Durban Travel Guide


Durban is a sophisticated cosmopolitan city of over three million people and is home to Africa's best managed and busiest port.

The second-biggest city in South Africa after Johannesburg, Durban is only slightly larger than Cape Town in terms of overall population. Durban's endless sunshine and beautiful beachfront is a favourite amongst travellers, as the waters remain warm throughout the year.

It is an exciting city in which to play, shop, enjoy the vibrant the nightlife, and when you are finished with all that, a great place to relax.

The Golden Mile next to the city's main beach features a host of entertainment, with seafood restaurants, nightspots, high-rise accommodation and modern shopping centres.

Visitors can enjoy fine and traditional dining, shopping in scenic surroundings and excellent entertainment at the city's theatres and clubs or take a township tour.

Durban is the Playground of the Zulu Kingdom and visitors can sail, swim, run, and play tennis or alternatively stroll along or relax on the sun-drenched beaches watching the world go by.

If it's peace and relaxation you are after, make for Durban's nature sanctuaries or parks. The Botanical Gardens are of particular interest - ask about their 'Music by the Lake' evenings - wonderful music played by Kwla Zulu Natal's Philharmonic Orchestra in breathtaking surrounds.

Weather in Durban

Durban has a very moderate climate with mild winters and great beach weather from January through April, although the beach is usable all year round. Sea temperature varies slightly with minimums of about 18°C in winter to 24°C.

Durban’s temperatures are pleasant all year round with highs of about 35°C in summer and lows of about 12°C at night in winter.

The rainy season is late November through December and extending into January, while the windy season starts around August and can last right through to January.

Durban International Airport

King Shaka International Airport is South Africa’s newest international airport which became operational on 1 May 2010. The last flight out of the old Durban International Airport – now too small to handle the growing tourist and commercial trade through Durban – took place on 30 April 2010.

The R7.9-billion Greenfield Airport, South Africa's second-largest transport infrastructural project after the Gautrain rapid rail link, is situated at La Mercy, 35 kilometres north of Durban.

In 2012, King Shaka International was named the third best airport in Africa in the World Airport Awards, coming in after Cape Town International and OR Tambo.

Shopping in Durban

Shop till you drop in modern shopping malls in Durban or become a local at the many spice, food, home wares and fashion markets. The Warwick Triangle boasts vibrant local shops and markets, while beachfront stalls sell traditional arts and crafts.

Grey Street, which is the cultural heart of the Indian community, offers distinct Indian architecture, and with its tight lanes, colonnades over pavements and an onslaught of material shops, travellers will begin to understand as to why Grey Street was formerly known as clothing mecca.

The Victoria Street Market is also a brilliant and unique flea market, providing travellers a taste of different worlds, one Indian, and one distinctly African. Enjoy the variety of spices and incense enveloping the air, with more than 170 shops on display on a daily basis.

Travellers will need to get familiar with the colour, smells, material and bartering that is so characteristic of this Indian community, and if you’re looking for more than just food, you can buy saris, scarves, arts and crafts, woven baskets, beaded dolls and animals, oriental ceramics, even Chinese wholesale goods.

Another charming flea market is the Essenwood Market in Durban. Here you will find the ideal blend of fashion, food, art and entertainment. Take time out as you walk through the 220 stalls, where you can enjoy the cool shade of the above Canopy trees. The Essenwood is fun for the whole family, so why not have your picnic here, and have a great African flea market experience.

Attractions

uShaka Marine World

Durban's top theme park just about covers everything you'd expect to find in a real 'marine world', plus a whole lot more. At the centre of the park is Sea World, comprising an underground aquarium, a water park, the wreck of a cargo ship, and a stadium where visitors can be delighted by the exploits of the park's dolphins and seals.

Wet 'n Wild will entertain young and old alike and keep the adrenaline pumping with water rides, swimming pools and lots of leisure facilities. There are also plenty of fun attractions at uShaka Beach, including windsurfing, jet skiing and beach volleyball. Alternatively, if you've had enough of the action, you could just sit back and relax with a meal at one of the park's many restaurants and cafes.

Wilson's Wharf on the Victoria Embankment

Wilson's Wharf, situated on Durban’s Victoria embankment, is the City’s trendiest fusion of fun, food, top shows and crafts, all blended with the rustic interface of a boating marina and working slipways.

Durban is the city of fun, and visitors to Wilson’s Wharf can socialise with friends and family, basking in the sunshine during the day or enjoying the cool vibe and taking in the magnificent splendour of the city lights reflecting off the harbour waters at night.

The wharf is host to a variety of musical and theatrical festivals throughout the year, showcasing international performers and promoting local talent. Wilson’s Wharf is a “must see” for all who live in or visit the city and offers the ideal destination to take a break, enjoy the buzz, relax and unwind on the deck and watch the ships sail by.

The Botanical Gardens

The Durban Botanic Gardens traces its origins to colonial times, when it was founded in 1849 for the introduction and trial of potentially useful commercial crops.

The Durban Botanic Gardens remain a classic, reflecting the universality of the plant kingdom. It has, for over 100 years, had a fine mixed arboretum of African, Asian and American trees. The Gardens are a few minutes’ walk from the bustling Warwick Triangle, site of one of the largest retail medicinal plant markets in the country.

Valley of a Thousand Hills

The breathtaking Valley of a Thousand Hills is an exciting component of Durban and South Africa's province of KwaZulu-Natal - the Kingdom of the Zulu. The Valley of 1,000 Hills is one of those few holiday destinations that has something for everyone. It has unspoilt nature, wildlife, magnificent scenery, wining and dining, and warm country hospitality all just a half an hour's drive from the centre of Durban. The area is named after the thousands of hills which tumble down to the mighty Umgeni River, which flows from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the warm inviting Indian Ocean.

Moses Mabhida Stadium

The Moses Mabhida Stadium has a whole range of activities from a basic tour of the Stadium to bungy jumping, arch swinging, and much more.

Take the plunge and try the Big Rush Big Swing at Moses Mabhida Stadium. This is the world's only stadium swing and the largest swing of any kind anywhere. Jump into the void 106 metres above the pitch and swing out in a huge 220 metre arc under the iconic arch.

Other options are a SkyWalk along the southern legs of the stadium’s arch or a tourist attraction in its own right, the Sky Car can ferry up to 20 visitors to the stadium arch’s highest point, where you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city.

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