The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Things to do in Durban

Afrikaans name: Durban

Looking towards the north along Durban's beautiful beachfront with the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the distance

Durban's Golden Mile

Photo © Steven Herbert


Introduction to Durban

Durban has, for many years, been the tourist destination of choice for South Africans. Today it probably shares that honour with Cape Town. The obvious attraction in Durban is the beaches. There are many to choose from and the city tends to have good weather all year round. But there is so much else to Durban. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa with only Johannesburg and Cape Town being bigger. It is the busiest port in South Africa and one of the busiest in Africa. It handles a huge volume of containers and cars. Like most of the people in South Africa, Durban residents are crazy about sports. Durban is home to the Sharks rugby team, Dolphins cricket team and Amazulu and Golden Arrows football teams. The city boasts two large stadiums across the road from each other to host rugby and football matches.

Durban's famous football stadium constructed for the 2010 World Cup

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Looking out across the railway lines to Durban's well known football stadium that was constructed for the 2010 World Cup. The stadium is named the Moses Mabhida Stadium after a former General Secretary of the South Africa Communist Party. Mabhida passed away from a stroke in Mozambique in March 1986.

Where to stay in Durban

Visitors to Durban are spoilt for choice with so many different accommodation options available. From top class hotels down to the ever-popular Bed and Breakfast establishments you can choose something that suits your budget and other requirements. The beach front is lined with hotels which are a stone throw away from the beach. These hotels are popular with locals and visitors for a sundowner or a tasty meal in the evening.

25 things to do in Durban

Here are some great things to do, and places to visit, during your stay in Durban.
  • Rickshaw ride – The ornately dressed Zulu pullers are an icon of Durban.
  • Go for a walk at one of the nature reserves.
  • Visit the Moses Mabhida stadium which was built for the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup.
  • Visit uShaka Marine World including the water park.
  • Visit the Sun Coast and Sibaya Casinos.
  • Go racing at Greyville Race Course, the home of horse racing in Durban.
  • Visit the Durban Botanical Gardens.
  • Go shopping at Gateway Shopping Centre or The Pavilion.
  • Tackle the waves at the Wavepark next to Gateway Shopping Centre.
  • The kids will enjoy some time at Mini Town on the beachfront.
  • Mitchell Park is a great place for a stroll, picnic or have a meal at the restaurant. Be sure to visit the "zoo" while you are there.
  • Go surfing.
  • Try your hand at surf or rock fishing.
  • Go for a drink or meal at Wilson’s Wharf.
  • Take a harbour or sea cruise from Wilson’s Wharf.
  • Visit the Umgeni River Bird Park.
  • Visit the Durban Natural Science Museum.
  • Dine at the Roma Revolving restaurant and get a panoramic view of the city and harbour.
  • Take a ride on the Ricksha Bus.
  • Take a relaxing Gondola ride at the Durban Point Waterfront.
  • Enjoy a meal while watching the sharks watching you at uShaka Marine World.
  • Catch the steam train from Kloof to Inchanga.
  • Look for bargains at one of the flea markets.
  • Giba Gorge is the home of BMX in Durban.
The Ricksha Bus is a great way to see Durban

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - The Ricksha Bus is an ideal way of seeing the Durban beachfront, city centre and neighbouring areas. As you drive slowly past a number of Durban's attractions a knowledgable guide provides interesting information. I recommend the bus for tourists and residents of Durban alike.

Durban weather

The climate in Durban is hot and humid in summer and warm in winter, so it is favourable all year round, which helps make it a popular tourist destination. DURBAN WEATHER

History of Durban

Although the area on which Durban is now built has been populated by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, it was the arrival of European settlers in 1824 which led to the establishment of the city. The town of "d'Urban" was named in 1835 after the governor of the Cape Colony Sir Benjamin d’Urban. The population is ethnically diverse. The city has strong Zulu, Indian and European influences.

Here are some extra places to visit in and around Durban

Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary

Ansteys Beach

Bluff Nature Reserve, Durban

Brighton Beach

Durban Botanical Gardens

Japanese Gardens, Durban

Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

New Germany Nature Reserve

Paradise Valley Nature Reserve

Pigeon Valley, Durban

Shongweni Dam

Part of the Durban city centre as seen from Wilson's Wharf

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - A view of Durban taken from Wilson's Wharf and looking across the edge of the harbour. These building line the Durban esplanade heading towards the main beach front.

The Queen Mary II in Durban harbour

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Many famous ships have stopped in Durban. Here is the beautiful Queen Mary II. Below - The lights of the apartment blocks along Durban's Esplanade.

Durban's Esplanade

Photo © Steven Herbert

The wrecked ship dominates the landscape at Ushaka Marine World

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above and below - Ushaka Marine World is one of Durban's top attractions. It features a water theme park with many slides and pools as well as a world-class aquarium. It is extremely popular, especially in the hot Durban summer, so get down there early! Ushaka Marine World

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Where to Watch Birds in Southern Africa - Author: A. Berruti and J.C. Sinclair - Published: 1983 - Page: 151

Where to Watch Birds in Southern Africa - Author: A. Berruti and J.C. Sinclair - Published: 1983 - Page: 154

Where to see Birds in Natal - Author: Gordon Bennett - Published: 1989 - Page: 7

Where to see Birds in KwaZulu-Natal - Author: Bennett and Herbert - Published: 1995 - Page: 7

Things ewe never knewe about South African place names - Author: Ann Gadd - Published: 2015 - Page: 52

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Published: 1987 - Page: 136

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 86

The Dive Sites of South Africa - Author: Anton Koornhof - Published: 1992 - Page: 118

The Great Trek - Author: Chris Venter - Published: 2013 - Page: 25

Road Tripping South Africa - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2014 - Page: 113

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 84

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 318

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 111

go! - Issue 088 - Author: - Published: 2013 - Page: 44

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 157

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 122

Getaway - Vol 32 No 03 - Author: - Published: 2020 - Page: 60

Getaway - Vol 28 No 09 - Author: - Published: 2016 - Page: 76

Getaway - Vol 30 No 10 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 48

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Guide to Southern African Game and Nature Reserves - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1989 - Page: 106

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 177

Book of the Road - 4th edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2019 - Page: 97

Book of the Road - 4th edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2019 - Page: 98


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