South Africa's Pleasure Capital by the Sea

Durban is the largest city in the Province of ZwaZulu-Natal of South Africa. Situated on the eastern seaboard of Africa, it is known as South Africa’s pleasure capital by the sea.

Durban is a natural paradise with sun-kissed beaches, sub-tropical climate and probably best known for its lifeguard protected beaches. Its famous Golden Mile of beachfront provides any visitor with many seaside activities – surfing, swimming, fishing, scuba diving, body boarding and more.

This city, however, offers a unique experience that is more than just its beaches. Its rich cultural diversity offers its visitors wonderful foods, festivals and shopping. The largest section of Durban’s population is Zulu speaking and the evidence of the Zulu Culture is everywhere from markets, art galleries and theatres to the vendors who sell African crafts on the street.

The city is built around one of the busiest harbours in Africa, so why not plan a cruise if you have the time!

Places to Visit

Things to do and see:

Tourists can find every type of accommodation in the city and surrounding suburbs. It is recommended that you book very early for April and December holidays as this area is very popular.

Climate

Durban has a warm climate throughout the year with colder evenings in the winter months and rainfall occurring in the Summer time.

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 19˚C and 29˚C.

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 11˚C and 21˚C.

Transport

There are Domestic and International flights into Durban’s  King Shaka International Airport on a daily basis. Bus services, taxis and car rental companies are available for easy access around the area.

Festivals

March – NWY Bridal Show: If you planning a wedding, you need to be here.

May – Indaba: The largest tourism marketing event in Africa.

May – Comrades Marathon: The world’s greatest ulta-marthon, 89 km long run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

July – Durban July: Africa’s biggest Horse racing event. Horse Racing, fashion and food!

October – Amashova Durban Classic: Cycling race from Piermaritzburg to Durban.

More festivals can be attended in the surrounding areas of Durban.

History

The great natural harbour of Port Natal, on whose shores stands the city of Durban, was considered by the Portuguese navigators of the 15th century to be a lagoon at the mouth of a large river which flowed down from the interior. They called the harbour Rio de Natal ('Christmas River') for it lay on the coast discovered on Christmas day 1497 by Vasco da Gama.

Pirates and slave traders, merchants and shipwrecked crews all landed on the shores in search of food, water, trade or sanctuary.

In 1824, Henry Francis Fynn built a settlement originally named Port Natal, after he had reached a contractual agreement with Zulu King Shaka . Often there were assaults and fighting by the Zulus who saw Natal as their tribal homeland and only tolerated the white settlers because the town was of use to them as a trading station. This was the beginning of the city which, 11 years afterwards, on the 23rd June 1835, was named in hounor of Sir Benjamin D'Urban, the Governor of the Cape.

In 1837 the Voortrekkers arrived and negotiated with the Zulus to found a Boer Republic in Natal. Shortly afterward Zulu King Dingane had the entire delegation killed. After many more bloody attacks, the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus in the famous Battle of Bloodriver. The “Afrikaaners” founded their Republic, but met with resistance from the British and eventually Natal was annexed to the Cape Colony on 31 May 1844. The Voortrekkers withdrew from the area and made their homes in the Transvaal and Orange Free State. Natal was open to British settlers and free to develop into a separate colony and, ultimately, a province of South Africa.

Today the city, after Johannesburg, is the second largest in South Africa and the largest seaport.

Created: ; Last updated: