Discovering Durban: 10 Free Things to Do in South Africa’s Coastal Playground

Durban has loads of activities that visitors can enjoy. Here are 10 things to do that wont cost you an entry fee.

Durban, in my humble opinion, is the greatest city in the world. Sure, we don’t have the cosmopolitan energy of New York or London, or the astounding architecture of Dubai or the romance of Paris, but we are without doubt a small city with a very big heart!

While some adventures may require a budget, there are plenty of amazing experiences to enjoy in Durban without spending a dime.

Whether you’re a local looking to explore your own city or a visitor on a tight budget, here are 10 free things to do in Durban.

The Quick List

The Detailed List

1. Soak up the Sun on Durban’s Beaches

I am so biased but honestly, Durban’s beaches are among the best in the world. There are a number of beaches that are perfect for getting a tan or splashing about in the waves, and others for surfing, body boarding or SUP’ing.

Durban’s beaches. Weyland Swart on Unsplash

It’s best to only swim where there are life guards on duty and to ensure you swim only where indicated. If you’re feeling up to it, there are a few places that you can take some lessons and learn to surf.

And if you get tired of lazying about in the sun all day, there are plenty of cafe’s and restaurants to enjoy a chilled beverage and just people watch.

2. Visit the Durban Botanic Gardens

Established in 1849, the Durban Botanic Gardens is Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden. The lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and serene ponds are a perfect place to explore, or even take a book, find a spot and relax in.

Botniacal Gardens. James Lewis, Unsplash.

You can simply stroll about the grounds with a guidebook, enjoy a picnic, take a pair of binoculars and do bit of bird watching or even just find a bench and people watch for a while.

The gardens are also home to the loneliest plant in the world (oh no!) which you can cheer up by visiting. As an added bonus you can take a tour with Vishnu, the garden’s popular resident tour guide and learn so much more about the botanical life at the gardens.

3. Experience Local Culture at the KwaMuhle Museum

South Africa has a painful relationship with the the past, but it’s important that we all learn from our mistakes rather than ignore them or forget them

Ohlange Institute, Shelldon Wells

Immerse yourself in Durban’s history and culture at the KwaMuhle Museum, once the headquarters for labour control in Durban. This informative institution is dedicated to South Africa’s apartheid history and its impact on the city. Entrance is free, making it an educational and thought-provoking experience.

4. Explore the Golden Mile Promenade

The Golden Mile runs all the way from Blue Lagoon in the north to the harbour mouth in the south and is a bustling promenade along the beachfront that offers stunning ocean views, a pleasant walk, and an array of public art installations.

Durban Promenade, Shelldon Wells

You can walk or run along it, there is even a park-run every Saturday morning. If you have wheels, bicycle, skatebord, skates etc, you can zoom along or if you want to just find a great spot on the beach, you can watch the ocean or even just people watch or enjoy the surfers.

5. Visit the Golden Hours Market

In Durban North is the Golden Hours market held every Sunday from 9am until 3pm. There is always great food, usually a live musician and of course a great number of stalls to shop at.

6. Hike in the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to this reserve, located in the southern suburbs of Durban. You can enjoy a range of walking trails, bird watching, and the opportunity to reconnect with the natural beauty of the region.

On the property is the original farmhouse named “Coedmore Castle” which was built in 1885 and is quite a lovely home to view.

7. Join a Free Yoga Class on the Beach

Keep an eye out for free yoga classes that occasionally take place on the beach. Practising yoga with the sound of the waves in the background is a fantastic experience.

Yoga on the Beach. Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

The classes are usually held early in a Saturday and Sunday morning in front of the DUC (Durban Underwater Club) premises.

After a session of yogo, stroll over to the “Point” for a delicious coffee as you relax and watch the ships enter and exit the harbour.

8. Explore the Natural Science Museum

The Durban Natural Science Museum is my favourite place to spend a few hours in Durban. Set inside the Durban city hall, the museum is open to the public and free to boot!

It is one of South Africa’s smallest natural science museums but is the busiest. It is well-known for the realistic dioramas, the life-size T-rex model, an almost complete Dodo skeleton and Egyptian mummy, Peten Amen.

9. Visit Warriors Gate

My grandfather was a member of MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) that was founded by an Englishman in 1927 named Charles Alfred Evenden who emigrated to Australia, was injured in WW1, emigrated to South Africa and worked as a cartoonist for a Durban newspaper.

Warriors Gate. MOTH Website

He created MOTH to assist ex-serviceman and serves to protect and advance the interests of war veterans and their kin by carrying out benevolent activities of an ex-service character.

The MOTH building is next to Warriors Gate which harbours a fantastic military museum that display everything from weapons to medals. This is a great spot to enjoy a few hours away from the hustle an bustle of Durban and well worth the free entry.

It is best to give them a call first as the museum is manned by volunteers and they may not always be open.

10. Visit the Juma Mosque

Durban is home to one of the largest mosques in the Southern Hemisphere, the Juma Mosque. While you can’t simply walk in and have a look, you can arrange for a tour of the mosque which can be arranged easily by contacting us.

Grey Street Mosque. SAIA KZN

The mosque is unique in that it’s almost hidden completely from view by the street-side shops that border the mosque. Inside the mosque is an island of tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the city.

There you go then, 10 free activities to enjoy in Durban

These 10 free activities offer a taste of what Durban has to offer, without emptying your wallet. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, or simply enjoying the coastal ambiance, Durban provides numerous opportunities to make lasting memories without spending a cent.

So, pack your sunscreen, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to explore the vibrant and diverse city of Durban on a budget.

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