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Durban beach front.

Durban (Zulu: eThekwini) is a city on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini. It is the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa. As of 2011, the population of the eThekwini municipality was around 3.4 million.

Understand[edit]

Durban was founded as Port Natal by British settlers. Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations, making this one of the largest population centres of Indians in the world. Zulu and English are the most common languages in Durban. The name Durban means lake or lagoon in Zulu.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Taxi fares from the new airport to the hotels on Marine Parade and centre of Durban can cost well over R400. However, next to the taxi rank, there is an airport shuttle bus service that leaves every hour on the hour (or as soon as the bus has several passengers) for R80 per person, though it may take longer to reach your hotel. The taxi drivers can be quite aggressive and will try to intercept you before you reach the shuttle.

The following airlines offer domestic service to Durban: Airlink, British Airways, FlySafair, Kulula, and Mango.

The following airlines offer international service to Durban: Air Mauritius (to/from Mauritius), Air Namibia (to/from Windhoek and Gabarone), Emirates (to/from Dubai), Proflight Zambia (to/from Lusaka), Qatar Airways (to/from Doha via Johannesburg), and Turkish Airlines (to/from Istanbul) via Johannesburg),.

British Airways offers a thrice-weekly flight from London Heathrow — the only direct link from Europe.

Durban International Airport (formerly Louis Botha Airport) is closed. The King Shaka International Airport, at La Mercy 40 km north of Durban, is fully operational.

Virginia Airport is a small, private airport in Durban North a few kilometres north of the Durban CBD and a few kilometres south of Umhlanga Rocks. No large scale commercial flights are scheduled from this airport but you can charter a plane from companies such as King Shaka Aviation [dead link] to and from this airport.

See also Discount airlines in Africa.

By bus[edit]

All national carriers and the Baz Bus offer regular services to Durban. The central bus stop is next to the central train station, Durban Station. You can also use Greyhound or Transcape/Intercape bus, depending on whether you want to travel in the morning or the afternoon. The bus station is a 20-minute walk from the beachfront.

By train[edit]

Intercity trains are limited, Shosholoza Meyl operates a Friday and Sunday night train from Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg. MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains from various suburbs of Durban and towns nearby such as Pinetown and the resort towns of the south coast (e.g. Kelso and Park Ryne) and of the north coast).

  • 2 Durban railway station (Along Umgeni Rd). The sprawling central railway station, about 1 km north of the city centre. Durban railway station (Q4851790) on Wikidata Durban railway station on Wikipedia

By boat[edit]

Some cruise ships dock in Durban, but generally there are few "one-way" entries by boat to Durban. Passage on a freighter might be arranged, but it's not widely advertised. Cruises from Durban available on the MSC Sinfonia.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

The best way to get around Durban is by car. Check that you have the latest updated street maps and/or GPS device as some street names have changed. It also helps to have a list of old and new names as some of the new names are vandalized.

By bus[edit]

Durban People Mover buses feature CCTV cameras and wheelchair-friendly ramps. They run from 6AM until 11PM every 15 minutes. These buses stop in the CBD, the Victoria Street Market, the Workshop, Suncoast Casino, Ushaka Marine World and along the beach route. (R4 per trip, valid for 1 hour on a hop-on, hop-off basis; R10 for a full day pass on a hop-on, hop-off basis).

To travel between the Berea suburbs and the city its cheaper to travel by Mynah buses, R5 off-peak (8AM-3:30PM), peak R6. The Mynah buses depart from the Workshop Terminus (Pine Street Terminus) every 30 minutes to Musgrave, The Ridge, Kensington, Mitchell Park/Florida road, Tollgate (cnr Aliwal/Smith streets), to South Beach/Ushaka, North Beach/Suncoast (in Pixley ka Seme [West] Street, opposite the City Hall).

The Aqualine buses to the suburbs (depart from the Pine Street Terminus) are usually within 5 minutes of the schedule every hour. Peak cash fare can be quite steep. A weekly coupon can save you up to 35% of the cash fare. Fare, bus route & time table enquiries (+27 31 309-5942/3). However, due to the ongoing dispute, some routes have be suspended.

