Hostelworld Guide for Durban

Colm Hanratty


Durban enjoys the setting most cities around the world dream of. Just minutes from its bustling city centre are miles and miles of golden beaches. Unsurprisingly, these have attracted visitors from other parts of the country for years. Aside its celebrated coastline, South Africa's third largest city, which is the capital KwaZulu-Natal region, also boasts a world-class marine theme park, a casino that offers more than just gambling, and one of the world's most innovative football stadiums. With game reserves nearby, and a host of bars and restaurants that will keep you entertained at night, most of which can be found along Florida Road, Durban suits those in search of a bit of relaxation along with those in search of a little bit more.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Durban's King Shaka International Airport is located 35km north of the city centre. It serves flights from the country's other major cities along with international ones also.

By train: If you travel to Durban by train your journey will end at the city's train station on NMR Ave, north of the city centre.

By bus: There are several bus companies operating in South Africa, although most budget travellers use buses catering especially for backpackers such as the Baz Bus which can be booked at

Getting Around

On foot: Downtown Durban is easily explorable on foot. You can walk to other areas like the beach front also although some of these aren't as safe as others. Make sure to ask at where you're staying where is safe to explore and where isn't.

By bus: Operating throughout Durban are a host of small minibuses although these are generally only used by the locals.

By taxi: If you haven't rented a car you may need to use taxis when in Durban. Ask your hostel to call one for you and then use the same company for the duration of your stay.

 Durban facts

Name: Known as 'eThekweni' in Zulu, in 1835 the town was named Durban after the Cape Governor of the time, Sir Benjamin D'Urban.
Population: Durban has a population of approximately 3.5 million people.
Founded: Durban was founded on Christmas Eve in 1947 after Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama arrived at the bay and settled there.
Area: The city cover's an area of approximately 2,292 square kilometers.

Boasting an average of 320 days of sunshine every year, Durban has a subtropical climate. This means it enjoys extremely hot summers, although they can be quite humid also. Thanks to the climate winters are mild, with the coldest months being July and August. Temperatures during these months can still climb to 20C. Rain is common throughout the year, with the wettest months being during the summer.

 Good to know...

Languages: English, Xhosa, Zulu and eight others
Currency: Rand (R)
Electricity: 220V/230V, 50 Hz
Area code: +27 (South Africa), 031 (Cape Town)
Emergency codes: Police/Fire 10111, Ambulance 10177
Time zone: South African Standard Time (GMT +2)
Central Post Office: Cnr of West and Gardener Streets, Downtown Durban
Main tourist office: Tourist Junction Building, Third Floor, 160 Pine Street, Downtown Durban
Avergage price of a meal: R60
Avergage price of a beer: R15
Price of a coffee: R20

Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates

USA: +27 (0)31 305 7600*
Canada: +27 (0)31 202 3432*
Australia: +27 (0)12 423 6000***
New Zealand: +27 (0)31 202 0461*
UK: +27 (0)31 572 7259**
Germany: +27 (0)31 266 3920**
Spain: +27 (0)31 764 2574**
France: +27 (0)12 42 51 600***
Italy: +27 (0)31 368 4388*
Ireland: +27 (0)12 342 5062***

*Number is for Consulate
** Number is for Honorary Consul
***Number is for Embassy in Pretoria

Hostelworld Guide for Durban

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Spiga d'Oro, 200 Florida Road, Morningside Drawing crowds every day of the week, this Italian on the popular Florida Road has a wonderful atmosphere and the food compliments it perfectly. The pasta dishes come in medium or large, while the pizzas would fill even the hungriest person. All this with attractive prices make this a surefire hit. Open daily 7am-midnight.

Delux Burger Bar, 143 Davenport Road, Glenwood Those with a penchant for meat need to check this burger joint out. Offering a huge selection of mouth-watering, and extremely beefy burgers, it's the perfect place for a relaxed and reasonable meal out. Staff are friendly and relaxed leaving you feel more than welcome to hang around for a beer or two to let the food digest. Open daily 10am-2am.

Sun Coast Casino Food Court, 20 Battery Beach Road, Downtown Located in Durban's popular casino, this is a fast-food junky's dream come through - KFC, Nando's and Steers (South Africa's answer to McDonald's) all here. There's a tippenyaki restaurant for a healthier option, along with the obligatory buffet. Open daily 9am-midnight.

 A not-so-cute bunny...

Victoria Lounge, cnr Grey St and Victoria St, Downtown No trip to Durban is complete without trying a 'bunny chow' - an Indian specialty which comprises meat inside a loaf of bread which has its bread scooped out. While they are messy, they are equally tasty and this restaurant near the Victoria Market in Downtown Durban is famous for them. Open daily from 10am-10pm.

Taco Zulu, 237 Florida Road, Morningside With its outdoor terrace, loungey tunes and young, friendly staff, Taco Zulu is a great place for some light bites or a full meal. You can choose from snacks like onion rings, but the main attraction here are the mains such as enchilladas, burritos and quesadillas. Open Tues-Sun 11am-11pm, closed Mon.

