20 Unmissable Attractions in Durban

Take a stroll along the beach at sunset
Take a stroll along the beach at sunset | © South African Tourism/Flickr

Durban is not an obvious city and her true beauty is only discovered when you dig a little deeper. The more you explore, the more she will open up to you and show you her wealth of attractions. So prepare to discover the secrets of the city with these unmissable attractions in Durban.

Ushaka Marine World

This 16-hectare (40-acre) theme park comprises five sections: uShaka Sea World (the fifth-largest aquarium in the world), uShaka Wet ‘n Wild, uShaka Beach, uShaka Village Walk, and uShaka Kids World. It is located on the strip of land between the beachfront and the harbour.

A woman takes pictures at the uShaka Marine World, Durban

Valley of a Thousand Hills

The Valley of a Thousand Hills, perched along KwaZulu-Natal’s midlands, offers so much – from culture to curios, adventures to good food, and some of the most magnificent views of Durban.

North Beach

One of the best beaches to hang out in Durban, North Beach has a number of piers and boasts a beautiful promenade that’s perfect for jogging, cycling and taking in the views of the Indian Ocean.

Early morning at North Beach

The Big Swing

Officially named the world’s tallest swing by The Guinness Book of World Records, this thrilling swing drops you in a free fall for 80 metres before swinging you out into a massive arc for 220 metres, right into the heart of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Umhlanga Beach

Umhlanga Beach is located in the more trendy neighbourhood of Umhlanga, near fashionable eateries and the biggest mall in South Africa, Gateway. It also boasts CNN’s ‘most beautiful pier in the world‘.

Whale Bone Pier

Gateway Theatre of Shopping

With more than two million visitors a month, this gigantic mall, Gateway for short, is one of the 50 biggest malls in the world and boasts 18 movie theatres, a gym, the highest fountain in Africa and a water park. It has food and entertainment options for every age.

Gateway has the highest water fountain in Africa

Mzinyathi Falls and Rastafarian Caves

A 20-minute drive from Gateway Mall, Mzinyathi Falls is relatively unknown. The dramatic sandstone amphitheatre makes this a popular rock climbing spot. In summer after heavy rain the falls have an impressive volume. The Rastafarian Caves are a sacred place where Rastafarians who work in the city during the week come on the weekends. The path to these caves is quite difficult to find, contact the Green Corridor to arrange a tour to the caves, falls and surrounding area from R85 (US $6.60) per person.

Adventure Walk

Also at the Moses Mabhida Stadium is the Adventure Walk. At the top of the 106-metre (348-foot) high arch above the stadium is a viewing deck that provides panoramic views of Durban. There are two ways to get there. The one is to take the SkyCar, which is a glass elevator that moves along the arc, and the other way is to walk on the sky; a 500-step adventure walk that takes 20 minutes along the arc to get to the top.

The arch at Moses Mabhida Stadium

Ricksha Bus

Take a three-hour tour around Durban on the top deck of a Ricksha bus. It’s practically always blazingly sunny, so enjoy the sun on your face as you pass all of Durban’s major attractions. There are two tours per day, seven days a week. Tickets are R100 (US $7.80) per adult.

Horse riding on the beach

There’s nothing like a late-afternoon gallop on the beach, kicking up sand and surf at sunset. And if you happen to fall in, the water is inviting and warm. For R250 (US $19.40) per person, Gary offers a two- or four-person beach ride. Call +2784 205 9797 to arrange yours.

Horse riding on the beach at sunset

Rooftop night market

Held on the fifth level of the parking lot at Musgrave Centre on the first Friday of every month, this market is both upbeat and a showcase of local creativity. It features local crafts, live music and some seriously experimental food dishes.

Cargo Hold Restaurant

A fine dining restaurant located in Ushaka Marine World, this restaurant is designed inside a phantom ship and features ceiling-to-floor fish tanks that contain sharks and other marine life. You can really dine with the fishes. Dress code is smart and booking essential.

The Cargo Hold offers views into the aquarium tanks at Ushaka Marine World

Botanical Gardens

Africa’s oldest surviving botanical gardens are located in the heart of Durban and were established in 1849. This famous garden features a Japanese garden, a living beehive, a herb garden and even a ‘garden of senses’.

Roma Revolving Restaurant

Enjoy the kitsch but fun 1970s dining atmosphere of the Roma Revolving Restaurant on the 32nd floor of the John Ross Tower. The Roma is the only revolving restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere. You’ll be privy to an incredible, rotating view 105 metres (345 feet) up in the air while eating hearty Italian food.

Durban by night

Florida Road

Florida Road near Morningside is one of the trendiest streets in Durban. It has a cool vibe with café pavements, antique stores, art galleries and nightclubs. It’s a feast for the soul, as most of the restaurants on this road are among Durban’s best-loved. Some well-known establishments are the Mexican inspired Taco Zulu, Europa Food Emporium, Spiga, and House of Curries, where you can take a bite out of the Indian cuisine that Durban is famous for.

Mini Town

One of Durban’s best-loved attractions, Mini Town gives a good impression of some of Durban’s landmarks. A walkabout will give you an opportunity to view excellent models of some of Durban’s most interesting buildings.

Durban Natural Science Museum

On the first floor of the magnificent Durban City Hall, the Natural Science Museum is a trove of dinosaurs, fossils and taxidermy predators will enchant both kids and grown-ups. Entrance is free.

Durban Town Hall

Jummah Mosque

Durban’s first and oldest mosque is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Find it on Grey Street to take in its geometric splendour. It can fit 6000 worshipers at one time. Remember to remove your shoes and dress respectfully when visiting.

High tea at Oyster Box

Head to the classic and upscale Oyster Box Hotel for some high tea. Enjoy the classic, colonial-themed hotel with sweeping views of the ocean while nibbling on scones and cupcakes. Afternoon tea costs R220 (US $17) per head and is from 2:30pm to 5pm daily. Booking is essential.

The Oyster Box is located in front of the Lighthouse on Umhlanga Beach

Warwick Tour

Take a guided tour through the nine markets located in central Durban to get a feel of the pulse of the city. The early morning or ‘Mother’ Market hosts over 640 stalls, with vendors selling flowers, spices and live poultry, fresh produce, and lots more. Tours cost R100 (US $7.80) per person.

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