Let’s take a tour of my hometown with my Durban Travel Guide. Durban is a beautiful city, located on the east coast of South Africa, along the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. It is the third-largest city in South Africa, with a population of over 3 million, boasting a vibrant mix of cultures, religions, and cuisines.
Durban is home to one of the world’s busiest and major ports. The city is known for its warm subtropical climate. Summer is hot and humid, while winter is warm and dry. Temperatures average around 25°C throughout the year. Durban has a reputation for its golden sand beaches. The warm Indian Ocean makes it an ideal place for surfing all year-round. You can find everything about Durban in my travel guide.
1. Who Am I?
And then I realized, adventure was the best way to learn…
My name is Mikara. I have traveled around the sun 27 beautiful times. currently, I live and work in sunny Durban, South Africa. I have always had a keen interest in history, with an emphasis on learning more about different cultures, traditions, and cuisines. It is quite obvious that the best and most stimulating way to achieve this is through traveling and experiencing it firsthand.
That being said, travel should also be about adventure, seeing beautiful places, having fun, as well as experiencing as much as possible; after all, it is a holiday! With this in mind, it is difficult to classify the type of traveler that I am. However, if absolutely forced to classify my travel style, I would say that I am a budget traveler, as I believe that you can achieve a great holiday without breaking the bank. And, this Durban travel guide will be my first post for city guides of Travelinsightpedia.
If you are interested, you may take a look at my Instagram page, where I post my personal travel pictures.
Now, let’s keep on with our Durban Travel Guide!
2. Duration of Ideal Stay and Visiting Season
Personally, the best time to visit Durban is from the middle of February through to April. This period marks the end of blisteringly hot, lazy summer days, filled with hordes of holidaymakers, and the start of autumn, who brings with her cool afternoon breezes and restorative tranquility after a busy tourist summer season.
Durban is buzzing with activities to keep you busy and entertained during your stay. Depending on the activities that you plan on doing, will determine how long your stay will be. If you are only interested in seeing Durban’s main attractions, 3 – 4 days is more than enough, including leisure time.
However, if you have more time available and would like to include a few day-trips from Durban (and there are some really interesting ones!), 5 – 7 days should be satisfactory.
3. How To Get To Durban From Airport?
King Shaka International Airport is located, approximately 40km, outside of central Durban; however, there are various means of traveling to and from Durban.
There is an airport shuttle that operates between the airport and Durban’s main attractions. The airport shuttle is located just outside the arrivals terminal. This is a cost-effective option, especially for a family, about R80 (€3/$5) per person, cash only.
Uber is a common and cheap means of transport to get around the city; however, it can become quite costly when used to travel to and from the airport, due to the distance. The estimated cost can be around R300 (€15/$18) each way.
There are many private taxi services, which operate this route. This can be booked and paid online, prior to your arrival. One of the best private shuttle services is EZ Shuttle. As with most private services, you can expect to pay slightly higher prices, this can be around R450 (€20/$26) per trip. However, if you enjoy a personal service, this may be the option for you.
4. Where To Accommodate in Durban?
As one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations, accommodation is abundant. The easiest and most reliable way to find accommodation is through online websites such as booking.com and Airbnb. Generally, these websites offer great deals and discounts on accommodation; some offers are so tantalizing that you may find “luxury” accommodation at affordable prices.
As with most popular tourist destinations, it is always wise to book well in advance, as prices often increase closer to peak-season.
For those who enjoy a luxury stay, The Oyster Box is for you. Located in Umhlanga and at the water’s edge, it has breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.
And, for those who enjoy a more relaxed vibe, be sure to book in at The Concierge. This lovely hotel is hidden away in the tranquil residential suburb of Morningside. Beautifully designed in the art decorated style, this hotel offers serene comfort. Visit their restaurant on-site, Freedom Cafe, for a deliciously healthy lunch.
5. Durban City Transportation
Durban is a large city, meaning that, unlike many small European cities, it is nearly impossible to walk from one place to another. There are various means of transportation within the city.
A bus that operates exclusively between the main attractions in Durban and the beachfront. The bus tickets are exceptionally cheap and will cost you around R16,00 (€0.77/$0.92) for a full-day pass. These tickets can be purchased on board the bus.
A popular option amongst locals and tourists, alike. Uber is a cheap, reliable, and convenient means of transport within the city. Expect to pay R40 (€1.90/$2.30) per trip. Uber operates 24 hours a day.
This option is quite expensive; however, if you will be traveling extensively within Durban and also venturing out of Durban, then this is a good option. You can either book online or at the airport.
