20 Best Things to Do in Durban, South Africa

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20 Best Things to Do in Durban, South Africa

Best Things to Do in Durban: Discover the Vibrant Culture of South Africa’s Port City

Durban is a vibrant city on the Natal Bay of the Indian Ocean in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. It is a melting pot of African, Indian, and colonial influences and is home to a diverse population of Zulu, White, and Indian/Asian people. The seafront promenade, refurbished for soccer’s 2010 World Cup, runs from uShaka Marine World – a huge theme park with an aquarium – to the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium. Formerly known as Port Natal, Durban is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and is a major hub in Africa alongside Johannesburg.

Durban, South Africa, beckons with its unique blend of vibrant culture, stunning coastline, and outdoor adventures. Discover the Golden Mile’s inviting beaches, perfect for surfing and sunbathing. Dive into a rich cultural tapestry by exploring the Zulu heritage at PheZulu Safari Park and tasting diverse cuisine in local markets. Delve into marine wonders at uShaka Marine World, offering thrilling aquatic experiences. With a warm climate year-round, Durban is an ideal destination for an unforgettable, multifaceted escape that combines relaxation, adventure, and cultural immersion.

To help you create your itinerary for your next visit to Durban, here are our top picks of the fifteen best things to do in Durban.

Exploring Durban’s Beaches

Durban boasts miles of pristine sandy beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters, making it a popular destination for beachgoers. Here are some of the best beaches to visit in Durban:

Golden Mile Durban
Golden Mile Durban

Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is a popular stretch of beachfront that offers a variety of activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. It is also home to many restaurants and cafes, making it a great spot to grab a bite to eat.

Furthermore, the beach is protected by shark nets, ensuring that swimmers can enjoy the water safely. One can find craft stalls, fishing spots, and pavement cafes along the boardwalk, making the busy beach known for its surf breaks an even more enjoyable experience.

South Beach

South Beach is a paradise for sun-seekers and beach bums alike! With its wide, sandy shoreline and gentle waves, it’s the perfect spot to take a dip. But that’s not all – the area is also brimming with shops and restaurants, so you can spend the day browsing and enjoying delicious cuisine. And don’t worry – the beach is protected by shark nets, so you can swim with peace of mind!

Durban North Beach by Weyland Swart via Unsplash
Durban North Beach by Weyland Swart via Unsplash

North Beach

Surfers from all over flock to North Beach for its powerful waves and strong currents, making it the perfect spot to ride the waves. But the beach is more than just a surfer’s paradise – it’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat, with a variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from. Plus, with shark nets in place, surfers can enjoy the water without worry.

North Beach is part of the Golden Mile, and there’s plenty more to do than just surf – joggers, cyclists, and skaters can enjoy the promenade, while the skate park, ice-skating rink, and saltwater swimming pool offer plenty of leisure activities. Don’t forget to check out the piers for stunning views of the surfers and the ocean, or Minitown to explore miniature replicas of local and national landmarks.

Thrilling Water Adventures

Durban is known for its stunning beaches and water activities. Here are some of the best thrilling water adventures in Durban.

uShaka Marine World by Ossewa via Wikimedia cc
uShaka Marine World By Ossewa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

uShaka Marine World

Experience the thrills and excitement of uShaka Marine World, the must-visit destination for anyone seeking an exhilarating water adventure. With the highest slide in Africa, the Drop Zone, and a variety of thrilling water rides, you won’t be disappointed.

But that’s not all, you can also explore the park’s lagoon and get up close and personal with the marine wildlife, including sharks! uShaka Marine World is a 16-hectare (40-acre) theme park that opened on 30 April 2004 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and contains a total capacity of 4.6 million gallons with 10,000 animal species.

Cultural Insights

Durban is a city that is rich in cultural heritage, offering visitors an opportunity to learn about the diverse history and traditions of South Africa. Here are some of the top cultural insights that any visitor should explore.

