Durban is a laid-back beach city with a true vacation atmosphere. It’s been a hot minute since we were last in Durban, and really can not wait for the opportunity to go back again. Thanks to near-constant good weather in this cool and coastal town, Durban sees tourists in their droves year on year. Expect friendly faces, tons of delectable local food, and of course, terrific beaches.
Book yourself a set of Comair flights, and you’ll be on your way to one of the best travel destinations in South Africa.
If you’re wondering what to do in Durban, we’ve got you covered. This post covers nine outstanding places to see and fun things to do during your trip.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Durban
You’ll see some interesting local hotspots, great restaurants, trendy areas, and major tourist attractions in Durban. Hopefully, you’ll get to indulge in all of these incredible activities while you’re on your sunny summer vacation.
The Chairman is an absolute must-see and a shining gem in Durban’s nightlife scene. This jazz and blues club exudes class and style. The speakeasy vibe will have you feeling like you walked into a chapter of The Great Gatsby. Expect sophisticated decor, incredible live music shows, and cocktails to die for.
If you happen to be in town over the holidays, you’ve got to head out here on New Year’s Eve. As the countdown begins, Chairman patrons spill onto the street to join the brass band for festivities to ring in the new year. This unofficial street party is one of the coolest things about The Chairman.
Point Beach is a fairly new addition to Durban’s best beach strips. The Point Waterfront area has seen a rejuvenation in recent years. The new promenade and pavilion make Point a fantastic place to go for a stroll and enjoy the simple pleasures of fresh air and a dip in the ocean.
The locals seem to have been slow on the uptake when it comes to Point Beach. The area is far less populated than the famous Golden Mile strip, and you’ll find much more room here to relax on the sand. Even the promenade is practically empty in comparison to the walkways farther north, which means this is one of the most idyllic (and cleanest) beaches in Durban right now.
Swimming at Point is effortless, thanks to sandbanks that stretch a few feet out from the shoreline. You’ll be flanked by uShaka beach to your left and the Point Harbour to your right. Don’t be surprised if you see huge cargo ships docking in the harbour while you catch a tan, not to mention the sailboats bobbing around the pier. There’s so much to look at, you’ll have a blast discovering this part of Durban.
Walk to the far end of the promenade (toward the cargo ships) and you’ll see On Point Waterfront, a collection of food stalls with a great view of the harbour. You can find Mexican food, sushi, excellent coffee, and craft beer for sale. Kick back with family or friends in the beer garden and watch the ships go by.
Florida Road is essentially Durban’s party street. Situated in the Morningside neighbourhood, this is a good entry point to Durban nightlife. It’s home to a number of bars and restaurants, including the long-standing Dropkick Murphy’s, which is the most popular local dive bar in the area. If you want to chat to some Durbanites over a cheap beer, this is the place to do it.
If you want a more relaxed evening out, you can walk on up to Florida Fields, the charming food court at the top of Florida Road. There are coffee shops, juice bars, and patisseries to try out, not to mention plenty of lush greenery. There’s also a wonderful seafood restaurant called Jack Salmon with pretty terrace views of the buzzing street below. Try their delicious sushi platters while you’re there.
Hot tip: at the far left of the court, tucked away in an unassuming corner, you’ll find Paul’s Ice Cream. They sell delectable creamy goodness in an array of tasty flavours. Paul’s is arguably the best ice cream in town.
Umhlanga is a high-end shopping area in Durban that’s getting more developed by the second. You’ll see an abundance of beach hotels and high-rise apartments here, as well as more restaurants and bars than you can keep up with. Umhlanga Village is the nightlife epicentre of the area, where you can party with the locals just steps away from Umhlanga Beach and pier.
One of the newest additions to ‘village’ is Dante’s or The Dante Experience. This restaurant and bar has insane views of the beach from the rooftop area, as well as a happening vibe that tourists will love.
Each section is dedicated to something different; there’s a champagne bar, a cigar bar, a gin bar, and the main restaurant area. The venue regularly hosts Durbanite DJs and other international acts, so keep an eye on the website if you want to drink and dance to great tunes.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
Home of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the Moses Mabhida Stadium is a novel architectural achievement and something you have to see at least once if you’re in town. If you’re looking for adventure activities in Durban, you’ll be at home at the stadium.
You can take the Adventure Walk up the stadium’s archway for R110 (less than $10). It’s a steep 20-minute walk with a huge payoff. The arch’s height is 70 meters in the air, so you’ll see breathtaking panoramic views of the city once you reach the top.
Alternatively, you can take the Sky Car ride for an easy breezy afternoon with amazing views.
9th Avenue Waterside
Frequently referred to as Durban’s best restaurant, 9th Avenue Waterside is a bistro-inspired eatery with a spectacular menu and an even better location. 9th sits on Durban’s harbour, offering beautiful views of the ships docking right at the water’s edge. Thanks to its superb design – vaulted ceilings, glass walls, and stunning decor – the sunset colours pour into the restaurant, boasting an unforgettable fine-dining atmosphere.
You can indulge in a five-course tasting menu if you want to spoil yourself, and you won’t regret it. 9th takes classic and Meditteranean dishes and revives them with a modern twist, and the wine pairings are an excellent addition to the experience.
The Golden Mile
A trip to Durban would be incomplete without visiting The Golden Mile, a popular strip that stretches from uShaka Beach all the way to Point. This is paradise on earth for surfers and a wonderful place to enjoy the amazing Durban weather. There are virtually hundreds of people on the strip every day, walking their dogs, licking ice cream cones, jogging, and cycling with the beautiful beach as a backdrop.
The views here are impeccable, so be sure not to miss out on this major tourist attraction in Durban.
Victoria Street Market
Durban’s oldest market is a veritable cultural explosion and a fine example of the melting pot that is Durban City. With over 200 vendors sprawling across the street, numerous stores both formal and informal, Victoria Street Market is an intriguing place to explore. You’ll find heaps of thrift clothing just sitting on the pavement waiting for you to dig through for bargains.
Vendors also sell antiques, Indian spices, African artwork, amazing food, and more. There’s even a seafood and meat market where you can pick up fresh local produce.
Durban is known for its large Indian community, and Little Gujrat is the best place to taste authentic Indian food. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but you can pick up great dishes here knowing that you’re eating like a local.
Try a “bunny chow” if you’ve never had one before – it’s a staple Durban dish that you won’t find anywhere else done right. Essentially curried vegetables stuffed into a half-loaf of bread, this weird little dish will awaken your taste buds. You can also try any number of the delectable vegetarian dishes served up here. Beware of the heat, however, Durban spicy food is not for the faint-hearted!
On Fun Things to Do in Durban
There are so many fun things to do in Durban, many of which you won’t find from a simple Google search. And plenty of them can be enjoyed on a budget easily.
This post has got some lesser-known spots for you to try out, and Durban tourist attractions that you’ll adore. Keep in mind that it’s also a good idea to ask the locals about their favourite hangout places.
Surprisingly, all the best locations have very little in the way of advertising and websites, so you’ll need to do some investigative work to find the best gems. Luckily, Durbanites are friendly and inviting folk and will be happy to share some insider secrets.
Enjoy every minute of this incredible South African city! Durban is a delight to visit and you should have a blast while you’re there.