Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

With warm weather all year round, Durban welcomes visitors to a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle where beaches, barbecues, seafood and curry restaurants, clubs and upmarket accommodation establishments provide everything an out-of-towner could wish for while on holiday.

Durban is South Africa’s self-styled 'playground', where year-round warm weather encourages visitors to make the most of the province’s outdoor lifestyle.

Also known as 'Surf City', Durban is renowned for its magnificent bathing and surfing beaches, which stretch along the city's beachfront from Durban harbour in the south to the upmarket suburb of Umhlanga in the north.

An expansive paved promenade offers access to the best of these beaches – the Golden Mile – where joggers, cyclists, dog owners, surfers, bodyboarders and walkers enjoy early-morning and late-afternoon exercise.

Visitors cannot miss Durban’s striking Moses Mabhida Stadium, host venue to top-notch sporting events, Segway tours, a city-viewing SkyCar and bungee swing.

Closer to the harbour, uShaka Marine World, a world-class water park, aquarium (fish, dolphins, seals, penguins and others) and restaurant complex overlooks the ocean and offers hours of entertainment for the whole family.

Culturally, Durban exhibits a mix of Indian, Zulu and post-colonial influences, reflected in the city’s architecture and cuisine. Curries, seafood and fusion food are popular at beachfront restaurants, Wilson’s Wharf, and at the gourmet hot spots and coffee shops that line Florida Road and Helen Joseph Road.

The art deco-style Suncoast Casino complex, flanking the promenade, houses seafood and curry restaurants, movie theatres, a casino and coffee shops – with secure on-site parking and semi-private beach access.

Shopping is best enjoyed at Durban’s out-of-city malls: the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga; the Pavilion in Westville; and the Galleria in Amanzimtoti. An overwhelming choice of shops in air-conditioned comfort makes spending money a most enjoyable pursuit.

Half an hour inland from the city, the Valley of a Thousand Hills promises a taste of African culture, while further into the countryside the Midlands Meander features about 150 art-and-craft outlets for city-dwellers in search of fresh air and home-made fare.

Adventure activities are well catered for in and around this coastal city, with deep-sea fishing charters, dolphin viewing, jet-skiing, shark cage-diving, quad biking, scuba diving, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, boat cruises and much more readily available.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

Fly in via Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, located 45 minutes north of Durban at La Mercy. Or take the N3 from Johannesburg, a trip of about 580km.

Best time to visit

Due to its tropical climate, Durban is a great destination all year round.

Around the area

Take in the promenade, Suncoast Casino, uShaka Marine World, Moyo on the Pier restaurant, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, and the Midlands Meander.

Tours to do

Tour the uShaka Sea World aquarium facility; or take a township tour followed by a traditional township meal at Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi or Sbu’s Lounge in Inanda.

Get around

Durban offers a range of car-hire services, chartered buses, shuttle services and People Mover buses.

Length of stay

Three days or more would provide an opportunity to explore the city, its nightlife, restaurants, beaches and more popular tourist destinations.

What to pack

Sunscreen, a hat, walking shoes, backpack and a camera.

Where to stay

Durban has a fine range of accommodation options, from budget backpackers to luxury hotels.

What to eat

Durban is famous for 'bunny chow' (a hollowed-out half-loaf of bread filled with curry), samoosas (triangular fried savoury pastries with various fillings) and shisa nyama (freshly cooked meat prepared on an open street fire).

Best buys

Take a ride to the Indian market in Grey Street (Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street) for fresh spices, curry powders and shiny bolts of fabric.

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