Our guide to getting around Durban will take you across the border, from the airport to your hotel and out to Durban’s most popular tourist attractions. We’ve even thrown in a couple of handy tips to up your streetwise savvy.
Here is the ultimate Durban travel advice to keep you in the know and on the go:
Getting to Durban
In 2010 the Durban International Airport relocated to King Shaka International Airport in La Mercy (approximately 35 kilometres north of Durban City). The airport is three times bigger and increasingly efficient.
Domestic, as well as international, airlines that fly to Durban include: Emirates, Air Mauritius Airways, British Airways, Kulula, Mango and South African Airways.
A passport/travel document will be required to allow entry and regulations surrounding this differ according to your country of origin.
Road networks link Durban to all the major cities in South Africa, making road travel an easily accessible way of getting to Durban. The N2 from Cape Town provides a scenic coastal route (the drive is approximately 18 hours) and the N3 from Johannesburg skirts the majestic Drakensburg Mountains (the drive is approximately 6 hours).
If you're heading to Durban from outside South Africa, you will be required to cross a border post. Documents required to cross the border by car include: passport /travel document, vehicle registration papers, carnet de passage and travellers declaration form (DA331).
Busses that can get you to Durban include Greyhound (the safest and most reliable suggestion), Intercape Mainliner, Translux and SA Roadlink. All intercity busses arrive and depart from New Durban Station located on NMR Avenue.
The Bazbus is a fun way of getting to Durban and is popular with backpackers. This hop-on-hop-off service runs along the coast between Cape Town and Durban and allows passengers to take as many days to travel as they like, choosing from a multitude of hostels to stay at along the way.
The Shosholoza Meyl offers weekly travel between Johannesburg and Durban at affordable rates and one can choose between a Tourist Class Economy Sleeper or a slightly more costly Premier Classe Deluxe Sleeper. For the luxury traveller looking for a more expensive and opulent experience, The Blue Train offers a unique and scenic trip between Pretoria and Zimbali Lodge in Durban.
Getting from Durban airport to your hotel
Hire a car
If you'd like to drive yourself to your hotel in Durban, you can easily hire a car for pick-up from King Shaka airport. Car hire companies include Budget, Europcar, Avis and Hertz. If you'd like a consultant to find you the best rate out of all the companies offering Durban car hire, contact Drive South Africa.
If you don't know your way around the city, you may find it useful to hire a GPS with your vehicle to make getting around Duban easier. These are often in short supply so be sure to book in advance. Always remove the GPS and all accessories from the car when not in use as a security precaution. A number of Durban’s street names have changed lately, so be sure to also buy a street map which shows both the old as well as the new road names to avoid confusion.
Take a shuttle
A shuttle service can be booked in advance. In this case, you will be contacted by cell phone upon arrival or met by the driver with your name indicated on a placard. Alternatively, there is a multitude of shuttles near the airport’s taxi rank available for private use. These will take you straight to your desired location. Shuttle services include: King Shaka Airport Shuttle Service or the Airport Bus which departs every 30 minutes and travels to various popular hotels and tourist spots in Durban (e.g. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban Bus Station, Durban Beachfront, Sun Coast Casino, Gateway Theatre of Shopping etc).
Rates are much more reasonable for the shuttle services than for metered taxis so don’t let taxi drivers convince you other wise.
Use a metered taxi
Although taxis may be faster, they are a relatively expensive way of getting from Durban Airport. The shuttle service is cheaper. They are however efficient and reliable and will take you straight to your door in a timely fashion if you wish to avoid the delay of waiting on and dropping off other passengers.
Getting around Durban
By car hire
The most convenient way of getting around Durban is to hire your own car. The more expensive, yet favourable way of travelling the streets of Durban, is to hire a chauffeur driven car.
Overseas travellers should familiarise themselves with South Africa’s rules of the road and traffic signs and always remember to drive on the left when driving around Durban!
Durban has a very efficient city bus service, People Mover is a safe, reliable and popular option with tourists and locals alike. The People Mover busses are wheelchair friendly, very reasonably priced and travel through the city and beachfront every 15 minutes. The city route includes stops at the City Hall, Durban mosque and cathedral, Tourism Information Centre, the Playhouse Theatre, the Victorian Street Market and Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex. The beachfront route starts at the Suncoast Casino and ends at uShaka Marine World.
Metrorail station is conveniently located close to the Moses Mabhida Stadium and trains depart every 10 to 15 minutes during peak hours. Eight different routes passing through 101 stations provide transport between the CBD and suburbs, up the north coast as far as Stranger and Kelso on the south coast and inland to Cato Ridge. Tickets are quite affordable.
By minibus taxi
Although minibus taxis are a highly affordable and popular mode of transport for locals, it is not always advisable to make this your first transport choice when getting around Durban. They are often unroadworthy and driven by reckless drivers but if you are looking for a truly South African experience then this is the way to travel. As well as regular stops, they can be easily hailed at almost any point in the city with a simple hand gesture.
By metered taxi
Although more expensive than the minibus taxi, metered taxis are safer and more reliable. They will be take you directly to your destination of choice. They are not as prevalent as minibus taxis so will need to be phoned in advance to arrange pickup. Popular choices include: Mozzie Cabs, Zippy Cabs, Ucabs.
For more detailed information on how to travel through Durban by bus, train or minibus taxi; visit the Ethekwini Public Transport site for prices, routes and timetables.
For those looking for a fun, bird’s eye experience, you can indulge in a helicopter ride through Durban and its outer laying areas. Choose from a variety of tour packages:
BAC Aviation: Coastal flights, River Run Picnic, Valley of 1000 Hills
JNC Helicopters: Coastline flights, Wild Coast Sun flight, lunch excursions to The Lynton Hall, Salt Rock or Midlands
Air Safaris: Tala Private Game Reserve, Drakensburg Mountain Charter including lunch at Sani Pass Hotel and many more tours
Prices are expensive but this is definitely a way of getting to see Durban that you don’t want to miss.
It is possible to reach a number of tourist attractions by foot if you are staying in Durban Central (e.g. Durban Playhouse, Maritime Museum, Durban Art Gallery, and African Arts Centre) or if you are staying on the Durban Beachfront (e.g. Ice rink, Mini Town, Amphitheatre Gardens and Sea World Aquarium).
As in any big city it is important to exercise precaution, keep your valuables safe and hidden, dress to blend in and don’t venture out alone after dark.
Experience Durban’s Golden Mile (Beachfront) on board an authentic Zulu rickshaw. This is a cheerfully decorated two-wheel cart pulled and steered by a festively dressed “driver” who runs and leaps through the air. A rickshaw ride is an enjoyable and affordable experience for any tourist.
With our Durban travel advice you will be cruising this coastal city in no time. From sugar cane fields to sun soaked beaches and a rich cultural heritage, there is so much to see and do in this vibey city.
Now that you’re well equipped for getting around Durban all that is left to do is go and experience it for yourself!