The Best Places to Visit in Durban, South Africa

Durban, one of South Africa’s most loved coastal cities, is a unique blend of cultural richness, vibrant city life, and stunning natural beauty. With its welcoming subtropical climate, dynamic city scene, and diverse culinary options, Durban caters to travelers of all kinds. Here are ten must-visit attractions in Durban.

uShaka Marine World

uShaka Marine World, situated in Durban, South Africa, is a theme park that showcases the vibrant and rich marine life of the Indian Ocean. It’s one of the largest marine parks in the world, offering a variety of attractions that appeal to all ages, making it a popular destination for families, tourists, and ocean enthusiasts.

The uShaka Sea World is the main attraction here, home to Africa’s largest aquarium. The aquarium is designed around five shipwrecks, with its tanks containing a fascinating array of marine life including species of fish, sea turtles, penguins, rays, and a variety of sharks. The aquarium is not only designed for entertainment, but also plays a crucial role in marine conservation and education.

Another major draw is Wet ‘n Wild, a waterpark featuring various pools, slides, and rides for all ages. The rides range from adrenaline-pumping, high-speed slides to slow, relaxing rides down the lazy river.

uShaka also features Village Walk, an open-air shopping paradise. With its palm-studded boardwalk, beach-themed stalls, and restaurants, it offers a delightful shopping and dining experience right next to the beach.

The Kids World section offers a dedicated space for children to have fun and learn simultaneously. The area features a splash pad, jungle gym, and even a unique area for encounters with sea creatures.

uShaka provides visitors with the chance to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most amazing creatures. There are opportunities to meet dolphins, seals, penguins, and even sharks, under the guidance of trained professionals.

uShaka regularly hosts live shows and events, including shark dives, dolphin shows, seal presentations, and various musical and cultural events.

The park is committed to education and conservation, running various programs aimed at teaching visitors about the marine environment and its inhabitants. These programs also focus on the importance of conservation and what everyday people can do to help protect our oceans.

In conclusion, uShaka Marine World is a place where fun, entertainment, and education seamlessly blend, offering an unforgettable oceanic adventure.

Durban Botanic Gardens

The Durban Botanic Gardens, established in 1849, holds the esteemed title of being Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden. Situated in the city of Durban, South Africa, the gardens span an impressive 15 hectares and serve as a popular tourist attraction, research site, and a haven for biodiversity.

The Durban Botanic Gardens hosts a diverse array of plant species from around the globe, with a particular emphasis on subtropical plants. It is renowned for its extensive collection of cycads (ancient palm-like plants), some of which are considered the rarest in the world. The Gardens’ other noteworthy collections include the bromeliads, orchids, and a myriad of exotic and indigenous trees.

In addition to the flora, the Gardens are home to a living beehive and support a variety of bird species, making it an ideal location for bird watchers. Visitors often spot species such as the Spotted Ground Thrush and the Grey Sunbird flitting around the Gardens.

Within the Gardens, you will find the Sunken Gardens, a beautiful secluded area ideal for picnics. The Japanese Garden, a place of tranquillity with its beautiful pond and traditional Japanese plantings, is also a popular spot. The Lake, populated with water birds and featuring an enchanting vista of the Gardens, offers paddle boat rides for visitors.

The Durban Botanic Gardens maintains an active role in environmental education, running programmes that cater to school groups and the general public. These initiatives aim to educate participants about biodiversity, conservation, and the role of botanic gardens in research and preservation of plant life.

The Gardens frequently host concerts, craft fairs, and plant fairs, with the annual ‘Music at the Lake’ concerts drawing large crowds. These events often feature both local and international artists and serve as a major fundraising source for garden projects.

The Tea Garden offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy light meals and refreshments in the picturesque setting of the Botanic Gardens. The outdoor seating area is nestled amongst the trees, providing a tranquil spot to relax and take in the garden’s beauty.

The Durban Botanic Gardens is more than just a collection of plants. It’s a vibrant, living testament to Durban’s natural beauty and its commitment to conserving its diverse plant life for future generations. Whether you’re a nature lover, bird watcher, or simply someone seeking peace and tranquillity, the Durban Botanic Gardens is a must-visit.

The Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Durban, South Africa. This stretch of golden sand extends along the edge of the Indian Ocean, presenting a hub of activity and beauty.

The heart of the Golden Mile is its stunning beachfront, which is characterized by golden sands and warm, inviting waters. The beaches are lifeguard-patrolled and offer excellent swimming conditions. Surfers also find the waters here to their liking, making it a popular surfing destination.

