Where to Stay - South Africa

Durban Travel Guide (KwaZulu-Natal)


Durban on the North Coast of KZN

Durban is less that 1 hours flying time from Johannesburg and is situated in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, on the east coast of South Africa. This sophisticated cosmopolitan city of over 3 million people, set on Natal Bay, benefits from year-round warm waters and is one of South Africa's top holiday destinations. There is a great selection of Durban Accommodation from Boutique Hotels, Guest Houses, Hotels, Self Catering accommodation to budget Backpacker Accommodation.

Durban is host to one of Africa's best managed, busiest and most important ports. This exciting city offers activities and experiences for all and opportunities for you to just relax and soak up the atmosphere. Durban nightlife offers something for everyone with the many bars, restaurants and thriving nightclub scene. Visit the Francis Farewell Square which is lined with palm trees and is the heart of old colonial Durban. There is also a lively street market with statues commemorating times gone by.

Along Durban’s “Golden Mile” you will find a stretch of beaches frequented by keen surfers but which are also ideal for swimmers and body-surfers alike. The waters are protected by shark nets and lifeguards patrol during the day to ensure safe conditions for all. We recommend you stroll down the promenade that stretches along the Durban waterfront stopping off at the many restaurants, pubs, shops and of course the uShaka Marine World aquarium. The uShaka Marine World is probably Durban's most popular attraction and includes a water park, an underwater aquarium, a restaurant on a sunken shipwreck, many different water activities and speciality shops. You will also find a penguin habitat and snorkelling lagoon full of coral fish along with Wet and Wild which has the highest water slide in South Africa.

For those cloudy days or days when you just want to take a break from the beach why not head to the Durban City Hall. This lovely old building built in 1910 in a neo-Baroque style is located right in the centre of Durban. The venue hosts orchestral concerts, has a library, the Durban Art Gallery and also features exhibitions. Other rainy day things to do in Durban include a trip to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping where apart from the superb shopping there is also 'D-Rex' - the only double-break wave pool in the World, a large skate-boarding park designed by the great Tony Hawkes, and climbing wall and cinemas. There is another outdoor Skate Park by North Beach along the Durban beachfront.

Also on the Durban beachfront is a miniature replica of Durban called Mini Town. The little ones will love it watching the miniature trains and planes moving about. It even has a replica of the harbour with ships and the airport. Durban Mini Town is located near Fitzsimmons Snake Park on Snell Parade. There is a small entrance fee of R15 per adult and R10 for children (aged 2 to 12). Minitown is owned by the Quadriplegic Association of KwaZulu-Natal.

Other attractions include Wilson’s Wharf on the Victoria Embankment, and Grey Street and Warwick Triangle which boast busy and lively local shops and markets. You could wander past the many beachfront stalls that sell traditional arts and crafts or enjoy the excellent entertainment on offer at the city's theatres and clubs or perhaps take a township tour.

We all enjoy browsing through markets and the Victoria Market located on the corner of Victoria Street and Queen Street serves up an eclectic mix of East meets West. There are over 170 stalls here and the market is open from Monday to Saturday between 0600 and 17h00.

If you are after some peace and sheer beauty then you should make for Durban's nature sanctuaries or parks. At Durban Botanical Gardens you should ask about their 'Music by the Lake' evenings – where you can be entertained by music played by KZN's Philharmonic Orchestra in wonderful surroundings. A walk through the botanical gardens is a serene experience.

At Umgeni River Bird Park you can see over 3000 exotic and indigenous birds as well as 4 waterfalls, lush vegetation and several endangered species. The park is a perfect place to visit and enjoy all that is on offer. The whole family will enjoy a day out at Mitchell Park or Mitchell Park Zoo as it is also known. The zoo is located on Ferndale Road in the Morningside suburb of Durban. Although it isnt big it is perfect for a young family. The gardens and paths create a lovely spot to enjoy a picnic.

Durban is a very active city and provides an ideal climate for many sporting activities such as the Comrades Marathon which is the most grueling marathon in the world attracting one of the largest fields of competitors. In addition you have the July Beach Festival, music concerts and many different beach sports. The city has a world-class sporting precinct with Football and Rugby Stadia, international cricket facilities, Olympic size swimming pool, fantastic golf courses set beside the ocean and the new award winning A1 Grand Prix street track.

To discover some of Durban's historical buildings then head to the Berea and Morningside suburbs. In tree-lined roads like Florida Road in Berea there are lovely old buildings such as the Benjamin Hotel which still exudes the charm of yesteryear.

Durban spans the area from the internationally-known Umhlanga Rocks in the north, to one of the best diving sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal, in the south, and west to the majestic Valley of a Thousand Hills. On the outskirts of Durban lies the suburb of Kloof lies the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve which offers some lovely hiking trails.

Lonely Planet recently listed Durban in its top 10 family beach holiday cities league.

Note: Durban like many major cities around the World suffers from crime and common sense should always prevail. You should be aware of pickpockets in the market areas and along the promenade, and be careful at night.