Durban is the biggest city on the east coast of Africa. Situated on a beautiful big natural harbour with a narrow entrance to the Indian Ocean, it is surrounded by dense luxuriant green vegetation and trees.
Due to its warm subtropical climate and gorgeous relaxing beaches, Durban Central is a year round tourist destination. Summers are hot and humid with evening showers, and winters warm and sunny. There is a wealth of amazing tourist attractions, in particular along the Golden Mile on the main beachfront.
Durban Central is the heart of the city and leads straight to the beach. As Africa's busiest port it is the third richest city in Africa. It is a coastal resort as well as a commercial port, with ships lined up on the horizon waiting for the harbour. On the New York Times Top Ten Cities to visit,Durban was chosen from hundreds of cities.
What to Do
In the 1970's the Golden Mile was developed along the shoreline next to Central Durban. Hotels, restaurants, shops and nightclubs overlook the palm lined beach promenade and extra wide glorious golden beaches. Segways and bikes are for hire to explore the Golden Mile, as well as rickshaws and cable cars.
Among the fabulous beaches on the Golden Mile are South Beach, ideal for safe surfing, about 2kms from central Durban. Wet suits are not necessary. The summer average temperature is 28 degrees, and winter 20 degrees. The average temperature of the sea is about 24 degrees.
Addington Beach has a protected position next to the harbour, with calm waters and gentle waves. It is a wide beach with sunbathing lawns. Safe swimming is ensured all year with shark nets and lifeguards. It is ideal for body boarding.There are also swimming baths and paddling pools along the promenade.
Wilson's Wharf, a pier near the harbour, has a trendy shopping centre with a variety of art and craft shops and restaurants. One can sit at the outdoor pubs with a refreshing view over the rippling water.
Ushaka Marine World Africa's biggest marine Theme Park has some of the world's largest aquariums. It is at the south end of the Golden Mile, it provides hours of entertainment for adults and children. Some of the attractions are a dolphin stadium, seal and penguin pools, and numerous restaurants.
Surfing lessons are available on the beach.
The vast International Conference Centre, with rather bizarre modern architecture, and the Exhibition Hall in Durban Central, draw many global business travellers. The Convention Centre can cater for large conferences of up to 5000 delegates, 10000 if combining with the Exhibition Centre. The Moses Mabhida Stadium has the world’s tallest bungee jump, the freak out Big Rush Big Swing.
At the Harbour one can arrange water sports such as board sailing, windsurfing, ski boating, yachting, scuba diving, deep sea fishing trips and boat cruises.
In Victoria Street, there is an Indian Market for saris, silks and spices, and the Muthi Market for traditional African herbal remedies.There is also the old Stables Lifestyle Market, converted into stalls with fresh food and crafts. Greyville Racecourse, only a short walk from Durban centre, is a beautiful racecourse that is fun to visit. There are floodlit midweek race meetings at night too.
The Durban Botanical Gardens opened in 1849 next to the Umgeni River. Situated on the eastern slope of Berea Ridge next to Durban Central, there is a large collection of gorgeous rare plants and palm trees, an orchid house and a fine arboretum with Asian, African and American trees. It is the oldest surviving garden in Africa, a heavenly place to stroll about. Set on 15ha with a lake, the gardens are open every day from 9.30 till 4. Entrance is free.
Marutswa Forest has 3 different easy hiking trails. The protected forest trail is a short walk from the city centre and aims to promote conservation of the indigenous coastal forests of Natal.
The Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World , at the north end of the Golden Mile, is designed in a dazzling art deco ziggurat style. The casino offers a huge array of gambling, slot machines and gaming tables. Focused upon entertainment for families, the Entertainment World has 12 restaurants, 8 cinemas and other amusements for children.
Durban Central has the huge Workshop Shopping Centre, near the hotels. The railway workshop was built in 1860 and was transformed into a shopping mall in 1986. The vaulted glass roof is held up by the original cast iron girders, and preserves the charm and character of the old Victorian colonial architecture.
Durban Central has many interesting lovely Historical buildings.Among them are - the Vasco Da Gama Clock on the Victoria Embankment. This intricate beautiful piece of architecture was donated by the Portuguese Government to South Africans in 1897. It commemorates the first sighting of Port Natal in 1497 by the skilful sailor Vasco da Gama, in his tiny ship.
The King's House built in 1904, is an impressive example of a graceful Victorian Palladian Villa set in magnificent park like grounds. The imposing Durban City Hall, built in a flamboyant Edwardian baroque style of architecture complete with copper dome and clock, was completed in 1910. The municipality still operates there, plus a library, Natural History Museum and an Art Gallery with a wide range of art, from early french, dutch and english paintings to contemporary Zulu arts and crafts.
The British Colonial Mutual Building is one of many wonderful examples of Art Deco buildings in Durban Central, built in 1933. The Francis Farewell Square marks the historic spot where the tiny group of 35 settlers first decided to build Durban in 1835.
Where to Eat
On the Golden Mile there are numerous restaurants and fast food places.
Afro's Chicken is popular for the chicken hamburgers,
Surf Riders Food Shack have casual food on the beachfront,
California Dreaming is a bistro on the beach and
Circus Circus do light food and snacks.
The African Peninsula Restaurant on the Bluff has beautiful views over the ocean, and is lovely for breakfasts and lunches to enjoy the spectacular setting
The Jewel of India is famous for traditional Indian food, curries and vegetarian dishes.
The 9th Avenue Bistro in Morningside is a classic elegant restaurant.
Bean Bag Bohemia and the Freedom Cafe are hip places in Greyville.
The Royal Hotel has the Royal Grill Room, an upmarket sophisticated restaurant with dark wood, white linen, silver and crystal chandeliers.
Where to Stay
Durban Central has a wide choice of hotels and self catering apartments, close to the tourism venues of the city, with wonderful views over the ocean and harbour. There are apartments near the Convention Centre suitable for business visitors or families. The city accommodation is near the main beaches, and a central point from which to visit other scenic attractions of KwaZulu Natal.
Shaka Airport is 30 kms away and there are hourly shuttles. Another option is to hire a car there and take the N2 into Durban Central. Once in Durban, getting about is easy, there are the Rickshaw and CitiTour bus services to see the town, and Uber taxis.
Along the south coast there are many small towns to explore, like Margate and Ramsgate, and the Wild coast. To the north are the beautiful resorts of Umhlanga and Ballito. Even further north are amazing game reserves and parks, like Hluhluwe and Umfolozi. and the St Lucia wetlands. Inland the highways lead up to the Drakensberg Mountains and eventually to Johannesburg on the highveld plateau.
Did You Know
Durban Central is sometimes misspelt DurbanCentral, Central Durban, Durbs, Durbin, or Dbn Cbd.
In 1497 on Christmas day Vasco da Gama, a daring Portuguese explorer, looking for a route to the East over 500 years ago, sailed past what became Durban. He named it Port Natal. Natal means christmas in Portuguese.
Durban is ethnically diverse and culturally rich, with different beliefs and traditions. Zulus came from the north, Westerners came of British descent, and Indians from the East. Durban Central has an exotic mix of oriental plazas, cathedrals and mosques, a unique African blend of East and West, with a vibrant atmosphere and friendly laid back people.