Things to do in Durban

Things to do in  Durban

A reimagined city

Located on South Africa's eastern shore, Durban is the country’s third largest city, boasts its busiest port, and is the capital of the KwaZulu-Natal province. And while it hosted the World Cup in 2010, Durban—just a short one-hour plane ride from Johannesburg—often lacks the global name recognition of Cape Town to the southwest, making it an off-the-beaten-path choice for its bustling urban center, revamped waterfront, rich cultural history, proximity to wildlife preserves, and laidback atmosphere. Guided city tours and advanced reservations ensure you don't miss top urban experiences, such as enjoying the scent of fragrant spices at the Victoria Street Market, bungee swinging at Moses Mabhida Stadium, or gliding through the the Durban Point Waterfront Canal on a gondola ride. You can also spend some time in nature: Learn about local marine life and play in the water park at uShaka Marine World; stroll the long stretch of sandy beaches—the so-called “Golden Mile”—along the warm Indian Ocean; venture out of town in search of Africa's “Big Five” on safari tours, including the Hluhluwe Game Reserve; or head into the marshes near St. Lucia to see hippos up close. For a culture fix, immerse yourself in historic Zulu heritage at Shakaland with a guide who can speak to the group's storied past; or take a full-day tour into the Drakensberg mountains to visit the independent country of Lesotho, where the delicious, unique mix of cuisines incorporates Indian and Malaysian influences.

Top 15 attractions in Durban

Sani Pass

Set at nearly 10,000 feet (2,865 meters) above sea level, Sani Pass is the gateway between KwaZulu-Natal and the landlocked mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Via 4-wheel-drive, experience the rugged dirt road cut with hairpin turns on a steep climb to the top of Sani Pass. Your reward is a bumpy adventure along with panoramic views.More

Durban City Hall

Durban City Hall is a downtown Durban landmark. An exuberant neo-baroque building, it features a double-height stripy portico topped off with a towering dome, four smaller domes, and plenty of sculptures. In addition to municipal chambers, it’s also home to the Durban Art Gallery, the Durban Natural Science Museum, a library, and an auditorium.More

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

It’s easy to see why iSimangaliso Wetland Park was South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site: Here you’ll find long swathes of beach populated by birds and sea turtles, while crocodiles, hippos, and elephants make their homes in the swamps further inland. This lush, coastal environment is best explored by boat as you discover the biodiversity for which South Africa is famous.More

Durban Botanic Gardens

Established in 1849, Africa’s oldest botanic gardens spread across 37 acres. With winding paths, manicured lawns, and a diverse array of flora, the spot is a green oasis just outside the city. You’ll find treasures, including the Orchid House–home to more than 8,000 plants–and the Butterfly Garden, which highlights species native to KwaZulu-Natal.More

Moses Mabhida Stadium

The Moses Mabhida Stadium, built to host the 2010 World Cup games, is one of the country’s top sport and concert venues. Its modern architecture and massive arch set it apart on the Durban waterfront. Overlook the city from a viewing platform at the top of the arch and push your limits on the world’s largest stadium swing.More

Victoria Street Market

The hokey pink and pastel stucco exterior hides the Victoria Street Market’s flurry of color, chaos and activity. Affectionately called The Vic, the two-story building is essentially an indoor flea and farmer’s market with more than 150 lively retail and wholesale vendors. Kitchen utensils, pots, luggage, clothes, wholesale products from China and carved trinkets spill into the building’s second-floor walkways, while butchers, fishmongers and fruit and vegetable vendors set up shop on the first level.In the mix visitors will find many merchants hawking silken saris and incense, spices from fragrant and colorful barrels, plus Indian handicrafts… not your usual South African market fare. The city’s multicultural tapestry—including the largest population of Indians outside of Asia—is reflected in both the market’s vendors and shoppers, and The Vic has long been a shopping hub of the Indian community. Bring your bargaining skills for some unique souvenir finds.More

Ushaka Marine World

With massive water slides, impressive sea life, and white-sand beaches, Ushaka Marine World is one of Durban’s top waterfront attractions. This theme park and aquarium is home to eight different attractions. Visitors can observe sea life in the aquarium, race down slides, challenge themselves on a ropes course, and more.More

Howick Falls

The white water of Howick Falls plunges 310 feet (95 meters) into a pool, which is said to be the home of Inkanyamba, a huge serpent-like creature with the head of a horse. Its legendary temper is blamed for the region’s seasonal storms, while its presence gives the waterfall the name KwaNogqaza, meaning place of the tall one.More

Valley of a Thousand Hills

Surrounded by South Africa’s scenic mountains and home to wildlife, villages, and some of the best views in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region, Valley of a Thousand Hills offers a rural countryside experience not far from beaches and highrises of Durban. The valley’s mix of culture and hospitality make it a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike.More

Isandlwana Battlefield

One of the worst defeats in British military history occurred on January 22, 1879 during the Battle of Isandlwana. The battle, fought near a hill in Zululand of the same name, took place early in the Anglo-Zulu war when a British invasion column of some 1,300 soldiers under the command of General Lord Chelmsford was attacked by a 20,000-strong Zulu army, resulting in a humiliating defeat.Today Isandlwana Battlefield is dotted with stone cairns indicating the resting places of soldiers killed in the battle. A small on-site museum and visitors center showcases artifacts, relics and background information on the battle — a bonus particularly for those visiting the battlefield without a guide.More

