@Travacurio Guide: New Orlean’s Historic CemeterieS
August 26, 2019
The above-earth marble tombs that encase New Orlean’s (hopefully dearly) departed are such an alluring haunt for visitors to the city that in some cases measures have been put in place to protect graves from destruction and the cemeteries themselves from overcrowding of the still-living kind. Curious? Here’s a list of the top-rated cemetery tours in NOLA that will give you access to the famous Cities of the Dead and to the last resting place of icons like Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, and the future tomb of actor Nicolas Cage.
Free Tours by Foot — With over 4,600 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor, this global tour company offers a 1.5-hour tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the city’s oldest and most frequented resting ground. Tours occur at 9:30 AM every day except Tuesday. Reservations are required, but they operate a pay-what-you-like model for any group under six people. Groups larger than six must prepay $10 per person but can do so directly through the website. They also offer several other tours including a Garden District Tour which features the Lafayette Cemetery.
Save Our Cemeteries — Dedicated to promoting and protecting the local resting places of the dead, this non-profit restoration organization and tour entity offers three tours options. They include the popular St. Lous Cemetery No. 1, the Garden District’s Lafayette No. 1 (1.5 hours each), and a combination of both which is 3 hours. Tours range in cost from $20 to $40 per person. Children six years old and under are free.
Royal Carriages — If you’re into horse carriage tours, this award-winning company offers a 1-hour ride starting in Jackson Square with a visit to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (entry fee included). Pricing is $40 per person, and they have multiple time slots throughout the day starting at 10:00 AM.
Ghost Riders’ Cemeteries at Night Bus Tour — Self-proclaimed as “the only cemetery tour offered under the cover of night,” this 2-hour bus tour visits multiple cemeteries within the NOLA area. I personally like that you get to see multiple cemeteries and neighborhoods, a plus if you’re visiting without a car. Also, this is a BYOB bus—both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are allowed—which could definitely ease the anxiety around socializing (or ghosts) if you’re anything like me. Plus, it’s certainly a fun and perhaps more affordable concept as bar crawling through the French Quarter can get expensive. $40 per adult and $25 per child (6-12 years old). I’ll add that I’m extremely doubtful that tour guests are able to actually enter the cemeteries themselves as most of the New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries locations close by 4:00 PM. If this is a concern, you should definitely confirm this with Ghost Riders.
Haunted History Tours — Voted #1 New Orleans Attraction by Travel Channel, this tour company offers a 2-hour daytime stroll through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where visitors will learn about tomb architecture and burial procedures while visiting the most popular and notorious graves within. Tours begin at 10:00 AM and 1:15 PM daily with prices ranging between $14 for children 6 to 11, $18 for military members, and $25 per adult.
Hop-On Hop-Off Tours — You don’t have to be in New Orleans very long before you spot the bright red double-decker buses operated by City Sightseeing. This is more city tour and less cemetery tour, but they stop in the Garden District for those interested in a self-guided tour of the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 while also seeing other parts of the city. They make 19 stops along the way with a detailed map of those stops on their website. They also offer guided tours at some of the locations. Buses swing by each stop approximately every 30 minutes, or you can remain on for the full 2-hour loop.
Strange True Tours — If you’ve already taken a tour of the oldest and most popular cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, and/or you’re just looking to avoid the crowds, this tour company offers an in-depth tour of the sprawling St. Louis No. 2 where their website describes you’ll visit the tombs of “a bonafide pirate, a future Saint, royalty of food and music, and so many others.”
There are 42 cemeteries in the New Orleans area, and most of them are open for self-guided tours. But unless you’re a family member with a pre-issued pass (time restrictions apply), St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 cannot be visited without a licensed tour guide. More information on that can be found here.