A holidaymakers' paradise
With over 320 days of sunshine per year, Durban is a holidaymakers' paradise. The 6 km 'Golden Mile' of beaches are packed with sun worshippers throughout the year, while the warm waters of the Indian Ocean entice swimmers, surfers, diversand other watersport enthusiasts. Just north of Durban is the more exclusive area of Umhlanga Rocks, with its golden sandy beaches and luxury hotels.
For those looking for things to do away from the sand and sea, Durban is a bustling cosmopolitan city with excellent restaurants, museums, live music and theatre.
Whilst the mid-summer months of February and March are known for being extremely hot and humid, the rest of the year is milder, and the tropical sunny climate gives the city a constant 'feel-good' appeal.
The city, although the second largest in South Africa, still feels relatively small and is easy to navigate around. You can quite easily visit all the major attractions in one day, which include the Victoria Street market, City Hall and the Botanical Gardens. However, as in every other city in South Africa, if you want to visit one of the townships, a guided tour is the only way to do this.
Nearly 3 million people live in Durban today, and its population is growing faster than almost any other city in the world. Durban is also home to the largest population of Indian descendents in South Africa, whose ancestors were originally shipped to the region in the 19th century as slaves. Nearly 1 million Indians live in Durban today. It is not surprising, therefore, that the city is renowned for its aromatic spice markets and delicious curries - reputed to be some of the best in the world outside of India itself.
There is no getting away from the fact that it is the sun, sea and sand that really give Durban its extra appeal for overseas visitors and South African holidaymakers alike.
Some of the best diving in South Africa can be found at Aliwal Shoal, just 50 km south of Durban. Aliwal is voted as being one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
Other Attractions Near Durban
Visitors from the UK or New Zealand will find the landscape of the (optimistically named) Valley of a Thousand Hills very familiar. Rolling green hills scattered with small villages make this a pleasurable landscape to meander through and enjoy at your leisure. The first English settlers began to pioneer routes inland from the coast during the early 1830s, and the Valley of a Thousand Hills was the first overnight stop. A small 'hospitality industry' began, and has continued to grow and thrive ever since. The Paradise Valley Nature Reserve has several walking trails through the bush, and a number of waterfalls and scenic spots.
PheZulu is a purpose built Zulu 'village' only 35 km from Durban, which offers a theatrical telling of the history of South Africa's people, a tour of a Zulu village, and an exhibition of traditional Zulu dancing, all set against a magnificent view over the Valley of a Thousand Hills. You can combine PheZulu with a visit to the Crocodile and Snake Farm, which is on the same site.
Finally, Ghandi spent much of his early career as a lawyer in South Africa, and his first home in the country was only a short drive from central Durban. Unfortunately, the original building was burned to the ground during rioting in the 1980s. A replica building has been built on the same site, and this is now a museum. There is an extensive photographic record of this extraordinary man's life, although not much else actually remains from his time in South Africa.