So you’re heading to Durbs for the holidays and all you’re thinking about are those golden beaches, the deliciously warm Indian Ocean and balmy evenings that are just perfect for sublime cocktails and moonlit walks… but as the infomercials say, there’s more!! Durban offers a heap of seriously cool things to do during the summer months – which some would (correctly) point out, is virtually for 12 months of the year.
Here’s my TOP 10 cool things to do in the city
1. Sleep on a yacht
For a completely different accommodation experience be sure to check out Yacht Numzaan (available through AirBnB). This eight sleeper yacht offers the romance of sleeping ‘on’ the water, of waking up to spectacular sunrises – albeit really early (4:30 am) during the summer months, and having the flexibility of coming and going as you please. A bonus is the temporary membership to the iconic Royal Natal Yacht Club (established in 1858 and the oldest in Africa) allowing you club privileges – restaurant, bar, swimming pool and ablution facilities should things become a little ‘challenging’ on board.
2. Enjoy cocktails & jazz at The Chairman
Located on the somewhat infamous Mahatma Gandhi St. (previously known as Point Rd), this hip and trendy jazz lounge could have you thinking you had dropped into Bourbon Street in New Orleans. A project of a forward thinking architectural firm, The Chairman has literally risen out of a ramshackle old building, repurposed rather than rebuilt and decorated in an eclectic style that is both quirky and creative. The mellow sounds of jazz, extensive cocktail menu and light meals are perfect for a leisurely evening with friends – but for the real action, plan to stay well into the night as the live music only starts at 11pm!
3. Walk, run or cycle on the promenade at sunrise
Get that sleepy head up early and enjoy the sights and sounds of the promenade at sunrise. Fishermen pull in their nets as the sun turns the ocean into liquid gold, surfers run with intent into the waves and flocks of pigeons look for scraps on the beach. As the sun rises the promenade comes to life… lovers walk hand-in-hand, kids run exuberantly ahead of their parents, some cycle leisurely and others with more intent. End the morning with a cappuccino, fresh juice and breakfast on the beach at Circus Circus.
4. Get your adventure on at Moses Mabhida Stadium
The Moses Mabhida Stadium has become an iconic landmark on the Durban skyline, not just as the imposing structure that was built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, but as a place where the adventurous can climb the 500 steps up the arch or take a huge leap into the ‘void’ of the stadium…. Those less inclined to extreme acts of bravery (read ‘me’), can take the skycar to the viewing platform for expansive 360º degree views.
5. Stroll through the Durban Botanic Gardens & check out the world’s rarest plant
Established in 1849, the Durban Botanic Gardens is currently the oldest surviving botanic garden in Africa. Stroll the broad walkways, chill under a palm tree, be enchanted by the fern garden and wowed by the cycad collection. Don’t miss Wood’s cycad (Encephalartos woodii), reputed to be the rarest plant in the world and extinct in the wild. With only male plants left the only means of propagating is by creating suckers.
6. Be decadent with High Tea at the Hilton
And yes, you can ‘do’ high tea in the city centre – the Hilton Durban hosts a deliciously decadent ‘High Tea Experience’ on a Saturday afternoon. Offering an extensive buffet of deliciously decadent cakes, both sweet and savoury petit fours and unlimited cappuccino (and other coffees) as well as a well-stocked caddy of traditional and fruity teas. Be sure to pace yourself if you hope to last the full three hours!
7. Have an evening of theatre at The Playhouse
A theatre experience is a ‘must do’ during December… this festive season The Playhouse Theatre is delighting audiences with the much loved classic, The Sound of Music (on until the 30 Dec 2016). The world class performance and feel-good factor will have you smiling throughout and leave wanting more. Be sure to check out the other shows the Playhouse Company is presenting in its venues – they are throughout the year, except for January when closed for maintenance.
8. Shop Station Drive
The Station Drive Precinct is one of the latest urban renewal projects in Durban and is home to a variety of creative spaces. Check out the Morning Trade – a Sunday artisanal market selling everything from fresh produce, fab food and tasty treats to great coffee, craft beer and hand crafted goods. Across the street is The Warehouse, an artsy kind of place with juice bar, tattoo parlour and a variety of cool retail outlets. Further down the street is the design and décor heaven World Travellers and around the corner The Station. This is an eat, shop, eat-some-more, chill kind of place that mustn’t be rushed.
9. Go local with a Bunny Chow
The Bunny Chow is a quintessential Durban meal, said to date back to around the 1940s and originating from Durban’s large Indian community. It is a hollowed out piece of bread filled with curry – for a well-priced, deliciously spicy meal head to the home of Hollywood Bets sports bar in Linze Rd.
10. Make the most of ‘Gin-o-clock’ time at Distillery031
Also located in Station Drive, Distillery031 is a craft distillery that uses natural ingredients (think local sugar cane and African botanicals), and creates its own mixers – tonic, lemonade and ginger ale. The mint grows in pots on the window ledge and the air carries the fragrance of the latest distillation. Take a tour, enjoy the gourmet street food or just sit back have and enjoy a G&T – make the most of the ‘Gin-o-Clock’ special of half priced drinks for December – Wed to Sat 6-7pm and Sun 2-3pm… check their Facebook page for more details
So head to Durban soonest… if you’re from out of town and need to fly, be sure to check out Cheapflights for the best deals around, and if you’re located in suburban Durban, leave your comfort zone and head into the city.
Just to let you know, even though this post is part of the #Blogathon Durban ‘The Best Things To Do This Summer In Durban’ campaign with Travel Concept Solution in partnership with Cheapflights and Durban Tourism, these are the thoughts and pics from our #loveDurban experience.