Long overlooked for Cape Town and Johannesburg, Durban, South Africa’s best-kept secret, is slowly emerging as a promising destination for travelers. Known for its beaches and Afro-Indian culture, Durban offers plenty of beautiful attractions. Three days is just enough time to experience the diversity this city has to offer, but you can absolutely make any changes you like, to adapt the tour to your preferences. Our 3-day suggested itinerary will give you a real taste of this charming city and you will be introduced to its best attractions.
Things to consider before traveling to Durban, South Africa:
Health – South Africa has several world-class private hospitals and medical centres providing specialist services by highly skilled professionals. Though in rural area, hospitals deal with primary health care and limited range of health care, trained medical professionals are deployed around the country. Getting a comprehensive travel insurance before departure is recommended as medical costs can be quite expensive. Exercise safety precautions if engaging in any sexual activities as South Africa has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS infection.
Food and water safety – Hygiene standards in relation to food safety is generally high in most restaurants, hotels and clubs. It is safe to eat vegetables, fresh fruits and salads. Chicken, meat and fish are of excellent quality thus you can enjoy South Africa’s local cuisine. Tap water is potable however, not all water in rural areas is safe to drink ergo bottled water is advised.
Weather – South Africa is in a subtropical location with plenty of sunny, dry days. Winter is nothing compared to what is experience in Europe and snow is rare. Rainy months are from May to August and Summer is from November to February. The city is popular among local travelers and most accommodation options fill up during holidays (December and January).
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for South Africa. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Keep your guard up at all times and avoid any streets that are not crowded. Do not carry debit or credit cards with you, or hide it in your bra or shoes. There were incidences of robbery when offenders will escort you to an ATM and make you take out as much as you can. If you are staying in a hotel, leave your passport and other valuables in the safety deposit box in the reception. Just carry a photocopy of your passport. If you are renting out a car, always keep the car locked and don’t leave valuables. Do not stop for any hitch hiker or person in trouble on the open road.
Getting around – Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, so getting around is pretty simple and easy. The city features an excellent public transport network consisting of trains, taxis, public buses, tourist buses, rickshaws and rental cars. The city is also is bicycle friendly and can also be easily explored by foot. Another reliable option when getting around is by Uber.
Where to stay – Durban has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. If you would like to experience authentic local life, then we suggest staying in one of the locally-run homestays and guest houses. Not only that homestays are great value for money, it’s also the best way to learn the local cultures and customs. If you want to be close to some of the city’s prime beach-side attractions, then you can stay at one of the boutique hotels and beach bungalows in Durban Beachfront.
Detailed itinerary: Best way to spend 3 days in Durban, South Africa
Day 1: Durban Harbor
Today is spent learning all about Durban Harbor. Travel to your chosen accommodation where you will be staying for two nights. Get settled and spend the morning in your hotel to recover from jet lag. If you are stressed out, or simply needing a place where you can recharge and enjoy some downtime, then laze around Golden Mile, the crescent-shaped stretch of golden beaches. You may also get a panoramic view of the city at Moses Mabhida Stadium located at the other end of the Golden Mile.
In the afternoon, explore the many attractions in the harbor such as uShaka Marine World, uShaka Sea World Aquarium and Durban Botanic Gardens. If you have extra bucks to splurge, get a bird’s eye helicopter view of Durban. After a full day exploring, enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants with a view of the harbor. Do not miss to enjoy some seafood platters at the Cargo Hold and Moyo in uShaka Marine World.
Day 2: Durban Central
On your second day, leave before dawn and wait for the sun of the new day to appear over the Indian Ocean at the North Beach, which is still part of the Golden Mile. Waiting for the sunrise is probably one of the most fascinating experiences you could get in Durban. Then, it’s time to hit the sun and bask in the laid-back lagoon-type swimming area of the Umdloti Beach. If you want something extreme or if you want your own version of Jaws, then you may join one of the Cage Shark Diving tours in the city.
After you’ve dried yourself off, get acquainted with Durban Central’s best attractions aboard the Ricksha Bus. It’s a 3-hour hop on/hop off trip around the central district taking in sights like the Victoria Street Market, Juma Masjid Mosque, St. Emmanuel Cathedral, and others. Spend the afternoon wandering through the expansive Markets of Warwick and shops fresh seafood, herbs, clothing, and many more.
Day 3: Msinsi Nature Reserve
After experiencing the laid-back beaches and the wonder of local culture of Durban, take a day trip or stay overnight at Msinsi Nature Reserve, one of South Africa’s lesser-known game-viewing destinations. Managed by the South African state entity, Umgeni Water, the nature reserve provides controlled access to the dams. While it does not have the great wildlife and wonders of other South African nature reserves, Msinsi offers plenty of recreational activities to keep the visitors engaged.
Have you been to Durban or anywhere else in South Africa? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Umhlanga pier, Durban, South Africa (Photo Africa SA / Shutterstock.com)