Durban City Hall by Mister-E via Wikimedia cc
Durban City Hall By Mister-E, CC BY 2.0, cc

Durban City Hall

Durban City Hall stands as a stunning reminder of the Edwardian era, with its neo-Baroque style being an exact replica of Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland. Designed by the renowned architect Stanley G. Hudson, the majestic building was erected between 1906 and 1910 and is adorned with statues depicting the Arts, Music, Literature, Commerce, and Industry. A true testament to the rich history of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Durban City Hall is a sight to behold.

Phoenix Settlement photo via South African Tourism
Phoenix Settlement photo via South African Tourism

Phoenix Settlement

Explore the Phoenix Settlement, a Durban cultural landmark established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904. This communal space was created to provide a home for Indian people who had been displaced during the apartheid era.

Now open to the public, visitors can delve into the museum and discover the life and work of Gandhi in South Africa. Admire the collection of photographs, artifacts, and documents embodying Gandhi’s non-violent resistance philosophy as you wander through the museum.

Kwamuhle Museum

For a unique and informative experience, a visit to the Kwamuhle Museum is a must. Located in the heart of the city, this museum offers a captivating exploration of the history of apartheid in South Africa.

Through its exhibits, visitors can gain insight into the struggles and successes of the anti-apartheid movement, learning about the brave activists and organizations who fought for change. The museum also houses an impressive collection of Nguni artifacts, providing a glimpse into the rich culture of indigenous South Africans. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn and grow.

Durban Natural Science Museum

The Durban Natural Science Museum is a fascinating place to explore the natural history of South Africa. It houses a collection of over 300,000 specimens, including fossils, insects, and birds. Visitors can learn about the region’s biodiversity and explore the various ecosystems in South Africa. Additionally, the museum offers educational programs for children, making it an ideal destination for families.

Durban’s Wildlife

Durban is not only known for its beautiful beaches and warm waters but also for its diverse wildlife. There are several places in Durban where you can experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the region.

Aldabra giant tortoises at Mitchell Park Zoo by Ham M via Wikimeida cc
Aldabra giant tortoises at Mitchell Park Zoo by Ham M via Wikimeida cc

Mitchell Park Zoo

Explore the diverse wildlife of Durban at Mitchell Park Zoo! Located in the Morningside suburb of Durban, South Africa, this is the only zoo in the area and is home to an array of exotic animals such as monkeys, birds, and reptiles.

Wander through the park and watch the animals in their natural habitats, or take a leisurely stroll through the grounds. Originally an Ostrich farm in 1910, Mitchell Park Zoo has since grown to become a popular destination for visitors looking to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Reptile Park
Reptile Park

Reptile Park

Step into the wild at PheZulu Reptile Park, where wildlife enthusiasts can explore a world of reptiles. From snakes to lizards to crocodiles, the park is home to a variety of species. Guests can take a guided tour of the park and discover the fascinating secrets of these creatures.

You’ll be able to see the crocodiles up close in their enclosures, marvel at the multitude of snakes on display, explore the creature cave, and stroll through the tortoise park. Every hour, one of our knowledgeable guides will take you on a tour, revealing interesting facts about the reptiles that call PheZulu Reptile Park home.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve photo via Hluhluwe Game Reserve FB page
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve photo via Hluhluwe Game Reserve FB page

Game Drive

A game drive is an absolute must for those seeking an unforgettable wildlife experience. Durban is home to several game reserves, where you can witness some of Africa’s most iconic creatures, such as majestic lions, awe-inspiring elephants, and graceful giraffes, in their native habitats. Embark on a guided tour of the reserve and be mesmerized by the beauty of the animals in their natural environment.

Sports and Recreation

Moses Mabhida Stadium by Akidjoh via Wikimedia cc
Moses Mabhida Stadium By Akidjoh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Mabhida Stadium, located in Durban, South Africa, is a multi-use facility built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It has since become a popular destination for sports and entertainment events.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the stadium, including a walk through the players’ tunnel, a visit to the VIP areas, and a climb to the top of the arch for panoramic views of the city. Additionally, the stadium offers a variety of activities, such as the Big Rush Big Swing, the SkyCar, and the Adventure Walk.

