Welcome to South Africa’s Playground, the beautiful city with the most beautiful weather all year round. When unsure where to start exploring a city, always begin with a walking tour and slowly uncover the hidden gems along the way. Let the adventure begin:
Fun Things to Do in the City During the Day
Explore The Golden Mile: Stroll along Durban’s iconic Golden Mile, a stretch of beachfront lined with popular restaurants, shops and hotels. For a unique experience, you can also try out a decorative-man powered-carriage (rickshaw) ride along the golden mile. Alternatively, take a 3-hour tour of Durban on a rickshaw bus to get an overview of Durban’s tourist attractions!
Moses Mabhida Stadium: If you need help walking, explore Moses Mabhida Stadium and the golden mile on a Segway from Moses Mabhida Stadium to uShaka Marine and back with a guide. Then tour the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a world-class sports complex with a perfect pitch. When the Sky Car is up and running, you can ride up to the top of the stadium’s iconic arch.
Visit uShaka Marine World: Enjoy a fun-filled day of aquatic adventure at uShaka Marine World, a world-class water park located on Durban’s stunning Golden Mile. Loaded with massive water slides, impressive sea life, and a beautiful beach, uShaka Marine World is one of Durban’s top waterfront attractions. Here you can explore the aquarium, enjoy thrilling rides, go on a rope course and even try out the world’s largest water slide, to name a few. Alternatively, go swimming in the water of the warm Indian Ocean.
Go Shopping at the Victoria Street Market: Spend an afternoon exploring the bustling Victoria Street Market, where you can find a variety of local crafts, souvenirs, and clothing. Affectionately called The Vic, this two-story building is essentially an indoor flea and farmer’s market with more than 150 lively retail and wholesale vendors. This differs from your usual South African market fare, so bring your bargaining skills for some unique souvenir finds.
Boats & Sailing Gondola Cruises
Escape the crowds, feast on views of the City’s top attractions, and gain insight into exciting facts about Durban and its famous residents while on the lookout for over 30 species of fish on board the luxury and cosy 12-man boat; at the Durban Point Waterfront Canals. I highly recommend this for families.
Sail Away in a Magical Gondola Night Boat Cruise: Soak up the magic of Durban’s waterfront by night as you glide down the canals in a Venetian-style gondola. Let the glittering lights of Durban Point Waterfront slip by as you slide below bridges and elegant waterways. Forget the bustle of the city for half an hour and enjoy the brilliant lights and stylish architecture of the Durban Point Waterfront.
Durban Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1851, this Botanical Garden covers over 37 acres and is known for its collection of cycads, ferns, and orchids. This piece of art holds the most prestigious title of being Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden and Durban’s oldest public institution. It is also a haven for tranquillity and peacefulness and has a perfect little tea garden. A fantastic place for taking a walk, having a picnic, or practising nature photography. There are quite a few bird species that can be observed by bird lovers, especially near the pond. Locals and visitors enjoy several events throughout the year, including concerts, tea parties, and an annual indigenous plant fair in September. Definitely one of the best places to visit in Durban for a chilled day!
Step out of the City for a Full Day of Cultural Immersion
Take a Day Trip to the Valley of 1000 Hills: a scenic region of rolling hills and valleys just outside Durban. After taking in the magnificent views, hiking, mountain biking etc., branch off to Phezulu Cultural Village and discover the incredible heritage of the Zulu people. Enjoy an immersive Zulu cultural experience and get introduced to a vast indigenous art and crafts collection at Phansi Museum before sampling Pan-African Cuisine. Then proceed to more interactive experiences like Zulu spear making and witnessing a colourful and well-curated Zulu dance performance.
Then Head to Isithumba: a living Zulu cultural village. For a more profound immersion exchange and exposure to a different way of life, explore the village on foot. During the tour, you may even meet the village chief, the Lime and Imphepho Gogos (female elders) and watch them create their goods before you witness the culture shock of Muthi Bridge, also locally known as ‘Sangoma Central’.
Eat Till You Drop
If you have been to South Africa previously, you will know that Cape Town is the country’s food capital. However, Durban has been showing much progress, evident by the type of restaurants that have popped up, each with mouth-watering menus created for the world’s people. Now curate your own splendid culinary experience with these hand-picked restaurants:
The Oyster Box: Located in the heart of Umhlanga Rocks, this restaurant offers fine dining with a stunning view of the Indian Ocean. Enjoy fresh seafood, steaks, and salads.
The Grill Room: This restaurant offers a unique dining experience with a menu that includes prime cuts of beef, seafood, and poultry.
The Cargo Hold: Located in the Durban Harbour, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience with a menu that includes seafood, steaks, and gourmet burgers.
The Pintxo Bar: This tapas bar offers a variety of small plates and tasty cocktails. Enjoy a variety of Spanish-style dishes such as gambas al ajillo and patatas bravas.
Circus Circus: My favourite restaurant at the Durban Golden Mile is on the beach. For an even greater experience, ask for a table set on the sand. Their friendly Chef always creates magic with his variety of ever-so-delicious dishes each time I visit.
Immerse in the Kasi Flavour
There is no visiting Durban and not spending time at KwaMax Lifestyle and Eyadini:
Max’s Lifestyle: one of the best restaurants in Umlazi (Durban’s largest township), with traditional “Kasi” culture. This wonderful establishment was crowned one of the world’s best restaurants by Condé Nast Traveller.
Eyadini Lounge: this is your no1 eKasi (Township) Shisanyama experience, located in the heart of Umlazi Township. It is dubbed SA’s unsurpassed shisanyama, with the finest cuisine and unparalleled entertainment. If you are in Durban on a Sunday and not at Eyadini, you need to re-evaluate your life choices.
What both of these establishments have in common is the authenticity of the experience, as you will be interacting with the locals while sharing local braai meat and some local brews.
Indulge in the Durban Nightlife
Like most South African Cities, Durban comes alive at night. If you are someone that is into all things nightfall, you will love the vibrancy and fun that these two must-visit attractions exhibit:
Durban Playhouse Company: This is the centrepiece of Durban’s theatre scene, and it has been for decades. This historic theatre was built in 1926 and initially showed films. In 1935, the theatre was given a Tudor-style facelift and turned into a space for performing arts with five different theatres. The theatre comprises venues for opera, drama, music, and dance. There are also day tours to the theatre that can be booked online.
Bar Crawl in Florida Road: This is one of the most fun ways to explore a city’s nightlife. Durban being one of the busiest and most visited cities in South Africa, you are guaranteed a great selection of bars and beverages to choose from. For a comprehensive look at the city from a creative point of view, all while having fun, take a local with and dance your night away to Durban’s Gqom and the popular Amapiano music.
Whichever way you look at it, Durban sure is South Africa’s playground. Apart from its People and activities, its ever-pleasant weather plays a pivotal role in making this city one to be visited all year round. As the locals would proudly say when encouraging the potential visitor to their beloved city – Woz’eDurban!
P.S. Bringing your swimwear is mandatory!
Images courtesy Oyster Box Hotel