Durban

Durban beach front.

Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini. It is the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa. According to the 2007 Community Survey, the population of the eThekwini municipality was 3,468,086 .

Understand

Durban was originally called Port Natal, and was founded by British settlers. Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations, making this one of the largest population centers of Indians in the world. Zulu and English are the most common languages in Durban.

Commonwealth Games

The XXII Commonwealth Games will be held in Durban between 18 and 31 July 2022. The Commonwealth Games is an international multi-sport event with competitors from around 70 countries. This is likely to lead to pressure on accommodation around this time, and building work and preparations may be evident for some time before the event.

Get in

By plane

King Shaka International opened in May 2010. The old Durban International was deemed too small to handle the increase in commercial and tourist trade through Durban.

King Shaka International Airport ((IATA: DUR)), 35 km north of Durban, is served by all major South African airlines. Flights to most cities are operated. A number of smaller cities are however not connected from here. Also provides flights to Mauritius.

International flights take place to Mauritius (Air Mauritius) and Swaziland (with Swazi Express Airways and South African Express).

Taxi fares from the new airport to the hotels on Marine Parade and centre of Durban can cost well over R400 ZAR (~US $53). However, next to the taxi rank, there is an airport shuttle bus service that leaves every hour on the hour (or as soon as the bus has several passengers) for R80 ($ 10.50) per person, though it may take longer to reach your hotel. Beware, the taxi drivers can be quite aggressive and will try to intercept you before you reach the shuttle.

The following airlines offer domestic service to/from Durban: Airlink, British Airways, Interlink, Kulula, Mango, and South African Airlines

The following airlines offer international service to/from Durban: Airlink (to/from Maputo), Air Mauritius (to/from Mauritius), and Emirates (to/from Dubai),

Durban International Airport (formerly Louis Botha Airport) is now closed. The King Shaka International Airport, at La Mercy 40 km north of Durban has been completed and is fully operational.

Virginia Airport is a small, private airport situated in Durban North just a few kilometres north of the Durban CBD and just a few kilometres south of Umhlanga Rocks. No large scale commercial flights are scheduled from this airport but you can charter a plane from companies such as King Shaka Aviation to and from this airport.

See also Discount airlines in Africa.

By bus

All national carriers and the Baz Bus offer regular services to Durban. The central bus stop is next to the central train station, Durban Station.

By train

The central train station is in the city centre. Shosholoza Meyl operates a Friday and Sunday night train to to Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg. This seems to be the only intercity connected from Durban.

MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains to various suburbs of Durban and towns nearby (such as Pinetown and the resort towns of both the south coast (e.g. Kelso and Park Ryne) and the north coast).

By boat

Some cruise ships dock in Durban, but generally there are limited "one-way" entries by boat to Durban. In theory passage on a freighter might be arranged, but it's not widely advertised. Cruises from Durban available on the MSC Sinfonia.

Get around

By car

The best way to get around Durban is by car. Be sure to check that you have the latest updated street maps and/or GPS device as a number of street names have changed in recent months. It also helps to have a list of old and new names as some of the new names are vandalized.

By bus

Durban is attempting to upgrade its public bus system in time for the Commonwealth games; however, problems with the union sometimes makes buses unreliable.

Durban People Mover buses feature CCTV cameras and wheelchair-friendly ramps. They run from 6AM until 11PM every 15 minutes. These buses stop in the CBD, the Victoria Street Market, the Workshop, Suncoast Casino, Ushaka Marine World and along the beach route. (R4 per trip, valid for 1 hour on a hop-on, hop-off basis; R10 for a full day pass on a hop-on, hop-off basis).

To travel between the Berea suburbs and the city its cheaper to travel by Mynah buses, R5 off peak (8AM 3:30PM), peak 6 The Mynah buses depart from the Workshop Terminus (Pine Street Terminus) every 30 minutes to Musgrave, The Ridge, Kensington, Mitchell Park/Florida road, Tollgate(cnr Aliwal/Smith streets), To South Beach/Ushaka, North Beach/Suncoast (in Pixley ka Seme [West] Street, opposite the City Hall).

The Aqualine buses to the suburbs (depart from the Pine Street Terminus) are usually within 5 minutes of the schedule every hour.Peak cash fare can be quite steep. If you're travelling daily by bus to work, it's advisable to buy a weekly coupon, which can save you up to 35% of the cash fare. Fare, bus route & time table enquiries (+27 31 309-5942/3). However, due to the ongoing dispute some routes have be suspended. *= service suspended.

Most buses depart on the hour every hour, check the bus schedule. Please note that sometimes to get to your destination, you might have to catch a couple to three buses. When not sure about bus route number, ask the locals or the bus driver (tell him the nearest landmark to your destination). Mynah buses do not have route numbers, only the destination will be displayed on the electronic display in front of the bus. Please note that u must flag the bus down to stop at the bus stop. It is advisable to have the exact change before you board the bus and get a receipt!

