Getting Around New Orleans
The best ways to get around New Orleans are on foot and by public transportation. The city's neighborhoods are very compact, making them perfect for strolling sightseers. If you don't feel like walking, hop on one of the famous streetcars. Another option is cycling. Since New Orleans is flat, it’s easy to get around by bike. You can rent a bike from several companies. To get into the city from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) – located about 15 miles west of downtown New Orleans – you can take the Airport Shuttle for $24 per person one-way or $44 per person round-trip. The shuttle services the downtown and uptown districts as well as the French Quarter. Taxis are also available, but you can expect to pay $36 to get from the airport into the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Uber and Lyft are also widely available.
Streetcars, run by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, have been a staple attraction ever since Tennessee Williams' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire," and they are a fun way to navigate the city. While many of them were replaced by less romantic buses, they have since made a comeback and are once again running in central New Orleans. The bus – although less charming than the streetcar – features more extensive routes. Operating hours for both streetcars and the buses vary by line. Consult the RTA website for more information. Nearly all of the city's top attractions, such as the Garden District, City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art, can be reached via streetcar or bus.
One-way fares on streetcars and buses cost $1.25 per person. If you're planning to use public transportation more than once during your stay, your best bet is to purchase a Jazzy Pass, which offers you unlimited rides on both buses and streetcars for one, three, five or 31 days. Jazzy Pass rates range from $3 to $55, depending on the length of its validity. You can purchase a Jazzy Pass online on the RTA website, or you can buy your pass at several retail locations, such as Walgreens.
Taxicabs are a good way to explore at night. However, rates can add up quickly. Local companies United Cabs and New Orleans Carriage Cab are well-regarded by recent travelers. The ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft also operate in the New Orleans area.
With small, compact neighborhoods, New Orleans is easily navigated on foot. What's more, there are plenty of top-notch walking tours to help you make the most of your time exploring. Make sure to pack your walking shoes and hydrate properly, especially in the summer months.
It can be a real pleasure to cycle around New Orleans thanks to the flat terrain, although it might be best avoided in the hot summer months when the temperatures soar. There are several companies that lead biking tours or you can rent a bike and explore on your own. The city also has a bike-share program, Blue Bikes, with stations clustered around popular neighborhoods, including the French Quarter, the Garden District and Faubourg St. John. Pricing for bike rentals and tours varies.
Car rentals are available at the airport and throughout the city. But you might want to stick to public transport and cabs: Driving may prove more trouble than it's worth. Streets in central New Orleans are narrow, and one-way roads can throw you for a loop. Additionally, residents are known for their aggressive manners on the road, so take precautions. Also, be aware that parking restrictions may vary around town.
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