The incredible aquatic entertainment complex combines thrill water rides with one of the world's largest collections of marine animals, some of which (such as seals and dolphins) visitors are welcome to come into close contact with. The uShaka Beach offers free entry. Several on-site companies provide diving courses, kayak hire, boat rides and similar.
Durban is home to some of South Africa's finest stretches of sand. The Golden Mile in central Durban is a collection of multiple well-kept beaches fit for both swimming and surfing and equipped with all necessary amenities; Umhlanga beaches to the north are known for being cleaner and less crowded. Beware of strong currents and keep away from pier sides.
Surfing is one of Durban's favourite pastimes, and multiple international tournaments held here serve to show the sport's essential role in local culture. Learn to surf at uShaka Beach or head straight to New Pier and Bay if you are no stranger to the board. North Beach, along with Oasis Beach, are bodyboarding hot spots.
The state-of-the art stadium continues to attract guests long after the 2010 World Cup it was originally built to host. A SkyCar takes visitors to the panoramic viewing platform at the stadium's very top (walking up the several hundred stairs on foot is another alternative), and thrill-seekers must try the Big Swing - an impressive free fall swing named world's tallest in 2011.
The Botanic Gardens are a welcome green retreat, which, at nearly 150 years old, is the continent's oldest botanic garden. Apart from its impressive collection of cycads and orchids, the garden is known for hosting various cultural events and concerts, being perfect picnic grounds and having a relaxing on-site tea garden.
The former home of Sir Marshall Campbell and his family, this Cape Dutch building has been converted into a museum complex containing unique artifacts of Zulu and Natal culture meticulously collected by the Campbell family over several decades. Do not miss the on-site William Campbell Furniture Museum and Mashu Museum of Ethnology.
The bird park contains one of the world's most extensive collections of indigenous and exotic birds, all showcased in the park's multiple aviaries accessible to visitors. One of the indisputable highlights is the free-flight bird show held twice daily from Tuesday to Sunday (check the website for schedules).
The lively waterside area is a breezy spot with several appealing cafes and budget eateries, as well as vendor stalls selling traditional South African crafts and souvenirs. Come here to people-watch and, possibly, join a boat trip along the coastline with one of the several companies offering the service. Visit the nearby Sugar Terminal to learn about the local sugar production industry.
The hip home of established local artists, the BAT Centre is the place to go and witness painters, musicians and African dancers at work (there are live shows most nights, and the complex contains several art galleries), as well as shop for authentic South African crafts. The on-site bay view bar is a hit with regulars.
A short drive west of central Durban lies the curious lotus-shaped temple run by the local Society for Krishna Consciousness. Entry is free and granted to all (provided their shoes remain outdoors), this includes ritualistic singing and dancing that takes place every Sunday afternoon. There is a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant on-site.
Havana Grill serves some of the finest steaks in town (with meat carefully processed at the in-house butchery) and offers unbeatable vistas of the sea and Durban shoreline to diners who request panoramic seating at reservation. Serves meats, a plethora of fresh seafood, and dishes with some Italian and Mexican influences.
Dine within arm's reach of the uShaka shark tank and marvel at graceful marine predators as you tuck into excellent seafood offerings of this one-of-kind restaurant. Book in advance to get the best table. It is not required to pay the Marine World entry fee to attend.
Located on site of the Hare Krishna Temple of Understanding, Govinda's is a purely vegetarian restaurant that caters to both devotees and outsiders. No garlic or onion are used in food preparation, which does not prevent the restaurant from having dedicated return customers.
The refined Umhlanga restaurant is the result of years worth of effort put in by one dedicated couple into creating the finest French Mauritian dining experience possible. If weather permits, take advantage of the sun deck and dine with unobstructed views of the ocean. The menu features langoustine tails, Mauritian-style curries and classic French specialties, such as onion soup.
This delightful artisan bakery in Glenwood bakes fresh bread and pastries, and is a sought-after breakfast spot in the neighbourhood. The bakery warrants a visit for either a quick snack (sandwiches and bagels are to die for), a more substantial meal or simply dessert. Bread is hand-formed and made with organic rye. Eggs Benedict served on Saturdays, and buckwheat blinis are a Sunday special.
The sweet waterfront cafe is a popular breakfast spot (there are currently a total of 5 locations around Durban), with several delicious yet incredibly affordable choose from (individual dishes to full breakfast sets). Open for lunch and dinner, with pastas, burgers, meats and fish dominating the menu.
Sunrise Chip 'n Ranch (known locally as "Johnny's") is a local institution, a legendary establishment whose seedy facade should by no means deter you. Locals come here for the one-of-kind atmosphere and, naturally, the delicious stuffed Indian roti rolls too large for a single diner to handle.
One of our top picks for breakfast and lunch in Durban North is Mayfair Cafe - a trendy locals' favourite serving up a concise lunch menu of internationally-inspired dishes and elevated breakfast classics. Do not leave without having a coffee paired with one of their many sweet treat offerings.
Distillery 031 is rather unique in that it specializes in craft alcoholic drinks, all made with prime local ingredients. Alongside signature rum, vodka, gin, cachaça and even absinthe, Distillery 031 serves an incredible selection of creative dishes, original pub grub (give their take on Italian "aranchini" a try), and brunch specials.
The unique space of 8 Morrison Street is a concept relatively new to Durban, but one enthusiastically supported by local creatives, who now have a space to showcase and sell their products (a few of the offices are occupied by artisan craft stores and cutting edge fashion boutiques).
Located in Westville (inland from Durban proper), this pavilion is one address to write into your itinerary if South African-designed and tailored clothing is what you're after. A large collection of various types of clothing is showcased here, with multiple local talents' work represented.
Just a few kilometers north of Durban lies the fittingly named Gateway Theatre of Shopping. It is, reportedly, on of the subcontinent's best one-stop shopping centers, and one that enjoys a convenient location just off the main highway. It houses a multitude of clothing stores, various boutiques, a food court, cinema, bowling alley, and other shopping and entertainment spots.
Ike's Bookshop was once conceived by a political activist and anti-apartheid fighter, whose story is detailed through many of the pieces showcased in the store. Years later, Ike's still stands, offering a large selection of second-hand books for those who take a particular interest in African literature.
The airport, located about 35km away from downtown Durban, serves both national and international destinations. Shuttle buses operated by multiple companies run between the airport and multiple locations across town, making stops at several hotels and areas popular with tourists. The shuttle can also be used as a means of public transportation within the city.
A local means of leisurely transport is the colorful, man-pulled rickshaw - a part of the local culture as much as a way of getting around. The Durban People Mover shuttle operates on several routes (from uShaka Marine World to Suncoast Casino, with stops along the way and in the downtown area) and runs from early morning until 10pm daily. Tickets may be purchased on board. Mynah bus service runs to residential areas and stops at several location outside downtown - North and South Beaches, Botanic Gardens, Kensington Road and further locations. Aqualine buses run to the metropolitan area.