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Things to do in Durban

Things to do in  Durban

Welcome to Durban

Located on South Africa's eastern shore, Durban is the country’s third largest city, boasts its busiest port, and is the capital of the KwaZulu-Natal province. And while it hosted the World Cup in 2010, Durban—just a short one-hour plane ride from Johannesburg—often lacks the global name recognition of Cape Town to the southwest, making it an off-the-beaten-path choice for its bustling urban center, revamped waterfront, rich cultural history, proximity to wildlife preserves, and laidback atmosphere. Guided city tours and advanced reservations ensure you don't miss top urban experiences, such as enjoying the scent of fragrant spices at the Victoria Street Market, bungee swinging at Moses Mabhida Stadium, or gliding through the the Durban Point Waterfront Canal on a gondola ride. You can also spend some time in nature: Learn about local marine life and play in the water park at uShaka Marine World; stroll the long stretch of sandy beaches—the so-called “Golden Mile”—along the warm Indian Ocean; venture out of town in search of Africa's “Big Five” on safari tours, including the Hluhluwe Game Reserve; or head into the marshes near St. Lucia to see hippos up close. For a culture fix, immerse yourself in historic Zulu heritage at Shakaland with a guide who can speak to the group's storied past; or take a full-day tour into the Drakensberg mountains to visit the independent country of Lesotho, where the delicious, unique mix of cuisines incorporates Indian and Malaysian influences.

Top 15 attractions in Durban

#1
Victoria Street Market

Victoria Street Market

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The hokey pink and pastel stucco exterior hides the Victoria Street Market’s flurry of color, chaos and activity. Affectionately called The Vic, the two-story building is essentially an indoor flea and farmer’s market with more than 150 lively retail and wholesale vendors. Kitchen utensils, pots, luggage, clothes, wholesale products from China and carved trinkets spill into the building’s second-floor walkways, while butchers, fishmongers and fruit and vegetable vendors set up shop on the first level.In the mix visitors will find many merchants hawking silken saris and incense, spices from fragrant and colorful barrels, plus Indian handicrafts… not your usual South African market fare. The city’s multicultural tapestry—including the largest population of Indians outside of Asia—is reflected in both the market’s vendors and shoppers, and The Vic has long been a shopping hub of the Indian community. Bring your bargaining skills for some unique souvenir finds.More
#2
Sani Pass

Sani Pass

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Set at nearly 10,000 feet (2,865 meters) above sea level, Sani Pass is the gateway between KwaZulu-Natal and the landlocked mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Via 4-wheel-drive, experience the rugged dirt road cut with hairpin turns on a steep climb to the top of Sani Pass. Your reward is a bumpy adventure along with panoramic views.More
#3
Durban City Hall

Durban City Hall

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Durban City Hall, in addition to being a gorgeous historic building in the city center, is also home to several attractions worth checking out.Built in 1910, Durban City Hall—also known as eThekwini City Hall—is a building that's hard to miss. Its exterior is decorated in a neo-Baroque style – there are sculptures representing industry, art, literature, music and commerce as well as some representing patriotism and unity. The building is almost an exact copy of the city hall in Belfast.The City Hall obviously is home to city government offices, but visitors will want to check out the Durban Art Gallery and Natural Science Museum that are also inside. The museum features a dodo fossil, among others.More
#4
iSimangaliso Wetland Park

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 (the first in South Africa), iSimangaliso Wetland Park encompasses 820,389 acres (332,000 hectares) of lakes, estuaries, beaches, swamps, coastal dunes and coral reefs extending for some 125 miles (200 kilometers) along the coast of the Indian Ocean.This wide variety of interlinking ecosystems has yielded incredible biodiversity in the area — the park is home to more than 6,500 plant and animal species, including 521 species of birds, as well as African elephants, humpback whales, loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, Nile crocodiles and hippos.The best way to explore the vast wetland park is by boat, which allows visitors to observe the park’s wildlife from relatively close up. Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, camping and horseback riding are also on offer within the park.More
#5
Valley of a Thousand Hills

Valley of a Thousand Hills

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Surrounded by South Africa’s scenic mountains and home to wildlife, villages, and some of the best views in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region, Valley of a Thousand Hills offers a rural countryside experience not far from beaches and highrises of Durban. The valley’s mix of culture and hospitality make it a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike.More
#6
Durban Botanic Gardens

