• Cityscape Historic architectural gumbo
  • City life Laissez les bons temps rouler

A soulful southern grand dame known for its good times, second lines and haunting history, New Orleans is as resilient as it is rapturous, capturing the affections of authors, artists, filmmakers and playwrights…

Spend time exploring some of the Big Easy’s diverse districts, the soul of the city: the French Quarter (aka Vieux Carré) where the streets are paved with Mardi Gras beads; jazz club-packed Frenchmen Street in Faubourg Marginy, the artsy Warehouse District; the verdant Garden and Lower Garden Districts; stylish Uptown; and historic Tremé. As you wander, notice conversation-starting architecture – ornate wrought iron swirls bedecking wraparound balconies, imposing columns and steep pitched roofs – setting it apart from the any other city in the US. A renowned music scene, festivals, and fried, spiced, hot-sauce-lashed food lure revelers. Even if you're not in town for mighty Mardi Gras the party continues. Music, holy days, the dearly departed: Nola’s citizens celebrate everything. See a second line (an impromptu jazz parade) coming your way? Join in. If you do nothing else, eat, preferably while listening to a brass band. Cajun and Creole cuisine can be found simmering on a stove in the most humble dining dens off a cobbled alleyway – with a queue snaking down the street – as well as in one of the many Michelin-star-worthy kitchens. Visitors leave satiated, a bit hungover and hopelessly magicked and it’s not just the voodoo. It doesn't take a reading with a psychic priestess to know once you’ve experienced the bewitching Big Easy, you’ll be back.

Do go/Don’t go

Although this Southern city stays warm throughout the year, the mildest months are February through April and September through November. From June to August be prepared for sticky, humid heat. Keep an eye on weather reports starting in August, when hurricane season begins.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes International and domestic flights from most major hubs touch down at Louis Armstrong International Airport (www.flymsy.com), 20-30 minutes outside of New Orleans proper. From New York, fly with American Airlines (www.aa.com) or United Airlines (www.united.com). Take a taxi to downtown for US$25. Make a grand entrance or exit by private plane at Lakefront Airport (www.lakefrontairport.com), just 10 minutes from downtown.
  • Boats The Canal Street Ferry offers daily trips to the West Bank from 6am to 12.15am: it’s a US$1 round-trip for cars, free for pedestrians.
  • Trains Catch an Amtrak train at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at 1001 Loyola Avenue (www.amtrak.com), with routes to Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Climb aboard the city’s iconic streetcars to cruise along historic St Charles Avenue (the Canal Street line is more geared to commuters) US$1.25, unlimited day tickets start at US$5 (+1 504 569 2700).
  • Automobiles A set of wheels is helpful for heading out of the city limits, or exploring multiple districts. Rent one at the airport, where the major outlets are represented, such as Avis (+1 504 464 9511; www.avis.com).
  • Taxis It’s easy to flag a cab on the street if you’re downtown or in the French Quarter. In less-frequented hoods or to pre-book, call United Cabs Co (+1 504 522 9771; www.unitedcabs.com).