Museum or the Audubon Zoo.
You'll have the flexibility to stroll through the elegant Garden District or enjoy live jazz at Preservation Hall without feeling too rushed.
Hop-on hop-off tours can be a good option for this length of stay, offering an organized yet flexible way to see different parts of the city.
These tours are particularly useful if you want to travel farther without worrying about logistics.
5 to 7 Days in New Orleans
A great chance to get to know New Orleans in-depth is to stay there for five to seven days.
While seven days may seem long for some, the extra time ensures you can experience a wide range of activities without feeling rushed.
If you've got around a week to spend in NOLA, consider some of the following activities:
You can engage in specialized tours that weren't possible on a shorter trip.
For instance, food tours allow you to sample classic New Orleans dishes like gumbo and jambalaya, and ghost tours offer a spooky twist to city exploration.
Outdoor enthusiasts can take this chance to venture beyond the city for plantation or swamp tours.
These excursions give you a broader understanding of Louisiana's ecology and history.
Finally, no extended stay would be complete without a night on Bourbon Street.
It's the ideal way to experience the city's nightlife and is well known for its vibrant bars and music venues.
You'll want to stay longer in New Orleans even if you only visit for a week!
For a well-planned trip to New Orleans, you'll need practical information to make the most out of your stay.
Here's a curated list of resources that could be of great help.
To prepare for New Orleans' unique climate and pack appropriately, make sure to check out the New Orleans Weather guide.
For travelers on a budget, you'll find invaluable tips and tricks on how to explore the city economically in the New Orleans On a Budget article.
If you're still deciding on when to go, the Best Times to Visit New Orleans page offers useful advice to help you choose the perfect time for your trip.
Foodies will appreciate the Must-Eat Food in New Orleans guide, which provides a rundown of dishes you shouldn't miss.
For your transportation needs from the airport to the city center, the New Orleans Airport to the French Quarter post has got you covered.
If you're looking for short-term storage options for your bags, you can find details on Luggage Storage in New Orleans.
For an authentic New Orleans Street Car experience, don't forget to read up on how to navigate the city's unique Streetcar system.
To soak in the city's vibrant music scene, Live Music in New Orleans is your go-to resource.