Travel tips and advice for Durban, South Africa: The nine things you must do


The Moses Mabhida Stadium – built for the 2010 World Cup – still hosts football matches and concerts, but it has been turned into an extremely weird adventure playground. On the milder side, this means the Adventure Walk – climbing up the stadium's 106 metre-high arch. On the more nerve-shredding side, that means the Big Rush Big Swing, where you swing from that arch on a bungy rope, across the stadium in a 220-metre arc. See


KwaMuhle provides an extraordinary jolt for those who thought racist policies came in with apartheid. This history museum shows how the "Durban System", implemented in the early 20th century, forced black workers to have passes to enter the city centre, separated housing on a racial basis, and funded it all by making sure black South Africans could only drink in state-linked beer halls. See


The Indian with a twist flavour of Durban is best summed up with bunny chow – an improvised dish that has become a local point of pride. Basically, a loaf of bread gets hollowed out, and curry gets ladled inside. And this works surprisingly well as the bread soaks up the curry sauce. Oriental inside the Workshop Mall is one of many places to try it. See


The kwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board offers a rather unusual boat trip, unspeakably early in the morning. It's a chance to watch the sun rise over the miles of beaches and check out the city landmarks from the sea, but it's also a working visit to inspect the shark netting designed to keep swimmers safe. You'll learn plenty about sharks on the way, and a two-hour trip costs 350 rand. See


The most impressive hotels are a few clicks up the coast in Umhlanga, and the Oyster Box is an absolute treat of a place. Pith-helmeted staff, a pool terrace next to the lighthouse, a fairly legendary curry buffet and astonishingly kitted-out, masterblasting showers. It's all detail and atmospherics – whether sepia photos of century-old cricket teams or a highly lingerable cocktail bar of dark woods and bright red leather. Prices start at 5348 rand. See


The city centre is, to put it politely, gritty. But the Botanic Gardens – full of sculptures, waddling ducks and pelicans balancing precariously on branches – provides delightful respite. Highlights include the butterfly habitat garden, the cycad collection and the orchid house. Guided tours are available on request, although grab a map leaflet at the entrance and things become fairly self-explanatory. See


Durban's most touted attraction is uShaka Marine World, which combines a Wet N Wild waterpark – all slides, pools and rapid rides – with the Sea World aquarium. There are, alas, some ethically questionable wildlife shows at the latter, but the aquarium section inside a hulking great former ship is genuinely excellent. Sharks, stingrays and gorgeously bright-coloured fish flit around, with the signage making a good fist of being eye-openingly educational. Combo tickets start from 210 rand. See


Florida Road in the affluent Berea area is humming with restaurants and cafes, many of which have taken over gorgeous heritage buildings. Meat-eaters should plump for Butcher Block, where schnitzels and lamb shanks are good, but the 195-rand fillet with roquefort sauce is properly memorable. For a few beers, the Dropkick Murphy's pub has become something of a local institution, and the terrace is a hive of good-natured chatter in the evening. See,


The Indian Quarter, close to KwaMuhle, is enjoyably chaotic, with impromptu stalls laid out on upturned cardboard boxes. An absolute stunner is hidden among the chaos, though – the Juma mosque is an elegant mosque that feels like it ought to be somewhere in colonial-era India. The golden onion domes on top of the slender minarets are what make it.



For wildlife lovers, Durban is the best gateway to reach the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park – which is brimming with Big Five, and is the world-leading centre for rhino conservation. See

Disclosure: David Whitley was a guest of Red Carnation Hotels.