A Solo Traveler's Guide to New Orleans

Solo travelers won't feel alone among the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter in New Orleans
Solo travelers won't feel alone among the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter in New Orleans | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nick Dauk
Senior Travel Writer16 February 2022
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New Orleans is intoxicating in every sense of the word. From the rich Cajun and Creole flavors acting as an edible history lesson to the big band jam sessions transforming any nondescript street corner into a dance party, New Orleans is a destination where solo travelers can immerse themselves in Big Easy culture at every turn.

What’s the vibe?

Don’t miss the legendary live music scene in New Orleans | © Rolf_52 / Alamy Stock Photo

Larger-than-life flavors, music, and personalities spill from piano bars into the vibrant streets of New Orleans. It’s a jazzy affair where solo travelers can find a crowd to dance, dine, and drink with at all hours of the day and night.

Where to stay in New Orleans as a solo traveler

India House Hostel

Hostel
The exterior of India House Hostel, a yellow house with flags flying from the balcony
Courtesy of India House Hostel / Expedia
Private, single-sex, and coed dorms at India House Hostel allow you to rest within your comfort zone. The low price keeps your budget relaxed, too. Live music, pool parties, and crawfish boils are just a few of the daily icebreakers to get to know your bunkmates. With no curfew, your squad can hop on the Canal Streetcar and head to the French Quarter.

Hotel Monteleone

The glamorous bar at Hotel Monteleone, decorated like a carousel with bright lights
Courtesy of Hotel Monteleone / Expedia
A rejuvenating spa, river view suites, and a red carpet rollout for pets make Hotel Monteleone a lavish spot to sleep – just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. Take in panoramic views of the city or soak up the sun in the rooftop year-round pool. A half-mile walk brings you to the French Market’s Cafe du Monde, so you can start every morning at Hotel Monteleone with pillowy beignets and chicory coffee.

Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District

Two armchairs and a neon sign that says "The Big Easy" in Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District
Courtesy of Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District / Expedia

Pops of color as loud and lively as New Orleans jazz music fill the Cambria Hotel. This artsy retreat in the bohemian Central Business District has spa-like bathrooms and sitting areas for a little R&R after a long day of sightseeing. Refueling is a restful experience in itself, especially when you ease into a bowl of their Creole-style tomato bisque.

You’ll spend three nights at the Cambria Hotel as part of Culture Trip’s tasty four-day tour of New Orleans.

Where to eat and drink in New Orleans

Dat Dog

Restaurant, American
Two people walking towards Dat Dog, a brightly colored restaurant in the French Quarter
© Andriy Blokhin / Alamy Stock Photo
Dat Dog puts the best flavors of the Big Easy between two buns. This hotdog shop has three locations throughout the city – so you can munch on a crawfish etouffee dog before scoping out Lafayette Cemetery No.1, an alligator sausage topped with Creole mustard en route to Jackson Square, or a duck sausage with andouille sauce before shopping in Uptown.

Mother’s Restaurant

Restaurant, Cajun, $$$
the red brick exterior of Mother's Restaurant, with signs out front of the entrance
© William Morgan / Alamy Stock Photo
A New Orleans institution dating back to 1938, Mother’s Restaurant is well worth the wait. A Famous Ferdi Special – their iconic roast beef and ham po’boy drowned in their delectable debris with au jus – will stretch your smile and your waistband. If your stomach is up for the workout, the bread pudding with brandy sauce is a must.

Commander's Palace

Restaurant, American, $$$
The exterior of Commander's Palace Restaurant, with a blue and white color scheme
© Nikreates / Alamy Stock Photo
Dining under the ornate chandeliers of Commander’s Palace has been the way to appreciate fine New Orleans cuisine since the 1800s. Classic dinners in this Garden District favorite include the Commander’s veal chop tchoupitoulas and Creole cream cheese stone-ground grits. Don’t let your mouth water all day: jazz brunch is just as salivating with cochon de lait eggs benedict and Louisiana caviar buttermilk yogurt.

What to do in New Orleans as a solo traveler

Encounter diverse spirits during a haunted pub crawl

Your spooky senses will be tingling as you drink your way around New Orleans | © Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

Drinking up the extensive bar scene in New Orleans is a must; why not order up a spookier type of spirit while you’re at it? Supernatural sightings, voodoo culture, and literal historic haunts are on draft during a haunted pub crawl through the city. A range of tours is available for those who are in it for the pints or for the frights.

Dance in the streets with fais-dodo or zydeco lessons

Dance your heart out while discovering fais-dodo or zydeco music | © Andy Levin / Alamy Stock Photo

The sounds of the city will provide a literal soundtrack to your jig through NOLA, and it’s mighty handy to have a few new dance moves at the ready. Traditional Cajun fais-dodo and Acadian zydeco lessons are great ways to meet a new dance partner, learn about pre-New Orleans culture, and get down in style at local clubs like Tipitina’s.

Slowly explore the swamp on a kayak tour

For a real feel of the bayou, get out on the water during a kayak tour | © Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

Discover the oldest side of New Orleans when you venture into Manchac Swamp, only 30 minutes from downtown. Rumor has it that this bayou is haunted, and the ruins of the Ruddock ghost town certainly reinforce that notion. A ghoul probably won’t rock your boat as you paddle down the waterways, but a gator wading on the surface might give you a fright.

A kayak tour through the Bayou Manchac is just one of the many diverse activities you’ll experience on Culture Trip’s four-day New Orleans tour, led by our Local Insider.

Staying safe in New Orleans

With a seemingly never-ending party atmosphere, it’s important to still use caution when exploring New Orleans. The state of Louisiana sees relatively high levels of crime, but New Orleans itself is generally safer than other cities in the Bayou State. It’s not difficult to stay safe while having the time of your life in the Big Easy, as long as you take the precautions that you would in any major city.

The high concentration of people, police, and lighting in the French Quarter adds a level of security for solo travelers. It’s best to avoid walking alone through the city, especially at night or when you’re under the influence. Consider choosing a hotel near major attractions like Jackson Square or Bourbon Street, and calling for an official taxi, pedicab, or rideshare to safely get from place to place around the clock.

Getting around New Orleans as a solo traveler

Streetcars are a quick and convenient way to get around New Orleans | © Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

New Orleans is an easily walkable city, even if you’re aiming to visit Audubon Park, Bourbon Street, and everything in between. But you can quickly cut your step count with a handy set of wheels. Buses run throughout the city and rideshares are plentiful – but the coolest method of transportation is undeniably the streetcars. Four district lines originate from Downtown to Uptown, the Riverfront, CBD, St. Claude Arts District, and beyond.

You don’t have to drink, dine, or dance alone when traveling to New Orleans. Join Culture Trip’s four-day music- and food-filled tour of New Orleans for the chance to experience NOLA’s colorful communities as part of a small group of travelers who share the same hunger for culture.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Sarah Ravits.

These recommendations were updated on February 16, 2022 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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