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Durban, South Africa

Durban is a city on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini. It is the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa. 

Durban was originally called Port Natal, and was founded by British settlers. Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations, making this one of the largest population centers of Indians in the world. 


Durban is located on the East coast of South Africa, looking out upon the Indian Ocean. The city lies at the mouth of the Umgeni River, which demarcates parts of Durban's north city limit, while other sections of the river flow through the city itself. Durban has a natural harbor, Durban Harbour, which is the busiest port in South Africa and is the 4th-busiest in the Southern hemisphere.


Durban... Read more

Durban, South Africa


Durban is a city on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini. It is the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa. 

Durban was originally called Port Natal, and was founded by British settlers. Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations, making this one of the largest population centers of Indians in the world. 


Durban is located on the East coast of South Africa, looking out upon the Indian Ocean. The city lies at the mouth of the Umgeni River, which demarcates parts of Durban's north city limit, while other sections of the river flow through the city itself. Durban has a natural harbor, Durban Harbour, which is the busiest port in South Africa and is the 4th-busiest in the Southern hemisphere.


Durban has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with hot and humid summers and pleasantly warm and dry winters, which are snow and frost-free. Durban has an annual rainfall of 1,009 millimeters (39.7 in). The average temperature in summer ranges around 24 °C (75 °F), while in winter the average temperature is 17 °C (63 °F).


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Durban, South Africa: Port Information

Cruise liners dock at the Passenger Terminal. The center is very close (about 10 minutes on foot) but it's better to use a taxi or a shuttle bus. Local buses are also available near the port area.

Get around Durban, South Africa

By car

The best way to get around Durban is by car. Be sure to check that you have the latest updated street maps and/or GPS device as a number of street names have changed in recent months. It also helps to have a list of old and new names as some of the new names are vandalized.

By bus

Durban People Mover buses feature CCTV cameras and wheelchair-friendly ramps. They run from 6 AM until 11 PM every 15 minutes. These buses stop in the CBD, the Victoria Street Market, the Workshop,

Suncoast Casino


Ushaka Marine World

and along the beach route. (R4 per trip, valid for 1 hour on a hop-on, hop-off basis; R10 for a full day pass on a hop-on, hop-off basis).
To travel between the Berea suburbs and the city its cheaper to travel by Mynah buses, R5 off-peak (8 AM 3:30 PM), peak 6 The Mynah buses depart from the Workshop Terminus (Pine Street Terminus) every 30 minutes to Musgrave, The Ridge, Kensington, Mitchell Park/Florida road, Tollgate (cnr Aliwal/Smith streets), To South Beach/Ushaka, North Beach/Suncoast (in Pixley ka Seme West Street, opposite the City Hall).
The Aqualine buses to the suburbs (depart from the Pine Street Terminus) are usually within 5 minutes of the schedule every hour. Peak cash fare can be quite steep. If you're traveling daily by bus to work, it's advisable to buy a weekly coupon, which can save you up to 35% of the cash fare. Fare, bus route & timetable inquiries (+27 31 309-5942/3). 

Most buses depart on the hour every hour. Please note that sometimes to get to your destination, you might have to catch a couple to three buses. When not sure about bus route number, ask the locals or the bus driver (tell him the nearest landmark to your destination). Mynah buses do not have route numbers, only the destination will be displayed on the electronic display in front of the bus. Please note that u must flag the bus down to stop at the bus stop. It is advisable to have the exact change before you board the bus and get a receipt!

By metered taxi

Registered taxis are common, generally safe and relatively inexpensive. Taxis do not rove and hence need to be called so that one can be fetched from your pick up point. A lot of these will conduct point to point transfers, airport shuttles, and corporate transfers. The ones that can be recommended for the Durban and surrounds are:

  • Umhlanga Rocks Taxis (Ucabs), ph: +27 31 561-1846
  • Eagle Taxi's, ph: +27 31 337-8333
  • Zippy Cabs, +27 31 202-7067
  • Mozzie Cabs, +27 31 303-5787 (local toll share: 086 066-9943)
  • Shashis taxis 5 +27 31 303-1356 +27 83 272-6505

By minibus taxi

There are also group taxis, referred to as "combi taxis" (or "minibus taxis"), that are impossible to miss as (in Durban) they're brightly decorated and always have music pumping. There is always someone hanging out of a window making the hand gestures that indicate whether there are seats available and where the combi is going. Minibus taxis are very common and less expensive than metered taxis. Strictly speaking, they are minibuses that take people to and from work, they stick to set routes and they are generally not suitable for tourists unfamiliar with the area they are going to; when in doubt stick to metered taxis or buses. There are minibus taxis plying the same routes as Mynah buses, they are more frequent and faster than buses.