6. Suggested Budget for Durban
With the exchange rate, South Africa tends to be a cheap destination for international tourists. For a comfortable time in Durban, expect to spend around R1000 (€50/$59) per day. This budget is sufficient for food, entertainment, and transport.
7. Best Things To Do in Durban
Now we get to the most important part of this travel guide for Durban! Durban’s warm weather means it is buzzing with activities all year round.
The Golden Mile is an 8km promenade, which stretches alongside the golden sand beaches of Durban. It is said to be the longest promenade in Africa. Take a stroll on the promenade, early in the morning, to witness a beautiful African sunrise.
The popular attraction is home to numerous activities, including both land and water sports. Hire a bicycle for a leisurely ride down the promenade, while you take in the sights, sounds, and hive of activities along the way.
For those of you who enjoy water sports, visit one of the surf clubs located on The Golden Mile, for a surf lesson. A professional surfer will give you a 1 and a half hour surf lesson at a cost of only R200 (€10/$12). In addition, some of these surf clubs may even offer kayak lessons; so venture out into the big, blue Indian Ocean.
uShaka Marine World
uShaka Marine World is a theme park, situated along Durban’s beachfront. This theme park consists of a water park (equipped with some of the highest water slides in Africa), an aquarium, restaurants, and souvenir stores.
Its main attraction has to be, undoubtedly, the uShaka Sea World. This is the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere, housing various species of shark, rays, as well as fish. The aquarium is thematically designed to replicate a shipwreck.
The Sea World also includes a section for animal encounters. Here, you can shark-cage dive and view some of the most beautiful marine creatures. Why not even snorkel in the lagoon while nursing sharks swim lazily beneath you.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
Built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, this football stadium has become an icon in Durban.
The stadium’s beautiful arch is equipped with a view deck at the top, allowing visitors to get a panoramic view of Durban. There are two options available to reach the view deck; a cable car or an adventure walk. The cable car is an easy, quick ride to the top; whereas, the adventure walk is a bit more challenging and requires you to be moderately fit. You will need to climb 500 steps to get to the deck. The view at the top is definitely worth it!
The stadium has one exciting feature for those adrenaline junkies and dead evils, The Big Swing. Situated in the middle on the arch, The Big Swing allows you to hurl yourself off the arch in a death-defying bungee jump.
The famous Florida Road hosts some of the best nightlife spots in the city. This road is dotted with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Whether it is casual drinks or partying late into the night, you are sure to find the perfect place for a great night.
Some of the best souvenirs can be found along Durban’s promenade, which is designed and sold by informal traders. These traders will stock a wide range of souvenirs, from beadwork to artwork, all of which are handmade.
For a shopping experience, visit the popular shopping mall, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, located in Umhlanga, 15 minutes outside of Durban. Here, you will find everything from local clothing brands to well-known international brands, as well as a host of restaurants and entertainment facilities.
Tours/Sightsee/Hop on Hop off Tours/Walk Tours
Markets of Warwick
This is a walking tour in the heart of Durban, situated in one of the city’s busiest public transport interchanges, Warwick Junction. Here, informal traders have set-up stalls, selling to daily commuters that pass by. There is a wide variety of products on offer, ranging from fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat to clothes, beadwork, arts and crafts, and even traditional medicine. This range is so extensive, it has formed 9 distinct markets within the Warwick Junction area; all of which will be visited during this tour.
The most “famous” of these 9 markets is the Victoria Street Market. This is the oldest market in Durban, established between 1860 and 1910, by the Indian indentured laborers, trading spices, and traditional Indian goods.
Booking is essential for this tour, as there are limited spots available. For more information, visit their website: www.marketsofwarwick.co.za
Durban Ricksha Bus
Hop on board this open-top bus, for a scenic tour of Durban. This tour will take you along the beautiful beachfront and harbor, through to Durban city center, heading towards the more suburban areas, highlighting some of Durban’s most popular attractions.
- uShaka Marine World
- Emmanuel Cathedral
- Victoria Street Market
- Juma Musjid Mosque
- City Hall
- The Cube on Innes Road
- The King Goodwill Zwelithini house
- The Presidential house
- Mitchell Park
- Florida Road
- Moses Mabhida Stadium
- Blue Lagoon
- Suncoast Casino
There are two daily tours, starting at 9:00 and 13:00, from the Tourist Information Center on North Beach. Each tour is approximately 3 – 5 hours. Bookings are not essential for individuals and smaller groups; however, it is advisable to call in advance to check availability.
