Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

New Orleans Cemetery Tours

Discover the history, architecture, and legends of some of the country’s most famous resting places on a New Orleans cemetery tour.

Frequently Asked Questions about NOLA Cemeteries

a close up of text on a black background

Tour New Orleans’ Historic Graveyards

There is no shortage of fascinating stories and striking sights to uncover in the city’s cemeteries. Explore some of the best cemetery tours in New Orleans and see for yourself why these sites are so well-known around the country.

Home to over 40 cemeteries – and attractions like Voodoo shops and the Museum of Death – it’s safe to say that New Orleans has a bit of a fascination with death. Of course, that might just have something to do with the city’s 300-year history of natural disasters, gruesome murders, bloody battles over territory, and legends of ghosts and vampires. 

But beyond the unseen curiosities around the city, New Orleans’ many cemeteries have been an intriguing destinations for tourists and locals alike, especially the above-ground tombs of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Many of NOLA’s cemeteries date back to the 1700s, identified by elaborate tombs, large mausoleums and ornate crypts and sculptures. Cemeteries like St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 are characterized by their crosses, decorative ironwork, white tombs, and hauntingly beautiful surroundings.

Cities of the Dead

The rows upon rows of above-ground tombs were once called “cities of the dead” by Mark Twain, and the name has stuck ever since. But why are the tombs above ground in the first place? The reason for these cities of the dead can be traced back to the 1700s, when early settlers struggled to bury their dead due to environmental conditions. 

The New Orleans water table is very high (the city was built below sea level), making it impossible to keep coffins weighed down in shallow graves – dig any deeper and you’re guaranteed to hit water. Early NOLA residents often had to contend with floating caskets and exposed remains of loved ones. Based on the Spanish custom of using burial vaults, the city’s residents arrived at the solution of using above-ground graves. But as the city grew and space became harder to come by, graves were stacked on top of one another and families shared crypts. 

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Wondering who is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1? It should come as no surprise that the city’s oldest cemetery is home to its most noteworthy residents like Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and chess champion Paul Morphy. Even Nicolas Cage – who is not yet deceased, we might add – has already secured his final resting place in the cemetery: a tomb shaped like a white pyramid that stands out from the other tombs in the graveyard. You can’t miss it!

Best Cemeteries to Visit in New Orleans

Other famous New Orleans graveyards are St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. They both opened in the 1800s after outbreaks of yellow fever and cholera caused a demand for burial space. You’ll see Greek Revival-style tombs, impressive ironwork and carved stone angels. Lafayette Cemetery 1 is well known for being the burial site of immigrants from over 25 different countries. These are some of the best cemeteries to visit in New Orleans.

Guided Cemetery Tours in New Orleans

On a New Orleans cemetery tour, you’ll learn all about NOLA’s respect for the dead, as well as the detailed history of these impressive graveyards. Tour guides will point out famous tombs and even share stories of hauntings and other paranormal experiences in the graveyards. You don’t want to miss the chance to visit these ethereal cities of the dead for yourself…they just might give you a new respect for life and how we lay to rest our deceased loved ones. Book a New Orleans cemetery tour online today.

Explore More Things to Do in NOLA