By rickshaw

Rickshaw rides are offered to tourists along the beach front, for amusement rather than getting around. Watch out for the many ups and downs in the ride; the tipping back of the rickshaw cause the contents of your pockets to fall out, into the coffers of the drivers!

By Uber

Uber is quite popular in Durban and SA, as is offers any fast and reliable taxi service. It's often cheaper than a metered taxi.

By helicopter

  • JNC Helicopters, Hangar 1, Virginia Airport Glenashley, ☎ +27 31 563-9513, e-mail: JNC Helicopters offers VIP travel to and from any South African city as well as an infinite number of tourist flight combinations, from 20min sightseeing flights to complete tours that take you around any part of South Africa.
  • King Shaka Aviation, Hangar 4, Virginia Airport, Durban North, ☎ +27 31 563-7229, fax: +27 31 563-5450, e-mail: King Shaka Aviation is Durban & Kwazulu Natal's premier helicopter charter operator specializing in VIP charters, scenic flights to numerous local venues, Air-lifting operations & Utility services. With the most comprehensive fleet of aircraft locally available, King Shaka Aviation is best equipped for most requirements.
  • BAC Helicopters (Helicopter Rides, Tours and trips), Greystones heliport 135 Old North Coast Road Glen Anil, ☎ +27 31 569-1531, e-mail: Offers helicopter tours, rides and trips up the Golden Coastline of Kwa-Zulu Natal from Durban, including Game Reserves or the Drakensberg Mountains.

What to see in Durban, South Africa

  • Durban Botanical Gardens, ☎ +27 31 201-1303, fax: +27 31 309-1271, e-mail: Visit on a Saturday and see a mixture of Cultural weddings all having their photos taken.
  • Berea. This is a long ridge overlooking the harbor, city center, and beaches. Once covered with coastal forest, it is now completely built up.
  • Moses Madhiba Stadium. The new landmark of Durban, built for the football World Cup 2010. Catch the Skycar or walk by your self to the top of the stadium, where you will have a stunning view on downtown Durban and Berea.
  • City Hall. There is an art gallery and outdated science museum inside, as well as a public library.
  • The Golden Mile. The Golden Mile, the nickname for the beaches near downtown that stretch along the Indian Ocean, is well known for its excellent surfing, occasional shark attack, and wide sandy beaches. Visiting around the Christmas holidays ensures a crowded experience, complete with stations for missing children, but visit at the offseason and you'll practically have the place to yourself, save the serious surfers. There are also play pools and playgrounds for children along the waterfront, as well as hotel, bars, and restaurants.
  • Mahatma Gandhi Settlement. Tours Available.
  • Durban North Japanese Gardens, ☎ +27 31 563-1333. Free entrance.
  • KwaZulu Natal National Parks.
  • Crocodile Creek. In the ‘sugar town’ of Tongaat (just a few miles past Umhlanga) you will find Crocodile Creek, on the Tongaat river in a sub-tropical bush. This creek is home to over 7000 Nile Crocodiles, Alligators, Caiman, snakes, and other reptiles. The farm includes bush and hill trails, a waterfall, river plains and thatched buildings with treetop walkways. An awesome place to spend a day, refreshments are available and you can also browse through the shop which sells curios, crocodile leather goods and even croc dishes.

