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Durban is a city of endless summer, averaging 320 days of sunshine each year, and there are plenty of places to make the most of it. Locals flock to the lush botanical gardens and parks for picnics, while surfers spend their days riding the Indian Ocean waves. Durban also has an alternative side, with craft markets and artisan distilleries taking over old warehouse buildings. With its thriving Indian food, street art and homegrown 'gqom' music scenes, there's lots to discover.
Hostels in Durban take advantage of the city's warm, subtropical climate. Most have lush gardens with palm trees (look out for the cheeky monkeys) and many have pools too. Free Wi-Fi is available in most Durban hostels, as well as a light breakfast of cereal and toast. Accommodation options are diverse: you can stay in a private cottage, in a traditional lodge with views over the Indian Ocean and in one of South Africa's longest-running hostels, complete with poolside sports bar.
One of Durban's most popular areas is the Golden Mile, a promenade stretching along the city's North Beach. Pakistani restaurants serve up spicy Tikka to surfers, who are drawn to the beach by its safe swimming and powerful waves. The best area for nightlife is Morningside – especially bar-lined Florida Road, which also has a range of small boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops. Durban Central is the historic heart of the city, with French colonial buildings that are home to museums about the city's maritime history.
For a break from the beach, Durban Botanic Gardens is the oldest in South Africa and is free to enter. You can take a picnic and relax by the lake or in the shade of the country's oldest Jacaranda tree. Adrenaline lovers should head to Moses Mabhida Stadium to ride one of the world's highest swings, covering a 220m arc through the stadium bowl. Another Durban must-do is sampling local street food Bunny Chow – fiery curry served inside a hollowed out loaf of bread.
King Shaka International Airport is about half an hour from downtown Durban, with privately run shuttle buses and taxis available from the terminal. It's a good idea to chat to your hostel about airport transfers – most offer this service – and ride-sharing apps are popular too. The colourful Durban People Mover bus is the best way to get around, with two routes covering the city centre and beach.