Durban Budget Travel Guide

Durban is one of Africa's tour departure hubs.

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Durban - lively home to subtropical beaches and unique cultural diversity 

Watch Zulu warriors dance, taste spicy Indian flavours and feel the sunshine on your back, as you dip into the warm Indian Ocean and wriggle your toes in the soft sands of vibrant Durban city.

Durban is the gateway to top national parks and historical sites in Zululand and the Drakensberg Mountains.

Quick Facts About Durban

  • The third largest city in South Africa, following Johannesburg and Cape Town
  • Surfing mecca, hosting the only surfing museum in South Africa
  • Mainly populated by Zulu people, featuring a strong Zulu culture
  • Home to the largest population of Indian descendants, outside of India
  • Biggest city on the east coast of Africa, with a population of over 3 million people
  • Busiest port in South Africa, and Africa according to many
  • Advanced conference facilities at Durban International Convention Centre (Durban ICC)

Durban Today

The city of Durban is arguably the best beach destination in South Africa, with its expansive sandy beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters. It is a sporting hub, especially for water sports ranging from snorkelling and surfing to fishing and scuba diving.

Durban hosts South Africa’s largest and busiest port, and boasts a robust and driverse economy. Industries include tourism, shipping, fishing, automobile assembly and, sugar and petroleum refining, as well as the manufacture of various products (food stuffs, paint, chemicals, fertilizers, soap, footwear and textiles).

Durban Attractions

One of South Africa's top tourist destinations, Durban has a great deal to offer visitors. 

The main draw card is The Golden Mile with its welcoming beaches and tourist attractions and sights. This vibrant coastal city features diverse cultures, as a place where east meets west in Africa. The culinary variety alone offers visitors a unique journey though Durban's rich cultures and history.

Durban Location

Durban is located on the sunny east coast of South Africa in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. It is the closest seaport to Johannesburg and just over an hour's flight away. Serviced by the King Shaka International Airport, various international and domestic flights are available to and from Durban.

Durban lies just north of the South African travel highlights of the Wild Coast, in the Eastern Cape Province .

It is the closest city to the famous Isimangaliso Wetland Park (St Lucia Park) and the prestigious Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, north of Durban.

Durban is also the closest South African city to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Drakensberg Mountains, both set inland to the west of the city.

History of Durban

Modern-day Durban city dates back to 1824, when the first group of British settlers landed on the coast and established the trading port. Communities of hunter-gatherers are believed to have lived in the area since 100 000 BC, gradually being replaced, integrated or killed by tribes of Bantu farmers and pastoralists from northern areas.

In June 1835, British settlers decided to make Durban a capital, naming it "d'Urban" after Sir Benjamin d'Urban, the then governor of the Cape Colony. In 1838 the Afrikaner Voortrekkers established the Republic of Natalia, but by 1842 British attacked and seized the city. The Afrikaner settlers gave in to military presssure, accepting British annexation in 1844, after conflict with local Zulus lead them to evacuate the city. 

Durban still hosts the largest Asian population on the African continent - particularly Indian descendants of indentured labourers who moved here in the 1860's to work on sugar cane plantations run by the British.

It is also the city where Mahatma Gandhi began his political career, playing an important role in the struggle for independence in India.

When to go to Durban

Anytime of the year!  

Durban is hot and humid during the summer months, and warm and dry in the winter, making it a pleasant beach destination throughout the year.

View all Durban tours   |  See our calendar of tour departures from Durban

Google Map of Durban

Use the Google map to explore Durban.

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