Running alongside the beach is a wide, paved promenade. This is frequented by joggers, cyclists, and walkers who enjoy the beautiful ocean views. The promenade has undergone significant redevelopment and now boasts modern landscapes, making it even more appealing.

Along the Golden Mile, there are numerous entertainment options and attractions. These include amusement centers, shops, restaurants, and markets. The uShaka Marine World is located on this stretch, offering a world-class aquarium, a water park, and many other attractions.

Numerous high-quality hotels and accommodations line the Golden Mile, many of which offer stunning sea views. These range from luxury resorts to more budget-friendly options.

The Golden Mile is a great place for water sports. Surfing, bodyboarding, paddleboarding, and fishing are some of the popular activities here. There are also options for boat rides, and during the right season, visitors can spot dolphins and whales.

A unique feature of the Golden Mile is the colorful rickshaws that can be seen along the beachfront. These traditional, human-pulled carts offer an exciting way to explore the area and are particularly popular with tourists.

Durban’s Golden Mile is a bustling, vibrant area that is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking to swim, surf, enjoy delicious food, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, the Golden Mile is the place to be.

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Mabhida Stadium is one of the most iconic landmarks in Durban, South Africa. Named after Moses Mabhida, a former secretary of the South African Communist Party, the stadium is a marvel of modern architecture and a hub of sports and entertainment in the city.

The stadium’s design is inspired by the South African flag, with its grand arch representing the unity of a nation brought together through sport. This arch isn’t just an aesthetic feature – it’s also accessible to the public. Visitors can either walk up the arch or take the SkyCar for a spectacular view of the Durban cityscape and the Indian Ocean.

The stadium has a seating capacity of around 56,000, which can be increased to 85,000 for large events. It was built to host games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has since hosted many significant sports events, concerts, and festivals. The facility also includes several conference rooms, making it a suitable venue for corporate functions and private events.

Apart from sports events and concerts, the stadium is also a popular destination for adrenaline seekers. The Big Rush Big Swing, certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest swing, allows you to swing across the pitch in a heart-stopping adventure.

Moses Mabhida Stadium offers guided tours, where visitors can explore the inner workings of the stadium, learn about its history and architecture, and enjoy a panoramic view of Durban from the top of the arch.

Adjacent to the stadium is People’s Park, a family-friendly space that includes a café, play areas for children, and wide-open spaces perfect for picnics. It’s a popular spot for outdoor activities and hosts various community events throughout the year.

Moses Mabhida Stadium is more than just a sports venue. It’s a symbol of Durban’s vibrant culture and its love for sports, music, and entertainment. The architectural design, modern facilities, thrilling activities, and stunning views make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Durban.

The Durban Natural Science Museum

The Durban Natural Science Museum, located in the city of Durban, South Africa, is one of the most significant and popular museums in the country. Established in 1887, it has a rich history and is renowned for its vast collections and research in the fields of natural history.

The museum offers a wide range of exhibits, including ancient dinosaur fossils, early human remains, a vast collection of taxidermy specimens, and mineralogy displays. Notably, the museum houses a 250 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur footprint discovered in the Karoo. The museum’s bird gallery, featuring a collection of over 3000 specimens, is among the best in the world.

The Durban Natural Science Museum is a crucial hub for scientific research in the areas of Earth Sciences and Life Sciences. Research projects include studies on biodiversity, palaeontology, ornithology, and environmental studies, among others.

The museum is dedicated to promoting natural science education. It offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and interactive displays to engage and inspire students and visitors of all ages. Its ‘Techno Zone’ offers interactive technology-based exhibits, while ‘Life Through Time’ gives a captivating walk-through of Earth’s evolutionary history.

Guided tours of the museum are available, offering visitors a comprehensive view of the collections and exhibits. These tours are not just informative but also interactive, making the museum visit an enriching experience.

The museum is located in Durban’s city hall, an architecturally significant building that is worth exploring in its own right. The building also houses the Durban Art Gallery. The museum has a resource center and a discovery center, making it a comprehensive learning hub for visitors.

The Durban Natural Science Museum is an exceptional institution dedicated to the exploration and understanding of our natural world. Its combination of extensive collections, educational initiatives, and focus on research makes it a must-visit destination for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and curious minds.

The Indian Quarter

The Indian Quarter, also known as the Victoria Street Market, is a vibrant, bustling area located in Durban, South Africa. Known for its rich cultural diversity and historical significance, the Indian Quarter is a unique blend of tradition, culture, and commerce. It’s a must-visit for any traveler who wants to immerse themselves in Durban’s cultural diversity and experience the city’s unique Indian heritage.

