Dangers & Annoyances
As with elsewhere in South Africa, crime against tourists and locals can and does occur in Durban. Be aware and careful, but not paranoid.
- Muggings and pickpocketing have declined around the beach area since its upgrade, but be careful here at night, and around the Umgeni Rd side of the train station and the Warwick Triangle markets.
- Always catch a cab to and from nightspots, as well as uShaka Marine World.
- Parking is generally OK outside suburban restaurants, but use off-street parking overnight (most accommodation options offer this).
- Never leave valuables exposed on your car seats, even while driving.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|General Emergency||031-361 0000|
While not as vibrant as Cape Town, you will find a gay scene in Durban. One of the best places to find gay-friendly events, bars and accommodation is Durban Pride (www.durbanpride.org.za). Another good resource is the KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association (www.kzngalta.org.za). Also check out the Gay Durban blog (http://gaydurban.blogspot.ca), which is written by the owners of a gay-friendly guesthouse in Morningside. Each August, the Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (www.dglff.org.za) is hosted – check the website for venue details.
Wi-fi access is available at most cafes, hostels, guesthouses and hotels, and in some restaurants. Internet cafes are less common than they used to be, but still exist. Access is around R40 per hour. Cityzen is a stylish cafe for surfing the net or just hanging out over coffee.
There are banks with ATMs and change facilities all over the city. These include American Express, Standard Bank, FNB, Nedbank and ABSA.
Banks 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 11am Saturday
Post Offices 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to noon Saturday
Government Offices 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday, 8am to noon Saturday
Cafes 8am to 5pm
Restaurants 11.30am to 10pm (last orders); some close 3pm to 7pm
Bars 4pm to 2am
Shops 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 1pm Saturday; major shopping centres until 9pm daily
Supermarkets 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 1pm Saturday; many also 9am to noon Sunday
Durban Tourism A useful information service on Durban and surrounds. It can help with general accommodation and arrange tours of Durban and beyond. There are also branches at the beachfront and at uShaka Marine World.
King Shaka Airport Tourist Information Office Durban Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife all share a desk (the latter is open 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday only) at the airport.
KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority Has lots of glossy brochures, but the assistance stops there.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal The main tourist information centre for the region, and Durban, is in the uShaka Marine World shopping centre.
Travel with Children
Durban has a reputation for being one of the best family-friendly destinations in South Africa thanks to its miles of easy-to-access beaches, pleasant parks and, of course, uShaka Marine World. The city itself is well suited to family travel – most sidewalks are well maintained, especially in the charming suburbs and on the Golden Mile along the coast, and in the tourist areas you'll find that many of the bathrooms come equipped with changing tables. For those with youngsters in strollers you may find some of the city's hills, especially in the Berea and Glenwood suburbs, hard to navigate.
Along the coast you'll find that the Blue Lagoon Beach and uShaka Beach are very popular with families with kids. If you're not afraid of adventure you can rent surfboards, kayaks or paddleboards (as well as sign up for lessons) at Ocean Ventures.
Beach activities may be the city's bread and butter, but it's not the only place to take the little ones. The city's many museums, including the Phansi Museum, Port Natal Maritime Museum and Natural Science Museum are all great choices for kids who love to learn. Teenagers will no doubt get a thrill out of the sports history and high flying adventure to be had at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The Durban Botanic Gardens function as both a fun educational experience and a perfectly peaceful park. It's an ideal afternoon getaway to keep everyone entertained and burn off a little excess energy. If everyone is a bit overheated the Gateway Theatre of Shopping (Gateway Mall) is large, cool and has no shortage of shopping and other engaging activities.
Durban's most iconic site, the city's beachfront Golden Mile, is easily accessible for those with mobility, hearing and sight impairments. Many of the hotels along the ocean are newer with features such as wheelchair ramps and elevators with braille. Elsewhere travellers with disabilities may find parts of the city less hospitable, with steep hills, wide, busy streets and older buildings that lack accessibility features.