Guide to Durban – Durban, South Africa

Guide to Durban
Durban, South Africa

Durbs, eThekweni, Durban Introduction

Bling Free Jam
Bling Free Jam
“Lapped by the Indian Ocean with warm year-round swimming, sun tanning and surfing, Durban is South Africa’s third largest city and has the largest port in Africa. Lying between the sunny beaches of the South Coast and the game parks of Zululand, it is the gateway to the Kingdom of Zululand and the majestic Drakensburg Mountains. A rainbow mix of cultures combine to give the city an exotic edge that offers a fascinating close up to our country’s diversity, East meets West, First meets Third. Zulu, Indian and English cultures rub shoulders in spicy architectural juxtapositions that are sandwiched between vibrant markets, the Golden Mile, and sprawling townships…” Coast to Coast

Indulge in Durban’s sub-tropical city and stay longer than just a visit to taste all the facets it has to offer!

How to get there
Durban has an international airport and many flights connect from Johannesburg and Capetown. Kulula and South African Airlines service to Durban from national cities and surrounding countries. Greyhound Bus Company also services Durban from many major cities. You can also rent a car from AroundAboutCars, which have associated offices country wide and have super deals for backpackers.

How to get around
Durban has four ways of getting around…by foot, mini-bus, city bus and taxi cabs. City buses are slow and don’t run as frequent and as fast as the mini-buses. The mini-buses are the 15-seater vehicles that zip around the city to different areas with Dr. Dre bass beats on loud and their paint graphics, fluorescent bright. Flag down one of these speedy colorful buses and ask them where they’re going, and hop in. After 5 p.m., taxi cabs are used to get to anywhere around the city, call Roy’s Taxis for efficient and reliable 24-hour service, 072 7384 830, 072 8288 461.

Local Services
There are ATMs and banks situated all over from the beachfront to Grey Street. Many people warn visitors of ATM scams, so be aware of your surroundings before and after you use the machine. The Tourist Junction, on Pine and Commercial, has bus schedules, maps and a lot of helpful information including Coast to Coast Backpacking Guide to Southern Africa.

Local Attractions
If you can’t handle the waves or sun at Bay of Plenty, spend your time in the shade at Durban’s Botanical Gardens. Check out the Playhouse Theatre, near the City Hall on Smith Street, to see the current showcase of Durban’s fine arts, music and drama. On the first Saturday of every month, go to Albert Park on Russell and St. Thomas, for the Bling-Free Playground Jam, to hear and see the culture of Hip-Hop, where Durban neighborhoods unify under DJing, MCing, breakdancing and graffiti. Head down to the BAT center on Victoria Embankment to check out the local art or music scene during the afternoons and join the drum circle on Tuesday nights. Walk to Wilson’s Wharf along the Embankment to sit at Zac’s on Monday’s open mic night and listen to the brave voices while you enjoy the glittering lights of Durban’s harbor and warm tropical night climate.

Things to do
Durban is known for its variety of markets with hawkers, spices and crafts. Near The Workshop Shopping Mall on Aliwal, is Church Square, between West and Pine, open from 8:30 to 4:30, selling everything from mangoes to handmade clothes by Isabel. Victoria St. Market, on Victoria and Grey St., is well-known to tourists. It’s a one stop place for your souvenirs, masks, jewelry and vibrant spices. Nearby is Warwick Junction Market, near the Berea Road Station and the West end of West St. This market is where you will see everything, from fresh produce, watches, Mhuti herbs, and snake skins for sale. Go to Khan Wholesalers on 127 Prince Edward for Zulu herbal products and natural medicine. On Victoria Street, find Ajmeri Arcade and walk through this inside mecca of random Durban goods-from old records to yarn, beads and tailor-made clothes from bright beautiful patterns.

Grey Street
Grey Street
If you’re up for it, venture to Umgeni and Flynn St. to see the markets of handmade baskets, Zulu-beaded jewelry and try the fresh fried bread, made to order. On Sundays, 9-4, The Amphitheatre Market stretches from Aliwal to the beach front. This Sunday event has many vendors and wonderful snacks along the way like samosas, rotis and delicious sugarcane juice on the beachfront. After the Sunday shopping and taste-testing, watch the skaters at Bay of Plenty park that overlooks the ocean and listen to the berimbau of Durban’s Capoeira na Praia.

Places to Eat and Drink
After all the exploring along West, Grey and Victoria Streets, follow your tastebuds to Little Gujrat-Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, situated on Prince Edward St at two locations. Pick out a variety plate of chili bites and samosas, or gorge into the famous bunny chow (lentil, bean curries in a gooey bread bowl). If spicy vegetarian food isn’t your thing, visit New Light behind the Holiday Inn, across from Shoprite, for some grilled dishes and stay for the music and dancing at night.

On Saturday, visit the vendors at Essenwood Flea Market, 9-2, near Musgrave Center and browse around the crafts after a yummy lunch. Eat at Home on Windmere on Wednesdays and stay for the live local music. Go for a romantic dinner at Fabulous, 27 St. Thomas off Botanic Gardens, and cuddle on the Moroccan cushions. Order a mezze platter at Bean Bag Bohemia on Florida Road and sit outside for a cocktail. Visit BAT center’s Trans-Africa Café for dinner on Thursday and stay for the DJ’s and dancing until dawn.

Places to Stay

If a friendly local hasn’t already offered you a place to stay, then you can find a home that is converted into a bed and breakfast along many of the roads off Berea Avenue. Major hotel chains are situated along the beachfront, but the best and most affordable are the backpackers spread about the city. Nomads and Tekweni Backpackers are located 5 minutes outside the center but near nightlife and restaurants. For a beach retreat from the city, stay at Antsey’s Backpackers on the Bluff. All the backpackers rates range from $10-20 a night.

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