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The city of festivals

On the banks of the Mississippi River, the ‘Big Easy’ is a city of eclectic music, world-class festivals and a fusion of Cajun and Creole cuisine. From the vibrant French Quarter to the extraordinary Mardi Gras, it’s among the most exotic cities of America’s South. 

Essential information for New Orleans

Local time

Language

USA flag
American English

Currency

US Dollar $
Official currency of the United States

Flight information

9h 30m
Atlanta (ATL)
Direct flight

Flight Schedule

  • Fly to Atlanta with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow or Manchester then onwards to New Orleans.
are our main partner airline

Do I need a visa?

To travel to the USA, you will need an ESTA visa. Please make sure that you have this approved at least 3 days before you head off on holiday.

Find out more about Travel Visas here »

Getting around

New Orleans was made to be walked and meandered through. The historic districts lend themselves to self-exploration - each turn of a corner bringing new and interesting discoveries. The trams are extremely good and run regularly as the main form of transportation in the historic districts.

Discover the city of jazz: New Orleans Holidays

A waterfront city steeped in American musical tradition and famous for its creole, Cajun and international cuisine, New Orleans is a city that’s proud to be different. Known world-over as the city of jazz, gumbo and Mardi Gras, if you can’t have a good time on holiday in New Orleans, you might need to take a long, hard look in the mirror!

A culturally diverse city, New Orleans blends colonial French, Caribbean, Haitian and east coast American influences, and has emerged with a unique and quirky identity of its own. Whether you’re listening to one of the city’s many brass band parades, strolling down lively Bourbon Street, exploring the waterways of rural Louisiana, or enjoying a fresh beignet in a quaint café, you’re bound to fall in love with the joyous New Orleans spirit.

Whether you fancy a boutique hotel in the French Quarter, or a room out in the Louisiana countryside, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from with our New Orleans holiday packages. To get you started, here are two of our favourite places to stay...

The Royal Sonesta: if you’re searching for a hotel that’s close to the action, but also suitable for families, look no further. Situated on Bourbon Street, in the heart of the French Quarter, The Royal Sonesta combines traditional New Orleans elegance with superb facilities, and an unbeatable location.

Inn at Houmas House: Louisiana is known for its southern charm and grandeur, and this hotel is a fantastic example of an antebellum estate. Featured in a number of film and television productions, Houmas House is the perfect place to stay if you want to get a feel for the region’s history and culture, and don’t mind being a little way outside of the city.

  • Take a tour of the historic neighbourhoods: New Orleans is home to some of the most incredible architecture of any city in the United States. The iconic French Quarter is a vibrant cultural district composed of French and Spanish colonial buildings, while there’s streets and streets of Victorian style mansions in Uptown.
  • Explore the spiritual home of Jazz: New Orleans is a music-lover’s paradise. A city in which it’s impossible to stop your foot tapping, hips swinging, or body grooving, it is the spiritual home of jazz, funk, and Cajun country music. We recommend trying to catch a show at Preservation Hall – but be warned, it’s best to buy tickets in advance, as this place gets busy.
  • Hop on a Bayou tour: New Orleans is surrounded by truly epic natural wonders, filled with some seriously big critters! Keep an eye out for ‘gators on a tour of the Louisiana swamps.

New Orleans is known for its love of festivals and celebrating the rich histories of the city and its background. On your holiday to New Orleans, be sure to look out for:

  • Mardi Gras: the biggest carnival in the USA, Mardi Gras has to be seen to be believed. A spectacular combination of parades, music, food, and perhaps a drink or two, Mardi Gras runs for two weeks around Easter, and is definitely one to tick off the bucket list.
  • French Quarter Festival: music may come first in New Orleans, but food is its natural companion. If you want to taste the best gumbo in town while listening to some soul-searingly awesome jazz, visit in April for the French Quarter Festival. The best bit? It’s free!
  • New Orleans Pride: the loudest, brashest, and most colourful LGBTQ festival in the USA, New Orleans Pride is fabulous. All are welcome, and it’s a wonderfully warm, fun celebration that makes June one of the brightest months in the calendar.
  • Museum Month: August is the month to check out all of the city’s quirky little museums with a wealth of special events, exhibitions and shows on for the whole family.
  • Bus: routes cover much of the city, so you’ll have no problem checking out all the jazz bars across different neighbourhoods.
  • Streetcar: New Orleans’ iconic streetcars are a great way to move around the city. Encompassing five lines, they’re a pretty way to travel between major tourist locations or to see the city centre.
  • By foot: The French Quarter and other central neighbourhoods are easy to explore by foot. Bicycle hire is also a popular way of moving around, especially during the cooler months.

New Orleans is known for having one of the most distinctive cuisines in the whole of the United States. Its incredible creole-inspired cooking is one of the city’s biggest attractions, and anyone who enjoys their food will be blown away by New Orleans’ dynamic and delicious culinary scene. The city is home to more great restaurants than you can shake a stick at, but here’s a few that you have to try during New Orleans holidays.

  • Café Beignet: the beignet is a uniquely New Orleans food and is the city’s take on the great American doughnut. A beignet and coffee is the best way to start the day when visiting New Orleans. Café Beignet is the most famous vendor of these delicious treats, and a city institution.
  • Brennan’s Restaurant: New Orleans is jam-packed full of historic eateries, many of which are now an integral part of the city’s identity. Brennan’s is one such place. Specialising in beautiful breakfasts and brunches - with which it is traditional to take a morning cocktail - Brennan’s is a wonderful slice of New Orleans heritage.
  • Cochon: Cochon is a great place to try some comforting Cajun grub. It is hearty and wholesome food, and representational of one aspect of Louisiana’s traditional cuisine.

New Orleans experiences lovely hot summers, and milder winters. If you’re looking at holidays to New Orleans, spring and autumn are both popular times to visit, as there’s plenty of sunshine and temperatures are comfortable for those sightseeing adventures.

  • June to September: summer in New Orleans is generally hot with the average high around 35°C. It doesn’t cool down too much at night either, so head to the bars and soak up the music and some long, cool drinks.
  • October to November: autumn is a great time to visit the city, as temperatures drop a little and it’s more comfortable for kids or those who don’t like it quite as hot.
  • December to February: in winter, the average high is 18°C, and the average low is 8°C.
  • March to May: spring is another popular time to visit New Orleans. The average high rises from around 22°C to 26°C, and the nights are refreshing and cool.

New Orleans is a city with plenty of soul – you can feel it in its music and food, and in the spring in its step. To find something that gets you moving to a different beat, take a look at our New Orleans hotels and holiday package deals.

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Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - our website has thousands of options ready to book. But if you need more help, just give us a call on 0344 472 9499.

Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist. Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 30 September 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 31 December 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking you can call our team on 0344 472 9646.

For the latest information on Covid-19 you can check our FAQs here.

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're holiday is going ahead as planned


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. You can call our team on 0344 472 9499 who can look at options for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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