Durban is one of South Africa’s most vibrant cities.
It has a great Africa feel to it, especially in the downtown area, and it is very colorful.
The city is steeped in history, and the architecture reflects this, from Georgian and Art Deco to Palladian and the less interesting 1970s styles.
The mix of cultures is also reflected in the city, and the large Indian population adds color and aromas to the streets of Durban, while their mosques and temples add an unusual and exotic flavor to this formerly English town.
Of course, the weather in Durban is the best there is, and the beach life is simply terrific, with the broad Golden Mile Promenade offering a great attraction.
Evenings in Durban are warm and balmy, with café life vibrant and exciting as the sounds and chatters flow from the coffee shops and music clubs.
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Low or no cost activities in Durban are plentiful. There is the exotic Victoria Street Market with its aromas and colors of the East.
There is incense in the air; the spices are strong and alluring, the fish market is colorful, and there are many stalls with ceramics, baskets, brass trinkets, materials, and snacks.
Or, for an opposite experience, head to the tranquil and quiet Botanical Gardens with its excellent choice of palms, orchids, and cycads in a nice and natural setting.
The city center offers the interesting Francis Farewell Square, where the City Hall holds center stage. Take a seat on one of the benches and watch the color and charm of the people passing by.
Similarly, the Golden Miles beachfront, just a 10-minute walk away, is an exotic place to meander, with piers jutting out into the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean, giving you the chance to see surfers from a unique angle.
There are street hawkers along the promenade selling all sorts of African arts, and the colors are truly dazzling.
There is also a Japanese Garden that is well manicured and offers an oasis of calm and tranquillity along the northern side of the beachfront.
uShaka Marine World at the south end of the Golden Mile is a recent development and hosts the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere.
While the entrance fee is stiff, you can still wander through the shopping and restaurant complex at no cost and amaze yourself at the man-made ship which holds the aquarium, or take a coffee at one of the restaurants that face out to the Indian Ocean and see the large cargo ships enter and leave the Port of Durban, which is the largest in Africa.
Morningside is an interesting residential and commercial area popular with artists, cafes, and live music venues. You can pop into the Artisan Contemporary Gallery, which hosts some interesting art, sculpture, cutlery, ceramics, and fabrics.
For the spiritually orientated, there is the Hare Krishna Temple of Understanding, which is tranquil and serene, as well as the beautiful Mosque in Grey and West Streets.
There is also St. Thomas’s Church and St. Peter’s Church for quiet, meditative contemplation.
Durban is a great place to spend a few days if you are on a backpacking budget. There is a lot to see at little to no cost, while meals and drinks at restaurants are affordable and always tasty, offering excellent value for money.
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