Durban (eThekwini) is the gateway to KwaZulu-Natal, an incredibly diverse province where you can swim in tropical seas in the morning, meander through the gorgeous Midlands by lunchtime and shout from the top of the 3&nbps;000&nbps;metre-high uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains in time for sundowners.

Did you know?

There are over 100 craft shops and galleries on the Midlands Meander route, as well as the famous Ardmore studio, represented by Sothebys in London.

 

Durban's surrounding areas include the midlands, the North Coast and the South Coast.

The Midlands, which starts in Hilton, just over an hour's drive inland along the N3, is a tapestry of around 150 fabulous art and craft outlets which lie along a route known as the Midlands Meander.

Some of the best produce in the country comes from the fertile pastures found here, so be sure to sample the region's home-brewed beer, hand-made cheeses and organically-farmed produce, as well as visiting weavers, second-hand collectible outlets, book stores, art galleries, bistros, outdoor adventure spots, leather stores and loads more interesting places – spend the night sampling local hospitality.

Travel further on from the Meander and you'll reach KwaZulu-Natal's uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, where highest mountains range in Africa (this side of Kilimanjaro), wildlife and Bushman paintings make up this World Heritage Site. Visit battlefields more than a century old, or ancient 5 000 year-old San artworks and artefacts protected in Drakensberg caves.

Durban's South Coast is made up of small village-type holiday towns, each with its own character and beach, from Uvongo's waterfall and gorge to the bustling holiday town of Margate, with its many hotels and holiday establishments.

North of the city lie larger, more upmarket destinations like Umhlanga and Ballito, where residential estates and holiday apartment blocks compete with top hotels for a share of the tourism trade, and the Gateway mall offers way more than just shopping.

To the north along the Elephant Coast, lies an eden of game reserves populated by the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo), subtropical marine reefs, Maputaland's unspoilt stretches of sand and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site – a wonderland of lakes, flora and wildlife.

There are many places to experience Zulu culture, including the scenic Valley of a Thousand Hills. Don't forget to make a stopover at the historical town of Pietermaritzburg – the city's architecture is a major attraction, as are the student vibes.

As you move away from Durban to the far south, you'll find the rugged Wild Coast with its stretches of uninhabited dunes, coastal forest, and excellent fishing opportunities.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

KwaZulu-Natal Tourism

Phone: +27 (0)31 366 7500

How to get here

Durban is easily accessible from the country's other large centres, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town around the country. The N1 provides double-carriage toll roads so getting to the city by luxury bus or car is a pleasure. The King Shaka International Airport lies half an hour north of Durban.

Best time to visit

All year round Durban is attractive. May and September are particularly beautiful and the weather is just perfect.

Around the area

Explore the north and south coasts. Go on a self-drive holiday incorporating the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park World Heritage Site and Hluhuluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve and then head up all the way to Sodwana, known as one of the finest diving sites on the African continent.

Tours to do

The Midlands Meander – even if you're not a foodie. The Nottingham Road brewery makes its own beer and hundreds of craft spots welcome visitors.

Get around

Having your own vehicle would be a major benefit. However, numerous tours to the main attractions are on offer.

What will it cost

Accommodation costs vary depending on your taste. From upmarket hotels like the Oyster Box in Umhlanga to budget holiday apartments – the choice is yours.

Length of stay

A week in Durban to experience the fun and sun on the beaches, followed by another week or two exploring the Elephant Coast and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Sites.

What to pack

A sun hat, good walking shoes, sun protection cream, insect repellent, binoculars. A warm jacket for the evenings.

Where to stay

Durban is one of South Africa’s top holiday destinations, so there is a wide variety of accommodation available.

What to eat

There are superb restaurants in the Natal Midlands, if you are travelling inland.

Best buys

Zulu memorabilia – traditional baskets and beads.