  • To Bluff (route 330/338/411/418 )
  • To Queensburgh catch either one of these four buses, Malvern (route 112), Montgomery road (route 113), Shalcross/Hillview (route 140), Pinetown/Westmead (*route 840/842/843/849). Service suspended.
  • To Glenwood catch either one of these four buses, Berea Beach (route 022/023), Umbilo (route 007),Glenmore (route 086), Manor Gardens (route 084).
  • To Umhlanga Rocks/Gateway Mall catch the Aqualine bus (route 716/705) outside Nando's in Pixley ka Seme (West) street, departs every hour.
  • To UKZN catch the Howard College bus (route 070)/Westville campus (route 075). Service suspended
  • To Pinetown/Westville central/Westwood mall, catch Aqualine Pinetown/Westmead bus (route 855,857,858,870,871,873,877,886).Service suspended
  • To The Pavilion mall catch the Aqualine bus (route 853/860) route 853 departs from the Workshop terminus and route 860 departs from North Beach near Blue Waters hotel/Suncoast casino. Service suspended

Most buses depart on the hour every hour, check the bus schedule. Please note that sometimes to get to your destination, you might have to catch a couple to three buses. When not sure about bus route number, ask the locals or the bus driver (tell him the nearest landmark to your destination). Mynah buses do not have route numbers, only the destination will be displayed on the electronic display in front of the bus. You must flag the bus down to stop at the bus stop. It is advisable to have the exact change before you board the bus and get a receipt!

By metered taxi[edit]

Registered taxis are common, generally safe and relatively inexpensive. Taxis do not rove and hence need to be called so that one can be fetched from your pick up point. A lot of these will conduct point to point transfers, airport shuttles, and corporate transfers. The ones that can be recommended for the Durban and surrounds are:

By minibus taxi[edit]

There are also group taxis, referred to as "combi taxis" (or "minibus taxis"), that are impossible to miss as (in Durban) they're brightly decorated and always have music pumping. There is always someone hanging out of a window making the hand gestures that indicate whether there are seats available and where the combi is going. Minibus taxis are very common and less expensive than metered taxis. Strictly speaking, they are minibuses that take people to and from work, they stick to set routes and they are generally not suitable for tourists unfamiliar with the area they are going to; when in doubt stick to metered taxis or buses. There are minibus taxis plying same routes as Mynah buses, they are more frequent and faster than buses.

By rickshaw[edit]

Rickshaw rides are offered to tourists along the beach front, for amusement rather than getting around. Watch out for the many ups and downs in the ride; the tipping back of the rickshaw cause the contents of your pockets to fall out, into the coffers of the drivers!

By Uber[edit]

Uber is quite popular in Durban and SA, as is offers any fast and reliable taxi service. It's often cheaper than a metered taxi.

By helicopter[edit]

  • JNC Helicopters, Hangar 1, Virginia Airport Glenashley, +27 31 563-9513, . JNC Helicopters offers VIP travel to and from any South African city, and an infinite number of tourist flight combinations, from 20-min sight-seeing flights to complete tours that take you around any part of South Africa.
  • King Shaka Aviation, Hangar 4, Virginia Airport, Durban North, +27 31 563-7229, fax: +27 31 563-5450, . King Shaka Aviation is a helicopter charter operator specializing in VIP charters, scenic flights to numerous local venues, air-lifting operations & utility services.
  • BAC Helicopters (Helicopter Rides, Tours and trips), Greystones heli port 135 Old North Coast Road Glen Anil, +27 31 569-1531, . Offers helicopter tours, rides and trips up the Golden Coastline of Kwa-Zulu Natal from Durban, including Game Reserves or the Drakensberg Mountains.

