10 Things To Do in Durban
This autumn, British Airways is launching a new flight between London Heathrow and Durban-King Shaka Airport, its third destination in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town.
South Africa, a country of incredible natural wealth, is known for its beauty and the complete contrast of its different regions. From cosmopolitan cities that live to the rhythm of a vibrant culture, to museums and historic sites that will help you to travel through South Africa’s history.
Durban itself is home to friendly people, stunning landscapes, excellent food and an abundance of activities to do in and around the city. For your visit, here are some top tips and suggestions of the best things to do in Durban and the greater region surrounding it.
This coastal town, nested in the KwaZulu-Natal province, is in the eastern part of South Africa and is the third largest city in the country. Known as a multicultural city with colonial, Zulu, African, British and Indian influences, Durban was rehabilitated for the FIFA World Cup in 2010 with new infrastructure and services that gave its inhabitants greater facilities and amenities.
Travelling Around Durban
The city of Durban offers visitors various modes of transport. These include:
- Tourist Bus: Travellers can take one of the three bus lines of the company People Mover which run through the main tourist sites. Departures takes place every 15 minutes between 5.00 am and 10.00 pm. The price of a single ticket is 5.50 ZAR and a day ticket costs 16 ZAR.
- Bus: Public transport in the Durban city is provided by the companies Durban Transport bus and Mynah.
- Taxis: Metered taxis are considered a more reliable and actually less expensive option.
- Rickshaw: Tourists particularly appreciate this fun means of locomotion!
- The Zulu Rickshaw: This rickshaw is decorated with traditional Zulu elements and pushed by a costumed driver which makes for even more fun on your trip to Durban.
- Rent a car: Various rental agencies are available in the city centre.
- Cycling: By renting a bike, you can travel freely on Durban city’s bike paths. Those along the seafront are especially enjoyable. Several rental agencies are at your disposal for bicycle hire.
Your Time In Durban
Durban offers many interesting things to see. Tourists should visit the City Hall (built in 1910 and a replica of Belfast City Hall), the colonial statues of Francis Farewell Square, the post office (built in 1885), the Clock of Vasco da Gama, the Emmanuel Cathedral (from 1904), Juma Masjid Mosque, Salisbury House (built in 1925) or the Dick King Statue.
For culture and history lovers, plenty of museums are open to the public. The Durban Holocaust Centre, Natal Maritime Museum and Cato Manor Heritage Centre are all worth visiting. Visitors will also be drawn to the Botanic Gardens and Umgeni River Bird Park.
Things To Do In Durban
Durban city provides an array of activities to keep you busy for weeks.
1. Stroll along the Golden Mile
An extensive seaside promenade surrounded by hotels and restaurants, relax at one of Durban’s many beaches. Visitors should head to Umhlanga beach with its lighthouse and great surf spots, watch a rugby game at Kings Park Stadium and enjoy tailgates before the game.
2. Discover Durban’s arts and culture
Visit a Sangoma (a traditional African healer) or discover the Indian side of Durban at Victoria Street Market.
3. Visit 1000 Hills
For a true glimpse into South African countryside head to to the Valley at 1000 hills and witness stunning landscapes, valleys and cliffs that engulf you as you wander through them.
4. Make time for Rorke’s Drift
For history lovers, a trip to Rorke’s Drift is a must-see. This battle took place just after the Battle of Isandhlwana in 1879. Visit Rorke’s Drift on the Bergs & Battlefields Self Drive itinerary.
5. Take a wander down Florida Road
This 2km tree adorned road,with Victorian style houses, is the perfect place for window shopping, perusing art or eating out. There’s never a quiet moment here so travellers can make it a day or night activity or maybe even both!
Things To Do Near Durban
Just outside of Durban, there are many more exciting things to see and do.
Visitors who have time on their hands are encouraged to drive to the provincial capital Pietermaritzburg, famous for its architecture such as that of its Town Hall, its Supreme Court and Tatham Art Gallery.
2. KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
In the Midlands, travellers will find one of the poshest beach towns in the country: Umhlanga Rocks as well as the city of Eshowe, which is the oldest town, founded by the Europeans of Zululand.
3. Maloti-Drakensberg Park
Located between South Africa and Lesotho, Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO protected area. Visitors can then head to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve to see a unique landscape and wildlife or go to the Elephant Coast area with its 21 different ecosystems, including the UNESCO-listed site of iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
4. Safaris near Durban
At any age, why not play adventurer and encounter the elephants, zebras, buffaloes, hippos, and lions on a safari experience to or from Durban. After all, you are visiting South Africa! Our experts recommend the Kruger & Kingdom Small Group Tour.
5. Cape Saint Francis
For ocean lovers, travellers can watch the Hermanus whales and the Great White sharks, enjoy some of the best surf on the planet near Cape Saint Francis or awesome diving along the coastline. South Africa has many golden beaches and vineyards as far as the eye can see. This country is full of surprises to create moments that you will never forget.
You may also like our top tips for going on a Safari.
Shopping in Durban
Travelers who love shopping will find all they need in the various shops, shopping centres (Gateway Theatre Shopping, La Lucia Mall, Pavilion Shopping Centre) and markets available to visitors. Why not buy traditional items such as tribal masks, spices, Zulu jewellery, traditional medicines sold by the Sangoms, tam-tams or hand-woven baskets?
Food And Drink In And Around Durban
In South Africa, everywhere floats the perfume of “braai”, the local barbecue. From townships to posh restaurants, some of the best meat on the planet is grilled and served here.
There is even a national day, on September 24th, called “braai day” to celebrate the arrival of summer and signals the return to backyards and the gathering of friends and family. Ask the locals in Durban to make you taste the boerewors, a long beef sausage with spices, and Biltong, the national beef jerky.
The local dishes are the translation of the multicultural side of Durban. Regional specials include:
- Sosatie (skewers marinated in a curry sauce)
- Bobotie (Malaysian curry)
Biltong (dried meat)
- Waterblommetjie Bredie (mutton stew with water hyacinth flowers)
- The meat of ostrich and crocodile
- Bunny Chow (bread filled with vegetarian curry or meat)
- Shisa Nyama (Zulu barbecue)
- Samosas (with minced onion, chili and lamb, fish, potatoes or vegetables)
- Mogodu (Zulu dish of tripe accompanied by pap, a kind of corn porridge).
For those with a sweet tooth, try the milk pie (tart with concentrated milk, vanilla essence, cornflour, and cinnamon), the Malva Pudding (pudding with apricot jam, vanilla, corn syrup and brown sugar) or the Koeksister (braided donut dipped in a cane syrup). Desserts in the KwaZulu-Natal province region are incredibly sweet so get ready for a sugar rush with the Koeksister!
Out of the many types of beers, you will find, here are some of the drinks visitors should taste in Durban. The Black Sambucca (with liquorice flavour), the Bombay Crush (a drink made with Tukmaria seeds, cold milk, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and rose syrup), and from its British roots the traditional ” Teatime”.
Where To Stay in Durban
Our Africa Experts know all the best places to stay in and around Durban. Top recommendations include Southern Sun Maharani for access to the Golden Mile, Protea Hotel for a stay in Umhlanga, the boutique Benjamin Hotel if you prefer fewer crowds and Fairlight Beach House if a guesthouse experience is what you are looking for.
Where To Stay in KwaZulu-Natal
We can also help you find the best spot to rest your head in KwaZulu-Natal-Natal. We love Leopard Mountain Lodge in Manyoni Reserve for the views, Thanda Safari Lodge for safari luxury and style, Rorke’s Drift Hotel for a stay in the Battlefield region and Ghost Mountain Inn for an intimate resort at the base of Ghost Mountain.
If you are planning a holiday to South Africa, whether you’re looking to experience a South Africa in Style Holiday or a real life Family Safari Adventure, consider adding some time in Durban to the beginning or end of your trip in order to see yet another side to diverse and beautiful South Africa.
Discover more things to do in Durban today.