Did you know?
The popular Music at the Lake concert series at the gardens started in 1995 with a show by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.
Africa's oldest surviving botanical gardens, the Durban Botanic Gardens are a magnificent testimony to more than 160 years of dedication and care by a succession of curators.
Not only do these gardens offer travellers a scenic respite from the busy city, but they're world-renowned for their indigenous and exotic plant collections from the subtropics – cycads, ferns, bromeliads, palms and orchids, among many other stunning flowers and more than 80 magnificent heritage trees.
Animal species that complement the flora include a variety of birds, butterflies and tiny reed frogs, so take your binoculars and birding book along. Spend time feeding the ducks at the lake or simply spread out a rug and lie under one of the massive old trees that flank the paved pathways meandering through the gardens.
The Orchid House is a popular attraction and a must-see when you visit the gardens. Marvel at the spectacular collection of orchids, each with distinctive and vividly colourful blooms, before moving on to the award-winning Sensory Garden.
The herbarium is another element of these botanical gardens that should not be overlooked. It houses thousands of carefully catalogued plant species, mostly endemic to the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
For a panoramic view of the gardens, make your way to the deck at the fern dell, and to end off a relaxing day, pop in to the famous tea garden. The tea and crumpets with cream and syrup are legendary.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Durban Botanic Gardens
Tel: +27 (0)31 322 4021
How to get here
The Durban Botanic Gardens are located west of the city centre towards the suburb of Berea, in Botanic Gardens Road, above the Greyville Racecourse. A shuttle bus connecting the city centre to the gardens leaves regularly from Sydenham Road.
Best time to visit
The gardens are at their best in summer (November to February), after the spring rains. But they're almost as appealing in winter, with open-air concerts on Sunday afternoons a huge attraction. Gates open at 7.30am in winter and summer and close at 5.15pm in winter and 5.45pm in summer.
Around the area
Visit the nearby Jameson Rose Garden at the top of Florida Road.
Tours to do
Guided tours of the gardens are available, but bookings are essential. Theme-based garden tours include heritage trees, botanical WOW, and people and plants.
What will it cost
Entrance to the gardens is free.
Length of stay
A day is sufficient to see everything, but take your time and enjoy the surroundings while there.
What to eat
The tea garden, especially its freshly made crumpets, comes highly recommended.
The green lawns surrounding the lake are one of the best open-air concert venues in the city. Regular performances take place there, especially over winter (May to August). Children’s theatre is also a popular attraction here during school holidays.