Visiting St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
There is a lot to see and do both in and around the St. Louis Cathedral. This post will provide details about planning a trip to this location, attending mass, taking a tour, and seeing all of the attractions you will find nearby.
- Plan Your Visit
- Take a Tour
- Attend Mass
- Nearby Attractions
- Nearby Museums
- Things To Do in New Orleans
PLAN YOUR VISIT
St. Louis Cathedral is located in the heart of the French Quarter, and you can expect it to get pretty busy during certain times of the week. This section will help you plan your trip with details such as operational hours, best times to visit, and what to expect.
Why Visit St. Louis Cathedral?
With a history that stretches back to the 1720’s, this is one of the most notable buildings in all of New Orleans. Residents have been worshipping on this site for almost 300 years, making the St. Louis Cathedral one of the oldest structures in the city. This is also considered to be the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States.
Sadly, the original church has long since been destroyed. The current design for the St. Louis Cathedral was completed in the mid-1850’s, with several notable touches added during the early 1800’s. There have been many renovations made since then, but the building’s structure remains largely as it has been for hundreds of years.
Here are just a few of the attractions you might want to see either at or right next to the church.
- The Clock Tower
- Jackson Square
- Andrew Jackson Monument
- St. Anthony’s Garden
- Pirate Alley
- And More!
For more locations to visit, check our nearby attractions section below.
Best Time to Visit
St. Louis Cathedral is actually pretty quiet most of the time, but there is one time when you can expect a lot more people than usual – during Mass. If you visit on a weekday, chances are that you won’t have any trouble seeing and enjoying everything at this historic site. You are free to come anytime you like, but if you want to go inside, keep their operational hours in mind.
St. Louis Cathedral Hours
8:30 am – 4 pm
Saturday Mass: 5 pm
Sunday Mass: 9 am and 11 am
Although mass can be a very busy time to visit, Catholic travelers might still want to consider attending this event. After all, it’s not every day that you get to attend mass at the oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States. For more details on this opportunity, check our section on attending mass. Plan on showing up at least half an hour before it starts in order to get a good seat.
Visitors who want to tour the site or take a look around should consider coming at times when the church isn’t very busy. As with most historic sites in New Orleans, you can expect this location to be less crowded during the early morning and late afternoon between the hours of 8:30 am – 10 am or 2 pm – 4 pm.
If you plan to take a look around during the weekend, make sure that you visit before 5 pm on Saturday and after 2 pm on Sunday. You should also keep an eye on their event calendar and avoid any big happenings if you just want to see the church.
What to Expect
With everything there is to see and do at St. Louis Cathedral and all the nearby attractions, you could easily spend a lot of time here. That being said, most people won’t spend a lot of time at the church. According to most visitors, you should plan on looking around and taking everything in for anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
Although the church and its surroundings aren’t exactly a hotbed of activity on most nights, nearby Jackson Square often hosts several notable events in New Orleans. The more crowded the surrounding areas are, the more difficult it will be to see St. Louis Cathedral.
Visitors who just want to look around are free to do so without purchasing a ticket. You are not required to pay anything to enter the St. Louis Cathedral, but you will need to keep their operational hours in mind. Make sure to check our best times to visit section for more details.
Although they don’t typically offer tours, there is a very affordable self-guided tour you can take. They do offer a docent-led tour as well, but this is typically impromptu and not a scheduled event. You’ll find more information about tours below.
How to Get Here
You’ll find the St. Louis Cathedral right across the street from Jackson Square. Use this map for specific directions to this historic landmark. Due to its central location in the French Quarter, many readers will find walking to be the best option.
The closest bus stop (servicing lines #5 and #55) can be found on the south end of this park, and this is also the general location where hop-on-hop-off bus tours will make a stop. If you’re looking for more details, make sure to read our New Orleans bus tours post.
Alternatively, you can also take the streetcar to get here. The closest streetcar stop services line #49 and it can be found at St. Anne Street, roughly 5 blocks northwest from the St. Louis Cathedral. For more details on this option, check our post about riding the streetcar in New Orleans.
TAKE A SELF-GUIDED TOUR
Visitors who want to take a tour of St. Louis Cathedral can grab a brochure at the entrance which is offered to guests who provide a $1 donation. This brochure acts as their self-guided tour, providing a plethora of information about both the history and the architecture of the church.
In addition to all of the detail you can see outside, you will also find a lot to appreciate in the building as well. There are several stained glass windows, murals and artwork depicting scenes from the life of Saint Louis. You’ll also find quite a few statues of famous figures from throughout the history of the Catholic church.