Durban Botanic Gardens

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Cape Town's Kirstenbosch gardens may be more famous, but Durban's Botanic Gardens hold the title of Africa's oldest surviving botanical gardens.Founded in 1851, Durban's Botanic Gardens were a response to Kew Gardens' challenge of creating botanic gardens around the world. The goal was not only to furnish Kew with new plants, but also to help raise global awareness of potentially valuable plants. The first garden in Durban was established in 1849 in a different location – it has been at its current location, closer to the city, since 1851.The gardens cover more than 37 acres and are known for their collection of cycads, ferns, and orchids. There are also several events held in the gardens throughout the year, including concerts, tea parties, and an indigenous plant fair in September.More
#7
Ushaka Marine World

Ushaka Marine World

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With massive water slides, impressive sea life, and white-sand beaches, Ushaka Marine World is one of Durban’s top waterfront attractions. This theme park and aquarium is home to eight different attractions. Visitors can observe sea life in the aquarium, race down slides, challenge themselves on a ropes course, and more.More
#8
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Mabhida Stadium

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The Moses Mabhida Stadium, built to host the 2010 World Cup games, is one of the country’s top sport and concert venues. Its modern architecture and massive arch set it apart on the Durban waterfront. Overlook the city from a viewing platform at the top of the arch and push your limits on the world’s largest stadium swing.More
#9
Howick Falls

Howick Falls

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Howick Falls is a waterfall in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, some 63 miles from Durban. It falls roughly 310 feet from the river into a pool before the river continues on.The Zulu name for the falls is KwaNogqaza, and legend is that a huge serpent lives in the pool beneath the falls. Sangomas, or fortune tellers, are said to be the only ones who can go near the waterfall safely.Whether you believe the stories or not, the truth is that many people have died attempting to cross the Umgeni River just above the falls. Howick Falls remains a popular tourist destination, perhaps as much due to the legends as to its natural beauty.More
#10
Isandlwana Battlefield

Isandlwana Battlefield

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One of the worst defeats in British military history occurred on January 22, 1879 during the Battle of Isandlwana. The battle, fought near a hill in Zululand of the same name, took place early in the Anglo-Zulu war when a British invasion column of some 1,300 soldiers under the command of General Lord Chelmsford was attacked by a 20,000-strong Zulu army, resulting in a humiliating defeat.Today Isandlwana Battlefield is dotted with stone cairns indicating the resting places of soldiers killed in the battle. A small on-site museum and visitors center showcases artifacts, relics and background information on the battle — a bonus particularly for those visiting the battlefield without a guide.More
#11
Shakaland

Shakaland

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Shakaland is a living history museum and cultural village that displays the traditional way of life of the Zulu people. Set in the Zulu heartland of KwaZulu-Natal (formerly Zululand), the village offers a look into a bygone era. Tourists can watch traditional tool making, take part in a beer tasting ceremony, and watch Zulu people perform songs and dances in traditional attire.More
#12
Durban Golden Mile

Durban Golden Mile

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A stretch of white-sand beaches lined by a boardwalk on one side and the warm Indian Ocean on the other, the Golden Mile is what draws many travelers to Durban. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, visit a few cultural attractions, or experience the city’s nightlife, the Golden Mile has it all.More
#13
Phansi Museum

Phansi Museum

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Durban's Phansi Museum is a treasure of South African artifacts, both historic and contemporary, and is known as one of the world’s largest collections of South African arts and crafts. Originally located in the basement of a private home, the museum’s name Phansi translates to “below” or “beneath” and serves as a nod to that meager beginning. Today, the collection occupies three floors of a converted Victorian house.Among the exhibits at the Phansi Museum are examples of beadwork, baskets woven from telephone wire, wooden serving platters, snuff boxes and pipes, carved statues, blankets and fertility dolls. The top floor has a display of life-sized marionettes wearing ceremonial costumes.More
#14
Himeville

Himeville

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The KwaZulu-Natal town of Himeville is near the dramatic Drakensberg mountains, roughly 132 miles from Durban. It's a gateway to the Sani Pass en route to Lesotho. Himeville was settled in the late 1880s, and the city's museum is housed in a building that dates from 1900. There are exhibits about the area's agricultural history and rural life in this part of South Africa.The Drakensberg area near Himeville is popular for outdoor sports of all kinds, including rafting, horseback riding, and fly fishing. The nearby Sani Pass links South Africa with the enclave of Lesotho, though the road is difficult enough that 4x4 vehicles are required.More
#15
Kwa Muhle Museum

