Hop On Hop Off New Orleans Bus Tours And More

This post reviews and compares the various bus tours in New Orleans, including our pay-what-you-like version.  There are many options to choose from if one is looking for a bus tour in the Crescent City, from hop-on, hop-off to fully guided tours.  Most tours last approximately 3 hours and most companies focus on offering basic city overviews.  You can take a tour specifically covering the devastation of the city from Hurricane Katrina and the city’s revitalization.  Many companies also offer bus tours to the surrounding plantations and swamps as well as other combinations.  Some offer hotel pick up or allow young children to ride for free.  Read this post to find out which New Orleans bus tours are best for you. It’s important to mention that many of these tours are not replacements for our pay-what-you-wish walking tours.


Double Decker Bus Hop-on, Hop Off

Plantation Tours

Combos + Discount Passes

Fully Guided City Tours

Hurricane Katrina Tours

Swamp Tours


 

FULLY GUIDED CITY TOURS

 

 

 

 

Cajun Encounters – (our favorite)

If our bus tours are not running or do not fit within you schedule, then consider the Cajun Encounter City and Cemetery Bus Tour.  This tour begins on Canal Street and covers the downtown business district, the French Quarter, Frenchman Street in Farbourg Marigny, the Lower 9th Ward, where you will see some examples of post-Katrina revitalization, St. Louis Cemetery #3 (where you will get off the bus and guided through), the neighborhood of the Treme, where you will visit Louis Armstrong Park, City Park (where you will stop for a short refreshment), the Garden District and finally to the Museum and Arts District, where you will see the National World War 2 Museum.  They are probably the best reviewed (aside from Free Tours by Foot) bus company in New Orleans.

 

 

  • Tours depart 3 times daily at 9:30 am, 11:30 am and 2:30 pm.
  • 4:00 pm seasonal departure sometime available.
  • Tours last 3 hours.
  • Pick up at your hotel.
  • Cajun Encounters also offers swamp and plantation tours as well as combo tours that combine any 2 of 3 that save you $8/ticket.

Prices:

Recommend for: people with mobility issues or those short on time.  This tour is quality, but is not a replacement of our walking tours as the only guided stop off the bus is St. Louis Cemetery #3.  The hotel pick up is a nice touch.  Read our post reviewing all of Cajun Encounters offerings.

 

 

new orleans grayline bus tour


Grayline New Orleans

Gray Line offers two tours, one short 75 minute intro to the city and the other being a similar tour to Cajun Encounters, where you will make only two stops (St. Louis Cemetery #3 and City Park), but the bus tour is just a bit shorter – and a bit cheaper – without hotel pickup.  Gray Line also has good reviews (for a bus tour), and they offer several other tours for visitors to New Orleans.

Prices:

Recommended for: those looking to save money on a bus tour.

 


Gray Line: City Express Tour

Gray Line’s City Express Tour is a relaxing journey through some of New Orleans most famous sites and landmarks. This narrated tour is just over an hour, perfect for travelers wanting to take in some sites but have limited time.

  • daily @ 3 pm (Mar 1 – Oct 31)
  • Tour last 1 ¼ hours
  • No hotel pickup. Tour departs from Gray Line ‘Lighthouse’ ticket office
  • Prices: $25/Adults, $10/Children (6-12), $22.50/Groups (minimum of 10)
  • More information or to book online.

NOTE: Reservations are recommended at least 24 hours in advance. Private tours may be arranged at different departure times.

Gray Line is rated 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Their bus tours rank well independently with many reviews collected from couples followed close behind by groups of friends and families. Users describe the tour as a great way to showcase many of the city’s highlights; citing the guides as well informed and entertaining. There are some negative reviews but these seem to cite the company’s longer bus tour options.

 


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New Orleans Adventures Tour

The itinerary is essentially the same as what is listed in the last two tours.  The biggest thing of note is that this tour is included for free with a purchase of a New Orleans Power Pass.  This company also has a good review profile, but they do not have as many reviews as the other companies.

  • Tours at 10 am and 2 pm.
  • May offer hotel pick ups.
  • Bookings taken over the phone.

Prices:

Recommended for: those considering purchasing the New Orleans Power Pass.

 


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Tours by Isabelle –

Small outfit with good reviews.  They offer two different city tours, one which includes a focus on estates and another that includes a focus on post-Katrina rebuilding.  It is likely slightly more comprehensive than the others, though what you see is essentially similar to the other companies.   It’s possible that you will get a more intimate experience and possibly your own private tour.

  • Tours only go out when they have met the minimum 4 participants.
  • 4 hour tour
  • Hotel pickup is available.
  • limit 13 people per tour

Prices:

  • $85 – per person for all ages
  • 10% discount for all military personal
  • Tickets can be purchased on Viator.

Recommended for: those willing to pay for a more intimate experience.

 


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Southern Style Tours

Mini-coach, 3 hour city tours similar to what has already been mentioned.  This company often has a Groupon Deal.  Like the other tours, this company gets good reviews on TripAdvisor.

  • 9 am and 2 pm daily departures.
  • Hotel pick up is available.

