I heard from a lot of people travelling South Africa that they actually preferred Durban to Cape Town. However, I would digress. Sure, the weather in Durban, along South Africa’s giant share of the warm Indian Ocean coastline, is much better, I didn’t feel the same cool vibe that I felt in Cape Town. That being said, I did really enjoy Durban. The climate is great, the city is quite vibrant, and there are loads of opportunities to explore nearby areas as well.
Time Needed: 2-4 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40-50USD
Mid-Range Budget: 50-70USD
Things to Do and See in Durban
There is loads to do both in Durban and in the nearby area. Also, there are a tonne of water-related activities in the Durban area. If you’re planning on taking everything in, you’ll likely want 4 full days to see it all.
- uShaka Marine World: It’s part aquarium part shopping mall. There are penguins, seals, sharks, and opportunities to swim with some of them too.
- Surfing: Some of the best waves in South Africa are found in the area around Durban.
- Gateway Shopping Mall: The biggest mall in the southern hemisphere.
- Sky Diving: Yes, you can skydive here via SkyDive Durban.
- Diving: There is some decent scuba diving off the coast of Durban.
- Beach: The long beach in town is called the Golden Mile and has plenty of space to lay out in the sun. There are also bars and restaurants.
- Botanical Gardens: A bit of a nice retreat from the city and makes for a nice bit of people watching on weekends.
Where to Eat in Durban
If you come to Durban, don’t waste your time eating anything other than seafood. Honestly, it’s some of the best you can find anywhere in the world. Fit with a large Indian population, you can also find some decent Indian grub in town.
- Wilson’s Wharf: There are a number of restaurants here. It’s where you’ll find the freshest seafood in town.
- Jack Salmon Fish House: A classy seafood joint with awesome views.
- House of Curries: Among locals, this is the one of the favourite Indian Restaurants in Durban.
- Tashiky Sushi: Great sushi joint, but quite pricey.
Where to Stay in Durban
When I was in Durban, I stayed at the Happy Hippo Backpacker’s Hostel, and it was nearly perfect. The private rooms were awesome, the wifi was great, there’s a big kitchen and cool bar, and there is a tonne of open space. Whether you’re on a mid-range or backpacker’s budget, this is likely the best spot to stay. It’s only a stone’s throw from uShaka and the beach too.
Getting out of Town
- Air: The airport is way out of town (about 40km) and taxi fares are really expensive (sometimes $40-50USD). The best way to get to town from the airport in Durban is to catch the airport shuttle buses which cost about $10 per person. Durban has connections to almost everywhere in South Africa and has some international flights as well.
- Bus: If you’re backpacking, you’ll likely be catching BazBus which is a door-to-door shuttle service for hostels. Otherwise, the cheaper national buses run pretty much everywhere you need to go from Durban.
- Train: There are decent inter-city trains from Durban and they are actually cheaper than the bus. There is no longer a train to Cape Town, but they do operate to Johannesburg.
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