Durban is always warm – weather-wise and personality-wise and it beckons tourists from KwaZulu-Natal, the hinterland and the Cape, not forgetting from abroad. People come to Durban to surf, to eat curry and to explore the rich history that has made this ocean front city what it is today – a vibrant destination offering something for everything and the ideal holiday option for those with children.
Yes, Durban is a veritable paradise brimming with beaches and ocean activities and cool entertainment. Fly into the uShaka International Airport and find your way around using the good infrastructure that the Ethekwini Municipality affords you. Here lies one of the busiest harbours in Africa and the ninth largest harbour in the world, some of the best surfing spots south of the equator and some of the best curry eateries you have ever sampled. Book your holiday package online with us, flights and hotels included!
Did you know that Nelson Mandela chose to cast his first vote as a free man in Durban in 1994? Or that Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, started his political adventures in Durban? It is here that the famous Comrades Marathon either starts or ends every year and it is here that you can leap from the highest bungee swing, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Have you ever ridden on a rickshaw – an extraordinary means of transport where a man pulls you along attached to his waist in a kind of trolley? These quaint “bikes” arrived in Durban in 1893 with sugar magnate Sir Marshall Campbell, from London! And now, rickshaw pullers have been operating in Durban for more than 100 years!
Read on for our top 10 holiday ideas in Durban:
- uShaka Marine World
The first thing you should know about uShaka Marine World is that it is mainly an entertainment world where you also learn about the ocean and her many treasures as you go along. Here you will find exciting rides to go on, lots of swimming to do and plenty of fun – there is nowhere like this place on earth! You can visit the uShaka Wet & Wild, Sea World, Village Walk, Kids World, Beach and Dangerous Creatures. This is a safe place where all ages have fun and learn about the creatures of the deep blue sea. When you enter the awesome Sea World complex, you can also experience Animal Encounters where you get to Meet a Dolphin, enter the I&J Snorkel Lagoon, try out the I&J Ocean Walker and explore the exciting Xpanda Shark Cage Experience – superb interactions with sea creatures that you will never forget!
We can only rate the uShaka aquarium as world class and as it is the largest aquarium south of the equator, we really feel that you should visit it if you are in sunny Durban. There are viewing galleries underground that take you through what feel like real life shipwrecks and other unique features.
This part of Durban’s Golden Mile is definitely for the adrenaline junkie who wants to fly along on rides with names like The Mamba, The Squid, Zoom Zoom, The Torpedo and the Drop Zone!
- Beach Experience
People go to Durban for its beaches, right? Yes! Visit and enjoy the more than 15 kilometres of sand and sea, lined with hotels, restaurants and pubs. Durban does not do winter – it is always balmy weather in this sunny city and the sea is always warm too. Even business people stop work at lunchtime to get out for a run or a surf or a soft serve ice cream and to enjoy superb vistas. Durbanites are very laid back and so can you be when you arrive in this cool city. Go surf with the locals or, if that does not blow your hair back, try kayaking up Umgeni River, jet skiing at Blue Lagoon, yachting at the harbour or fishing wherever you can. There are clubs and great places to eat and drink – or simply walk the Golden Mile and soak up the sun.
South Beach is the one near the harbour and two yacht clubs – choose a restaurant and dine on fresh seafood as you watch the busy ships enter and leave the port. You can run from Addington Beach to Vetchies Beach which is loved by families with children, surfers and swimmers. There are also blue paddling pools for the kiddies with slides and other fun things to do. Take them to the fun park for a ride on a few swings and boats and things then grab an ice cream. The Indian Market sells aromatic spices, sweetmeats and silk clothing. Or buy Zulu beads and baskets from the local vendors.
Durban’s North Beach is quieter and known for its sand castle building competitions, surfing competitions and great live entertainment. Summer at this beach is a happy busy time where kids and adults all join in to have great fun in the sun and surf. This beach is found between the two long attractive piers which you can walk along to see the sunset or sunrise. Watch fishermen throw a line or go for fish and chips at a funky restaurant nearby.
- Umhlanga Conservancy
Not far along the warm coast from Durban lies the Umhlanga Conservancy, well worth a visit if you like walking in nature and seeing lush coastal forests, dune forests, wetlands and ponds. If you enter the conservancy you can reach the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, also called the Ponds and here you can birdwatch until the cows come home!
