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Durban , in KwaZulu Natal , is a modern city on a beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean on the East coast of South Africa . It is in the midst of sugar cane plantations , situated on a large natural harbour , and surrounded by rolling green hills, gorgeous scenery and beaches.
Durban was built on a gorgeous bay with a narrow entrance , a natural protected harbour, along an exquisite coastline with lush tropical vegetation , and long bronze beaches overlooking the sparkling turquoise sea.
Durban is a popular Holiday destination for millions of South Africans, a city with 15 kilometres of golden sands, warm sea and year round good weather.The climate is wonderful, hot, humid and sub tropical with pleasant warm dry winters . In summer there are evening showers. The gardens and trees are glorious; flowers and shrubs thrive in the warm moist weather .
Durban is a dynamic, fast moving city. It is the closest sea outlet for landlocked Johannesburg and Gauteng and most of the country's interior.
Durban attracts global International Tourism too.The New York Travel Magazine put it on the list of Top 10 Must See Cities in 2015. The Durban Beachfront City was one of the Top 7 Wonder Cities of the World, voted from 1200 nominated cities, the only city in Africa. It is one of the cities that represents " global diversity of an urban society."
As well as a tourist destination, it is a manufacturing and industrial centre and handles the shipment of South African goods . The harbour deals with containers and there are usually about 25 ships lined along the horizon of the sea, as it is a busy port. It is the biggest city on the East coast of Africa.
Things to do
Durban is a Beachfront City and people can almost surf in the city! There are great surfing spots right on the main Durban beach in town. Most visitors intend to get to the beautiful warm beaches as soon as possible, as Durban is all about relaxing, with the wonderful climate and the sea never under 20 degrees. The beaches have shark nets to ensure safe swimming and are watched by life guards.
The Golden Mile along the Durban beachfront is lined with multi-story hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs.There is a vibrant night life in Durban, and also the Suncoast Casino for gambling.
The International Conference Centre caters for businesses and the central business district is within easy reach.
Durban has a strong Water Lifestyle culture, with many facilities for all water sports - swimming, diving, surfing, body boarding, kite surfing, jet skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, water skiing, pier fishing and paddle boating.
Shaka Marine World is a beautifully landscaped amazing place to stroll around and explore. Built on over 16 hectares of beachfront property, it is the biggest theme park in Africa. Totally focused on family entertainment, this amusement park keeps children happily occupied for hours. There are slides, tubes, water tunnels, gigantic aquariums, snorkeling lagoons, swimming pools, 2 amphitheatres, impressive dolphin shows , and restaurants . The enormous aquariums have sharks, seals, dolphins, penguins and tropical fish.
The vintage Umgeni Steam Train Railway has a timetable and calendar of events for wonderfully entertaining scenic trips through the picturesque Valley of 1000 Hills.
Boat cruises go around the harbour every day, and fun river trips are available too.
The Umgeni River Bird Park in an old converted quarry, with huge walk through aviaries, thousands of birds, and waterfalls, is also fascinating for children to visit.
There are many Golf courses in Durban, with at least 10 nearby clubs. The lush vegetation, with its profusion of indigenous and exotic trees and flowering shrubs, is a great environment for golf courses.
There are often concerts at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where there is also the highest and widest bridge swing in the world.
Nature reserves, parks and gardens are all across the city. The Durban Botanical Gardens and the enchanted Makaranga gardens in Kloof are definitely worth visiting.
The town centre is full of shops and malls, and all along the beachfront are superb Zulu crafts, baskets and beadwork , gorgeous hand made articles at a ridiculously reasonable price.
Where to eat
Durban has superb places to eat. A wide variety of restaurants, hotels and take away food shops are all along the Golden Mile, within easy walking distance.
Afro’s Chicken is a favourite chicken hamburger restaurant on the beachfront.
The Surf Rider’s Food Shack and Caffe Java are comfortable casual coffee houses with straightforward food.
For a bistro on the beach there is California Dreaming, and also Circus Circus for light food and salads.
For cafes, there is the Freedom Cafe in Greyville, and Parc Cafe in Glenwood; both excellent .
A popular Italian restaurant is Remo’s Fratelli in Umhlanga Rocks, with another branch in the Mount Edgecombe Country Estate.
The best Indian food is Mali’s in Morningside for classic South Indian food, and Palki for real authentic Indian cuisine, in Berea.
Cafe Abyssinia has Ethiopian African cuisine In Musgrave, and perhaps the best Asian food is The Greedy Buddha on north beach.
The African Peninsula Restaurant on Marine Drive on the Bluff has beautiful views over the ocean, especially for breakfasts and lunches, so as to enjoy the spectacular setting.The 9th Avenue Bistro is a classic and elegant bistro in Morningside with superb reviews.
The gorgeous Oyster Box hotel in Umhlanga has the Ocean Terrace, which has wonderful views over the sea, as well as a curry buffet and grill room.
Where to Stay
There is a vast array of accommodation available in and around Durban, catering for all requirements, from businessmen to families. High rise apartments stretch all along the Golden Mile beachfront with expansive idyllic views. Many self catering apartments are available.
There are numerous luxury hotels, holiday homes, self catering apartments, guest houses, and B&Bs.There are guest houses with views of the sea in the outlying suburbs for those who wish to stay out of the city centre.
Durban has an excellent freeway network and is about 35kms from King Shaka International Airport. Be prepared however, as the driving is wild. There is also the Rickshaw, or the City Tour Bus for touring around the city.
It is only about 30 minutes drive to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, and there are more scenic drives up both the north and south coast.The south leads to the Sapphire coast, 40 kms of lush coastal forest and glorious golden beaches, and north to Umhlanga and the Sugar coast.
There are several game reserves to drive to from Durban and also 2 World Heritage sites - the St Lucia Wetlands and the Drakensberg Mountains.
The N3 leads directly to Johannesburg.
Did you know
Durban began as a British colonial outpost in 1824 when a contingent of 25 soldiers sailed into the bay. A beautiful sight met them as they sailed into the harbour, a paradise with birds and wild life, a heavenly coastline with lush tropical vegetation, and long bronze beaches overlooking the sea.
A few more settlers arrived in 1835 and rather valiantly announced they were going to build a town. They named it Durban after Sir Ben D'urban, the Governor of the Cape then, who was recalled shortly afterwards for rather anti social behaviour, having been a soldier too long. He never saw Durban and probably didn't know it was named after him anyway.
Durban is important architecturally as it has one of the largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world. Along the harbour are many Victorian warehouses with fine architectural detailing.
The Durban Municipality is embarking upon a huge renewal program of Durban City "to restore it to its former glory" as it is so important to international tourism.