12 must-do things to do in Durban

Visiter Durban

Getting ready to travel to South Africa? Then here are the must-see and must-do things to do in Durban!

Located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the city of Durban is the former capital of the colony and province of Natal, formerly known as Port-Natal. With its Indian and colonial influences, it is now a famous tourist and seaside destination. Travellers can come to Durban to enjoy its beautiful beaches and unspoilt coastline. The country’s third-largest city also boasts a rich diversity of architecture and culture, with vestiges of the colonial era, interesting museums and picturesque neighborhoods. To complete this already enchanting picture, Durban is also known for its wildlife, flora and lush vegetation! So what’s there to do in Durban? What must you see or discover during your stay in this beautiful South African coastal city?

To help you enjoy an unforgettable trip, we’ve listed the 12 must-see things and more to visit in Durban!

1. The Waterfront – Golden Mile Beach

Golden Mile, Plage, Durban

Photo credit: Flickr – Paul Saad

So what’s there to do in Durban? To begin your adventure in this seaside city, we can only recommend a charming stroll along its emblematic waterfront: Golden Mile! On the beach of the same name, you can soak up the sun, swim or build a sandcastle. The views all along the promenade are magnificent, and sporty types can jog or cycle along it!

Book your guided tour of Durban

2. uShaka Marine World

uShaka Marine World, Durban

Photo credit: Flickr – Chris Bloom

If you’re visiting Durban, and whether or not you’re accompanied by children, the uShaka Marine World should be of interest to you! Located at the end of the Golden Mile, it’s an aquatic leisure park, the 5th largest aquarium in the world and the 1st in Africa, and also boasts a dolphinarium. The park comprises 4 areas: a water park with slides and attractions, the aquarium, a white sand beach and a reconstruction of an African village with restaurants, cafés and stores! Among these, The Cargo Hold stands out for its atypical decor: in fact, the restaurant houses a large aquarium, in addition to offering delicious meals on its à la carte menu.

Book your ticket for uShaka Marine World

3. The Town Hall

To discover the city and its heritage, you should start by visiting Durban’s most emblematic building: its historic City Hall . Built in 1910, it is a copy of the one in Belfast and is still in use. In front of this magnificent building, you can relax in Francis Farewell Square Park and admire the cenotaph commemorating the South Africans who died in the two world wars!

4. The Local History Museum

What to do in Durban during your stay? Visit the city’s museums, of course! Just a stone’s throw from the Town Hall is one of the seaside city’s most interesting museums. If you want to delve into Durban’s history, there’s nothing better than a visit to this museum dedicated to Natal. All the more so as it is housed in the city’s former courthouse, another highly historic building!

5. Try surfing

Planning to visit Durban? Then be sure to try your hand at surfing during your stay! Surfing is one of South Africa’s national sports. Durban’s emblematic Golden Mile Beach is not just a place to splash about, bask in the sun or read a book. Many South Africans and travelers come to train on this beautiful white sand beach! So don’t hesitate and take advantage of your stay to learn to surf. In Durban, you’ll find several schools and instructors to give you lessons if you need them.

Book your surf session in Durban

6. Swim with sharks

What to do in Durban? Swim with sharks, of course! Fortunately for travelers, locals and surfers alike, the region’s authorities effectively protect the coastline, so you won’t run the risk of encountering sharks during your surfing sessions. However, you can make up for this inconvenience by booking a shark diving session! Yes, in Durban you can dive to see harmless fish, but you can also discover the sea’s most terrible predators in the depths – which are, contrary to prejudice, peaceful animals.

Book your shark diving excursion

7. Durban Botanic Garden

Durban Botanic Garden

Photo credit: Flickr – Paul Saad

Located in the heart of the city, high above the Berea district, this botanical garden is a must-see if you’re visiting Durban! Founded in 1849 by Dr. Charles Johnston, this 27-hectare site is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Africa. It is home to plant species dating back to prehistoric times and even earlier, plants that would have become extinct long ago had they not been preserved here! We recommend a visit to this delightful park.

8. Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve

Still wondering what to do in Durban during your adventure? Then why not explore a mangrove nature reserve? There’s no better way to discover the flora and fauna of the Natal region than in this unspoilt natural area to the north of the city! We recommend that you book a guide in advance, so that you can explore the mangroves safely and easily.

9. Admire the Umhlanga Lighthouse

Umhlanga Lighthouse

Photo credit: Flickr – Martie Swart

Umhlanga is a charming residential town north of Durban. It is famous for its magnificent lighthouse facing the Indian Ocean and for the beautiful white sandy beach that borders it. If you’re planning to visit Durban, be sure to take a trip to Umhlanga. After exploring the protected mangroves of the nearby Beachwood Nature Reserve, you can relax with a drink on the terrace overlooking the sea and the Umhlanga lighthouse. The Lighthouse Bar is one of the town’s nicest bars, with a great view from its terrace: we recommend it!

10. Umgeni River Bird Park

Densely treed and cut off from the world, the Umgeni River Bird Park is a charming place to relax and admire the different species that inhabit the trees of the Natal region. It’s a perfect complement to the Durban Botanical Gardens – after discovering the flora, you can go on to discover the flying fauna of the Natal region.

11. The Durban Natural Science Museum

Between City Hall and the Local History Museum, you’ll find the Durban Natural History Museum. A must-see if you want to learn more about the region’s flora and fauna, after observing them in their natural environment!

12. Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World

Located just north of the beautiful Golden Mile promenade, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World is a large complex with numerous restaurants, cinemas and a casino, as well as its own semi-private beach and adjoining bar. Amateur and experienced gamblers alike can try their luck at Suncoast Casino. And if gambling doesn’t appeal to you, you can simply enjoy the superb facilities of this large recreational complex.

How to get to Durban

To fly directly to Durban from France, you’ll need at least two stopovers. From Paris, you’ll find numerous flights to Johannesburg, a compulsory stopover if you want to visit Durban. To find the best prices and connections, you can consult the website of our partner Ulysse, which compares and proposes the most advantageous fares according to your departure dates. It’s also possible to reach Durban by train, bus or even car from another South African destination, such as Johannesburg, if you’ve decided to fly directly into this city.

Once there, the best way to visit Durban is by bus, operated by Durban Transport Bus and Mynah. Alternatively, for a more authentic experience, why not try a rickshaw? Finally, while cabs are another way of getting around Durban, you can also opt to rent a car on arrival at the airport or by visiting one of the city’s rental agencies.

Where to stay in Durban?

If you want to visit Durban, you’ll have no shortage of accommodation options! There are many charming areas to stay in Durban. Among them, we particularly recommend the city center, the area around the Golden Mile, the banks of the Umgeni River or the Berea district. You can also enjoy peace of mind: hotels (with the best prices to be found on this hotel comparator), homestays, Airbnb… Whatever your budget, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for when it comes to accommodation in Durban!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Durban,za