This small area boasts a list of birds 208 species strong and if you visit in summer, you should be lucky to see at least 60 species as you explore the delightful birding habitats here. You may see Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana and African Fish Eagles! You need at least three hours to make the most of this little jewel in Durban’s crown. Enjoy a picnic beside the ponds, next to the Umhlanga River where birds love to nest and breed. Plant lovers will love the tropical vegetation, colourful and verdant all at once.
- Phansi Museum
Moving indoors now, there is a fascinating place to visit made for art lovers and artists – the Phansi Museum is a magical collection of Zulu, Xhosa, Shangaan and Ndebele art, crafts and artefacts, including beadwork, wooden carvings, telephone wire is woven baskets, beer pots and more. Phansi means ‘below’ in Zulu as this collection was originally kept in a basement. Now, however, it is a grand adventure to see it in the beautifully restored Victorian National Monument known as Robert’s House.
Since 2006 the display has been presented on the ground and the first floor to enable a warming experience for those interested in such traditional art, a reflection of South Africa’s colourful cultures. Come and see the world’s largest such collection of South African relics from interesting days gone by. The displays are vibrant and modern and well worth an hour’s perusing.
5. Moses Mabhida Stadium
Ever since the Fifa World Cup in 2010, South Africans have been soccer mad and turned into what makes soccer a great sport! Some of the huge stadiums that were constructed solely for this global event are now being cleverly used for other occasions, activities and sports. The Moses Mabhida Stadium has become the ideal venue for unique recreation and sporting activities which draw adventure sportsmen to come and raise their adrenalin levels.
Take the SkyCar and Viewing Platform for example – this is an awesome way to see Durban and her stunning vistas – ride up to the top of the arch and take in the entirety of Durban and her ocean!Or for something entirely exciting, you need to take the plunge from the Big Rush Big Swing – a bungee jump from a very high point, over the stadium where soccer players once scored goals! This swing is 80m high, say no more!
A calmer rush would be to enjoy the Segway Gliding Tours on the two-wheeler glider so don the helmet and take your time exploring the stadium and promenade, the sea breeze in your hair. We also recommend the Adventure Walk where you walk all over the Moses Mabhida Stadium, climbing up really high to make the most of the views and to get a really good workout! Pack drinks and snacks and spend the morning walking in the fresh air.
This charismatic stadium is a Proudly South African venue with a unique architectural style and so much to offer visitors, either local or international. Did you know that there are 1 750 columns and 216 raking beams to support the different levels and seating areas of the stadium? It is considered as huge an engineering feat as the Sydney Opera House or the Eiffel Tower so go on and see it!
- Durban Botanic Gardens
If you are looking for peace and quiet surrounded by plants and flowers, head for the Durban Botanic Gardens in the suburbs. They are famous for their Orchids, Palms and Cycads but the general atmosphere is one of tropical beauty and blissful warmth. Go and see the orchids flowering in spring and autumn, a collection that began in 1931 by Ernest Thorp and the Orchid House opened in 1962.
The huge trees and cycads, the unusual coastal plant varieties are all worth seeing and enjoying. Botanic Gardens are becoming increasingly important as climate change deepens and the threats to plants and ecosystems get worse. Grab a cuppa tea at the delightful tea garden and watch the birds flit about in the lush vegetation.
7.Umgeni River Bird Park
For bird lovers, look no further than Umgeni River Bird Park, place of walk-through aviaries and highly endangered bird species. Here you can see the Wattled Crane up close, owls, storks, hornbills and Cape Vultures. The incredible and educational bird show takes place daily at 11am and 2pm and is a must-see for children and adults alike.
Situated in an old quarry, the bird park was opened in 1984 after intensive filling in of the watery quarry and construction of required aviaries and walkways and public facilities. Here lies a wonderful bird facility for young and old to enjoy – educational, recreational and a haven for birds which have been injured or poisoned where they can be rehabilitated and returned to some kind of a normal life again. Its motto being ‘Inspire to Conserve’ the Umgeni River Bird Park is a great outing for tourists and local visitors alike.
So, come to Durban and enjoy her treasures – outdoors is best in this warm destination where winter never comes. Spend time viewing her ocean delights, her birds, her beaches and her history and culture. You will not be disappointed and you will definitely want to return. Contact one of our consultants to arrange your unique Durban package and remove all stress from your holiday in South Africa.