See[edit]

  • 1 Durban Botanical Gardens, +27 31 201-1303, fax: +27 31 309-1271, . Visit on a Saturday and see a mixture of cultural wedding parties having their photos taken.
  • Berea. This is a long ridge overlooking the harbour, city centre and beaches. Once covered with coastal forest, it is now completely built up.
  • 2 Moses Mabhida Stadium. The new landmark of Durban, built for the football World Cup 2010. Catch the Skycar or walk to the top of the stadium, where you will have a stunning view of downtown Durban and Berea.
  • 3 City Hall. There is an art gallery and outdated science museum inside, and a public library.
  • 4 Mahatma Gandhi Settlement. Tours available.
  • 5 Durban North Japanese Gardens, +27 31 563-1333. Free.
  • KwaZulu Natal National Parks.
  • 6 Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, Coedmore Ave, Yellow Wood Park, +27 60 355 7088. 06ː00-18ː00 daily. This is a good place to see some zebras and gazelle and get away from it all within the city limits, but you have to book ahead to see the gallery and castle on site.
  • Crocodile Creek. In the ‘sugar town’ of Tongaat (a few miles past Umhlanga) you will find Crocodile Creek, on the Tongaat river in sub-tropical bush. This creek is home to over 7000 Nile Crocodiles, alligators, caiman, snakes and other reptiles. The farm includes bush and hill trails, a waterfall, river plains and thatched buildings with tree top walkways. An awesome place to spend a day, refreshments are available and you can also browse through the shop which sells curios, crocodile leather goods and even croc dishes.
  • 7 Hare Krishna Temple, 50 Bhaktivedanta Swami Circle Unit 5, Chatsworth, +27 31 403 3328. 11ː00-13ː00 M-F, 10ː00-13ː00 Sa-Su. It is a nice escape if you are looking for some religious or even aesthetic/meditative grounds tourism, plus there is a vegetarian restaurant there.
  • 8 Wilson's Wharf, +27 31 301 7008. 08ː00-23ː00 daily. Your typical maritime scene for chilling and feasting on seafood. It's not quite as extravagant as Fisherman's Wharf or anything but anyway.
  • 9 MINITOWN, 114 Snell Parade, North Beach. Kitschy attraction where famous places are represented in miniature.
  • 10 Mitchell Park Zoo, 10 Ferndale Rd. 08ː00-16ː00 daily. For when you don't want to go on a safari.

Museums[edit]

  • 11 Durban Natural Science Museum, 234 Anton Lembede St.
  • 12 KwaMuhle Museum, 130 Bram Fischer Road, +27 31 311 2237. The history of Apartheid in Durban. Free.
  • 13 Durban Cultural and Document Centre, Corner of Epsom and Derby Street, +27 31 309 7559. The history of Indian indentured labour. Free.
  • 14 Old Court House Museum, 77 Aliwal Street, +27 31 311 2225. M-Sa 8:30AM-4PM; Su and public holidays 11AM-4PM. The museum features a number of collectables in the foyer, including an extensive miniature car collection.The Daphne Strutt Costume Room features fashion from throughout the 20th century, interesting accessories such as cigarette cases, bags, shoes, jewellery and hats enhance the display. A number of rare Art Deco and Nouveau pieces make this exhibition a must for aficionados. Free.
  • 15 Port Natal Maritime Museum, Samora Machel St, +27 31 322 9598. 08ː30-15ː45 M-Sa, 11ː00-15ː45 Su. Here you get to walk around inside a couple of tug boats and a military ship as well as visit an indoor exhibit area. R10.
  • 16 The Kwazulu Natal Society of the Arts, 166 Bulwer Rd, +27 31 277 1705. 09ː00-17ː00 Tu-F, 10ː00-17ː00 Sa, 10ː00-15ː00 Su, closed M. Showcases local and African art. Some food available on premises.

Do[edit]