Golf Cart Tour

For those who prefer a more leisurely activity, a Golf Cart Tour is a great way to explore Durban and its surroundings. Visitors can rent a golf cart and take a self-guided tour of the city, stopping at various points of interest along the way.

Some popular stops include the Durban Botanic Gardens, the Umgeni River Bird Park, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The golf cart tour is a fun and unique way to see the sights of Durban while enjoying the outdoors.

Gastronomic Delights

Durban is a melting pot of cultures, and this is reflected in its cuisine. From street food to fine dining, Durban has it all. Here are some of the must-try gastronomic delights in Durban.

Bunny Chows photo via FB page
Bunny Chows photo via FB page

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow is a popular street food in Durban that originated in the Indian community. It is a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with a spicy curry. The bread is used as a utensil to scoop up the curry. Bunny Chow is available in a variety of flavors, including chicken, mutton, and vegetable. It is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Durban.

Food Places

Durban has a vibrant food scene, with a range of restaurants and cafes catering to all tastes and budgets. Here are some of the top food places in Durban:

  • The Oyster Box: This iconic hotel is home to several restaurants, including the Grill Room, which serves up some of the best steaks in town.
  • Moyo: This African-themed restaurant on the beachfront offers a unique dining experience, with live music and traditional African cuisine.
  • The Market: This food hall is located in the trendy Morningside area and features a range of food stalls, from sushi to burgers.
  • Afro’s Chicken: This popular fast-food joint is known for its delicious peri-peri chicken burgers and chips.
  • The Chairman: This speakeasy-style bar serves up some of the best cocktails in town and a menu of Asian-inspired tapas.

Durban is a food lover’s paradise, and there are plenty of other food places to explore. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as Durban curry and braaied (barbecued) meat.

Outdoor Activities

Durban is a city that offers a wide range of outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts. From exploring the Umgeni River to hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, there is no shortage of exciting things to do. Here are three of the best outdoor activities in Durban.

Umgeni River by Chris Bloom via Wikimedia cc
Umgeni River By Chris Bloom from Durban, South Africa – Umgeni River Mouth, CC BY-SA 2.0, cc

Umgeni River

The Umgeni River is a popular spot for outdoor activities in Durban. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports, including kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. The river is also home to diverse wildlife, making it a great spot for birdwatching and nature walks. For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of picnic spots and walking trails along the riverbank.

Drakensberg Mountains
Drakensberg Mountains

Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg Mountains are a must-visit destination for anyone who loves hiking and outdoor adventure. Located just a few hours from Durban, the mountains offer spectacular views and a range of hiking trails for all skill levels. Visitors can explore the stunning scenery and wildlife or participate in rock climbing, abseiling, and horse riding.

Cable Tours

Cable tours are a great option for those who want to experience the thrill of flying through the air. Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the Moses Mabhida Stadium to enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the ocean. The stadium also offers a range of activities, including a bungee jump, a swing, and a zip line.

Shopping and Nightlife

Durban is a city that never sleeps, and it offers some of the best shopping and nightlife experiences in South Africa. Whether you’re looking for high-end shopping malls or quirky local boutiques, Durban has something for everyone. The city also boasts a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and casinos to choose from.

Florida Road

Florida Road is one of the most popular shopping and nightlife destinations in Durban. This vibrant street is lined with trendy restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutique shops. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon shopping, sipping coffee, or enjoying a delicious meal. Some of the popular shops on Florida Road include:

  • The Pavillion Shopping Centre: This is one of the largest shopping malls in Durban, with over 300 stores. It offers a wide range of shopping options, from high-end fashion brands to local boutiques.
  • The Workshop Shopping Centre: This is a popular destination for fashion lovers, with a variety of trendy clothing stores and boutiques.
  • The Spice Emporium: This is a must-visit for foodies, with a huge selection of spices, herbs, and other culinary delights.

