Weekend Breaks in South Africa, Durban
Why Visit: Dubbed ‘South Africa’s Playground’, Durban delights from all angles and is the perfect place to find your inner swimmer, scuba diver, sunbather and shopper. Famed for glorious stretches of beach, which beautifully contrast with the towering buildings of the business district, Durban is a relaxing beach and cultured city break rolled into one. The largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal province on the east coast of South Africa, Durban is characterised by its subtropical climate. The summer months of November -March see it reach its highest temperatures whereas during the winter months of June-August, it is still pleasantly warm and less prone to rainfall, making it the optimum time to visit.
Where to stay: The Oyster Box is sea view luxury at its very finest. Nestled within the prosperous borough of Umhlanga, this five star residence welcomes guests with its distinct colonial charm and timeless elegance. There are 86 rooms and suites to choose from and guests will enjoy direct beach access, dolphin watching opportunities, the onsite cinema and mesmerising panoramas of the Indian Ocean and legendary Umhlanga Lighthouse. Oozing celebrity appeal, this unashamedly lavish hotel already has the royal seal of approval with British princes William and Harry as well as Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, the reigning king of the Zulus, frequenting the hotel.
Getting There: A number of airlines including British Airways and South African Airlines as well as budget airlines such as FlySafair, Kulula and Mango operate a number of domestic flights to/from the King Shaka International Airport. For getting around the city, hiring a car is the best option but Durban is also famous for its iconic Zulu rickshaws.
Morning: For 360° views of Durban, make your way over to the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, a state-of-the-art stadium built especially for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Admire Durban’s landscape and embark on the Adventure Walk to the top of the stadium’s iconic arch, stopping along the way to take a shot of spellbinding vistas of Durban. Adrenaline junkies should take the leap of faith and go on the Big Rush Big Swing, the world’s tallest swing, for a heart-stopping swoop into the centre of the stadium, however, if the thought of ascending to such heights makes you feel queasy then fear not there as there are other ways to enjoy all of the stadium’s delights including via Segway.
Afternoon: Escape from the high rises and urban jungle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at the Durban Botanic Garden. Home to a sensational selection of indigenous and exotic plants and the world’s rarest cycad collection, these exquisite gardens are the oldest surviving botanic gardens in Africa and Durban’s oldest public institution. After exploring the beauty of the gardens, soak up the artsy atmosphere of nearby neighbourhood Glenwood, a hotspot of thought-provoking street art, trendy eateries and funky art galleries such as KZNSA, the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts, where you can appreciate captivating collections of Zulu art and craft.
Evening: When you envisage romantic gondola rides along the river, Durban may not spring to mind as the city of choice but taking a night ride on a gondola in this vibrant city is a magical experience you won’t forget as you take in the glistening lights of the city under the blanket of the night sky and twinkling stars. Round off your evening by listening to some soulful jazz at The Chairman, a stylish watering hole that entices with its sophisticated ambience and quirky interior characterised by exposed brick walls, industrial-style lighting and plush leather seating. This world-class music venue also boasts an impressive whisky collection, delicious food menu, and even its own art gallery.
Morning: Get up bright and early and make the most of Durban’s fabulous beaches. The aptly named Golden Mile is a long stretch of sandy coastline that adds to the city’s charming appeal.
Whether you want to soak up the sun’s rays, swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean or surf the tumbling waves, there is something for everyone. The enviable laidback vibe, with skaters showing off their tricks, gives the area an effortlessly cool California-esque feel. The fun doesn’t just stop at the beach; uShaka Marine World offers endless opportunities for family enjoyment with Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild and uShaka Beach just a snapshot of the festivities on offer. And if you fancy frolicking around like a monkey, Chimp and Zee is an exhilarating experience with jumps, swings and other exciting jungle activities.
Afternoon: Shop to your heart’s content at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in the affluent neighbourhood of Umhlanga. The largest mall in South Africa and second largest on the continent is home to a staggering 390 stores ranging from local South African retailers to large international brands such as Zara and Gant to satisfy all of your materialistic needs. Naturally, when shopping you’ll be in need of a pit stop for a quick bite to eat, and with the shopping centre containing more than 90 eateries you’ll truly be spoiled for choice. This shopping centre is one that doesn’t cease to amaze; it is also home to the largest fountain in Africa and even boasts a skate park designed by Tony Hawk.
Evening: After spending a day in the sun and shopping until you drop, it is time to let your hair down for an evening of fun at the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, wonderfully positioned on the beachfront of the glorious Golden Mile. The striking Miami Art-Deco style architecture, palm trees and glowing neon lights lure you in with a promise to keep you entertained all night long. Open 24 hours, there is no shortage of entertainment options with casinos, restaurants, bars and cinemas. All of this combined with the breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean ensure that this is a dazzling destination to finish your weekend off in unprecedented style and glamour.
LTG’s Top Tip: Outside of India itself, Durban has the highest concentration of people of Indian origin and this intriguing blend of cultures can be seen throughout the city, especially in the city’s Indian Quarter. Take the time to discover this fascinating part of town where the majestic Juma Masjid Mosque stands tall. There are plentiful food options around the mosque, and you should inevitably tuck into Durban bunny chow, a staple South African fast food dish that sees a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry.
- Durban Botanic Gardens
- Moses Mabhida Stadium
- Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World
- The Golden Mile
- Umgeni River Bird Park
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