Top Unique Things to Do and See in Durban

The whale bone pier
The whale bone pier | © South African Tourism/Flickr

On the east coast of South Africa, Durban offers more than just beautiful beaches and Indian cuisine. From nature and unique food to adrenaline-pumping activities, the city has so much to offer; here is a list of some of the unique things tourists can do and see in in this laid-back seaside city.

Sunrise over the sea

There are not many places in the world that can boast a sun rising out of the water every morning. It’s the best show Durban has to offer, and it’s completely free. Early-bird Durbanites get to the beach while it’s still dark and after taking in the sunrise on the sand, they go cycling, jogging, or even catch a sunrise yoga class. While on vacation in a city with a coast that gets the first light, get a beautiful head start to any day.

Sunrise over the Indian Ocean in Durban

1. Dine with the sharks

Restaurant, Seafood, South African

Unique foodie experiences SA_UShaka-min
© Amada44 / WikiCommons
The Cargo Hold is a fine dining restaurant located in the heart of the Phantom ship at Ushaka Marine World in South Beach. The restaurant aims to make patrons feel like they are immersed in the aquarium’s fish tank. There are two levels: one overlooks the tanks and the other is against the floor to ceiling shark tanks. Enjoy a world-class menu that boasts seafood like freshly shucked oysters, seared Norwegian salmon, and grilled crayfish. Booking is essential, and they employ a smart casual policy in the evenings.

Durban has a unique palate and one of the basic street food favourites is a chunk of pineapple on a stick dipped in a variety of Durban spices that range from sweet to hot. This messy hot, sweet, and/or sour snack is often eaten with dripping fingers on the beach but can be found at local fairs, flea markets, and vendors along the promenade.

Pineapples are first sliced and then sprinkled and dipped in spices

2. Jump!

Get the adrenaline pumping and jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the Guinness World Records’ tallest swing. The Big Swing allows the adventurous to take a thrilling free fall for 80 metres (262.5 feet) before swinging out into a massive 220-metre (721.8-foot) arc into the heart of the stadium (which was built for the 2010 World Cup). It’s a unique and heart-pumping activity for adults and children.

Moses Mabhida Stadium, 44 Isaiah Ntshangase Rd, Stamford Hill, Durban, South Africa, +27 31 582 8222

Get your adrenaline kicking into high gear with the Big Swing | © South African Tourism/Flickr

Walk on the sky

Also at the Moses Mabhida Stadium is the Adventure Walk. At the top of the 106-metre (347.8-foot) high arch above the stadium is a viewing deck that provides panoramic views of Durban. There are two ways to get there: take the SkyCar, a glass elevator that moves along the arc or walk on the sky, a 500-step adventure walk that takes 20 minutes along the arc to get to the top. It’s a fun and safe activity for families or solo travellers.

The arch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium offers spectacular views of Durban

Chow a bunny

Durban’s culinary delight is ‘bunny chow‘. This hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with various veg and non-veg curries is a local favourite at hole-in-the-walls, and no visitor to the city should leave without trying it out. Be warned though, it’s a messy delight that’s best eaten with hands and on the hood of a car.

A bunny chow is a delicious messy Durban treat

3. Pose for a pic at the most beautiful pier in the world

Umhlanga Beach may have choppier waters than the beaches in the north, but it boasts a beautiful whale bone design pier that CNN dubbed the most beautiful pier in the world. The pier imitates the inside structure of a whale with curved pillars that provide the background for the prettiest photos at sunset.

Umhlanga Beach, McCausland Crescent, Umhlanga, South Africa

The whale bone pier | © South African Tourism/Flickr

4. Take a steam train trough a Valley of Thousand Hills

Tucked in the verdant valley of a thousand hills is the village of Inchanga. Catch a steam train from Kloof to Inchanga’s small Victorian station in the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal and back. There are trains of the first and last Sunday of every month, and seats fill up quickly so book in advance.

Inchanga, Outer West Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The Inchanga Train Station | © BruceDBennet/Wikimedia Commons

landscape with balloons floating in the air


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