Prices:

  • $45 – Adults
  • $25 – Children (under 12 years old)
  • Groupon deal ($25 for 1, $45 for 2, $88 for 4)

Recommended for: those looking for a city tour and are on a budget.

 


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DOUBLE DECKER BUS | HOP-ON, HOP-OFF

CitySightseeing

There is only one traditional hop-on, hop-off bus service in New Orleans, CitySightseeing, a global sightseeing company with the familiar red double deck buses.

 

 

  • Buses operate daily every 30 minutes from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm (17:00).
  • Each ticket is good for 3 days of riding.
  • Live guide on each bus.
  • Hop on at any of their 18 stops (map at the bottom of this page).
  • Free walking tours of the French Quarter and Garden District + a self-guided tour of Lafayette Cemetery

Prices:New Orleans bus tours

Recommended for: people who want to have transportation around New Orleans and want to explore on their own time or in conjunction with our neighborhood tours.

 

New Orleans Hop on hop off bus map

 


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HURRICANE KATRINA TOURS

Many people are interested in seeing the areas of New Orleans that were affected by the great storm of 2005, including the famous levee breaks, and to take in the rebuilding efforts.  The city has discouraged large bus tours into these areas, and in our opinion, for good reason.  However, you can still take a small group tour.  Most of the companies listed above include parts of a Hurricane Katrina tour into their city tours, and for many people, this will be sufficient.  Listed below, however, are the tours that are specifically designed to cover this topic.  If you have a car or bike, be sure to consider our self-guided tour.

 

 

There are several tour operators offering daily Katrina themed guided tours, including Gray Line New Orleans.

  • Tour departs at 1 pm everyday.
  • Ticket prices

They also offer a combination city highlights and Katrina sights tour for a few dollars more.

  • Tour departs everyday bus Sunday at 10 am. (March-October).
  • Limited schedule outside of this time-frame

Many standard city bus tours will also cover Hurricane Katrina sights.  There is also an audio tour that you could purchase from iTunes.

 


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Tours by Isabelle

offers a 3.5 hour and 45 mile (72 km) long bus tour.  Tour is only available as a private option and there are no prices listed on their website.  You will need to contact them.

 


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NIGHT TOURS

Gray Line

This tour differs a bit from their day tour mentioned above, as it visits the Connection Bridge for a panoramic view of New Orleans’ downtown area.  This tour also stops in a neighborhood bar, which is why nobody under 21 can take this tour.

  • Tours depart at 6 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Must be 21 to take part in the tour.
  • Tours last 3 + 1/4 hours.
  • No hotel pickup.  Bus departs from Gray Line ticket office (map).

Prices:

  • $59 – Adults
  • $53 – Per person for groups

 


NOLA BREWERY TOURS

As the craft brew movement has risen in popularity, several wonderful breweries have opened up shop in New Orleans. As a matter of fact, there are so many different businesses in the area that you can now take a tour which will allow you to explore these locations at great length. The NOLA Brew Bus  as well as the NOLA Brews Cruise provide several public and private tours which focus on the advancement of craft beer in this part of the country. Each Brewery tour typically visits three different breweries and offers at least five samplings of beer. Don’t worry if you get a little tipsy, because they’ll be your designated driver on this journey!  Some tours are during the day, while others are evening tours.

 

Considering that this movement is fairly recent in the New Orleans area, it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that NOLA Brew Bus is a new tour company. That being said, it would appear that they are starting things off on the right foot, because they have yet to receive even one negative review on TripAdvisor.  Every single rating they have been given is 5 stars, and all of their guests have been very happy with their experience. Passengers described their guides as both friendly and knowledgeable, providing a wealth of information about both the city and this recent boom in craft brewing.

New Orleans Brewery Tour

NOLA Brew Bus makes stops at the following several local brewery locations. Depending on when you take your tour, you may experience different breweries.  Schedule your trip ahead of time if there are any specific stops you would like to enjoy.  Click the link for full details.

Tour Information

  • Tickets are $70 per person.
  • Entire trip lasts for approximately 4 hours.
  • Available Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 pm till 6:30 pm.
  • Stop at three different breweries and complete a tour of at least one.
  • Breweries visited are subject to change from day to day.
  • Enjoy a total of 48 ounces of beer for free

Craft Beer Bar & NOLA History Tour

  • Tickets are $70 per person.
  • Tour lasts for approximately 4 hours.
  • Available every Thursday from 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM.
  • Tour begins at Crescent City Brewhouse.
  • Visit the Top 3 Craft Beer Bars in New Orleans.
  • Receive one pint of beer at each bar for free.
  • Learn all about the history of beer in NOLA.

