Durban Travel Guide

South South Africa|Africa’s third-largest city is a cultural tapestry blending European, African, Indian and native Zulu influences. Durban is a port city renowned for great weather, sublime beaches and killer surfing. Don’t let the decaying fa├žade of the city fool you, Durban’s real face lies beneath the surface. A few days spent exploring this fun, festive city will leave you with a lasting impression.

The British colonial and Indian workforce influence is hard to miss, infiltrating every aspect of life in Durban. The city is roughly divided into ethnic neighborhoods, and one of the best to explore first is the Indian district. This is where the largest population of Indians outside of India sells goods side-by-side with Zulus hawking traditional muti medicines and handicrafts.

Durban is also known as an artistic breeding ground, and this cultural verve can be seen in urban sites such as the African Art Center and other local galleries. But much of the city’s reputation comes from its enormous beachfront lined with dozens of posh hotels overlooking the bright Indian Ocean. Hang around Battery Beach long enough and you’ll see surfers ripping it up, Zulu priests performing ceremonies and Hindu worshippers on the trot.

Highlights

Blue Lagoon: despite the cheesy name, this is arguably the most romantic seaside spot in Durban, offering lovely ocean views complemented by teeming exotic birdlife.****

Durban Art Gallery: arguably possessing the most comprehensive collection of traditional and contemporary South African art, this special gallery should not be missed if you’re an art fan.

Kwa Muhle Museum: this provocative and educational venue presents the role apartheid played in Durban’s history through visual and multimedia exhibits.

Sibaya: grossly tacky or amazingly authentic, depending on your view, this massive recreation of a traditional Zulu village just 30 minutes drive north of town offers a rare insight into how these important native people have always lived.

The Campbell Collections: this Durban highlight is both a historic Cape Dutch home and an impressive private collection of indigenous African artifacts, artworks, clothing and jewelry not to be missed.

Umgeni River Bird Park: more than 300 species of bird from around the globe are kept in this educational preserve set among stunning tropical grounds. ****

uShaka Marine World: located at the Point, a huge underwater aquarium is the new highlight of this 40 acre waterfront theme park with its sea creature shows and water rides.