Have you ever thought what it would be like to tour Durban? This city is a popular tourist destination and when looking at the itinerary of Durban tours, it is clear why.
No matter what your age, cultural background or interests are, you will be delighted by all that Durban has to offer. Holidays provide tourists with time to relax, learn more about historic sites and see interesting things.
If you want to undertake a safari in South Africa, consider a trip to Durban. There are various wildlife reserves in the province, including the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park. There you will see various spectacular animals such as rhino, elephant, giraffe and lion. This is your chance to see the largest hippo population in South Africa. Various bird species reside in the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park and might be spotted during the cruise.
A Hluhluwe Imfolozi safari is another one of the best tours in Durban. Here the Big 5 and can be seen here in their natural habitat. Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park is the oldest game reserve on the continent – Africa. The park covers 960 km² of land.
There are many interesting places to visit in Durban. Southern Circle offers affordable Zulu Battlefield Tours, as well as cultural tours in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Our safari guides will make the most of your Durban sightseeing trip. If you are looking for all inclusive holiday packages in Durban, you have come to the best tour operator in South Africa.
The Ultimate Guide to Durban
Durban, the city by the sea in the KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa is synonymous with balmy weather (even in Winter) and beautiful beaches. This is all true, but there is so much more to Durban than just the beaches, although they are spectacular. Durban is home to a cultural melting pot of Africa, Indian and Colonial heritage. It is destination full of family fun, safari opportunities, street markets, breath taking scenery and tropical beauty. It’s not just the city and surrounds that are worth visiting, just a stone’s throw away are the massive and majestic Drakensberg Mountains and hiking trails, the quaint and lovely ‘Midlands Meander’ driving route and the unspoilt beauty of the South Coast of Durban.
Durban is the perfect destination for families, with plenty for the young ones to enjoy. It’s an affordable holiday destination for South Africans and international travellers alike. Let’s take a look at some of the most exciting attractions so you are well-equipped to plan your trip to Durban.
Ushaka Marine World
Make sure you give yourself a day to explore and enjoy the sights and sounds of Ushaka Marine World, situated on Durban’s famous ‘golden mile’ of sandy, sun-warmed beaches. You could start out at ‘Sea World’, one of the most comprehensive and wonder-filled aqua parks in the world. Tour the atmospheric and beautifully laid out aquarium – a virtual dive into the Indian Ocean where you can get close and personal with giant sharks, turtles and sea horses. The aquarium houses 6 different galleries of different ecosystems and habitats, as well as a restored skeleton of a Southern Right whale.
While admiring this magnificent marine display, don’t forget to keep an eye on your watch so you don’t miss one of the Ushaka dolphin shows. Watch these friendly, playful and intelligent mammals frolic and show off in a superbly coordinated display of their physical prowess.
Your marine adventure at Ushaka must include a visit to the thriving colony of endangered African penguins. Watch these cuties waddle clumsily on land and then turn into graceful swimmers as they hit the water. The colony is full of educational posters and signage that teach us all how to take better care of and help this endangered species that can easily fall victim to pollution and plastic crimes in their natural habitat.
Next up, it’s the Dangerous Creature exhibit – time to turn your fears into fascination at the display of spiders, intricately patterned snakes, tree frogs, giant bullfrogs, scorpions and other incredible animals. Special effects and a few mild ‘startles’ on the journey will keep you on your toes!
On the ‘must visit’ list at Ushaka is the colony of Cape fur seals, and the turtle lagoon, to round off your incredible marine experience at Ushaka.
You need to make sure you bring your swimming costumes and towels to Ushaka for the vast array of slides, tubes, pools and fun at the Wet n Wild water park, with all sorts of rides catering to the extreme adrenaline junkie, the milder water adventurer, small children and families – it is loads of fun.
When you are hungry, thirsty or in need of some retail therapy, there are plenty of great restaurants, eateries and shops. Choose from a shipwreck restaurant, to a restaurant where you can watch sharks swimming next to you, an African-themed restaurant or a quick take away.
If you have any time or energy left, the Ushaka beach is a lovely, safe swimming beach where you can bask in the warm sunshine almost year-round and listen to waves gently crashing to shore.
Moses Mabida Stadium
When flying into Durban or driving around Durban, you cannot fail to notice the dazzling white curves, arches and architectural splendour of the Moses Mabida Stadium, one of the host stadiums of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. It can be adjusted to house up to 80 000 spectators. However, it’s worth a visit for other reasons than a mere stadium. If you take a Sky Car ride up the stadium arch, you step out onto a platform that affords fantastic 360-degree views of Durban from 106m high in the air.
Another stadium activity is the Big Rush Big Swing – the world’s tallest swing (its in the Guinness book of records.) Be brave and free fall 80m into the stadium bowl and swing a massive 220m arc into the centre of the stadium!
Just outside the stadium is ‘The People’s Park’, where you can people watch from cafes, lounge on the rolling lawns, kids can play on jungle gyms and the physical can run, cycle and roller blade along wide, safe walkways. And it’s a hop and a skip across the road to the old Durban Country Club, a throwback to the grandeur of days gone by, and the perfect spot for a delicious lunch.
The Durban Botanic Gardens
Visit the peaceful oasis of Africa’s oldest surviving Botanic Garden. Close to the city centre is an incredible haven of botany. These gardens play host to some rare collections of plants. The Orchid collection will delight with the delicate beauty, vibrant colours and heady perfume of over 6000 orchids. Marvel at the Palm Collection – the oldest surviving palm in the gardens was planted in 1873, and the tallest ones have seen quite a bit, having been there since 1889. The Cycad collection houses the world’s oldest plants, some dating to over 160 million years ago. The Botanic Gardens also house many walking pathways, a tranquil lake full of bird life, a sunken garden and a sensory garden. Take a picnic and enjoy or visit the tea garden for a spot of tea and some delicious scones.
The Victoria Street Market
Get ready for an explosion of fusion culture and sensory stimulation at Durban’s oldest and most unique market. Over 200 vendors will ply you with their traditional African artwork, Indian spices, traditional clothing and more. Get yourself a jewel-coloured silk sari, a henna tattoo, and a mind-blowing curry dish. Step into the African-Indian melting pot of the ‘real’ Durban, complete with powerful wafts of spices and incense and the authentic sounds of Indian music competing with the calls of the stall holders and the chatter of the patrons. It’s the perfect place to find authentic curios, jewellery and gifts, hand-crafted from wood, brass, stone and animal skins.
For fresh seafood and slightly less ‘run of the mill’ meats such as sheeps heads and brains and goat’s meat, take a stroll into the seafood and meat market.
The Oyster Box Hotel
You must visit this majestically grand and luxurious hotel in Umhlanga, overlooking the Indian Ocean and the iconic red and white lighthouse. The sparkling pool and exquisitely detailed and beautiful interior of this national treasure is a must-see. Stay there if you can for an experience of pure luxury. You’ll find yourself in good company as you browse the ‘wall of fame’ full of photos of Royalty and local and international celebrities that have all stayed at the Oyster Box. You don’t have to stay there however, to enjoy a famous buffet, curry feast or high tea, or visit the world-famous spa. Voted the No. 1 Top Hotel in South Africa in the Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards 2017, 2018 and 2019. You’ll have to check it out for yourself!
The Umhlanga Village
The ‘Village’ is a strip of exciting restaurants and bars, loved by locals and tourists alike. It’s just two blocks up from the beach in Umhlanga, and just one block away from the afore-mentioned Oyster Box Hotel and close to the many hotels in Umhlanga Rocks, a haven for beach tourists. Roadside seating allows you to people watch while enjoying your favourite cuisine and cocktails. It’s not just people you can watch. The air is often rent with the sound of souped-up sports cars slowly prowling the street and showing off their shiny finery. Choose from tender free-range steaks, fresh seafood, fine cuisine, trendy gastro pub meals, gourmet burgers, Greek meze, tapas and divine bakery breakfasts.