uShaka Marine World
Dolphin Show at uShaka Marine World
  • 1 The Golden Mile. The Golden Mile, the nickname for the beaches near downtown that stretch along the Indian Ocean, is well known for its excellent surfing, occasional shark attack and wide sandy beaches. Visiting around the Christmas holidays ensures a crowded experience, complete with stations for missing children, but visit at the off season and you'll practically have the place to yourself, save the serious surfers. There are also play pools and playgrounds for children along the waterfront, hotel, bars and restaurants.
  • Watersports. Swim, surf, canoe, snorkel, scuba dive
  • Calypso Dive & Adventure Center. Scuba Dive at uShaka Marine World. PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center. Dive to wrecks, caves, offshore reefs. Offers 6-month "From Zero to Hero" career dive course.
  • Skydive Durban, Pietermaritzburg Airport, +27 72 214-6040, . Take a 25-minute plane ride, then 35 seconds of freefalling before the parchute opens, then a post-jump barbeque. A primer on Skydiving. Tandem jump: R1.350; DVD: R400.
  • 2 Suncoast Casino, Suncoast Boulevard, Marine Parade, +27 31 328-3000, .
  • 3 uShaka Marine World, 1 Bell Street, +27 31 328-8000. To see the huge aquarium or ride more than eight different rides in the Waterworld.
  • Glenholme trail for disabled & blind persons, Glenholme Nature Reserve, +27 31 705-5448. Caters for people who use wheelchairs or are blind with elevated walkway and guide rails and braille plaques.
  • Nature parks - There are dozens of nature reserves in the suburbs, just ask around. Please remember to be safe, there are natural hazards like snakes, and criminals like the isolation for different reasons.
  • Greyville Race Course. Horseracing
  • Surf Artificial Waves. At Gateway Shopping Centre Wavehouse.
  • Shark Institute. Take a boat to see the shark nets that protect beachcombers from shark attack.
  • Historical compensation sugar mill.
  • Zimbali Golf Estate. 18 holes.
  • Durban Tourism (Tourist Junction), 160 Monty Naicker Road, +27 31 3044-934. The city's official tourism body can provide you with maps, accommodation information and general guidance around your trip to Durban. Tour guides, registered tour operators and approved accommodation form part of Durban Tourism's extensive services.

Festivals[edit]

  • Poetry Africa. International festival of poetry. Early October every year.
  • Time of the Writer. International festival of writing - March every year.
  • Durban International Film Festival. International festival of film - July/August every year. Durban International Film Festival (Q1266836) on Wikidata Durban International Film Festival on Wikipedia
  • Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival. International festival of contempary dance - every year.
  • Durban Fashion Fair (Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre). For all fashion-lovers! September every year. For all fashion-lovers!
  • Durban July. July every year. Africa's premier horse-racing event, with plenty of celebrities and walking fashion models to bump into.
  • Hindu festivals - There are dozens of these and you'll have to ask around because they're not well publicised, but there's one in Easter in the Umbilo area where devotees walk on hot coals, and another sometime between February and July (it moves) called Kavady where the devotees pierce their backs with hooks and drag decorated portable shrines. Not to be missed!
  • Umhlanga (Rocks) Festivals. Umhlanga is one of the most sought after beach holiday destinations in SA. It is popular with both local and international visitors. It sees a fair amount of internationals the world over who come to shop, unwind, party and have fun on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It is located on the east coast of SA, 15 min north of the port city of Durban. Some of the best accommodation options with excellent holiday apartments, luxury hotels, lodges and guesthouses are dotted around Umhlanga. It is fast becoming an attraction with its winter and summer festivals, street cafe culture, restaurants and pubs.

Its winter festival is held on the main beach and the summer festival on the main street where live jazz bands play out late into the evening. A must to visit.

Buy[edit]

Popular items to buy are Zulu beadwork, wirework, wicker work - from baskets and sustainable conference bags to fantastic lights and furniture, Spices - anyone dare 'mother-in-law's revenge'? Fantastic!

  • Gateway Theater of Shopping, a mall situated to the north of Durban along the M4 or N2 highways. Believed to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. Also offers a great range of kids' entertainment like a skateboard park and an artificial wave in the Wavehouse to test your surfing abilities.
  • Victoria Street Market. Mostly oriental souvenirs. Haggle hard, beware of pickpockets.
  • Essenwood Craft Market - For a true taste of South Africa look out for a guy selling biltong (South African jerky). A good place to buy curios, and don't be afraid to haggle. Only open certain weekends so please check local listings.
  • The Pavilion - A large shopping mall with a good range of shops, in the Westville suburb of Durban.
  • African Arts Center at Tourist Junction on West Street
  • BAT Center on the harbor front

Eat[edit]

As Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside of India, a Durban curry is a popular dish and can range from mild to very hot. There is also the Bunny Chow which is unique to the city, a quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a curry of your choice. Check out the Workshop restaurants for some of the best bunny chow in the city. Or head over to the Indian neighborhood near Victoria Market for more authentic Durban Indian food.

