Durban

Durban Travel Guide

Introduction to Durban

Serving as the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban is known by many South Africans as a cherished holiday getaway. With an abundance of beaches and Indian Ocean waters that are warm enough to swim in during the middle of winter, it is not hard to see why.

Yet, there is so much more to this city than sand and surfers. Durban is home to the largest population of Indians outside India, giving it a distinct cultural flavor.

Its museums also do a good job showing off the heritage of this region, so be sure to book a long stay here – just don’t spend it all lazing in the sun lounger reading a book, as there is much to discover.

Cultural Attractions

Durban may be better known for its outdoor attractions, but it does have its fair share of cultural highlights as well. Start by exploring the Phansi Museum, which is considered to be home to one of the world’s largest collections of African crafts.

With a variety of baskets, beadwork, pots, walking sticks and other trinkets from places such as South Africa, Namibia, and Kenya, dedicated culture vultures will want to make room in their itinerary for this museum.

Spend an afternoon walking around Durban’s Indian Quarter. As mentioned in the intro, this city is home to the largest population of Indians outside the Subcontinent. It is in this portion of Durban where you can find many of the cultural hallmarks of this distinctive world culture.

Markets hawking a variety of spices, mosques, Hindu temples and traditional restaurants can all be found within this neighborhood. Be sure to have a meal here at least once, as Bunny Chow (a regional specialty) can be found alongside traditional curries, naan breads, dosas and other Indian dishes.

The East Indian influence in Durban has also resulted in the Hare Krishna Temple of Understanding being built here. The largest temple of its kind in the southern hemisphere, pure opulence defines its appearance, with marble tiles, crystal chandeliers, ceiling frescoes, and gold statues of Lord Krishna being the standout features.

Those that are into meditation may want to join the regulars, but if you aren’t, then at least try some of their amazing vegetarian cuisine, which comes complete with an array of freshly squeezed juices.

Other Attractions in Durban

Durban is best known for the quality of its beaches. Even during the middle of a South African winter, water temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius here, and they can peak at 27 degrees Celsius in the summer, which is a far cry from the chilly waters found off Cape Town.

Spend a sunny day walking the Golden Mile, which is a boardwalk that is actually 6.2 kilometers long, stretching from uShaka Marine World to the Suncoast Casino.

With the center of downtown sitting adjacent to this prime beachfront, all the services you could ever want will be within easy reach, making it a great place to spend a sunny day in Durban.

If you are traveling as a family, dedicate a day of your itinerary towards exploring uShaka Marine World. Stretching over 40 acres, it consists of an aquarium, water park, a depiction of a traditional African village, and beachfront access.

The aquarium is the fifth largest in the world, with 32 tanks holding a variety of sharks, dolphins, manta rays and other common marine animals found in the Indian Ocean and from around the world.

Those with green thumbs will want to explore the Durban Botanical Gardens. Stretching over 15 hectares, it is one of Africa’s oldest continually operating botanical gardens.

Containing a variety of floral specimens from across the continent, it is a popular gathering place for a variety of local groups. If you are looking to add a touch of class to your day, be sure to stop by the tea garden for a spot of Earl Grey and some sweets and crumpets.