In addition to shopping, Florida Road is also home to a variety of bars and clubs, making it a popular nightlife destination. Some of the popular spots include:

  • The Chairman: This is a popular jazz bar that offers live music and a laid-back atmosphere.
  • The Winston Pub: This is a popular spot for local bands and DJs, and it’s known for its lively atmosphere and great drinks.
  • The Royal Hotel: This historic hotel is home to one of the city’s most popular casinos, offering a wide range of gaming options.

Florida Road is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique shopping and nightlife experience in Durban.

Botanical Wonders

Durban is home to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in South Africa. The city’s sub-tropical climate makes it an ideal place for a wide variety of plants and flowers to thrive. Below is a look at one of the best botanical wonders in Durban.

Durban Botanic Gardens by Wayne77 via Wikimedia cc
Durban Botanic Gardens by Wayne77 via Wikimedia cc

Durban Botanic Gardens

The Durban Botanic Gardens is Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden, home to a diverse collection of plants and trees worldwide. The garden is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of 15 hectares. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk through the gardens while admiring the beautiful flora and fauna.

The Durban Botanic Gardens have a stunning collection of sub-tropical trees, palms, and orchids. The garden is also home to a collection of the rarest cycads in the world. Visitors can enjoy a picnic surrounded by beauty and peace or go for a lovely walk exploring all the garden offers.

The garden also has a tea garden where visitors can enjoy tea or coffee while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The Durban Botanic Gardens hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, art exhibitions, and plant sales.

Travel Tips


Durban has a subtropical climate, which means that it is warm and humid all year round. However, the best time to visit Durban is during the winter months (June to August) when the weather is dry and mild. During the summer months (December to February), the weather can be very hot and humid, which can be uncomfortable for some travelers. It is important to pack light and breathable clothing, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.


Durban is a vibrant and diverse city with a lot to offer travelers. To make the most of your trip, hiring a local guide who can show you around the city and provide you with insider information about the best places to visit is recommended. Many local tour operators offer a range of guided tours, including city, cultural, and nature tours.

When choosing a guide, it is important to research and read traveler reviews to ensure that you are getting a reputable and knowledgeable guide. Many guides offer family packages, which can be a great way to save money and keep the kids entertained.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some free places to visit in Durban?

Durban offers plenty of free things to do for budget-conscious travelers. Some of the top free attractions include walking along the Golden Mile, visiting the Durban Botanic Gardens, exploring the Umgeni River Bird Park, and admiring the street art in the Station Drive Precinct.

What are some family-friendly places to go in Durban?

Durban is a great destination for families with kids. Some of the best family-friendly attractions include uShaka Marine World, Durban Botanic Gardens, Mini Town, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The beaches in Durban are also great for families, with plenty of space for kids to play and swim.

What are some outdoor attractions in Durban?

Durban is blessed with a warm climate and plenty of sunshine, making it an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the top outdoor attractions include surfing at North Beach, hiking in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, zip-lining at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and exploring the Umgeni River Bird Park.

What is Durban best known for?

Durban is best known for its beautiful beaches, warm climate, and rich cultural heritage. It is also known for its delicious cuisine, including the famous Bunny Chow, a spicy curry dish served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

What exciting things are there to do in Durban?

Durban offers plenty of exciting things to do for visitors. Some of the top activities include surfing, visiting uShaka Marine World, taking a ride on the Moses Mabhida Stadium SkyCar, exploring the Durban Botanic Gardens, and trying the local cuisine.

What can a tourist do in Durban in 3 days?

With three days in Durban, tourists can explore the city’s top attractions, including uShaka Marine World, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and the Durban Botanic Gardens. They can also take a day trip to the nearby Valley of a Thousand Hills or go surfing at North Beach. For a taste of local culture, tourists can visit the Victoria Street Market or try the famous Bunny Chow.

Durban Travel and Tour Packages

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist attractions in Durban that you can add to your itinerary?

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20 Best Things to Do in Durban, South Africa
Melo Villareal
Out of Town Blog

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