The Indian Quarter’s history dates back to the late 19th century when the first Indian indentured laborers were brought to Natal to work in the sugarcane fields. Over time, a strong Indian community established itself in Durban, contributing significantly to the city’s cultural and economic development. The Indian Quarter is a testament to this history and the enduring legacy of the Indian community in Durban.

At the heart of the Indian Quarter is the Victoria Street Market, often referred to as ‘Durban’s Little India’. This vibrant market is a sensory feast with over 170 stalls selling everything from spices, incense, and traditional Indian clothing, to jewelry, arts, and crafts. The market’s architecture is a blend of Indian and Victorian influences, giving it a unique aesthetic appeal.

It is also famous for its food. Here, visitors can indulge in authentic Indian cuisine, including the famous Durban curry, Biryani, Samosas, and Bunny Chow – a unique Durban dish. The area is also known for its fresh produce markets and fish markets, which contribute to its bustling atmosphere.

The Indian Quarter is not just a shopping destination; it’s also a place of cultural significance. The Juma Masjid Mosque, the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere, is located here. The area is also known for its vibrant festivals, including the annual Diwali Festival, which lights up the streets with fireworks and celebrations.

Adjacent to the Victoria Street Market is the Grey Street Complex, another area known for its Indian influence. Here you’ll find the Madressa Arcade, a variety of Sari shops, jewelry stores, and more food vendors.

The Indian Quarter is a vibrant and essential part of Durban’s identity, offering visitors a chance to experience the city’s multicultural heritage, taste delectable cuisine, and enjoy a bustling, colorful atmosphere. It’s a sensory feast and a testament to the city’s diverse and rich cultural tapestry.

Umhlanga Rocks

Umhlanga Rocks, often simply known as Umhlanga, is a popular, affluent seaside resort town on the east coast of South Africa. Located just north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province, Umhlanga Rocks is renowned for its picturesque coastline, luxury accommodation, vibrant nightlife, and numerous outdoor activities.

Umhlanga Rocks is home to some of South Africa’s most beautiful and well-kept beaches, offering soft sands and warm waters from the Indian Ocean. The main beach is equipped with shark nets and lifeguards, providing a safe environment for swimming and surfing. The iconic red and white lighthouse overlooking the beach enhances the scenic beauty of the place.

A paved walkway, known as the Promenade, runs along the length of the beachfront. It’s perfect for leisurely walks, morning jogs, or bike rides, providing stunning views of the ocean and the town’s coastline.

Aside from beach activities, Umhlanga Rocks offers opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts including nature trails, deep-sea fishing, dolphin viewing, and scuba diving. The nearby Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve has walking trails through coastal forest and wetland environments, providing a great spot for birdwatching and nature walks.

Umhlanga Rocks is known for its luxury accommodations, ranging from five-star hotels to private self-catering apartments. Many of these offer stunning sea views. The town also boasts a range of dining options, including trendy cafes, fine dining restaurants, and family-friendly eateries.

For shopping and entertainment, visitors can explore the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, one of the largest shopping malls in the Southern Hemisphere, located in the Umhlanga Ridge area. This mall offers a variety of retail outlets, restaurants, and entertainment options, including cinemas, a skate park, and a wave pool.

The Umhlanga Lighthouse, standing at 21 meters high, is one of the world’s most iconic lighthouses and a symbol of the town. Though not open to the public, it provides a picturesque backdrop for photos, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

Umhlanga Rocks, with its relaxed vibe, scenic beauty, and diverse range of attractions, offers an idyllic holiday destination for families, couples, and solo travelers. Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, outdoor adventure, or retail therapy, Umhlanga Rocks has something to offer everyone.

Inanda Heritage Route

The Inanda Heritage Route is a fascinating journey through some of the most historically significant locations in Durban, South Africa. This route, situated in the Inanda region north of Durban, is steeped in history and culture, offering visitors an insight into the area’s rich heritage.

The journey on the Inanda Heritage Route starts with the Ohlange Institute, the first educational institution in South Africa to be founded by a black person, Dr. John Dube, in 1900. Dr. Dube was the first president of what is now known as the African National Congress (ANC). The institute is also historically significant as it was the location where Nelson Mandela cast his vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. A visit to the Ohlange Institute is a great way to understand South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.

The Phoenix Settlement, established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904, is a key point of interest along the route. Here, Gandhi developed his philosophy of passive resistance, also known as Satyagraha. Visitors can explore the museum and the printing press where Gandhi’s newspaper, ‘Indian Opinion,’ was published. The Phoenix Settlement is a testament to Gandhi’s contribution to the fight against injustice and inequality.