The Filler Bar, 170 Florida Road, Morningside Popular with ex-pats and backpackers from the surrounding hostels in the Florida Road area, this is a relaxed bar but one that still draws a vibrant, young crowd. Thanks to an abundance of television screens dotted throughout the bar, it's also packed when major sporting events take place. Open daily 12 noon-midnight.

Joe Cool's, 137 Lower Marine Parade, CBD Ask any of the cool kids in Durban what are the cool clubs in town and Joe Cool's will almost surely pop up in the conversation. Located down on the beach, DJs here spin chart tunes which suit the large crowds who can be found somewhere between the seven bars on two floors. Open nightly 8pm-close.

 Gay / Lesbian Durban

While you may not see the rainbow flag that has become so synonymous with the world's gay population around Durban, it is still an extremely gay-friendly city. The best-known gay venue is The Lounge (26 Mathews Meyiwa (Stamford Hill) Road, Morningside) which has been the number one spot in town for over ten years now and host different themed nights aimed at men and women. Another popular venue is Bean Bag Bohemia (18 Windermere Road, Windermere) which is also well known for its food.

Sun Coast Casino, 20 Battery Beach Road, CBD If you're sick of partying but still looking to amuse yourself in some way then make your way to Durban's celebrated casino. Even if you don't have the funds to gamble, a walk around the casino is entertaining in itself, and if you get bored of that there's a multiplex cinema here ralso. Open daily 24 hours.

Blue Bottles, Point Road, Durban Point Waterfront Boasting a spectacular location along Durban's waterfront, this is ther perfect place to unwind with a drink after a day exploring this busy city. Here you can enjoy views of Durban's busy harbour or grab a quick nibble if you're peckish. Sundays are a good day to visit thanks to locals visiting to enjoy a few 'sundowners'. Open daily 10am-midnight.

De la Sol, 258 Florida Road, Morningside Aimed at Durban's trendiest offspring, De la Sol enjoys boast both a laid back vibe and livelier one too thanks to DJs playing everything from ambient to funky deep house on their 'wheels of steel'. Perfect for a cold beer, cocktails are also popular here. Open daily 12 noon - 2am.

 Don't Miss

 Durban for free

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve Located approximately two and a half hours from Durban, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is the Africa's oldest game reserve. Set in the heart of Zululand, here you can see the 'Big 5' (rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant) along with many other animals also. Covering 96,000ha, the reserve is also located near the St Lucia Wetlands where you can see crocodiles and more in their natural habitat. For info on tours visit

 A magical marine world

uShaka Marine World Providing a 'window' into the Western Indian Ocean, uShaka Marine World has something for everybody. It has its own personal beach for sunbathing, a Sea World for those who want to go on water slides, an aquarium where you can see sealife up close and personal and more. Open daily 9am-5pm; admission R130.

Moses Mabhida Stadium You might think that Durban's newest landmark may have had its day now that World Cup 2010 is over, but this innovative stadium provides should not be missed on any visit to the city. This is thanks to the arch over it which boasts breathtaking views and the opportunity to bungee jump off it. Open Sun-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 7am-10pm; admission R50.

Umgeni River Bird Park, Riverside Road Opened in 1984 by Sibil Hotz, this park is home to a large amount of exotic bird species from all over the world. It is famous for its free daily flight show in an arena constructed specifically for them. Open daily...

Victoria Street Market, cnr Queen & Victoria Sts, Downtown Durban's famous city centre market boasts over 180 stalls selling everything from exotic spices to traditional furniture to fresh fish. Touristy, but worth visiting if only for the photo opportunity. Open Mon-Sat 6am-5pm, Sun 10am-3pm.

Catch some sunshine on the beach Durban is famed for its coastline, and here you will find miles and miles of golden beaches. Durban has a major advantage over Cape Town as the waters here are far, far warmer, making them perfect for swimming in. While there many beaches, the most popular one by far is South Beach at uShaka Marine World.

Visit the KwaMuhle Museum Located on Ordance Road in Downtown Durban, this museum documents the city's urban growth, the interaction, relationships and confrontations that made up the everyday events of ordinary people. While the story it tells isn't alaways a happy one, it is a fascinating one nonetheless. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

Check out the Natural Science Museum Dating back to 1887 and housed in the city's breathtaking City Hall, this may not be one of the world's biggest Natural Science Museums but it certainly packs a punch. Here you'll find a life-size skeleton of a T-Rex, an Egyptian mummy and a near-complete Dodo skeleton. Open daily Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12 noon-4pm.

 When you get away from it all...

Relax in the Botanic Gardens Founded in 1849 for the introduction and trial of potentially useful commercial crops, Durban's Botanic Gardens later developed collections of sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids. Today they are extremely lush and are the perfect place to get away from the hecticness of the city centre. Open daily 8.30am-4.30pm

Admire art in Durban Art Gallery Also found in the city centre's city hall, Durban's premier art gallery boasts one of the world's best collections of Zulu arts and crafts. It is also showcases some of the country's most famed contemporary artists also. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

Hostelworld Guide for Durban