South Africa’s third largest city is often overshadowed by Cape Town and Johannesburg but Durban is established as a key economic player due to it being home to the country’s largest port. Huge infrastructure developments were put in place for the 2010 World Cup – including a brand-new international airport – and Durban is also South Africa’s major convention city.
There’s no cooler hotel in the Durban area than The Oyster Box (www.oysterboxhotel.com). Facing the ocean in Umhlanga, 19 miles from King Shaka International Airport and a 20-minute drive from downtown Durban, the hotel reopened in 2009 after an extensive refurb designed to return it to its former 1950s glory. In the city itself, the Southern Sun Elangeni, (www.tsogosunhotels.com) a Durban mainstay, is located 200 metres from the beach. Recently refurbished, it has excellent restaurants, a lively bar and is geared up for meetings and conferences.
In the ‘boho’ suburb of Morningside, Harveys (www.harveysrestaurant.co.za), on Florida Road combines fine dining with a chic-cool attitude. The Jewel of India, located in the Southern Sun Elangeni hotel, is one of the classiest Indian restaurants in the city.
Try the Lighthouse Bar in the Oyster Box, on the rooftop overlooking the Indian Ocean. In the same hotel, the marbled Oyster Bar serves cocktails and oysters from the hotel’s own oyster beds. At Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Cuba Lounge combines Latin music, dancing, mint-laced mojitos and Cuban cigars. Of a similar ilk, Cubaña claims to be South Africa's only authentic Latino social cafe and eatery, with a cocktail bar, music and cigar lounge.
There are no direct flights between the UK and Durban. South African Airways, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer daily services from the UK to Jo'burg, from where passengers can choose from several carriers offering onward flights to Durban such as SAA, Mango, Kulula and 1time. Emirates operates 105 flights per week from six UK airports to Dubai and then a daily connecting flight to Durban.
King Shaka International Airport is located 35km north of Durban. Metred taxis to the city centre and beach-front hotels cost around R450 (£34). Limousine transfer services are also available. The Magic Bus shuttle service (www.magicbus.co.za) offers scheduled rides and a door-to-door service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, tailored to individual or corporate needs.
Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Durban’s seasons are the opposite of the UK’s. The currency is the Rand and the time zone is GMT +2hrs. For more information see www.southafrica.net.
Durban’s new-build stadium (for the 2010 World Cup) is determined to keep pulling in visitors. Attractions include restaurants, bars, a skycar ride to the top of the stadium’s arch for 360-degree views of the city and an adventure walk up the stadium’s 550 steps. Durban’s Botanical Gardens stage regular 'Music by the Lake' evenings among its sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids, featuring the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Durban is located in a subtropical climate zone and experiences very mild winters with average temperatures hovering around 18C – which means there’s no need to carry any heavy winter clothes when doing business in the city”