Situated on South Africa’s eastern coastline, the enchanting coastal city of Durban is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Located in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, a mere 1-hour flight from Johannesburg, Durban has become one of the leading holiday spots for South Africans with its variety of attractions and activities. From the hustle and bustle of the city centre and the revamped waterfront to its extensive cultural history, close proximity to wildlife reserves, or tons of family-friendly activities, Durban has something for everyone.
Whether you’re an adventure junkie at heart or searching for the ultimate beach holiday, there’s never a dull moment in Durban. From guided city tours, bungee swinging at the Moses Mabhida stadium, and taking a rickshaw ride along the Durban promenade you’ll be spoilt for choice with adventure activities. Get to learn more about local marine life and venture into the water park at uShaka Marine World. Take a stroll along the long stretch of golden beaches along the “Golden Mile” or immerse yourself in the Zulu heritage at Shakaland. For those who don’t mind venturing out a bit, take a drive to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park where you’ll get to see Hippos and crocodiles up close in lakes and estuaries. Whatever you’re into Durban has it all.
Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Durban.
Also we recommend you check out the 10 things you simply must do when visiting South Africa.
A stroll along the Golden Mile
The bustling beachfront promenade known as the "Golden Mile" is a popular destination for runners, surfers, cyclists, and anybody in the mood for a beachfront stroll. Flanked by hotels, restaurants, and shops, the popular "mile" is actually a 6.5km stretch that extends from Blue Lagoon South all the way up to Addington Beach and the Durban harbor. The sandy beaches along the "Golden Mile" attract an array of water babies and sports enthusiasts looking to swim, surf, fish, or soak up the sun.
Durban Botanical Gardens
Established back in 1849, the 37-acre property is the oldest botanic garden in Africa. A stroll through among these indigenous and exotic sub-tropical plants provides a rare opportunity to see many living fossil plants. Some of these pre-dinosaur cycads date back to 250 million years and face extinction in the wild. You'll get to see a variety of cycads, palms, orchids, and bromeliads as well as at least fifty different species of birds.
Visit Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World
Entertaining the whole family, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World houses cinemas, a variety of restaurants, a beach bar with a private beach, and of course a world-class casino. During the Summer months, the casino grounds are used as a base for many cyclists training for rides up the North Coast.
Sunny beach days on Durban's Beaches
Durban is known to have some of the best weather in South Africa, even in Winter. With more than 300 days of sunshine, you're almost guaranteed a beach day every day. For those wanting to test their surfing skills, the South Coast beaches are a great starting point as they are known for world-class surfing. For families looking for a bit of fun in the sun, Addington Beach is the perfect option, while Bay of Plenty is home to the many beach volleyball tournaments.
Swing into the Moses Mabhida Stadium
As one of the host stadiums for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the Moses Mabhida Stadium is world-class sporting and event venue situated along the Golden Mile. It provides a breath-taking 360-degree view of the coastal city from the stadium's arch. Adventure seekers will love the 220 metre Big Rush Big swing where you'll be strapped in and dive 80m to experience the world's biggest swing. The is also a tour of the stadium offered where visitors will get to visit the various restaurants on-site as well as the shops selling sporting merchandise.
Shark cage diving experiences
Explore the mystical shark world by taking an exhilarating shark cage diving adventure. You'll get to snorkel and swim with black tip sharks on the Aliwal Shoal. You will have the option to stay in the cage or to swim with the sharks. Learn about the behaviors of these fascinating creatures from your fully trained guide who will ensure a safe, educational and enjoyable shark experience. All you'll need is your sense of adventure.
Umgeni River Bird Park
Situated along the north bank of the Umgeni River, the Umgeni River Bird Park features over 200 species of birds. Follow the many trails found in the park and get to see a variety of indigenous species, as well as some, specifies from Australia and South-East Asia. Be sure to stay for the bird show where you'll get to learn more about these exotic birds.
Valley of 1000 hills and Phe-Zulu
Just inland from Umhlanga Rocks is the Valley of 1000 Hills. This beautiful region is home to a variety of gently rounded hills all with spectacular viewpoints, gorges, and homesteads. The hills stem along the banks of the Umgeni River as it flows into the Indian Ocean from the Drakensberg Mountains. The old road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, which is also part of the famous Comrades Marathon route, runs along the southern edge of the valley and offers gorgeous views. Phe-Zulu, a traditional Zulu village is found just after Hillcrest and offers visitors a chance to see Zulu traditions in the modern world from dance performances to rituals of witch doctors. The PheZulu Safari Park is also a great way to spend an afternoon, offering an abundance of animals as well as a crocodile and snake park.
Durban's Indian Quarter is a sight to behold and definitely worth a visit. Encompassing the Victoria Street Market and Juma Masjid Mosque, it is a mix of cultures and exotic aromas. Visit Indian, Chinese, Somali and Pakistani vendors along the streets and pavements selling everything from traditional Indian jewellery, footwear, and clothing to spices and incense. Be sure to stop for a bit to eat as the restaurants here are famous for the most authentic Indian cuisine.
Just 16km north of Durban is the popular and upscale resort town of Umhlanga Rocks. Golden beaches with rocky outcrops stretch for 200 kilometers right up until the exquisite Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Isimangaliso Wetland Park includes eight eco-systems, three major lake systems, and Lake St. Lucia, Africa's largest estuarine system. Umhlanga Rocks offers a multitude of activities for visitors. Water sports enthusiasts will get to enjoy surfing, fishing, scuba diving, whale and dolphin watching, and kiteboarding. For those looking for a bit of retail therapy, the Gateway Theatre of Shopping is one of the largest shopping malls in the Southern Hemisphere and offers everything your heart could desire.
Stretching from Sandile Thusi Road all the way to Innes Road, Florida Road is a hip and happening attraction. The well-preserved 100-year-old Edwardian structures along Florida Road are lined with restaurants, bars, café's, boutiques, and galleries. As the sun sets the street comes alive with an unmistakable Durban vibe as locals and tourists take to the streets to eat, drink and be merry and enjoy Durban's endless summer.