When you’re not basking on one of the many beaches or swimming in the warm Indian ocean waves, Durban promises activities galore for the adventurer, as well as the culture and history enthusiasts.
Walk The Golden Mile
Why you should visit: Durban’s iconic Golden Mile refers to the promenade running along its main beaches. The vibrant pathway brims with buskers, cyclists, runners and colourful characters who sell ice-cream or offer rides on two-wheeled rickshaws.
Start at either South Beach or North Beach. As you amble along, don’t forget to stop and admire the sand sculptures and cheer on local skateboarders as they land all sorts of new tricks and flips.
How to get there: The Golden Mile is easy to find. Make your way into the central business district and continue on in the direction of the Indian Ocean.
How much does it cost: There is no entrance fee to access the Golden Mile, making it one of the cheapest attractions in the city. If you’re driving, you’ll find plenty of free parking, but, if you’re feeling generous, keep a small tip aside for local car guards.
Durban Botanic Gardens
Why you should visit: Established in 1849, the Durban Botanic Gardens is the oldest surviving botanic garden in Africa. It’s an exquisite place for a picnic. Fill your lungs with a hearty dose of fresh, clean air, right in the middle of the city. The grounds are filled with indigenous and exotic subtropical plantings, including the city’s oldest living inhabitants; majestic heritage trees, some of which are more than 100-years-old.
Even if you’re not mad on plants, the collection of cycads, orchids, bromeliads and palms will capture your imagination, as will the rich birdlife, which includes up to 50 different species.
How to get there: The garden is located in the centre of the city along John Zikhali Road, adjacent to Greyville Racecourse.
How much does it cost: Entrance into the Durban Botanic Gardens is free, but donations are appreciated.
See the Valley of 1 000 Hills
Why you should visit: Located slightly inland of the popular Umhlanga Rocks resort hub, lies the Valley of 1 000 Hills.
This beautiful region is a must-visit during a stay in Durban, known for its rounded hills sprinkled with scenic viewpoints, Zulu homesteads and deep gorges. It rises up along the banks of the Umgeni River, which originates from the Drakensberg Mountains and flows into the Indian Ocean.
How to get there: Make your way there along the old Main Road, which runs between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. You’ll be treated to the most magnificent views. Pass Hillcrest and Botha’s Hill, and you’ll come to Phezulu Safari Park, a typical isiZulu village where you can stop for a photo opportunity and experience traditional dance performances.
Visit Gandhi’s House
Why you should visit: No visitor, local or international, should visit Durban without making a stop at Mahatma Gandhi’s House. Now a museum, it is one of the numerous attractions along what is referred to as the “Inanda Route”.
See where he lived during his time in Durban and learn about the printing press he founded called Opinion (originally known as Indian Opinion). If you don’t know that much about Gandhi but would like to, then this is the ideal place to start. The house is named Sarvodaya and was built by the Gandhi family in 1904.
How to get there: Travel north from Durban along the N2. Take exit 177 – R102 Kwamashu H’way (M25) Inanda and turn left. There will be sign boards directing you to Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement.
How much does it cost: There is no charge for South African citizens. For international visitors, the cost is R70.
Why you should visit: Florida Road is a vibrant road lined with cafés, boutique stores, galleries, and eateries. It really comes alive after sunset, with locals and international visitors celebrating into the early hours of the morning. It is just the place to fully embrace those sizzling summer nights in the heart of the city.
Florida Road is considered a hub for art lovers too. Enjoy the African Art Centre, Elizabeth Gordon Gallery and the Artisan Contemporary Gallery. It’s also one of the many places to try a “Bunny Chow,” a staple Durbanite dish made with a half or quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with spicy curry.
How to get there: Florida Road is easy to find. Head to the suburb of Windemere.
How much does it cost: Since it is a public road, open to all, there is no cost to explore Florida Road.
Ride the Durban Ricksha Bus
Why you should visit: Cape Town and Johannesburg have their City Sightseeing buses, but down in Durban, the Ricksha Bus is the best way to experience the city’s tourist highlights without worrying about getting stuck in traffic, or worse, losing time getting lost.
There are three routes to choose from. Tours run for three hours and depart twice a day, at 09:00 and 13:00. The official departure point is at the North Beach Tourism Office.
How to get there: Head down to North Beach. You’ll find the designated Ricksha Bus kiosk in the tourism office, next to the police station.
How much does it cost: The cost for adults is R100 and R50 for kids. Kids under five-years-old ride for free.
Durban Natural Sciences Museum
Why you should visit: One of the oldest and most popular museums in South Africa, the Durban Natural Sciences Museum features very realistic dioramas of small and large mammals, an assortment of African birds, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats. It also houses a 100-year-old near-complete Dodo skeleton – a definite must-see.
How much does it cost: Entrance to the museum is free.
How to get there: The museum is situated at 34 Anton Lembede Street, Durban Central.
Visit Mini town
Why you should visit: Spend an afternoon playing giant in Durban’s Mini Town. Built in 1969 and contrary to popular belief, Minitown is actually not a replica of Durban. Containing buildings from different South African cities (including Durban), the models are built to the scale of 1:24 of actual size. Perfect for family visits, kids are bound to be mesmerised for hours.
How much does it cost: Admission costs R40 for adults and R30 for kids. Open from Monday to Sunday.
How to get there: Find Mini Town at 114 Snell Parade, Durban.