High up on the east coast, Durban is South Africa's sub-tropical beach getaway. The city centre overlooks a long, golden beach that is probably the single most culturally diverse spot in Africa. Here you will find frolicking families of every hue, busy executives out for a quick lunchtime jog, teenagers in full breeding plumage, elegant sari-clad matrons strolling the sand, buff surfers running into the waves, and bead-bedecked sangomas collecting therapeutic sea water in bottles.


Durban
is actually all about the beach. It is home to South Africa's only surfing museum, and is one of the most surf-friendly cities in the world. Frustrated wage slaves can look out of their office windows onto awesome breaks - and then shed the tie and jacket or the high heels and paddle out straight after work. Durban is the closest seaport to Johannesburg and is also an integral part of the city. As well as all the usual container docks  it has not one, but two yacht clubs and a great little cultural spot right in the middle of the harbour - the BAT centre. Short for the Bartle Arts Trust, the BAT Centre is a hotbed of local visual art and musical creativity mixed in with some good restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. All overlooking the small boat harbour so you can sip cappuccino while watching stubby-nosed tugs coming in to rest after a hard day pushing supertankers around.

Durban Bay is one of the better natural harbours on our coastline. Its narrow opening is protected by a huge headland, called the Bluff, on one side and, on the other, a point called Point - granted not the most imaginative of names, but it's a cool place. Here you'll find another batch of fun eateries where you could - if you were sufficiently anti-social and quite strong - pitch a beer bottle onto a passing container ship as it enters or leaves harbour. Close by is the newly built uShaka Marine World - a state of the art aquarium, wet playground and shopping mall, where children of all ages can ooh and aah at the sharks in the predator tank, snorkel with the fishies (the cute little ones, not the sharks) and watch dolphins performing.

The whole Point area is the most interesting part of Durban. At one stage it must have been very fashionable indeed, but then - well, you know, cities are living things and they grow and change - it went downhill. A drive along Point Road will reward you with the sight of row upon row of abandoned art deco warehouses and factories - but not for much longer. Already the developers have set their sights on this little treasure, and there'll pretty soon be loft-style apartments, boutique hotels and designer malls. The beachfront is lined with multi-storey hotels and restaurants, with unashamdely kitsch attraction, like a huge pool complex and a snake park. Curio sellers line the walkways and dramatically outfitted rickshaw-wallahs offer rides and photographic opportunities. The best part about Durban's beachfront, though, is the water temperature. It's rarely below 20°C, which makes ogling those tanned, buff surfers just so much more interesting, as they don't wear wetsuits.

Accommodation in Durban itself is conveniently concentrated along the beachfront or Golden Mile, close to the Durban central business district.  Slick, high rise Durban hotels with sea views and swimming pools proliferate along this lively strip. Another area that’s close to the beachfront and CBD with more hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and affordable self-catering apartments and villas are the leafy suburbs of Berea and Morningside, well endowed with exceptional restaurants and shopping malls. It is highly advisable to book accommodation in advance during peak season (December and January) as scores of holiday makers descend upon all the beach locations in Durban. Durban North is also an extremely popular choice with holiday makers.

Durban is in the middle of a vast sugar-growing area that was originally worked by indentured labourers from India,  many of whom stayed, started businesses and built homes.  Durban has the largest population of Indians outside of India.  There is a vibrant Eastern feel to the city, a huge spice market, decorative mosques, fantastic temples and - best of all - great food. You'll find dozens of good curry restaurants and you just have to try a bunny chow while you're there. It's a half or quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry. Eaten with the hands in the street, it's an obligatory Durban experience.
There's lots to do in and around Durban City. Many people just park off on the beach, especially on the North Coast, or South Coast, both of which are within an hour's drive of the city, and there are loads of restaurants, some excellent theatre and music, and wild and funky nightlife.

The surfing is great right in the city and also up and down the coast. There's some reasonable diving in Durban Bay but the South Coast has some truly world class spots - and it's a great place for pretty competent and confident divers during the annual Sardine Run.

If you spend much time at all in the sea, you should consider a visit to the Sharks Board in Umhlanga, just north of the city, where you can learn all about these fascinating creatures. They're not the bloodthirsty killing machines they're made out to be in American movies. There are a couple of fun river trips, some nice abseiling, awesome sport climbing and small game farms not too far off and the North and South Coasts boast an almost indecent density of championship golf courses.

Durban's cultural attractions are perhaps its most appealing diversions. There are Zulu cultural villages to visit, township tours and visits to mosques or the beautiful Temple of Understanding, which has an excellent, inexpensive vegetarian restaurant.
Another interesting spot to visit is Inanda, which was the birthplace of both the Shembe religion and Natal Native Congress, which later became the African National Congress. It was also where Mahatma Ghandi, who lived there at the same time these two other movements were starting, pioneered the concept of Satyagrah, or passive resistance. Truly, a little crucible of world history.

