The Best of Durban is about more than gorgeous beaches, warm water, and summer days that last almost all year. Those are some pretty irresistible lures… So, it’s hard to believe there’s so much more to this epic spot in KwaZulu-Natal.
Did you know? Durban is also known as eThekwini in Zulu and, following Johannesburg and Cape Town, is the third-most populous city in South Africa. Amazingly, the only other place in the world with a higher concentration of Indians than Durban is India.
This multicultural, multilingual destination has so much on offer for visitors around the world.
The Good, Better and Best of Durban
Visit another world – one filled with the exotic smells of curries, the sounds of market vendors, and the colours of handmade jewellery and beaded clothes. The Indian Quarter includes the Victoria Street Market (where some excellent bargains are on offer) and the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere (Juma Masjid Mosque).
The Golden Mile
No trip to Durban is complete without a long walk along this seaside promenade. Here, the salty spray of the Indian Ocean is juxtaposed with entertainment spots, high-rise apartments and world-class restaurants.
Of course, with its warm water and balmy climate, the Best of Durban is a hotspot for water sports like surfing, hydrofoiling, stand-up paddling, kite-surfing, boating, SCUBA diving and snorkelling. Most of the main beaches have shark nets and many have lifeguards too.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
This massive, modern stadium was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and continues to host loads of exciting sports events, music performances and other shows. There’s also the Big Rush Big Swing here for adrenalin junkies that want to soar over the stadium suspended from bungy cords.
Durban Botanic Gardens
Established in 1849, these are hailed as the oldest surviving botanic gardens in Africa. They’re home to a variety of gorgeous trees, plants, bushes, palms, ferns, flowers, and herbs. These attract bugs and birds too, which are always fun to spot in their natural habitat.
The Valley of 1 000 Hills
This is a destination in its own rights, since it boasts so many different aspects of the South African experience. There are Zulu homesteads, valleys, mountains, viewing points from the tops of the ranges, and plenty of restaurants and fascinating stops along the way.
uShaka Marine World
Dive into an underwater world and see dolphins, penguins, seals, fish and sharks. This water-world is home to the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere and has loads of interactive displays too. The kids also love visiting for the water slides, super-tubes, and swimming pools that are part of the uShaka experience.
The Umgeni River Bird Park
Home to hundreds of different bird species, this park is intriguing to explore. There are excellent walkways that wind through and past waterfalls and verdant greenery. Some of the birds enjoy interacting with their human guests, which is always an incredible experience.
PheZulu Safari Park
This park consist of game, crocodile and snake parks; giving visitors plenty of opportunity to get up close with some really exciting species. There is also a distinct cultural element that includes Zulu dancing and shield-making experiences.
With its iconic lighthouse and gorgeous sandy beaches, Umhlanga Rocks is the perfect weekend getaway. It’s only 25 minutes away from the heart of Durban, but this little resort town is charming and its water sports unbeatable.
The Gateway Theatre of Shopping
This mall is situated in Umhlanga Rocks, and is famous for its massive size and excellent variety of shops and restaurants. Shopaholics definitely won’t be disappointed.
For a glimpse into the Durban of yesteryear, before and during the massive shifts caused by the apartheid movement, this museum paints a poignant picture. But, this isn’t a depressing testimony to all of the wrongs and injustices. Rather, it speaks of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of hope.
When you’re in the mood for some green loveliness and a laid-back spot to enjoy a picnic with the family, this park is a fantastic place to spend the day. The paths are wheelchair-friendly and there is a stunning playground and a little zoo for the kids.
This is the place childhood memories are made of. This tiny to-scale rendition of the city centre of Durban allows you to walk amongst the buildings and neighbourhoods like some kind of modern-day human Godzilla. It never gets old.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve
For some excellent sightings of wildlife and birds, this nature reserve is a must. It also boasts beautiful waterfalls, coastal forests, and indigenous plants to add to the natural abundance.
Port Natal Maritime Museum
Life at sea has always been shrouded in mystery and excitement. Get a glimpse into this at the Maritime Museum, right at the Durban Harbour.
Stroll through the serenity of these meticulously-kept gardens and admire the sculptures and lily ponds along the way. Colourful Khoi live in the ponds and delight their visitors, and there is plenty of room to picnic or barbecue.
Durban Natural Science Museum
Look up at a life-size model of a T-Rex, watch fascinating natural history pieces on the plasma screens, or examine the intricacies of 3-D exhibits at the Natural Science Museum in the Durban City Hall.
Cable cars, swimming pools, a carousel, bumper cars, and loads of other amusement park rides are what make this place a hive of activity for the whole family. It’s conveniently situated right on the beachfront too.
Durban Ice Arena
Ice-skating isn’t only for frozen lakes and Canadian hockey. Durban may be a hot destination, but it is home to an awesome rink, where newbies can learn to skate and pros can whizz around the ice and show off their skills.
Cruise around the Durban Point Waterfront canals in a romantic gondola. There are day rides, romantic evening rides, masked Venetian tours, sweets in a bottle (for the little ones), message in the bottle rides (ideal for a special occasion) and even picnic tours.
Palmiet Nature Reserve
Cliffs, forests, rivers and an abundance of wildlife – this is the Palmiet experience. Included in our “Best of Durban” list, there are also 10 kilometres of guided trails, picnic and braai sites, 150 bird species, and a trail designed especially for the physically disabled explorers.
The BAT Centre
This community arts development and cultural entertainment centre is at the harbour. It consists of little galleries, performance venues, dance and art studios, a restaurant, and art shops. It’s vibey, colourful, and all about celebrating all things creative.
Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list of the best of Durban’s attractions. Some of our other favourites include:
- I Heart Market
- Royal Durban Golf Club
- The KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts
- The African Art Centre
- The Old Fort
- The Old Court House Museum
- The uMkhumbane Cultural and Heritage Museum
- Durban City Hall
- The Bergthiel Museum