One of the questions we get all the time is whether you need a car in New Orleans. While many New Orleanians rely on their cars for transportation, plenty more utilize the city’s myriad of public transport methods. So, it’s no surprise that many visitors forgo renting a car altogether. New Orleans may not have the robust public transit schedules of cities like New York or Boston, but the variety of routes and options can take you all over the city – all with the added benefit of not having to find a parking spot.
To give you more freedom to roam, we recommend downloading the New Orleans RTA’s Le Pass mobile app (available both in the Google Play and Apple app stores), which lets you access maps with real-time tracking, buy tickets, or use the Jazzy Pass – a single-day option that allows you to use RTA resources without having to remember exact change.
New Orleans’s streetcar lines have been a staple of public transportation in the city for centuries – more specifically, the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line began toting passengers in 1835, making it the world’s oldest continually operating streetcar line. Nowadays, the iconic brown and green or red and yellow carts follow tracks across the city.
Catch a streetcar on Canal Street to head through Downtown, Uptown, and partway down Carrollton Avenue. Get off on at the stop on St. Charles and Jackson Avenues and explore the beautiful architecture of the Garden District’s historic homes before stopping for lunch on Magazine Street.
The South Carrollton line will take you past Oak Street and its variety of shops and restaurants, while the North Carrollton route takes you to Esplanade Ridge, a number of historic New Orleans cemeteries, and New Orleans City Park.
Plan more of your streetcar-based exploration using our streetcar itinerary, which breaks everything down by route.
The city bus system is a classic, reliable transportation option, and if you plan on traveling across the Mississippi River, you can always catch a ride on the Algiers Ferry. For a more informational bus experience, the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour buses circulate around some of the more popular tourist areas in the city, offering pick-up every 30 minutes. There are plenty of bus and van tours to choose from that will help you explore the city and surrounding areas with ease!
If you like to feel the wind in your hair and catch the sights and sounds of the city outdoors, there are plenty of bike rental options throughout New Orleans. One of the most universal are the Blue Bikes, a bike share system with stations throughout the city. Use the Lafitte Greenway to bike easily and safely from Mid-City to the Mississippi River.
For a more curated experience, many bike rental companies also offer guided tours through different neighborhoods, showing you a new side to city that you can only get on two wheels. Also, if you’re traveling within Downtown, Warehouse District, and French Quarter areas and the walk is a bit too far between locations, these neighborhoods are full of pedicabs to carry you through the streets with ease.
Once you’ve chosen a neighborhood to spend your day in, traversing on foot is the tried-and-true method of travel. NOLA is full of scenic spots to walk (or jog, if that’s your thing), for both fitness and for fun. It may sound trite, but you’ll be surprised at the things that you might have otherwise missed when you take the time to really walk a neighborhood.
There are walking tours in most neighborhoods on all things uniquely New Orleans. Be sure to dress according to the weather and wear comfy shoes!
Although potentially counterintuitive to include car transportation in a guide to getting around… without a car… there is sometimes a need to hop in some wheels to get from point A to point B, and if you don’t have your own car (or a rental agency’s car) at your disposal, rideshares are an excellent option. For those traveling with children who need car seats or booster seats, KreweCar is a family-friendly rideshare app that allows you to book safe rides in advance with professional drivers who are screened and background-checked. Uber and Lyft are also both readily available throughout the city.