Durban beachfront
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Durban beachfront

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Durban travel guide

Durban Local time

Located on South Africa's sublime Indian Ocean coast, Durban is a tropical, urban gem that has lost its reckless air in favour of a growing sophistication.

The golden child of KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s third largest city. Its leafy north western suburbs offer upmarket guesthouses, trendy bars and stylish restaurants, while the city centre nonchalantly displays flamboyant colonial edifices and art deco delights.

Durban's attractive, sweeping beaches are complemented by rejuvenation evident along the seafront, such as the huge uShaka Marine World, one of the largest aquariums in the world.

The Golden Mile is the most popular stretch of beachfront and offers everything from amazing snorkelling and diving experiences to nature’s unique Sardine Run.

Hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs overlook the azure Indian Ocean interspersed with remnants of art deco architecture, while cool surfers swagger along the sun-baked sands. Whale-watching, wreck-diving, fishing and kitesurfing are all on offer around the city's edge too.

But what really sets Durban apart from other South African cities is its rich ethnic mix: more than half of Durban's inhabitants are Zulu, but almost one fifth of the population is made up of Indians. The result is a potent, vibrant cocktail.

This is reflected than in Durban’s ubiquitous street food, the bunny chow, a fusion between South African and Indian cuisine - a square loaf of soft, white bread filled with spicy curry. It’s hot, messy, but delicious to eat and best accompanied by a cold beer. It’s a complete contrast to another popular tourist experience – enjoying traditional afternoon tea, a throwback to the city’s colonial past.

Diversity is also reflected in the city’s bewildering array of festivals, with Durban currently staging events dedicated to everything from world music to fashion over the course of a year.

With all this, it seems almost unfair that Cape Town gets so much of the attention, but the world loves an underdog and Durban has the bite to back up the bark.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.