Phezulu Safari Park
A 35-minute drive from central Durban will take you to the scenic and aptly named ‘Valley of 1000 Hills’ area, where you can visit the Phezulu Safari Park that is nestled in amongst these many hills. Take a scenic game drive, accompanied by an experience guide in a covered 4 x 4 vehicle. On the way you will learn about the flora and fauna, and spot giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, impala, blesbok and many bird species. At the crocodile and snake park, you can meet Ramesis, the 90year old Nile crocodile and his friends. You can also have a hands-on meeting with Cleo, the 42kg Burmese python! Add in Zulu dancing and cultural experiences and even shield making classes for a fabulous safari experience in Durban.
The Shongweni Farmer’s Market
From humble beginnings as a market to give small farmers a place to retail their lovingly grown produce, the Farmer’s Market has grown into a wonderful weekend (Saturday mornings only) destination, bringing in people from far and wide every weekend. Staying true to their produce roots, it is hard to find a place with more free-range, hormone free meats, farm fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, milk, butter and home-made wares. You can find all sorts of exciting foods, such as fresh duck eggs, forest picked porcini or whiskey marmalade. You can catch a delicious breakfast, listen to live music, and kids have ample safe space to play. Original and authentic crafts also feature at the market, with local artists selling their handcrafted jewellery, furniture, clothes, bags, paintings and metal and stone sculpture.
Children’s Activities in Durban
Situated on Durban’s beachfront is the cutest, mini replica of Durban city, built to scale at 1:24. Kids love browsing the city at knee height to an adult. There are miniature ships, trains and planes and even a little harbour. The detail is delightful, and it’s wonderful to experience the mini city within the city.
If it happens to be raining and you can’t go to the beach and the kids are ‘bouncing’ off the walls, it’s time to visit Bounce Cornubia, a huge indoor trampoline park. There is a free-jump arena, trampoline slam dunk, an adventure challenge park and the ‘Supertramp’ (a giant trampoline.) The perfect way to let out all excess energy!
Flag Animal Farm
An animal wonderland awaits in the Ballito area of Durban at the Flag Animal Farm. Home to over 1000 animals, birds, wolves and alpacas. The farm offers lots of chances to cuddle and enjoy the animals, along with:
- Pony, horse, train and tractor rides
- Reptile shows and handling
- Outdoor playgrounds and jumping castle
- Indoor play centres
- Bike track
- Daily shows involving colourful characters and animal education
- Braai facilities and a coffee shop
Just a little outside of Durban you will find…
The Midlands Meander
Take a scenic hour-long drive out of Durban into the gently rolling, verdant hills of the Midlands Meander. There are several routes to take, offering exquisite surroundings, homely hospitality and cosy Midlands accommodation. The routes are designed to offer breath taking scenery, excellent cuisine and restaurants, spas, outdoor activities and adventure sports, wildlife conservation areas, historic landmarks and hundreds of unique arts and crafts along the route known as an artist’s mecca.
The Drakensberg Mountains and World Heritage Site
The dramatic Drakensberg Mountain Range is just 2/3 hours drive from Durban. The Zulu name of the mountain range is uKhahlamba – Barrier of Spears. It’s the perfect description for the semi-circular border between KwaZulu Natal and Lesotho. Take to the hills to hike, bike, horse ride, abseil or rock climb. Soak up the history and visit battlefields, museums and ancient bushmen paintings. You can listen to the echos of angels as the world-famous Drakensberg Boys Choir boys sing into the mountains. Take your pick of delightful guest houses, self-catering houses, lodges and luxury resorts, and don’t forget to keep stopping along the way at the restaurants, bakeries and harvest table spots for delicious food.
Durban has it all
Durban has so much to offer, for every budget, age group and taste. Get away from the Winter woes elsewhere and stay in Durban for as long as you can to get the full experience of this exciting city of beautiful beaches, wonderful culture, rich history, charming scenery and bustling commerce.