What to do in Durban, South Africa

  • Watersports. Swim, surf, canoe, snorkel, dive
  • Calypso Dive & Adventure Center. Scuba Dive at uShaka Marine World. PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center. Dive to wrecks, caves, offshore reefs.
  • Skydive Durban, Pietermaritzburg Airport, ☎ +27 72 214-6040. Take a 25-minute plane ride, then 35 seconds of freefalling before the parachute opens, then a post-jump barbeque.
  • Suncoast Casino, Suncoast Boulevard, Marine Parade, ☎ +27 31 328-3000, e-mail:
  • uShaka Marine World, 1 Bell Street, ☎ +27 31 328-8000. To see the HUGE Aquarium or ride more than eight different rides in the Waterworld.
  • Glenholme trail for disabled & blind persons, Glenholme Nature Reserve, ☎ +27 31 705-5448. Caters for wheelchairs and the blind with elevated walkway and guide rails and braille plaques.
  • Nature Parks - There are dozens of nature reserves in the suburbs, just ask around. Please remember to be safe, there are natural hazards like snakes, and criminals like the isolation for different reasons.
  • Greyville Race Course. Horseracing
  • Surf Artificial Waves. At Gateway Shopping Center
  • Shark Institute. Take a boat to see the shark nets that protect beachcombers from a shark attack.
  • Historical compensation sugar mill.
  • Zimbali Golf Estate. 18 holes
  • Skydive Durban, Durban, ☎ +27 72 214-6040, e-mail: Skydiving
  • Durban Tourism (Tourist Junction), 160 Monty Naicker Road, ☎ +27 31 3044-934. The City's official tourism body can provide you with maps, accommodation information and general guidance around your trip to Durban. Tour guides, registered tour operators and approved accommodation form part of Durban Tourism's extensive services.


  • KwaMuhle Museum, 130 Bram Fischer Road. The history of apartheid in Durban. Free.
  • Durban Cultural and Document Centre, Corner of Epsom and Derby Street. The history of Indian indentured labor. Free.
  • Old Court House Museum, 77 Aliwal Street. Monday to Saturday : 8:30 to 16:00 Sundays and Public Holidays: 11:00 to 16:00. The museum features a number of collectibles in the foyer, including an extensive miniature car collection. The Daphne Strutt Costume Room features fashion from throughout the 20th century, interesting accessories such as cigarette cases, bags, shoes, jewelry, and hats enhance the display. A number of rare Art Deco and Nouveau pieces make this exhibition a must for aficionados. Free.


  • Poetry Africa. International Festival of Poetry. Early October every year.
  • Time of the Writer. International Festival of Writing - March every year.
  • Durban International Film Festival. International Festival of Film - July/August every year.
  • Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival. International Festival of Contemporary Dance - every year.
  • Awesome Africa. World Music Festival - September every year.
  • MTN Durban Fashion Week. For all fashion-lovers! June every year. For all fashion-lovers!
  • Durban July. July every year.Africa's Premier Horse-Racing Event, with plenty of celebrities and walking fashion models to bump into.
  • Hindu Festivals - There are dozens of these and you'll need to ask around because they're not well publicized, but there's one in Easter in the Umbilo area where devotees walk on hot coals, and another sometime between February and July (it moves) called Kavady where the devotees pierce their backs with hooks and drag decorated portable shrines. Not to be missed!
  • Umhlanga (Rocks) Festivals. Umhlanga is one of the most sought-after beach holiday destinations in SA. It is popular with both local and international visitors. It sees a fair amount of internationals the world over who come to shop, unwind, party and have fun on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It is located on the east coast of SA, 15min north of the port city of Durban. Some of the best accommodation options with excellent holiday apartments, luxury hotels, lodges, and guesthouses are dotted around Umhlanga. It is fast becoming an attraction with its winter and summer festivals, street cafe culture, restaurants, and pubs.

Its winter festival is held on the main beach and the summer festival on the main street where live jazz bands play out late into the evening.

