Cemetery Tour in New Orleans

There’s not many places where cemetery tours would be one of the cities’ biggest tourist attractions, but in New Orleans it is! cemetery tourWe stumbled upon Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 while we were strolling through the Garden District checking out some of the beautiful homes. There are dozens of cemeteries in New Orleans. Lafayette No. 1 is one of the oldest. Whatever cemeteries are like where you’re from I promise you, they’re different in New Orleans.Lafayette-Cemetery.jpgThe city of New Orleans actually sits below sea level. While a city being below sea level is less than ideal,  cities like New Orleans are generally ok, because they’re surrounded by levees that keep flooding down.lafayette-cemetery.jpgWhile levees are great and usually prevent severe flooding, they can fail. The levees in New Orleans famously broke in 2006 when hurricane Katrina ripped through and demolished most of the city. lafayette-cemetery.jpgBecause New Orleans sits below sea level, tombs in the city are built above ground so that when flooding does occur, the deceased do not rise back to the top of the soil. Tombs are owned by a family. The family name is put on the top of the tomb and all decedents of that family are then buried in that tomb.

All care for the tomb is left in the hands of the family. Some tombs are persevered quite well like the one above. While others, are busted and ruined, like the ones below. lafayette-cemetery.jpgSome of the tombs have even been opened up and possibly “grave-robbed”. New Orleans is known for being a spooky city of sorts and legend has it at night the spirits of the deceased come out to socialize together.  lafayette-cemetery.jpgThe picture above shows perfectly how they can fit an entire family into one tomb. When someone passes away, they are put in their casket on the top shelf. There they sit until the next member of their family dies. Then the remains of the person on the top shelf are taken from the casket and moved to the bottom of the tomb to decompose the rest of the way into the soil. Then once the newly deceased is placed again on the top shelf, they close the tomb back up and it stays closed until the next family member passes. lafayette-cemetery.jpgWhile I was a little skeptical at first about how interesting a cemetery tour could really be, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the tour a lot! I asked a lot of questions and got a great feel for some of the history of the city. lafayette-cemetery.jpg

If you go

  • There are several cemeteries to choose from. The most popular ones are St. Louis No. 1, Lafayette No. 1, and St. Roch No. 1.
  • A quick search online will give you plenty of tour companies that offer cemetery tours, both day and night.
  • Be mindful of which cemetery your tour will cover. Many of the cemeteries have numbers that correspond to different cemeteries. For example, St. Louis No. 1 and St. Louis No. 2 are different cemeteries.
  • Bring cash to tip your tour guide! This should be a given but I always like to remind people most of these tour guides make their money on tips so be generous.

Cemetery Tours might not be your typical tourist attraction, but in New Orleans it should be!

linking-up today with Lauren, Van, Isabel, and Marcella, for Wanderful Wednesday, and with Rachel, Diana, and Katrina, for Travel Tuesday.

Have you ever been to NOLA and done a cemetery tour? Did you find it creepy? or interesting?

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  • Even though it sounds a little morbid, touring the cemeteries in New Orleans was one of our favorite things that we did! We toured Lafayette No. 1 on our Garden District Tour, and even though some of the tombs were in ruin, they were still really beautiful to look at! A great post about a great experience!

    • i have to admit, I was very creeped out about it at first. just because this is something I’ve never done, but it was much more culture and history based then just walking around a graveyard. which is what I liked about it. glad you liked it too! 🙂

  • The cemetery tour looks really cool. When I eventually travel to New Orleans, I’ll have to check it out! 🙂

    • It’s much cooler in person once you get there, haha. it’s hard to describe it to people as a tourist attraction, but it really is one of the most popular things to do in NOLA!

  • I toured myself through Lafayette but was definitely surprised at how interesting I found it.

    • i was just as surprised myself! I’m glad I did it instead of sticking my nose up at it. Definitly not going back at night tho. haha.

  • This might sound creepy but I kinda like the idea of tombs. I’ve always felt uncomfortable at the idea of lying in the ground and being eaten of worms when I’m dead 😀 Anyway, I’ve read about this cemetry a lot recently and it seems like such a unique place to visit! Thanks for linking up with us 🙂

    • not creepy at all! i like the idea of them too now after going on this tour! haha. thanks for hosting! 🙂

  • this reminds me of the Vampire diaries:)) #wanderfulwednesday

    • ooooh yes! I’ve never watched that show, but our guide gave us a rundown of all the movies and tv shows that have been shot in NOLA cemeteries. it was quite an impressive list!

  • we went to this cemetery i think when we did a ghost tour back in.. 2009? i forget. i didn’t learn nearly as much though, this is so interesting!

    • i wasn’t quite brave enough to do the ghost tour, haha. our guide was really trying to sell it to us to come back and do the night tour, but I would have been jumpy the whole rest of the trip i just know it. haha.

  • This is one beautiful and really impressive look cemetery. The tomb style ones reminds me of one I visited in Buenos Aires, they look so grand! Thanks so much for linking up with #WanderfulWednesday, hope to see you again next week! 🙂

    • Grand is a good word for it! Some of the tombs were absolutely beautiful and had such intricate detail to them. It was very impressive. Thanks for much for hosting, Marcella! 🙂

  • I found it fascinating. There is always something to be learned at cemeteries, they are like a cultural hub. It is so interesting to see what a culture thinks of death through them. Thank you for sharing and linking up! Hope to see you next week! #WanderfulWednesday

    • I completely agree about it being a culture thing! This was one of the first things we did during our trip and I’m glad we did it first because it really made getting a feel for the culture of the rest of the city a lot easier. Thanks for hosting, Isabel! 🙂

  • I actually really enjoy touring cemeteries (as weird/creepy as that sounds), so I hope I can visit some of the ones in New Orleans, too.

    • Not weird and creepy at all, haha! this was one of my favorite things about NOLA!

  • I’ve never been to NOLA but this looks super interesting! Actually reminds me of a tour I just did of a cemetery here in Santiago! The cemetery here is HUGE .. like seriously scary big! An estimated 2 Million people are buried there ……. Awesome pics and thanks for linking up for #wanderfulwednesday!!

    • holy cow!!!! 2 million!? that’s crazy! Marcella, just commented that it also reminded her of a cemetery in Buenos Aires. It must also be a popular way of doing things in South America. Thanks for hosting, Lauren!

  • This tour is such a different take on exploring a city, especially one like New Orleans. The ways their cemeteries are laid out reminds me of the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Weirdly enough, I don’t mind visiting cemeteries – during the day (i’d freak if I went at night lol). There’s so much history you can get just by reading the tombstones. So cool that you went on this tour!

    • I completely agree! there’s so much history to be learned from places like this. and don’t feel bad about not wanting to go at night. I also said no-thank you to the night time tour. haha.

  • I have a thing for cemeteries (just not at night!). This would definitely be on my to-do list for a NOLA tour!

    • I agree, cemeteries are great, just not at night. haha. 🙂

  • That’s certainly eerie, but a great way to learn about the history of the place. I think I’d be on for a cemetery tour in somewhere like New Orleans. It doesn’t look like your average cemetery experience!

    • definitely not average at all! i’m glad I toured it during the day tho! I was not about to take a night time tour that’s for sure, haha.

  • I also love visiting cemeteries… during the day! I found Pere Lachaise in Paris fascinating.

    • Yes! I’ve heard of the Pere Lachaise and someone else mentioned this reminded them of there as well! I think this tour gave me a new appreciation for cemeteries so I can see myself visiting more historic ones in the future for sure 🙂