By metered taxi

Registered taxis are common, generally safe and relatively inexpensive. Taxis do not rove and hence need to be called so that one can be fetched from your pick up point. A lot of these will conduct point to point transfers, airport shuttles, and corporate transfers. The ones that can be recommended for the Durban and surrounds are:

Shashis taxis +27 31 303-1356 +27 83 272-6505

By minibus taxi

There are also group taxis, referred to as "combi taxis" (or "minibus taxis"), that are impossible to miss as (in Durban) they're brightly decorated and always have music pumping. There is always someone hanging out of a window making the hand gestures that indicate whether there are seats available and where the combi is going. Minibus taxis are very common and less expensive than metered taxis. Strictly speaking, they are minibuses that take people to and from work, they stick to set routes and they are generally not suitable for tourists unfamiliar with the area they are going to; when in doubt stick to metered taxis or buses. There are minibus taxis plying same routes as Mynah buses, they are more frequent and faster than buses.

By rickshaw

Rickshaw rides are offered to tourists along the beach front, for amusement rather than getting around. Watch out for the many ups and downs in the ride; the tipping back of the rickshaw cause the contents of your pockets to fall out, into the coffers of the drivers!

By Uber

Uber is quite popular in Durban and SA, as is offers any fast and reliable taxi service. It's often cheaper than a metered taxi.

By helicopter

See

Do

uShaka Marine World
Dolphin Show at uShaka Marine World

Museums

Festivals

Its winter festival is held on the main beach and the summer festival on the main street where live jazz bands play out late into the evening A must to visit.

Buy

Popular items to buy are Zulu beadwork, wirework, wicker work - from baskets and sustainable conference bags to fantastic lights and furniture, Spices - anyone dare 'mother-in-law's revenge' ? Fantastic!

Eat

As Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside of India itself, a Durban curry is a popular dish and can range from mild to very hot. There is also the Bunny Chow which is unique to the city, a quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a curry of your choice. Check out the Workshop restaurants for some of the best bunny chow in the city. Or head over to the Indian neighborhood near Victoria Market for more authentic Durban Indian food.

Good Indian dining is at Vintage Restaurant next to Bean Bag Bohemia - Windemere Road

Try the Roma Revolving Restaurant at the top of John Ross House on the Esplanade for Italian food and the best view of Durban.

Wilson's Wharf a long pier build into the harbour, hosts a wide selection of international restaurants and watch the busiest harbor in Africa's activity. Take in a show afterwards at the upstairs Catalina theater.

Try Morningside restaurants, along Florida Road, for trendy cafe sidewalk eateries including one Italian style, Spiga d'Oro, frequented so often by South Africa's notorious businessman, Schabir Shaik, that a dish is named in his honor 'Pasta a la Shaik'. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates ate at "Spice" set off the busy street in a quiet upstairs courtyard. And nearby, be nearly guaranteed to rub shoulders with the up-and-coming in-crowd at the Bean Bag Bohemia, Windermere Road, a restaurant that makes great dining an artistic event.

Definitely try some 'biltong' when you're in South Africa. Its South African-style jerky and available in a whole range of flavors and textures.

Drink

Zacks, located at Wilson's wharf on Victoria's embankment is a popular place to get thirst quenching drinks and just relax and enjoy the view of the harbor. Joe Kool's, on the beachfront is also well known as the best place for a "sundowner" after a long day on the beach. Check out their roof-top deck for the best views. The BAT Centre, on the port is also a good place for a quick meal or drink. There's free jazz most nights as well as other concerts, hip-hop and the occasional poetry slam. The Firkin is a micro-brewery on the top floor of the Pavilion shopping centre in Westville. It has some great ales and beers and good snacks at reasonable prices.Tilted house is a trendy place situated in the city center in an old Victorian house. It has its own VIP section, but it is open to the beautiful as well as important. Cool Runnings is a reggeaton place with cheap beer and a relaxed atmosphere. Burn is a good concert scene for Metal and Rock music with club evenings every weekend. Durban is known for it`s pot and you will easily find it around the clubs, but beware that the police does care if tourists break the law and you can be thrown out of the country if you are caught with it.

Go out

Cafés

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000

Budget

Midrange

Splurge

Stay safe

Mounted police

The beach strip is frequently patrolled by policemen, there are CCTV cameras and many lights at night. As everywhere else, there are several basic safety rules to follow. Avoid dark, deserted areas, and do not go out alone in the early hours of the morning. The promenade along the beach is safe to walk, but do not venture to the side and back roads of the hotels.

Avoid the Point Road (aka Mahatma Gandhi Road) area at all times.

At night, it is still a good idea to stick to the main streets and not go out at night unless you are very familiar with a particular area. Avoid the usually busy central business district, which is empty after dark. Above all, use common sense.

Remember, you're a tourist, not a celebrity. Dress down to blend in with the people in the CBD (keep the fancy stuff to a minimum).

The harbour area is quite safe, as are the shopping malls and higher residential areas.

The Point, the area between downtown and the port, is known for prostitution and cheap hotels has higher crime rate (although parts are currently undergoing a massive redevelopment). Avoid walking here alone or at night and take cars or metered taxis if you need to go to this area. .

Street children can be a problem, and its best to keep clear of them. Many sniff glue, carry knives, and act quite unpredictably.

Stay healthy

Cope

Consulates

Guides & Info

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.