What to eat and drink in Durban, South Africa


As Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside of India itself, a Durban curry is a popular dish and can range from mild to very hot. There is also the Bunny Chow which is unique to the city, a quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a curry of your choice. Check out the Workshop restaurants for some of the best bunny chow in the city. Or head over to the Indian neighborhood near Victoria Market for more authentic Durban Indian food.
Good Indian dining is at Vintage Restaurant next to Bean Bag Bohemia - Windemere Road
Try the Roma Revolving Restaurant at the top of John Ross House on the Esplanade for Italian food and the best view of Durban.
Wilson's Wharf a long pier build into the harbor, hosts a wide selection of international restaurants and watch the busiest harbor in Africa's activity. Take in a show afterward at the upstairs Catalina theater.
Try Morningside restaurants, along Florida Road, for trendy cafe sidewalk eateries including one Italian style, Spiga d'Oro, frequented so often by South Africa's notorious businessman, Schabir Shaik, that a dish is named in his honor 'Pasta a la Shaik'. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates ate at "Spice" set off the busy street in a quiet upstairs courtyard. And nearby, be nearly guaranteed to rub shoulders with the up-and-coming in-crowd at the Bean Bag Bohemia, Windermere Road, a restaurant that makes great dining an artistic event.
Definitely try some 'biltong' when you're in South Africa. Its South African-style jerky and available in a whole range of flavors and textures.


  • Zacks, located at Wilson's Wharf on Victoria's embankment is a popular place to get thirst quenching drinks and just relax and enjoy the view of the harbor.
  • Joe Kool's, on the beachfront, is also well known as the best place for a "sundowner" after a long day on the beach. Check out their roof-top deck for the best views.
  • The BAT Centre, on the port, is also a good place for a quick meal or drink. There's free jazz most nights as well as other concerts, hip-hop and the occasional poetry slam.
  • The Firkin is a micro-brewery on the top floor of the Pavilion shopping center in Westville. It has some great ales and beers and good snacks at reasonable prices.
  • Tilted house is a trendy place situated in the city center in an old Victorian house. It has its own VIP section, but it is open to the beautiful as well as important.
  • Cool Runnings is a reggeaton place with cheap beer and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Burn is a good concert scene for Metal and Rock music with club evenings every weekend.

Durban is known for its pot and you will easily find it around the clubs, but beware that the police does care if tourists break the law and you can be thrown out of the country if you are caught with it.

  • Florida Road 275, ☎ +27 31 312-3355. Definitely the happening street in Durban. Restaurants, Bars Cafe's Boutique shopping the in happy friendly Durban hang out. Durban's most interesting bookshop, Book Base also located at the top of Florida Road (275) and is open every day. Lots of interesting material of historical interest, Zulu Wars etc to be seen.​


  • Freedom Café, 34 St Marys Ave, Morningside. This hidden café offers great coffee, breakfast, and lunch.

Shopping in Durban, South Africa

Popular items to buy are Zulu beadwork, wirework, wickerwork - from baskets and sustainable conference bags to fantastic lights and furniture, spices - anyone dares 'mother-in-law's revenge?' Fantastic!

  • Gateway Theater of Shopping, a mall situated to the North of Durban along the M4 or N2 highways. Believed to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. Also offers a great range of kids' entertainment like a skateboard park and an artificial wave in the Wavehouse to test your surfing abilities.
  • Victoria Street Market. Mostly oriental souvenirs. Haggle hard, beware of pickpockets.
  • Essenwood Craft Market - For a true taste of South Africa look out for a guy selling biltong (South African jerky). A good place to buy curios, and don't be afraid to haggle. Last time I was there I found some beautiful Zimbabwean soap-stone sculptures at a very good price. Only open certain weekends so please check local listings.
  • The Pavilion - A large shopping mall with a good range of shops, situated in the Westville suburb of Durban.
  • African Arts Center at Tourist Junction on West Street
  • BAT Center on the harbor front

Safety in Durban, South Africa

The beach strip is frequently patrolled by policemen, there are CCTV cameras and many lights at night. As everywhere else, there are several basic safety rules to follow. Avoid dark, deserted areas. The promenade along the beach is safe to walk, but do not venture to the side and back roads of the hotels.
Avoid the Point Road (aka Mahatma Gandhi Road) area at all times.
Remember, you're a tourist, not a celebrity. Dress down to blend in with the people in the CBD (keep the fancy stuff to a minimum).
The harbor area is quite safe, as are the shopping malls and higher residential areas.
The Point, the area between downtown and the port, is known for prostitution and cheap hotels: it has a higher crime rate (although parts are currently undergoing a massive redevelopment). Avoid walking here alone and take cars or metered taxis if you need to go to this area.
Street children can be a problem, and its best to keep clear of them. Many sniff glue, carry knives, and act quite unpredictably.​

Language spoken in Durban, South Africa

Zulu and English are the most common languages in Durban.


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