Kwa Muhle Museum

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Housed in the former home of an apartheid legislation enforcement body, the modern Kwa Muhle Museum transcends its unsavory history to showcase the effects that era had on the city of Durban. An insightful and informative rainy-day activity, the two-story building includes video and photographic displays, documents and reconstructed scenes that depict the shaping of city through its working class.Permanent exhibits teach visitors about past and present labor practices, as well as different facets of the apartheid system, including the use of sorghum beer halls to fund social services for non-whites. Gallery spaces house temporary exhibitions; a National Geographic photography display recently spanned two rooms. Kwa Muhle is one of four historical museums in Durban, the others being the Old Court House Museum, the Old House Museum and the Port Natal Maritime Museum.More

Trip ideas

Ways to Experience Zulu Culture in Durban

Ways to Experience Zulu Culture in Durban

How to Spend 3 Days in Durban

How to Spend 3 Days in Durban

Lesotho Tours from Durban

Lesotho Tours from Durban

Top activities in Durban

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Durban

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Spectacular Views
Julia_C, Feb 2020
Durban Shore Excursion: Valley of 1000 Hills and PheZulu Tour
The crocodiles & snakes were a sight to see and the Zulu dance was excellent.
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Awesome Tala Tour.
martinkbardstown, Feb 2020
Durban Shore Excursion: Tala Game Reserve Tour
He even took us on a side trip to see even more things.
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Johnny's Most Excellent Adventure
catmcsmith, Jan 2020
Culture Walking Tour of Durban
Johnny is a great tour guide and YOU MUST do this tour if you want to see the real Durban.
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Gritty tour
Paul S, Sep 2019
Culture Walking Tour of Durban
My wife and I like to see the real world when we travel and Johnny showed us the real Durban, warts and all.
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Well organised trip to Lesotho
Amanda_F, May 2019
Mountain Splendor -The Kingdom of Lesotho from Durban
But well worth it to get to see the magnificent country of Lesotho.
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This tour began with the on time...
James P. T, Jul 2017
Durban City & PheZulu Cultural Village Day Tour from Durban
We decided to visit the Valley of the 1000 Hills in the morning because the weather was perfect and was questionable in the afternoon.
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People Also Ask

What is Durban famous for?

Durban is known as a multicultural foodie city with a golden coastline. It’s called “Surf City” after its top-notch surfing spots. And it's known as South Africa’s “curry capital,” a reference to its large Indian population and Indian-inspired cuisine; try bunny chow, a dish of hollowed-out bread filled with curry.

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How can I spend a day in Durban?

If you’ve only got one day in Durban, be sure to experience its idyllic waterfront area. Head to the Golden Mile for some water sports fun, or explore the many shops and restaurants along the promenade. Taste the city’s excellent Indian-inspired dishes—such as bunny chow—and visit uShaka Marine World.

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What is there to do in Durban on a budget?

Experience the beauty of Durban’s great outdoors; Durban Botanic Gardens, Jameson Park, and the Amphitheatre Gardens offer free entry. Durban Natural Science Museum is great for rainy days. For bargains, stroll down Victoria Street Market; for cheap eats, check out Sunrise Chip ‘N’ Ranch or Afro’s Chicken Shop.

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What are Durban's main attractions?

One of the main attractions in Durban is uShaka Marine World—a theme park and waterpark. Other popular attractions include Shakaland, a museum and cultural village that celebrates Zulu culture, and Durban Botanic Gardens. The city's natural attraction with the biggest draw is the Golden Mile beachfront promenade.

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What can I do in Durban at night?

Durban has a great nightlife scene; see live jazz at The Chairman, try cocktails at Joe Cool’s, or taste craft beer at Robsons Real Beer. Find a great selection of bars, restaurants and clubs in Morningside. For a romantic evening, take a night gondola ride along the Durban waterfront canals.

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What do locals do for fun in Durban?

Locals relax at the Golden Mile beachfront area or eat and drink at Florida Road. Another popular local haunt is Station Drive—home to vintage stores, distilleries, breweries, coffee shops, art studios, and creative spaces. Favorite local markets include the I Heart Market and Victoria Street Market.

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