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Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban | © Mohammed Moosa/flickr
Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban | © Mohammed Moosa/flickr
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Top 10 Things To Do And See In Durban, South Africa

Picture of Corlena Bailey
Updated: 9 February 2017
The enchanting coastal city of Durban is a popular tourist destination in South Africa, where people can enjoy all sorts of fun activities for the entire family. Whether you chose to go swimming or visit a museum, there is never a dull moment in the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Here is a list of 10 exciting activities and sights in Durban.
Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban | © Mohammed Moosa/flickr
Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban | © Mohammed Moosa/flickr

Head out to the Golden Mile

The Golden Mile beachfront is a famous destination for joggers, surfers, sunbathers, bikers, water-sports enthusiasts and for those in the mood for a relaxed stroll. The popular ‘mile’ is actually a four mile stretch that extends from Blue Lagoon South to Addington Beach and Durban Harbor. The name stems from the golden sand beaches along the coastal edge of the city. There is a wide pavement that makes it easy to walk, jog, or bike the route. Or you could join the many surfers, kite boarders, sand castle architects and soak up the warm sun.

Go to uShaka Marine World

A trip to Durban is incomplete without spending a day at the 40-acre uShaka Marine World theme park. The park has four sections, the highlight of which is uShaka Sea World. It is the fifth largest aquarium in the world, designed around five ship wrecks where you can go scuba diving and participate in other fun activities. uShaka Wet ‘n Wild features the highest water slide in the southern hemisphere. uShaka Beach is a sandy beach with a large pier that goes out into the ocean, and finally, uShaka Village Walk simulates an African village with restaurants, cafés and other shops.

uShaka Marine World, 1 King Shaka Ave., Point, Durban, South Africa, +27 31 328 8000/8090

uShaka dolphin show | © Amada44/WikiCommons
uShaka dolphin show | © Amada44/WikiCommons
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Visit Durban Botanical Gardens to See Living Fossils

Durban Botanical Gardens was established in 1849 by Dr Charles Johnston on the edge of the Berea Ridge. The 37-acre property is Durban’s oldest public institution and Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden. It is a place of interest because of its many living fossil plants. These pre-dinosaur cycads (seed-producing plants extending back 250 million years) face possible extinction in the wild. A visit to Durban Botanical Gardens provides a rare opportunity to see these ancient plants up close.

Durban Botanical Gardens, 70 St. Thomas Rd., Durban, South Africa, +27 31 322 4021

Go To The Beach

With its subtropical climate and more than 300 days of sunshine every year, spending a day at the beach is possible almost every day in Durban. If you consider yourself a decent surfer, you might want to try the South Coast for world-class surfing. Addington Beach is the preferred choice if you are planning a fun day on the beach for the entire family. Bay of Plenty is the destination for volleyball tournaments. The Golden Mile beaches are conveniently located closest to Durban’s city center (which is probably why they are so popular), and if these options aren’t enough, you could also try Umhlanga Coast.

uShaka Beach, Durban | © Bgabel/WikiCommons
uShaka Beach, Durban | © Bgabel/WikiCommons
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Go on a KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board Boat Tour

Shark attacks in Durban are extremely rare because the beaches along the KwaZulu Natal coastline are the only ones in South Africa protected by shark safety gear. While in Durban, why not stop by Umhlanga and join the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board crew for a boat tour on an early morning? Enjoy watching the safety system at play, learn about sharks, and you may even get to see dolphins, turtles and rays.

KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board, 1 Herrwood Dr, Umhlanga, South Africa, +27 31 566 0400

View the Umhlanga Lighthouse from Lighthouse Bar

The red and white candy-striped lighthouse in Umhlanga is always a glowing fascination to visitors. Why not view the splendid structure while sipping a refreshing cocktail? Located on the premises of The Oyster Box hotel, Lighthouse Bar is a colorful establishment with a fantastic view of the Umhlanga lighthouse and the beach. Don’t miss a beautiful sunset evening with live music in the background at this romantic rendezvous spot. Try their signature drink, the Umhlanga Schling, made with ingredients unique to Durban such as cane sugar and cane spirit.

Lighthouse Bar, 2 Lighthouse Rd., Umhlanga, Durban, South Africa, +27 31 514 5018

Umhlanga Lighthouse | © Axel Buhrmann/WikiCommons
Umhlanga Lighthouse | © Axel Buhrmann/WikiCommons

Follow the Inanda Heritage Trail

The Inanda Heritage Trail forms part of the Freedom Route, which recognizes important historical areas in the KwaZulu Natal province. The trail begins at the Inanda Township, home to the Ohlange Institute, where in 1994 Nelson Mandela voted in South Africa’s first democratic elections. The Inanda Heritage Trail encompasses key historic sites that have been pivotal to the shaping of South Africa as it is today. Some of these sites include Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement, where Mahatma Gandhi nurtured his passive-resistance philosophy, and the Inanda Seminary, one of South Africa’s oldest schools for girls founded by American missionaries in 1869.

Dine at The Cargo Hold

If you choose to visit uShaka Marine World, you must have lunch or dinner at The Cargo Hold. The Cargo Hold is located on board the infamous Phantom Ship. Dine in fine style surrounded by sharks and the deep blue in one of Durban’s most remarkable settings. Enjoy some of the spiciest, fruitiest and most exotic flavors procured from the freshest produce in KwaZulu-Natal. Sample expertly prepared meals while witnessing the beautiful ocean view and the sharks swimming in the tank. Try the grilled crayfish or langoustines, a mouth-watering dish prepared with herbs, spices, lemon and olive oil.

The Cargo Hold, The Phantom Ship, King Shaka Ave., Durban, South Africa, +27 31 328 8067

A blacktip shark in uShaka Marine World | © Amada44/WikiCommons
A blacktip shark in uShaka Marine World | © Amada44/WikiCommons
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Go to Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World

Located at the northern end of the Golden Mile, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World is a complex that houses cinemas, many restaurants, a beach bar, its own semi-private beach, and of course, a casino. If you visit during the months from September to January you will see many recreational cyclists who use the casino grounds as a base for their training rides up the North Coast. The casino offers both smoking and non-smoking areas where you can test out your luck in a comfortable environment.

Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, Suncoast Blvd., Marine Parade, Durban, South Africa, +27 31 328 3000

Go Ice Skating at Durban Ice Arena

The Durban Ice Arena has been out for commission for many moons. But now, after months of construction and refurbishing, the Olympic-size ice arena is back in business. The Durban Ice Arena offers a host of fun-filled recreational skating activities for all ages. You can take part in team-building exercises, birthday parties, group parties, ice shows, ice hockey and ice skating lessons all under one roof. If you should get hungry, there are multiple food outlets available offering some tasty dishes.

Durban Ice Arena, 81 Somtseu Rd., Durban, South Africa, +27 31 332 4597