Good Indian dining is at Vintage Restaurant next to Bean Bag Bohemia - Windemere Road

Try the Roma Revolving Restaurant at the top of John Ross House on the Esplanade for Italian food and the best view of Durban.

Wilson's Wharf is a long pier built into the harbour. It hosts a wide selection of international restaurants and watch the busiest harbor in Africa's activity. Take in a show afterwards at the upstairs Catalina theater.

Try Morningside restaurants, along Florida Road, for trendy cafe sidewalk eateries including one Italian style, Spiga d'Oro, frequented so often by South Africa's notorious businessman, Schabir Shaik, that a dish is named in his honor 'Pasta a la Shaik'. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates ate at "Spice" set off the busy street in a quiet upstairs courtyard. And nearby, be nearly guaranteed to rub shoulders with the up-and-coming in-crowd at the Bean Bag Bohemia, Windermere Road, a restaurant that makes great dining an artistic event.

Definitely try some 'biltong' when you're in South Africa. It's South African-style jerky available in a whole range of flavors and textures.

  • 1 California Dreaming, 150 O R Tambo Parade, South Beach. Drinks and food on the beach (The Golden Mile).
  • 2 Circus Circus Beach Cafe, 1, 1 Snell Parade, North Beach, +27 31 337 7700. Another beachy dining scene, even though it sounds like something else.

Drink[edit]

  • Zacks, at Wilson's Wharf on Victoria's Embankment, is a popular place to get thirst-quenching drinks and relax and enjoy the view of the harbour.
  • Joe Kool's, on the beachfront, is also well known as the best place for a "sundowner" after a long day on the beach. Check out their roof-top deck for the best views.
  • The BAT Centre, at the port, is also a good place for a quick meal or drink. There's free jazz most nights and other concerts, hip-hop and the occasional poetry slam.
  • Cool Runnings is a reggeaton place with cheap beer and a relaxed atmosphere.

Durban is known for its pot and you will easily find it around the clubs, but beware that the police do care if tourists break the law and you can be thrown out of the country if you are caught with it.

  • Florida Road 275, +27 31 312-3355. Definitely the happening street in Durban. Restaurants, bars, cafes, boutique shopping, in the happy friendly Durban hang-out. Durban's most interesting book shop, Book Base is at the top of Florida Road (275) and is open every day. Lots of interesting material of historical interest to be seen.

Go out[edit]

  • The Origin, Glenwood. Club with focus on electronic dance music.
  • The Winston Pub, Glenwood. Regular rock concerts and monthly drum & bass party

Cafés[edit]

  • Freedom Café, 34 St Marys Ave, Morningside. This hidden café offers great coffee, breakfast and lunch.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000


Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • Ammazulu African Palace, 20 Windsor Road, Kloof, +27 31 764 8000. The palace, reflecting on parts of KZN history, is the vision of Durban artist Peter Amm, who has used his entire collection of Zulu art and crafts.

Stay safe[edit]

Mounted police

The beach strip is frequently patrolled by policemen, there are CCTV cameras and many lights at night. As everywhere else, there are several basic safety rules to follow. Avoid dark, deserted areas, and do not go out alone in the early hours of the morning. The promenade along the beach is safe to walk, but do not venture to the side and back roads of the hotels.

Avoid the Point Road (aka Mahatma Gandhi Road) area at all times.

At night, it is still a good idea to stick to the main streets and not go out at night unless you are very familiar with a particular area. Avoid the usually busy central business district, which is empty after dark. Above all, use common sense.

Remember, you're a tourist, not a celebrity. Dress down to blend in with the people in the CBD (keep the fancy stuff to a minimum).

The harbour area is quite safe, as are the shopping malls and higher residential areas.

The Point, the area between downtown and the port, is known for prostitution and cheap hotels has higher crime rate (although parts are undergoing a massive redevelopment). Avoid walking here alone or at night and take cars or metered taxis if you need to go to this area.

Street children can be a problem, and its best to keep clear of them. Many sniff glue, carry knives, and act quite unpredictably.

Stay healthy[edit]

  • Travel vaccines and general practitioner services available at Umhlanga Sports and Travel Clinic Umhlanga Hospital Helipad, 323 Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Umhlanga Rocks. +27 31 560-5569

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

Guides & info[edit]

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Durban is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.