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Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and bargain hotspots, Durban, on the east coast of South Africa, is a haven for lovers on a budget. We give you a list of free and cheap date ideas to try in Durban.
Let’s face it, there’s really nothing more romantic than taking in a sunset while holding hands on the beach. And with some of the best beaches in the world, Durban doesn’t disappoint. The Golden Mile, a strip of golden sand with a new beach promenade built for the World Cup, is one of the best beaches in Durban; it’s littered with little ice cream shops and bike rentals so that you can hop on a bike together or share an ice cream as you take in the view of the Indian Ocean together.
If you’re looking for some old school first date romance head toward south beach and make your way to Durban’s Funworld. This carnival that began in the 1930s along the sea may have deteriorated over the years but it adds to the sense of nostalgia and the American carnival vibe. While there are numerous rides you and your loved one can take, we suggest a ride on the famous red cable cars that give you a bird’s eye view of Durban’s south beach. Entrance is free and you can pay for each ride at the kiosk.
Take a drive to the more secluded areas around Durban. If you head past the trendy and busy Umhlanga beach, you’ll find the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve. You can wander through the stunning coastal forest on boardwalks that cross the Ohlange River on its way to the lagoon or take an hour and a half trail through the path into the forest. Benches and picnic spots are discreetly provided. Follow the trail to reach the lagoon, popularly know as the “hideaway.”
Durban is situated in a tropical belt that is surrounded by exceptionally beautiful areas like forests, valleys, and far-flung beaches. For the cost of your fuel you can go as far as you like; inland to the Midland’s Meander or Valley of a Thousand Hills or up north into Shaka’s rock, Ballito, Zimbali, Tinley Manor, or down the south coast to Margate, Harding, or even Port Shepstone. With the road as your venue and the scenic views as your setting it’s bound to create an atmosphere of love.
A picnic is a classic date idea that’s both romantic and cost effective. Head to one of the oldest parks in the city—Mitchell Park—and lay a table cloth under some of the oldest trees in the city. While it may get a little crowded in the weekend with family parties and children, we suggest you get a corner away from the gazebos and playing area and settle down with some sandwiches and drinks. Afterwards you can mosey along to the little zoo at the back of the park that houses birds and small animals like monkeys and raccoons. It’s the perfect casual date in Durban. Entrance into the zoo is R10 ($00.73 U.S.D.) for adults.
If you’re looking to make a big impression in as little cost as possible, head down to Mini Town at North Beach. This little town, which aims to be a replica of the main parts of Durban, is a cute date option. Hold hands and feel like you own the place as you stroll through the tiny streets and little buildings of Durban. Tickets to enter cost R15 ($1.10 U.S.D.)
You might have to wake up early on a Sunday morning for this one but it’s a good way to spend time some time together without wasting money. This early morning market set outside Durban in the open has become famous and offers a lovely sunrise among fresh food and good people. Get a hearty breakfast here with free-range poached eggs, fresh bread, or hearty waffles or simply wander around hand in hand through the fresh flowers and take in the splendor of the countryside.
Take a stroll through the oldest gardens in the city. The Durban Botanical Gardens was established in 1849 and this 37-acre property is Durban’s oldest public institution and Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden. The Gardens boast a palm walk, a Japanese garden, an indigenous forest, a living beehive, a herb garden, and even a “garden of senses.” It also has a tea garden (famous for its giant scones), a lily pond, gazebo, bell tower, and a number of sculptures by local artists. Once you’re done wandering around you can head to the giant lily pond, where you can enjoy each other’s company on a garden bench.