Of all the city’s attractions, New Orleans’ cemeteries are a one-stop shop for learning about family traditions, history, Voodoo, jazz music and burial practices for above-ground tombs. However, some cemeteries, such as St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, require you to join a guided tour to visit. These tours differ from New Orleans’ ghost tours, which tell spooky stories of NOLA’s legendary spirits and visit haunted spots around the city. To help you select which tour is right for you, U.S. News created this list of the best New Orleans cemetery tours, informed by both expert and traveler opinion. No matter which outing you choose, you’re sure to have a ghoulishly good time.
Cemetery Tours NOLA – The Official Tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Price: Adults from $25; kids from $18
Duration: 45 minutes
If you want to see the inside of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, this tour is the only way to walk through the premises (it’s not open to the general public). During the 45-minute tour, licensed guides delve into the unique burial customs and above-ground crypts found throughout the famous 18th-century cemetery. Among the tombs you’ll spot are those belonging to Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, numerous New Orleans city mayors, as well as Homer Plessy (plaintiff in the United States Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson). Reviewers appreciate that the cemetery is restricted to guided tours and praise the experienced and humorous guides for their vast knowledge of the cemetery and the city in general.
Tours depart daily every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended. Groups are limited to 20 guests per tour. Tickets start at $25 for adults and $18 for kids ages 3 to 12.
Save Our Cemeteries – Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery Tour
Price: From $25
Duration: 1.5 hours
By signing up for a tour with Save Our Cemeteries, you’ll play a small part in helping the nonprofit preserve the city’s cemeteries. Proceeds from the tours go directly to cemetery restoration efforts. Picturesque Metairie Cemetery is home to some of the most awe-inspiring funerary architecture and sculpture in the country, not to mention the graves of some of the most famous New Orleanians, including Louisiana governors, Confederate generals, writer Anne Rice and former New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson. You’ll learn all about the elaborate tomb styles and the cemetery’s history as a former racetrack on this tour. Reviewers say this experience is led by passionate guides, who provide an informative, respectful and fun experience. Tourgoers also praise the guides’ fact-based storytelling.
Tours last 90 minutes and depart every Sunday at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $25; children ages 6 and younger can participate for free. Save Our Cemeteries also operates tours of St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 and St. Roch Cemetery, among others.
NOLA Ghost Riders – Cemetery Nightly Bus Tour
Price: Adults from $45; kids from $30
Duration: 2 hours
Explore the city’s storied past under the cover of darkness with this nighttime cemetery and ghost tour from NOLA Ghost Riders. Unlike other tours that focus on a single cemetery, this bus tour takes you to several of the city’s most famous cemeteries, and participants ages 21 and older can bring their own alcohol along for the ride. Reviewers describe the experience as fun, thanks to the insightful, entertaining guides. However, a few travelers warn that intoxicated tourgoers can hamper the fun.
Tickets cost approximately $45 per adult and $30 per child ages 6 to 12. Tours depart nightly at 5, 8 and 11 p.m., though the 5 p.m. tour may not be available every day. NOLA Ghost Riders also operates a ghost walking tour and a cemetery walking tour, among others.
(Courtesy of Historic New Orleans Tours)
Historic New Orleans Tours – Treme / Storyville / Cemetery / Voodoo Tour
Price: Adults from $25; kids from $7
Duration: 2 hours
This two-hour walking tour covers much more than the city’s famous cemeteries. You’ll visit Treme, the epicenter of New Orleans’ African American and Creole heritage, and Storyville, once the home of the city’s red-light district. You’ll also learn about Voodoo and visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, home to the vault of Jacques Nicolas Bussiere de Pouilly, a French architect credited with establishing the city’s unique cemetery aesthetic. Tourgoers give the guides kudos for their engaging and compelling delivery. Reviewers also say this is a great tour to take at the start of your trip as it will enhance your entire New Orleans visit.
Tours depart daily at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $25 for adults; $18 for seniors, students and active military with ID; and $7 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under the age of 5 are free. Other tours from this company include outings to the French Quarter and the Garden District.
New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tours – New Orleans Cemetery Tour
Price: From $29
Duration: 1.5 hours
If you’ve already visited the city’s famous St. Louis cemeteries, consider signing up for this tour, which concentrates on the five cemeteries found within the Mid-City neighborhood. Among the sites you’ll visit are the Greenwood and Cypress Grove cemeteries, in addition to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial. Along the way, you’ll hear tales of the city’s early Irish immigrants, as well as the yellow fever outbreak at Charity Hospital. Reviewers praise the company’s guides for their knowledge and passion for New Orleans history.
Tours, which last approximately 90 minutes, depart daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $29 per person. If you’d rather explore by bus, the company also offers cemetery tours by bus, in addition to haunted pub crawls.
Bloody Mary’s Tours – Dead & Famous: Sinners Saints Secrets
Price: From $75
Duration: 2.5 hours
You’ll visit 20 cemeteries and six neighborhoods on this 2.5-hour tour, which covers everything from Voodoo queen Marie Laveau to the history of jazz. In addition, you’ll go inside at least two cemeteries to get a better look at the intricate above-ground tombs. While you’ll be chauffeured in a van, keep in mind walking is involved on this tour. Reviewers describe guides as knowledgeable and say this tour covers a lot of history in a short amount of time. Families traveling with kids (ages 10 and older) recommend the tour.
Tickets start at $75 per person and tours depart at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tourgoers can add a psychic reading and a handmade Voodoo doll to their bookings for an additional price. There are also private versions of this tour. For even more thrills, check out the company’s ghost-hunting tour.
TOURS by STEVEN – Garden District & Lafayette Cemetery Walking Tour
Price: Adults from $30; kids from $22
Duration: 2 hours
Multiple guides from this company win praise for their informative and enthusiastic retelling of New Orleans history. You’ll start your tour outside the gates of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where you’ll learn about the burial customs that make the city’s cemeteries so unique. (Note that you won’t actually go inside the cemetery as it’s closed to the public). Then, you’ll walk around the Garden District, an opulent neighborhood known for its celebrity homes and manicured landscapes.
This two-hour walking tour runs daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $30 for adults and $22 for kids ages 6 to 11. TOURS by STEVEN also runs a jogging tour of New Orleans and a tour of the French Quarter, among others.
Haunted History Tours of New Orleans – New Orleans Cemetery Tour
Price: Adults from $30; kids from $20
Duration: 2 hours
Calling all history buffs! This tour is for you. Along this two-hour stroll down Canal Street, you’ll hear about the folklore, customs and superstitions of the city’s unique burial practices, and visit Charity Hospital Cemetery, as well as the Hurricane Katrina Memorial. According to the company, this tour is less about getting spooked, and more about providing a historical and cultural context to those interested in these “cities of the dead.” Tourgoers praise guides for their educational and insightful storytelling, and appreciate the opportunity to visit the Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
Tours are available daily at 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Ticket prices start at $30 for adults; $25 for seniors, students and military with valid ID; and $20 for children ages 3 to 12. Children 2 and younger are free. If you didn’t get your fill of thrills, consider the company’s nighttime bus tour or haunted pub crawl.