Durban is the capital city of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, as well as South Africa’s and the continent’s busiest port. The city is also a popular tourist centre because of its year-round warm sub-tropical climate, sandy beaches and its historical significance for the Zulu tribe.
Durban is the home of the Zulu Kingdom, made famous by the stories about King Shaka Zulu. It is also the largest “Indian city outside of India”. As a result of this, Durban is a vibrant mix of cultures and people and visitors have the unique experience of African, European and Indian culture, cuisine and traditions.
Where is Durban?
Durban is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal with a population of 595,061 people in the city and over 3.4 million inhabitants in its greater metropolitan area. 51% of the population consists of Native South Africans (primarily Zulus) and nearly a quarter of the population are Indian South Africans.
The suburbs of Umhlanga and La Lucia have some of the most expensive real estate in the country. La Lucia is a luxury residential area which started out as a sugar cane farm, whilst Umhlanga is a resort town named after the Ohlanga River which is situated three kilometres north of the town and flows into the Indian Ocean. Umhlanga Rocks is a popular part of the area with luxury hotels and resorts situated right on the beach.
Durban is accessible by road, rail, air and sea. Buses travel to and from there from around South Africa and travelling within the city is made simpler with the availability of minibus and metered taxi services. Zulu rickshaw pullers also navigate through the city in colourful and elaborate costumes.
Top 5 Things to do in Durban
Golden Mile is a wide stretch of golden beaches in Durban and one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations with its variety of beach-front hotels, holiday apartments and piers. The area’s tourist development boomed in the 1970s which accounts for a prominence of Art Deco style architecture. It is also known as a “surfer’s haven” with South Beach as its most well-known and safest beach for surfers.
uShaka Marine World
uShaka is the 5th largest aquarium in the world and is home to rare shark species, sting rays, morays, game fish and other fish species. The 16 hectare theme park has only been in operation for just over a decade and has four sections, namely: uShaka Sea World, uShaka Beach, uShaka Village Walk and uShaka Wet ‘n Wild.
The Greyville Racecourse hosts the annual Durban July Handicap which is a prestigious Thoroughbred horserace which takes place on the first Saturday of July. The event began in 1897 and has been attended by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Umgeni River Bird Park
The Umgeni River Bird Park was built in 1984 and features the Free Flight Bird Show twice weekly. The show includes indigenous bird species as well as birds from the Americas, Australia and Indonesia. The Bird Park aids and promotes conservation through their events and by educating visitors about different bird species.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping
The shopping centre is situated in Umhlanga and has shops representing most of South Africa’s international retailers. The complex was first opened in 2001 and sparked further development in the area around it. The mall has over 400 retail stores, an arcade and theme park, 18 movie theatres, two 3D cinemas and over 90 restaurants. The famous skateboarder Tony Hawk designed the malls 4,000 square metre skate park.
Durban King Shaka Airport
King Shaka International Airport serves the area with regular flights to and from destinations such as Dubai, Maputo, Harare, Lusaka and Mauritius, as well as domestic flights. The airport replaced Durban International Airport in 2010. The old airport was used by the South African Air Force and Police Air Wing during the 2010 World Cup and was later decommissioned.
King Shaka is thus a relatively new airport, with most of the construction completed in the last decade. The airport has a capacity to cater for 7.5 million passengers per annum but currently only serves about 4.5 million and was named the world’s best airport handling under 5 million annual passengers by Skytrax in 2013.
Direct rail access to the airport has been planned but has not yet been completed, thus the airport is only accessible by road from Durban.
Visitors wanting to experience a mix of cultures, sandy beaches, the wild Indian Ocean, marine life and luxury will love a trip to Durban and its surrounding areas.