Durban might be a laidback surfers’ city, but it has some of the best shopping malls in South Africa. Packed with popular international brands, with good restaurant and cafe options, plus plenty to keep the kids entertained – these malls make the perfect day out for all the family. Here, Culture Trip lists the best.
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Gateway Theatre of Shopping
Located in Umhlanga, on the coast, Gateway is a fashion and cultural hub. Spend a morning at the beach, then head to the mall for a late lunch before a browse around the shops. There are almost 400 to choose from and around 70 eateries, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you’re spending the day here, why not head to Snow Wonderland for all things wintry? You can build a snowman with the kids, and find some relief from Durban’s often humid temperatures. For something slightly more adrenalin-fuelled, try Action Karting. Electric Avenue also offers a host of games to keep the whole family entertained.
The Pavilion Shopping Centre
The Pavilion, opened in 1993, is one of the oldest malls in the area. Its domes, which were modelled on European architecture, have become synonymous with the city’s skyline and the shopping centre is an unmissable landmark if you’re travelling along the N3 highway. The sprawling retail hub is just a 15-minute drive from Durban’s central business district, and home to some of the best jewellery stores in the area. Grab a bite from one of the many eateries once you’ve had your fill of all the local fashion.
Ballito Junction Regional Mall
This modern mall is situated north of Durban on KwaZulu-Natal’s Dolphin Coast. It’s a short drive from surfing hotspot Willard’s Beach, and a six-minute drive from Shaka’s Rock. The area is named after legendary Zulu chief Shaka, who is said to have thrown his enemies from a promontory here, and tested the loyalty of his men – daring them to jump to their deaths. Spend the day soaking up the area’s cultural history and stop off at the mall, where you’ll find a selection of independent boutiques, international brands and some great restaurants.
If you’re keen to avoid the big crowds, try this mall in Durban’s Berea suburb. Musgrave Centre is the OG mall in the area and served as an exclusive shopping space for the rich in the ’70s. These days, everyone is welcome to come and explore the solid selection of stores and plentiful food and coffee outlets – ideal for a spot of people watching. If the clientele prove less than entertaining, head to the on-site cinema to see some real action.
uShaka Village Walk
uShaka Marine World – home to the Village Walk mall – is a must-visit for anyone heading to Durban. The 16-hectare theme park opened to much fanfare in 2004 and boasts the local Sea World aquarium and Wet ’n Wild water park. There are also various educational activities that will keep the kids entertained, including the Dangerous Creatures exhibit and the Sea Animal Encounters Island. Once you’ve had your fill of all things aquatic, head to the Village Walk, the park’s on-site mall, which has plenty to offer besides shops. Settle in for a screening in the 5D cinema or try and catch some live entertainment. You’ll also find everything surfing related within the mall, from the latest swimwear to the trendiest surfboards. Book a scuba or surf lesson from here, or take a short stroll to the beachfront for a relaxing day by the water.
The sheer number of malls within the Durban area proves that South Africans love a bit of retail therapy. Watercrest Mall is the newest on the block, but has plenty of space to keep things nice and orderly. From fine-dining restaurants to fashion boutiques and toy stores, everyone is catered for here. There are a number of African-themed craft shops and plenty of shops selling slightly more upmarket souvenirs. The mall also has free parking, which is hard to come by these days.
Westwood Mall is set in the outskirts of the city in the suburb of Westville, but very easy to get to. The shopping centre is celebrated for its welcoming and friendly staff, who are on hand to help you with any and every purchase. Browse more than 100 stores before refueling in one of the gourmet restaurants. Free parking adds to the appeal.
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