Durban has long been beloved by South Africans who spend their vacations enjoying the laidback beach vibe of the city, however, for many years it was largely looked over by tourists from overseas. This is gradually changing, however, with an increasing number of travelers adding Durban to their itinerary – and for good reason! The city, about 350 miles (560km) south of Johannesburg, is a brilliant place to visit, boasting beautiful beaches and a lively cultural scene. To help inspire you for your trip to the city, here are ten great things to do in Durban.
#10: Skywalk at Moses Mahiba Stadium
One of the reasons for a recent surge in interest in travel to Durban – and redevelopment of the city – is that it was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As the host to the most watched sporting event in the world, the city created many new stadiums to play host to the world’s greatest football players. The jewel in the crown was the Moses Mahiba Stadium, which is today the home of many different sports.
Even if there are no games on while you are visiting Durban, you can still tour the stadium and learn about the city’s sporting history. One of the highlights of the tour is making your way over the thrilling skywalk, although if you’d prefer to stay closer to the ground, a Segway tour is another great option.
#9: Learn to Surf at Addington Beach
Durban is by the sea, and surfing is somewhat of a religion in the city. There are many great surf beaches around Durban, including the Golden Mile at North Beach and the Bay of Plenty. However, to really enjoy these beaches you’ll need to be a bit of a pro and well versed in surfer etiquette – the locals are well-known for giving rude or inexperienced surfers a telling off if they don’t wait for their turn!
So, if you’d like to learn how to surf while you’re in Durban, head to Addington Beach and join the surf school there. They are friendly and helpful, and will have you ‘hanging ten’ in no time! If you’d prefer to watch the surfers rather than give it a go yourself, then uShaka Beach is a great spot. It’s also home to Durban’s well-known sand artists, who create incredible sand masterpieces on the shore.
#8: Check out the Art Galleries such as KZN SA Gallery
Durban is an ultra-cool city with a happening arts scene that effortlessly blends different cultures and mediums, and also pays homage to South Africa’s past while looking forward to the future. Whether you’re an art expert or a total novice, Durban is a great city to check out the local art scene and see things from a local’s perspective.
One of the best art galleries is at KZN SA, a dynamic and well-respected gallery that features art works of many different types, predominantly from local artists. Although picking up a piece is a great way to take home an amazing souvenir, simply spending an hour or two viewing the art and reflecting on its meaning is a great thing to do in Durban itself.
#7: Browse the Markets, such as the Victoria Street Market
Shopaholics will love exploring the many colorful and varied markets in Durban. They’re the perfect way to find a unique and gorgeous gift from your time in the city, as well as gain and insight into local life in Durban. There are so many different markets to choose from, and one option is taking a tour with a local ‘market expert’ who can help you find the well-known ones, as well as some hidden gems.
One of the most popular markets is the Victoria Street Market, where you can find some gorgeous African-inspired gifts such as jewelry and scarves, as well as other beautiful arts and crafts. Every Sunday is the Amphitheatre Flea Market, where you can find anything and everything – where stop by the Early Morning (or Mother’s) Market to see locals buying their groceries and spices.
#6: The Durban Botanical Gardens (with the world’s rarest plant)
After a few days in bustling Durban, you might find yourself wishing for a little bit of a respite from the metropolis. If so, head for the beautiful Durban Botanical Gardens to get back to nature and enjoy a walk through the green space that is complete with hundreds of species of native plants, trees and flowers.
One unmissable thing to see while you are enjoying the beauty of the Botanic Gardens is the Wood’s Cycad, known as the world’s rarest plant. The large tree is unfortunately extinct in the wild, and so it is a truly unique plant within the Durban Botanical Gardens! Don’t miss out on the chance to see it in growing in all its glory in Durban!
#5: Giba Gorge Biking
For something fun and different to do in Durban, borrow a bike (and a helmet and head out for Giba Gorge Adventure Park. There is a network of fun and exciting trails that will take you through the beautiful, lush landscape – and it is suitable for all ages and abilities. There is even a track for BMX specialists, where adventurous guests can try out some new tricks!
For those who are not quite as experienced, there are still many beautiful trails to enjoy. It’s a great way to take in the landscape and get some exercise in beautiful Durban. Afterwards, you can treat yourself to a delicious lunch or dinner cooked at the on-site restaurant, which is situated outdoors and does a mean braai (barbecue).
#4: Mzinyathi Falls and Rasta Caves
Not far from downtown Durban is the beautiful Mzinyathi Falls, a favorite amongst locals but a little bit hidden from the usual tourist path meaning they are quiet and relaxing. Nestled amongst rich foliage, visitors can hike up to see the falls as well as the beautiful views out over the valley.
As well as the Mzinyathi Falls, the area also boasts the Rasta Caves, which have been significant to practitioners of the Rastafarian religion. It is a little bit tricky to access the caves, so a guide may be a good idea, but they are a beautiful and interesting addition to your Durban itinerary.
#3: Inanda Mountain Views
Another beautiful place near Durban – that can be combined with the Mzinyathi Falls – is the view from Inanda Mountain. Inanda itself is quite a historic place, and visitors will be walking in the footsteps of many famous characters including Mahatma Ghandi, who lived there for some time.
After spending a little bit of time in Inanda town, head up the mountain via an easy and beautiful hike. Along the way, keep your eyes out for many different species of birds than can be spotted on the way up the mountain. From the top, you will enjoy stunning views out over the landscape – many locals consider this the most picturesque spot in all of Durban, and it is easy to see why. It is a great place to take in the beauty of Durban and its surrounds.
#2: PheZulu Safari Park
Head off in search of the much-loved Big 5 at the PheZulu Safari Park, a large private game park offering many different trails and excursions. Great fun for all ages, a trip to the PheZulu park gives guests the opportunity to spot all different African animals including wildebeest, elephants, zebras, and even lions! You can choose from a range of transport methods including the classic safari Jeep or perhaps head off on horseback.
Whichever you choose, it’s sure to be an amazing (and educational) experience for the whole family. After all, no African vacation is complete without a visit to a safari in search of the Big 5 – and the best thing about PheZulu is you don’t need to head right out to the plains of Kruger to experience it. Simply enjoy a day at the park and then be back in time for a cosmopolitan dinner!
#1: Swim with Sharks
Feeling brave? If so, one of the most exciting things to do anywhere in the world is on offer just an hour or so north of Durban. In Umkomaas, muster your courage and climb into the water to swim alongside sharks in the area’s beautiful coral reef. The area is a very popular home of sharks, with many varieties including bull sharks, tiger sharks and oceanic black tip sharks.
Umkomaas is a playground for divers, giving experienced divers the chance to (safely) swim amongst sharks in their natural habitat. If you are not PADI certified, however, there are other options including going on a shark snorkel, or perhaps observing the sharks from the safety of a metal cage. Don’t forget to bring an underwater camera to capture this amazing experience!
These ten things to do in Durban are just some of the amazing things that you can do and experience in the city. There’s no denying that Durban is a brilliant travel destination, just waiting to be discovered