Durban Fun Rating

from 402 customer reviews
4 out of 5 stars!

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Ocean View (Durban)
Suburb of The Bluff

Ocean View an alternative to the Marinade
This part of Durban is a peaceful suburb with beautiful views and nice sandy beaches
Rudiger Lutz
South Africa

South Beach
Suburb of Durban Beachfront

South Beach
I love South Beach everything you would like to see and do in Durban is in that area. You are spoiled for choice with different types of accommodation depending on your pocket. Its clean and welcoming.
Mmathapelo Minnaar
South Africa

Durban Central
Suburb of Durban

excellent
Its a good thing 2 be in Durban central cz u r sarounded by everything,u don't hv 2 spend much u jst walk
ntombi Sylvia mahlangu
South Africa

Durban North
Suburb of Durban North

Awesome getaway!
Durban North is a great area for a family getaway. We had a very short stay recently, but the weather, atmosphere and activities were great! Nature and surrounding views are beautiful.
Arnold Nelson
South Africa

Point
Suburb of Durban Beachfront

Lovely place
The Point is in my opinion the best place to stay in if you are visiting Durban, it is safe, near uShaka and the harbour and well looked after.
Elsje-Mari Joubert
South Africa

Hillcrest
Suburb of Durban City West

Close to attractions
Beautiful, quiet, peaceful, well resourced place with easy access to Durban and surroundings.
Fikiswa Ntshwanti
South Africa

Pinetown
Town of Valley of a 1000 Hills

Beaitiful views
very nice area ,secure and safe,got loads of eating places and access to Durban and other areas was easy
Melissa Middlemass
England



Beach Stay
Nice and clean room with everything one needs for a few days in Durban and the beach. Easy to get around to all the sites. Shops and all nearby. The hosts are very friendly and helpful (thanks again to nonnie and leon for the braai!).
Bettina Morlock
South Africa

Umhlanga Rocks
Suburb of Umhlanga

Debra Ally
We love Umhlanga Rocks because of its close proximity to all the other points of interest in and around Durban and it is no too congested.
debra ally
South Africa



The beaches in Bluff
Dreamlike! Long, deserted, sandy beaches, with kiddies' pools and eating places at both Anstey & Brighton beaches. Lifeguards on patrol, very windy, but wonderful. No need to go to Durban central, just stay in Bluff! My kids said, "Best beach ever".
Allie Lehtinen
Lesotho

South Beach
Suburb of Durban Beachfront

Safe
It is beautiful, safe as there's a visibility of policemen and security guards at all times, the shops and other entertaining centers are jus a walking distance, Cleanliness - the Durban municipality need to organize more cleaners during December holidays, to pick up rubbish during the day people are littering a lot and that will make the beach to be rated low, though they do the cleaning early in the morning - it will help a lot to have another team during the day
Veronica Mathikge
South Africa

Umdloti Beach
Suburb of Durban North

Far from the Madding Crowd
We chose Umdloti because it is near Durban but not in the crush of the city. Great beaches and the opportunity to see dolphins and whales (which we saw again).
Paul Sondergaard
South Africa

Durban North
Suburb of Durban North

Great Place
Durban North is a quiet place, great for time out away from a busy life. A good choice to find tranquility.
Mosima Monareng
South Africa

Berea
Suburb of Durban City West

Centrally-located and against the traffic (mostly)
I found the Berea area quite delightful and centrally-located. No matter where I wanted to go in Durban, being in Berea meant I was just a few minutes drive away.Would definitely recommend staying in the Berea area to anyone visiting Durbs.
Jonathan Meyer
South Africa

Morningside
Suburb of Durban North

Morningside
Morningside is very central and close to the stadium, Central Durban and many places of interest. It's an upmarket area with a warm welcoming atmosphere.
Cindy Williams
South Africa

Westville
Town of Durban City West

Convenient location
Westville is peaceful and engulfed by nature (trees). It is located nicely between Durban and Pinetown making it a convenient place when you have functions in either of the two places.A shopping mall (Pavillion) is easily accessible as well,for those who like shopping. A few spas are located in the area.
Khaya
South Africa

Durban North
Suburb of Durban North

Riverside
Great place for serenity and security compared to Durban South, actually Durban North is very close to South when driving.
Valentine
South Africa

Glenwood
Suburb of Durban City West

Glenwood
Glenwood is laid back and a perfect central location to have everything Durban is popular for within reach.
Naledi
South Africa



The Bluff
Very remote and dead, not a place we will look at next time, when we go back to Durban. The place varies from mansions which doesn't really make sense why people would build/design such houses and between "panttokkies", needing a paint job and a facelift.
Evelyn Osmond
South Africa

Morningside
Suburb of Durban North

Upmarket old world charm
Morningside is definitely an upmarket area with old world charm and is conveniently situated to access everything there is to see in Durban.
Burton Buissinne
South Africa