Rorke’s Drift Museum

In January of 1879, fewer than 200 British and colonial troops successfully defending the mission station at Rorke’s Drift against an intense attack by well over 3,000 Zulu warriors during the Anglo-Zulu War.The conflict, today known as the Battle of Rorke’s Drift or the Defense of Rorke’s Drift, is memorialized by a well-preserved battlefield and a small museum, where dioramas and electronic displays tell the tale of the 12-hour assault. Eleven Victoria Crosses (the highest military honor in Britain) were awarded after the battle, more than had ever been handed out for one battle before.More

Kwa Muhle Museum

Housed in the former home of an apartheid legislation enforcement body, the modern Kwa Muhle Museum transcends its unsavory history to showcase the effects that era had on the city of Durban. An insightful and informative rainy-day activity, the two-story building includes video and photographic displays, documents and reconstructed scenes that depict the shaping of city through its working class.Permanent exhibits teach visitors about past and present labor practices, as well as different facets of the apartheid system, including the use of sorghum beer halls to fund social services for non-whites. Gallery spaces house temporary exhibitions; a National Geographic photography display recently spanned two rooms. Kwa Muhle is one of four historical museums in Durban, the others being the Old Court House Museum, the Old House Museum and the Port Natal Maritime Museum.More

Phansi Museum

Located in a 19th-century villa that was once home to anthropologist and activist Esther Roberts, Durban’s Phansi Museum hosts a world-class collection of Southern African art and artifacts. Galleries feature statues, body art, beadwork, pottery, and textiles, while the space also hosts classes, book launches, workshops, and exhibitions.More

Durban Golden Mile

A stretch of white-sand beaches lined by a boardwalk on one side and the warm Indian Ocean on the other, the Golden Mile is what draws many travelers to Durban. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, visit a few cultural attractions, or experience the city’s nightlife, the Golden Mile has it all.More


Shakaland is a living history museum and cultural village that displays the traditional way of life of the Zulu people. Set in the Zulu heartland of KwaZulu-Natal (formerly Zululand), the village offers a look into a bygone era. Tourists can watch traditional tool making, take part in a beer tasting ceremony, and watch Zulu people perform songs and dances in traditional attire.More
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All about Durban

When to visit

Durban’s gorgeous sub-tropical climate has led to its reputation of having the best winter weather in the southern hemisphere. As a contrast, its summers are hot, humid, and rainy, so the best months to visit are the dry winter months of June and July—when you can enjoy sunshine, surfing, and strolling. In July, look out for the Durban International Film Festival; which has been showcasing documentaries, feature films, and short films annually for over 40 years.

Getting around

In a similar way to LA—Durbanites go nearly everywhere by car, so if you’re planning a visit, car hire is your best bet. If you don’t want to drive—there’s always Uber. There are also metered taxis, and minibus taxis—but minibus taxis aren’t recommended for tourists. As for public transport, a local bus service called People Mover has a city route that stops at notable sightseeing locations, and a beachfront route too.

Traveler tips

A Durban institution—formally known, and still nicknamed by locals as “Johnny’s Roti”—Sunrise Chip ‘N Ranch is the place for hearty any-time-of-day comfort food. This restaurant is known for its bunny chow (a hollowed-out loaf filled with curry) and the standout dish—its rotis (stuffed flatbread wraps). Be sure to try its chips ‘n’ cheese roti with mutton gravy.


People Also Ask

What is Durban famous for?

Durban is known as a multicultural foodie city with a golden coastline. It’s called “Surf City” after its top-notch surfing spots. And it's known as South Africa’s “curry capital,” a reference to its large Indian population and Indian-inspired cuisine; try bunny chow, a dish of hollowed-out bread filled with curry.

How can I spend a day in Durban?

If you’ve only got one day in Durban, be sure to experience its idyllic waterfront area. Head to the Golden Mile for some water sports fun, or explore the many shops and restaurants along the promenade. Taste the city’s excellent Indian-inspired dishes—such as bunny chow—and visit uShaka Marine World.

What is there to do in Durban on a budget?

Experience the beauty of Durban’s great outdoors; Durban Botanic Gardens, Jameson Park, and the Amphitheatre Gardens offer free entry. Durban Natural Science Museum is great for rainy days. For bargains, stroll down Victoria Street Market; for cheap eats, check out Sunrise Chip ‘N’ Ranch or Afro’s Chicken Shop.

What are Durban's main attractions?

One of the main attractions in Durban is uShaka Marine World—a theme park and waterpark. Other popular attractions include Shakaland, a museum and cultural village that celebrates Zulu culture, and Durban Botanic Gardens. The city's natural attraction with the biggest draw is the Golden Mile beachfront promenade.

What can I do in Durban at night?

Durban has a great nightlife scene; see live jazz at The Chairman, try cocktails at Joe Cool’s, or taste craft beer at Robsons Real Beer. Find a great selection of bars, restaurants and clubs in Morningside. For a romantic evening, take a night gondola ride along the Durban waterfront canals.

What do locals do for fun in Durban?

Locals relax at the Golden Mile beachfront area or eat and drink at Florida Road. Another popular local haunt is Station Drive—home to vintage stores, distilleries, breweries, coffee shops, art studios, and creative spaces. Favorite local markets include the I Heart Market and Victoria Street Market.

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