South Africa’s third-largest city, beachside Durban is a lively, year round holiday destination. While the beach is certainly the focus for most visitors, the city’s shopping malls, bars and restaurants manage to draw travellers inland.
Dubbed the largest Indian city outside India, Durban fuses African and subcontinent cultures to form a unique sensory experience. Colonial and Art Deco buildings also reflect the South Africa’s European influence.
Located on South Africa’s east coast in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, travellers will find even more stunning scenery just beyond Durban’s city limits. To the north is the bustling coastal town of Umhlanga and to the south the Sapphire Coast, an endless sub-tropical paradise.
In the west you’ll find the Valley of 1000 Hills with its nature reserves and cultural villages. A little further aﬁeld lie Big Five game reserves and the mighty Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.
Durban has a humid subtropical climate with hot, rainy summers and short warm, frost-free winters. In summer temperatures range from 28 degrees to 35 degrees while in winter the average temperature is between 20 and 23 degrees. The city is occasionally affected by tropical storms and cyclones from mid-November to late April.
Best Time to Fly to Durban
Durban’s sub-tropical weather makes it a year-round destination. The mild winters (June to August) mean sea temperatures stay warm and the hot summers will not disappoint sun lovers.
Getting around Durban
Like most South African cities the best way to get around is by car. Be sure to check that you have the latest updated street maps and/or GPS as a number of street names have changed in recent years. There is a commuter train service between Durban and the surrounding area as far as Stanger on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato Ridge inland. The local bus service covers most of the beachfront and central residential areas and the larger Aqualine buses run through the outer metropolitan area.
Both metered taxis and minibus taxis can be found in the city. Metered taxis must be called and ordered to a specific location. Minibus taxis (combi taxis) are the main form of transport for those locals who can’t afford private cars.
Durban’s iconic Zulu Rickshaw pullers have been around since the early 1900s, but today the remaining rickshaws mostly cater to tourists.
Durban Travel Information
- The Golden Mile (known to locals simply as "the Mile") is named for the beaches near downtown Durban that stretch along the Indian Ocean from South Beach to the newly-constructed Suncoast Casino. It is well known for its excellent surfing and wide sandy beaches.
- The uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park is a World Heritage Site known for its exceptional natural beauty, soaring basaltic buttresses, dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts. The site is home to a many threatened species of birds and plants and the largest group of rock paintings south of the Sahara
- Walk on the wild side with a cheetah walk at Le Sueur Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve. You’ll be joined on a two-hour stroll through the bush with a trained guide and cheetahs.
- South Africa’s last free-ranging elephants are protected in the dry, sandy coastal belt forests of Tembe Elephant Park partly-owned and fully managed by the Tembe tribe. The 116 sq miles (300sq km) reserve between Zululand and Mozambique is home to more than 200 of the biggest elephants in the world. The largest of these gentle giants, Isilo, is thought to be about 50 years old, to weigh about seven tons and to stand at 10.5 ft (3.2m) tall. A stay at the park will see you tracking elephants, the Big Five, and a full range of African animals.