Book Online or Call 504.777.7769


5 stars on

Do You Need to Rent a Car in New Orleans?

A woman sits in the driver seat of a car, perhaps wondering, “Do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?” as a person with a tablet stands beside the car.

When planning your trip, one of the first questions to occur to you may be, “Do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?” People in the United States rented over 29 million cars in 2021 alone, so it’s definitely a valid question. The decision of whether or not to rent a car on any trip depends on a variety of factors, from how easy it is to get around the destinations without one, to who your travel companions are. Fortunately, at Unique NOLA Tours we are New Orleans locals that are happy to help! Read on to get our advice about whether a rental car is necessary for you to fully enjoy visiting our city.

How to get started answering, "Do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?"

The overarching question “Do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?” may feel overwhelming, but if you break it down into smaller questions as you weigh your decision, that can help. Here are some items to consider:

  1. How comfortable are you with walking and public transportation around New Orleans?
  2. What about the other people in your group?
  3. How far are your accommodations from the places you plan to visit?
  4. What do you plan to do in New Orleans?

Is New Orleans walkable? Is there public transportation in New Orleans?

One of the best things about New Orleans is its walkability! The lack of hills means you can easily get around the French Quarter and downtown area on foot. However, if you are looking to explore farther afield, the city has a good public transportation network, from buses to its iconic streetcars! Consider rideshare and bicycling as well if you prefer not to rent a car. However, before making your decision, you need to consider other factors besides walkability and public transportation.

The next step in answering, "Do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?" is asking yourself, “Who are you traveling with?”

A family stands at a large window with their suitcases, watching a plane go by.

Traveling alone or with one other person? You may find it unnecessary to rent a vehicle, as long as you both feel comfortable doing a lot of walking, or shelling out for a rideshare or rental bikes as you go along. On the other hand, if you’re bringing a lot of family and friends, or if someone in your party has mobility concerns, renting a van or an SUV may prove worthwhile. If you are going to rent, remember to check for rental car package deals with your flight and hotel, which brings you to the next question.

Where are you staying while visiting New Orleans?​

If you are staying in the French Quarter or downtown area of New Orleans, you can easily walk or take a streetcar to many of the famous tourist attractions from that part of the city. However, if you are staying farther away from the heart of the city, you may find it more convenient to drive to the locations you want to see. You could also use a rideshare, but keep in mind the extra distance will increase the cost of this method of transportation. On the other hand, with a rental car you’d have to pay for gas, which in Louisiana has recently averaged as high as $4.55 for a gallon of Regular.

What do you plan to do while you are visiting New Orleans?

With or without a car, New Orleans offers a lot of exciting activities, including steamboat cruising the Mississippi, or attending exciting events like Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. All year round, visitors can explore captivating and beautiful historical sites, such as the Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, The Old Ursuline Convent, and many other fascinating locations. A great way to do this is with a guided walking expedition, even a New Orleans ghost tour, that shows you the sights without the need to rent a car.

What is the driving like in New Orleans?

Beyond questions about yourself, your group, and your plans, you need to consider the driving conditions you will likely encounter. For example:

  1. What is New Orleans traffic like and will there be adequate parking?
  2. What kind of weather does New Orleans have at the time of year of your visit?

How bad is traffic in New Orleans? What about parking?

Wherever you go, traffic can make driving unpleasant, and New Orleans is no exception. Additionally, New Orleans has been ranked poorly for driver safety, coming in at 177 out of 200 of America’s largest cities in 2019. So safety is definitely something to consider when deciding whether you want to drive while there. You may also find yourself driving around looking for a parking spot, which eats up time you could be spending enjoying your trip. Plus, parking can cost up to $3 an hour in the touristy areas of New Orleans, so keep that in mind as well.Although many locals rely on their cars for transportation, it is possible to get around New Orleans without renting one. With a variety of public transport options, such as the bus and streetcar, visitors can explore the city safely and without having to worry about finding parking or dealing with traffic.

What is New Orleans' weather like at the time of year that you plan to visit?

New Orleans’ humid and subtropical Louisiana climate should definitely factor into your car rental decision. For one thing, it’s a rainy city, averaging 62 inches of rain per year. If you’re happy to put on a rain jacket and grab an umbrella before heading out, you might be fine without a car. On the other hand, if rain can really ruin your day, a car rental may be in order. More importantly, if you plan to visit in the summer, you could find yourself in intense heat compounded by humidity (of over 60% in the worst month, August), making walking or biking a lot less pleasant than at other times of year. However, if you stay hydrated and go at a reasonable pace, a walking tour can still be a lot of fun! You might consider renting a car to get you to the tour destination, though, so you can save your energy for the tour.

So, do you need to rent a car in New Orleans? That depends on you!

A woman sits in the driver’s seat holding up a set of keys.

Taking into account all of these factors, do you need to rent a car in New Orleans or can you get around without one? Your decision will definitely depend on how you answer the above questions, such as with whom you are traveling, when you are going, and where you will be staying. Make the best decision for your trip and you’re sure to enjoy a visit to this incredible city!

Get your New Orleans travel questions answered with Unique NOLA Tours!

At Unique NOLA Tours, we know our city backwards and forwards, and as tour guides, we love to provide guidance to visitors to our city. Check out our blog for more New Orleans travel advice from locals who will give you the real story, and find answers to your questions so you can have a great trip!