The Inanda Seminary, established in 1869 by American missionaries, is one of the oldest schools for girls in South Africa and the first secondary school for African girls in Southern Africa. The school played a significant role in educating black South African women who were largely denied education during the apartheid era.

Ebuhleni, or the Shembe Village, is the spiritual home of the Nazareth Baptist Church, a large Zulu religious movement founded in 1910 by Isaiah Shembe. The village is home to numerous religious rituals and gatherings and provides visitors with an insight into the Zulu religious customs.

Finally, the Inanda Dam and Resort offer a peaceful getaway from the city with opportunities for water sports, fishing, picnicking, and bird watching. The annual Inanda Dam Canoe Marathon and Bass Fishing Competition are also held here.

The Inanda Heritage Route is a must-visit for anyone interested in South Africa’s history, the struggle against apartheid, and the rich cultural tapestry of the region. The Route provides a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a truly enriching experience.

Valley of 1000 Hills

The Valley of 1000 Hills is a breathtaking and stunning region in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, located between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. This area is named for the countless hills which tumble down to the banks of the Umgeni River, which flows from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the Indian Ocean. This beautiful region has been attracting visitors for decades with its magnificent landscapes, Zulu cultural experiences, and adventurous activities.

The Valley of 1000 Hills is famous for its panoramic views. The vista of rolling hills interspersed with verdant forests, serene rivers, and cascading waterfalls create a captivating spectacle. A drive through the valley provides stunning viewpoints that are perfect for photography. The valley is also home to a variety of bird species, making it a great spot for bird watching.

One of the significant attractions of the Valley of 1000 Hills is the opportunity to explore Zulu culture and traditions. Visitors can visit cultural villages such as the Phezulu Safari Park, which offers traditional Zulu dancing and music performances, guided tours of Zulu homesteads and kraals, and insights into Zulu rituals and ceremonies. There’s also an opportunity to visit a traditional healer or “sangoma”.

For adventure seekers, the Valley of 1000 Hills provides numerous outdoor activities. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities, with several trails offering varying degrees of difficulty and beautiful views. The Umgeni River is ideal for canoeing and river rafting. Horseback rides are also available through some of the picturesque trails.

In the Phezulu Safari Park, visitors can embark on a game drive to see a variety of wildlife such as zebras, wildebeest, impalas, and different types of local reptiles, including crocodiles and a wide range of exotic snakes.

Visitors can explore the local craft markets, which sell a variety of handmade goods, including Zulu beadwork, woven baskets, pottery, and sculptures. Local restaurants and eateries provide an opportunity to taste traditional Zulu dishes as well as contemporary cuisine.

The Valley of 1000 Hills, with its stunning landscapes, rich culture, wildlife encounters, and thrilling outdoor activities, provides a unique and unforgettable South African experience. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration, the Valley of 1000 Hills offers something for every type of traveler.

KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB), located in Umhlanga, South Africa, is a global leader in shark safety, research, and conservation. Established in 1964, the KZNSB is the only organization of its kind, not just providing protection against potential shark encounters but also conducting critical research into these fascinating marine creatures. Here’s more information about the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board:

One of the primary roles of the KZNSB is to maintain and service shark nets and drumlines along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. This program ensures the safety of beachgoers from potential shark encounters, providing a safer environment for swimmers and surfers. The KZNSB is continuously exploring and implementing new, environmentally friendly technologies to reduce the impact of these safety measures on marine life.

The KZNSB is dedicated to educating the public about sharks and the crucial role they play in the marine ecosystem. They run various educational programs and offer guided tours of their facilities, allowing visitors to learn more about their work and about shark species found in the KwaZulu-Natal waters.

A highlight for many visitors to the KZNSB is the shark dissection demonstrations. These are both educational and fascinating, providing an in-depth look into the anatomy of these creatures. It also gives insight into the various ongoing research projects at the KZNSB.

The KZNSB conducts critical research into various aspects of shark biology, behavior, and ecology. This research aids in the conservation of shark species, many of which are threatened or endangered. The Board is also involved in international cooperative research and conservation initiatives.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to join the KZNSB team on an early morning boat trip to watch them at work servicing the shark nets off Durban’s Golden Mile. These trips offer a chance to witness dolphins, sea birds, and, on occasion, even whales.

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board plays an integral role in marine conservation and public safety. A visit to the KZNSB is not only entertaining but also offers valuable knowledge about these often-misunderstood creatures. It’s an ideal destination for anyone interested in marine life, conservation, and the unique ecosystem of South Africa’s coast.

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