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Top 5 things to do in Durban

From sand and surf to Africa's Big Five

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4 June 2018 by Claire Benktander

The coastal city of Durban is one of South Africa’s gems, with its myriad Indian influences, white-sand seafront and wildlife-rich game reserves of the world-famous KwaZulu-Natal. With British Airways offering direct flights from London to Durban from 29 October 2018, it will be easier than ever to explore the city’s vibrant culture, epic seafood and green spaces. And, drive just two hours, and you'll find dusty plains and wildlife-rich savannahs, teeming with the likes of elephant, rhino and cheetah. There’s glamour in the suburbs of Greyville, Morningside and Berea, where shopping galleries, high-end eateries and bars delight, while dotted among the cityscape you'll find an abundance of botanical gardens and nature reserves, neighboured by national parks and colossal mountain ranges that lie just outside. Read on for our pick of the top five things to do in and around Durban, from surfing and seafood indulgences to Big Five safaris and national park hikes. 

1. Relax on the Golden Mile

Durban's beachfront is a major draw for visitors, with its miles of white sand perfect for whiling away the hours or surfing, with the exposed Anstey's Beach getting the biggest swells. Then there's the likes of Kosi Bay, Cape Vidal and Sodwana Bay, offering some of the most pristine sandy beaches in the world, paired with fantastic scuba diving sites.

2. Head on Big Five safaris in KwaZulu-Natal

The province of KwaZulu-Natal is among South Africa's most dramatic and, at just a few hours from the city centre, a visit to Durban affords access to some of the country's best private game reserves. Spread over 23,000 hectares of Big-Five wilderness, the boundless plains offer chances to spot elusive suni antelope, track rhino in the bushveld, observe breeding herds of elephants and see cheetahs teach their cubs how to hunt. Explore it all with our KwaZulu-Natal Discovery Self-Drive where you’ll enjoy twice-daily game drives with expert rangers, spontaneous bush picnics and 5-star service in one of four luxury lodges.

3. Sample Durban’s renowned cuisine

Sprawling Durban comes alive after dark with its buzzing nightlife of pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants, with an abundance of beachside cocktail bars and an Indian heritage that means authentic curry houses abound. At such close proximity to the coast it’s not surprising that the seafood in Durban is also world-class, best paired with stunning harbour vistas. Experience the best Durban has to offer with our South Africa with Red Carnation Hotels itinerary, where you'll stay in the renowned Oyster Box hotel, known for its ultra-fresh seafood and curry feasts where you can indulge right on the beach.

4. Explore the 'Valley of 1000 Hills'

Often called the 'Valley of 1000 Hills' due to its undulating terrain and verdant spaces, Durban has an unexpected array of greenery, showcased in Africa's oldest botanical gardens and the Umgeni River Bird Park. Just a few hours away lies the epic Drakensberg Mountain range, as well as the coastal dune forests and unspoiled beaches of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Explore it with our Best of South Africa itinerary, where you'll spend a day exploring Durban's landscapes as well as discovering Cape Town’s big-name delights.

5. Immerse yourself in KwaZulu-Natal's history and culture

Durban’s combination of African and Indian influences means it’s a hub of festivals and culture, showcased in everything from night markets to beer festivals. Immerse yourself in the distinctly south Asian feel, evident throughout the city's bustling marketplaces and indulgent Indian curries; head to Victoria Street Market for its enormous range of African and Indian produce, with barrels of fragrant spices and incense. The cultural villages around the town of Eshowe showcase the traditions of the indigenous Zulu people and you can even head on visits to villages such as PheZulu for a fascinating insight. And, further afield, a number of scenic self-drive routes run through the battlefield sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Poignant reminders of the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars, they’re crucial to understanding KwaZulu-Natal’s turbulent history.

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