This tour will cost you R100 (€5/$5.90) per person, while children under 5 years old are free. Please note, strictly cash is accepted.
For more information: www.durbanroutes.co.za/durban-ricksha-bus
Day-trip from Durban
A short 1-hour drive from Durban will take you to Tala Private Collection Game Reserve. Experience an African safari and witness some of Africa’s most majestic wildlife. You will see plenty of big games, including hippos, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, kudu, buffalo, wildebeest, and eland. After the safari, take a dip in their rock pool or even enjoy a long, relaxed lunch at the restaurant on-site. This makes for a lovely day out of the city.
8. What To Eat/Drink in Durban?
Now, I am going to take you to the most delicious part of my travel guide for Durban.
An artisanal bakery, located in the popular Florida Road, specializing in mouthwatering breakfasts and lunches. Their coffee is brewed to perfection. For hot summer mornings, the frozen lemonade offers a refreshing start to the day.
The Glenwood Bakery
A small artisanal bread bakery, which also has a range of pastries, bagels, and of course coffee. They offer a limited hot breakfast menu, to give you a kickstart to a busy day. Try “The Egg”, which consists of a crispy slice of bread, topped with salty coppa ham, juicy roasted cherry tomatoes, and a perfectly poached egg.
Get there bright and early, as their fresh bakes are often sold out by 11:00!
A little hidden gem! Literally! Situated on Marriott Road, this restaurant is hidden in a little, pebble stoned courtyard. The Market offers a seasonal menu, focusing on fresh, quality ingredients. For a sweet treat, try the soft, decadent chocolate brownie; you will be dreaming about it for days on end.
Afro’s Chicken Shop
A favorite amongst the locals! Afro’s is a takeaway style restaurant…but, do not let this scare you. Their menu is small and simple, which means that quality and flavor is their top priority, sourcing only locally has grown produce.
Try their succulent grilled chicken strips and chips (or “tjips” as the locals call it!) at only R55 (€2/$3).
The perfect lunchtime spot!
A popular franchise in South Africa, Ocean Basket is known for its deliciously fresh seafood. On offer is a great selection for the whole family, at affordable prices.
9th Avenue Waterside
Formerly known as 9th Avenue Bistro, this award-winning restaurant is considered to be one of the finest restaurants in Durban. It has recently relocated and secured a stunning spot, overlooking the Durban Harbour.
9th Avenue Waterside specializes in showcasing fresh, local, and seasonal cuisine. Their combination of unique flavors makes for an interesting gastronomic experience. For a true taste of South Africa, try their grilled ostrich steak with pearl couscous. It is perfection on a plate! As can be expected, excellence comes at a price and their prices are higher; however, it is worth the experience.
9th Avenue Waterside is the perfect setting for a romantic couples’ dinner.
Late night drinks
Unity Bar & Brasserie
Situated in an unassuming corner on Silverton Road, this bustling spot is ideal for late-night drinks. The menu consists of tapas-style dishes and artisanal craft beer. The perfect place for drinks with friends!
9. Warnings, Tips and Tricks for Durban
Durban’s popular areas are generally safe; however, you should always be cautious of your surroundings. As with most big urban cities, you need to be vigilant when it comes to your belongings. Do not leave your belongings unattended, especially on the beach. When going out at night, avoid deserted areas, and do not wander out alone in the early hours of the morning.
Try not to carry excessive amounts of cash with you.
Finally, on a funny, yet equally serious, note: You will see many playful little monkeys (ok, fine, some are big and aggressive) wandering around Durban, DO NOT FEED THEM! They are wildlife and should not be domesticated by humans.
Also, if you are staying at an Airbnb, make sure to close the windows when not at home, as monkeys will take this opportunity to sneak in and indulge in your food snacks! Sounds hilarious, until they get their hands on that last piece of decadent chocolate cake that you were saving for later. You have been warned!
On the topic of wildlife… are you planning on sleeping in late? HA! Think again! As South Africans, we have a common hatred for one particular creature; the loud and disruptive Hadeda. These oddly shaped birds will be the reason that you are awake at 4:00, in the morning! Their piercing cries echo in the peaceful hours of the morning and will awaken even the deepest of sleepers. Prepare yourself! The initial shock is utterly frightening, but after a while, you will become accustomed to this awful sound. Think of them as nature’s very own alarm clock!
I hope you enjoyed this travel guide of Durban. Don’t forget to leave your comments and thoughts about my Durban travel guide!
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