Beautiful beaches, warm weather, curry, seafood, art-deco architecture, culture, history … Durban has it all.
So, you’ll be visiting Durban and have just a day in which to see the best that South Africa’s third largest city has to offer. Here are some ideas of what you can get up to.
This coastal playground is most famous for its perennially warm climate and beautiful beaches. While summer temperatures may reach 34°C, winters are balmy, with days averaging in the mid- to high 20s.
As a result the lifestyle in the city is geared to making the most of the outdoors, and so should you.
A day’s itinerary should definitely include a visit to the Golden Mile, Durban’s famous beachfront, where a long, paved promenade provides pedestrian access between golden sands and a variety of hotels and holiday apartments that overlook the Indian Ocean.
You may choose to join the joggers and walkers in the early morning or late afternoon; or rent a bicycle from a promenade vendor; or follow the promenade northwards to theMoses Mabhida Stadium to sign up for a Segway tour along the beachfront.
The stadium is a beautifully designed modern sports structure that’s well worth a visit. If you’re in need of an adrenalin boost, there’s a bungee swing from the top; or take the SkyCar to the viewing site on the stadium’s great arch for a 360-degree view of Durban and a great photographic opportunity.
While in the beachfront environs, at the most southerly end, just before the Durban harbour, is uShaka Sea World, the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere and an extensive marine fun park. An aquarium tour will see two hours fly by, as there’s an incredible array of marine creatures to see.
Fancy some breakfast, or perhaps a hearty brunch? You could stay at uShaka, where there are many eateries to choose from, or pop up to the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts in Bulwer Road for a tasty meal under the trees, and then browse the gallery and ethnic craft shop for mementos afterwards.
If “retail therapy” is high on your list of things to do in Durban, the N3 road will take you to the Pavilion shopping mall in Westville, while the N2 South takes you to the Galleria shopping mall in Amanzimtoti, and the N2 North to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga.
Durban’s best-known cuisine is curry, followed by seafood. The city has many excellent curry restaurants that specialise in this spicy cuisine, and there are as many that have made seafood their main drawcard. A hollowed-out half-loaf filled with curry – a “bunny chow” or “bunny” – is a traditional way of enjoying a Durban curry.
In the city itself, historical points of interest on your itinerary might include the City Hall, KwaMuhle Museum, the Old Court House Museum or simply taking in the many examples of 1930s art-deco architecture. Walking tours of the city also depart daily for a more comprehensive experience.
Also try the Durban Botanic Gardens, where you’re assured of a good cuppa and a plate of the best crumpets, syrup and cream south of the Sahara.
Enjoy a stroll around the gardens or take a golf-cart tour if you’re running out of time and want to see the orchid house, herbarium and other hidden parts of this magnificent green lung.
You may also cocktails on the pier at Moyo (back at the beachfront) as a lovely way to end the daylight hours, as surfers below catch the last waves of the day.
An evening meal may be a meat-lovers’ delight at the Havana Grill at the Suncoast Casino (on the promenade), or at one of the trendy restaurants that line Florida Road; or head north on the N2 to Umhlanga for a stylish repast at one of Durban’s two oldest hotels, theOyster Box or the Beverly Hills. Umhlanga has a host of alternate dining venues within a stone’s throw of these grande dames.
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