St. Louis Cathedral will offer a docent-guided tour from time to time, but it’s completely impromptu and impossible to schedule before arriving. You literally just have to be there when it happens in order to take advantage of this opportunity. Several visitors have expressed a desire for them to offer a more regular guided tour, but they have yet to do so.
If you’re looking for more tours of the area, you may want to consider our pay-what-you-want guided French Quarter walking tour. This trek will take you right to the St. Louis Cathedral and our guides will provide a lot of wonderful information about the church.
We also offer this walk as a self-guided GPS-enabled audio tour that you can take any time you like.
This historic church still provides Mass every Saturday and Sunday. Although it isn’t usually too crowded, we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes ahead of time in order to get a good seat. This weekend event is held at different times on both days, so keep the following hours in mind before heading to the service.
St. Louis Cathedral Mass
Saturday: 5 pm
Sunday: 9 am and 11 am
In addition to these weekly meetings, there are also special events held throughout the year. As with most Catholic churches, you can expect them to hold mass on Christmas, Easter and other holy days. For specific details on these and other happenings, keep an eye on their events calendar.
TIP: If you’re planning to visit during the holidays, make sure to check our post about things to do in New Orleans in December where we provide information about concerts and other fun activities being offered by the St. Louis Cathedral.
There are a lot of things to experience both in and around the St. Louis Cathedral. In addition to their self-guided tour, you can also check out some of the exterior features and nearby attractions. This section will provide a list of historic and notable things to see while you’re in the area.
Located right across the street from St. Louis Cathedral, this square, and its center monument has become one of the most popular places for photographers to take a shot in New Orleans. In addition to providing an excellent photo opportunity, this location is also one of the most popular parks in the city. For more information, make sure to visit our post about Jackson Square.
St. Anthony’s Garden
Located behind the church, this garden includes a statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched. After dark, floodlights project a shadow of this statue against the church which you won’t soon forget.
On either side of St. Louis Cathedral, you will find two alleyways that lead from Chartres Street to Royal Street. Both alleys have a pretty interesting history, but Pirate Alley definitely became the most noteworthy of the two. You’ll find a cafe named after the alley right next to the church, and you can also learn a lot more about it simply by taking our pay-what-you-wish ghost tour of the area!
Andrew Jackson Monument
This statue was erected at the center of Jackson Square in 1840 to commemorate Andrew Jackson’s victory against the British several years earlier. He was on hand to enjoy an oration in his honor and even laid the cornerstone of the monument.
Washington Artillery Park
Found right across the street from Jackson Square, this historic site includes a monument to the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard who saw action from the Civil War to World War II. The monument features a model of an 1861 Parrott Rifle and several plaques honoring important figures from throughout Louisiana’s history.
The French Market
This popular market is a wonderful place to find a variety of local foods, drinks, entertainment, and trinkets. In addition to all of the shops, you’ll also find a variety of notable locations such as Dutch Alley and the Joan of Arc golden statue. The French Market is only a few blocks from the St. Louis Cathedral, making it easy to visit during a trip around the French Quarter.
The Mississippi River is just one block from Jackson Square, and you can take a stroll through Moonwalk Park in order to get a good view of the water. The Moonwalk is a popular location for local artists to show off their talents and it’s just a great place to visit and people watch in the French Quarter.
If you want to get an even better look at the river, consider taking a ride on the Steamboat Natchez. This popular riverboat docks just south of the Moonwalk roughly 2-3 blocks from the St. Louis Cathedral. Read our post on New Orleans boat tours for more information.
St. Louis Cemetery #1
This historic cemetery is located just a few blocks from St. Louis Cathedral, and it contains the graves of several notable figures. One of the most popular tombs you will find here is that of Marie Laveau, a noted and revered voodoo queen. If you’re interested in visiting, we offer a pay-what-you-like cemetery walking tour which includes a stop at this location.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to hear some great Jazz music, make sure to visit this NOLA favorite. Live performances are offered every night and you can find this location just one block north of the church. For more details and information about other nearby music venues, check our things to do at night in New Orleans post.
There are quite a few museums located within walking distance of the St. Louis Cathedral. If you’re interested in learning about the history of New Orleans, consider making a stop at one or more of the following destinations.
- The Cabildo
- The Presbytère
- The 1850 House
- Old Ursuline Convent Museum
- Madame John’s Legacy
- Gallery Cayenne
- The Historic New Orleans Collection
- The New Orleans Voodoo Museum
- The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
- And More!