The Abita Experience & NOLA History Tour

  • Tickets are $50 per person
  • Tour will last for approximately 4 hours
  • Available every Friday from 1 PM – 5 PM
  • Enjoy Guided Tour of Abita Brewery
  • Receive a total of 16 ounces of free craft beer
  • Purchase additional pints and snacks
  • Learn about New Orleans’ history with beer

Craft Cocktail & Jazz Tour

  • Tickets are $100 per person
  • Tour lasts for roughly 5 hours
  • Available every Tuesday from 1:30 PM – 6:30 PM
  • Visit Bacchanal, Hermes Bar, and Vessel NOLA
  • Enjoy three craft cocktails created in New Orleans
  • Experience local Jazz musicians playing at each stop
  • Purchase additional drinks and snacks as you see fit

Private Brewery Tours

  • Tickets are $50 per person
  • Visit two breweries of your choice
  • Add $20 for each additional brewery you would like to visit
  • Must bring at least 4 passengers in order to book a private tour
  • Receive free craft beer at most breweries
  • Purchase additional pours for $4 ahead of time
  • Schedule accordingly if you wish to experience a full tour of at least one brewery

 


New Orleans Brews Cruise

They may be new to the Big Easy, but the Brews Cruise is quickly gaining a reputation for providing excellent brewery tours in NOLA. With locations in 12 different cities across the country, it’s safe to say that this tour company has some experience in offering a valuable service. Much like their competitors, you can expect to visit at least three different breweries during each tour they offer. Sit back, relax, and learn all about the craft brew scene that is growing in New Orleans.

Although they don’t yet have many reviews, it’s worth noting that New Orleans Brews Cruise currently has a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Positive comments indicate that tour guides provide a lot of useful information and make it easy to enjoy your experience. One reviewer went so far as to thank them for offering alternatives to guests who did not want to drink. Reviews in other cities illustrate that these are fairly common assessments.

New Orleans Tour

  • Price: $60 per person
  • Tour Length: 3 ½ – 4 hours
  • Availability: Thursday – Sunday
  • Purchase here.

Breweries You Will Visit

  • Thursday: Nola, Wayward Owl, Urban South
  • Friday: Nola, 40 Arpent, Courtyard
  • Saturday: Nola, 504 Craft Beer Reserve, Second Line
  • Sunday: Nola, Wayward Owl, Courtyard

Northshore Tour

  • Price: $70 per person
  • Tour Length: 5 hours
  • Availability: Saturday and Sunday

Breweries You Will Visit

  • Saturday – Abita, Gnarly Barley, Old Rail
  • Sunday – Abita, Covington, Old Rail

Additional Benefits

Each tour includes 3-5 samples per stop. Those who do not want to sample beer will have the option of bottled water on the bus. Brews Cruise also offers snacks to all of their guests. The bus comes equipped with cold storage for any beer you may want to purchase while at a brewery. Private tours are available for $125 an hour.

TIP: Take this tour with a friend who is interested in craft brewing. A lot of people who bring their friends report having an excellent time on brewery tours.

 


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SWAMP AND BAYOU TOURS

Be sure to read our full post on swamp tours to better understand all your options.

A swamp and bayou tour is a great way to add an unforgettable experience for you and your family when visiting New Orleans.  These swamp tours are eco-tours that hope to include alligators, but also include egrets, eagles and other birds as well as raccoon, black bear, snakes, turtles and much more.  You will also learn about the types of seafood caught in these estuaries and how they influence the local dishes.  Likewise, you will also learn about the coastal erosion taking place in the region.

There are many bus companies offering tours with transportation.  Most offer similar offerings.  Expect to pay between $40-52 per adult ticket and $21-32 per child ticket for the tours and transportation from New Orleans hotels.   The tours take place at either Jean Lafitte or Honey Island Swamp Preserves and last between 90-120 minutes (not including transportation time to and from the swamps).  If you have a car, you can save some money by driving to the swamps.  We have listed whether these particular companies offer the “drive-up” option or not.  One key factor influencing price is whether or not you want a more expensive small boat (approx 10 passengers) or a larger boat (approx 22 passengers).  Additionally, air-boat tours are considerably more expensive.

 


Cajun Encounters

(Our favorite)  This outfit visits Honey Island Swamp.  They offer both small and large boats and they offer hotel pick up and transportation from New Orleans.  They also visit a Cajun village in the Honey Island Swamp.

 

 

Prices:

  • 22 passenger boats (with transportation from New Orleans)
    • $56 – adults
    • $36 – children (4-11)
  • 22 passenger boats (self drive up)
    • $25.00 – adults
    • $15.00 – children
  • 10 passenger boats have an additional charge

 


Gray Line

This company visits Jean Lafitte Swamp and offers 2 options – their Swamp and Bayou Tour, $49/adult, $26/child, and their 8.5 hour swamp and plantation combo tour, $96/adult, $55/child.  They also offer air-boat tours starting at $75/person.

 


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Combos and Discount Passes

It’s very common for companies to list combinations.  The combinations are varied.  You can combine the city bus tour with a swamp tour, plantation tour or even a riverboat cruise.  The savings can add up.  We’ve summarized some of the companies’ packages below.  For example, Cajun Encounters discounts their combo packages by $8/person and Gray Line offers 10% off the price of the individual products.

And if you are really planning on taking in many of New Orleans most popular attractions, then the New Orleans Power Pass may make financial sense for you.  Get our full analysis on our tourist attraction discount page.

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