The seaside city of Durban, South Africa is not only a beautiful place to spend a weekend — it’s also cheap to travel to. From watching a local cricket match, to enjoying the scenic beaches, here are a few things to do in Durban on a budget.
1. Visit uShaka Marine World
For only US$17 you can visit uShaka Marine World, a fun aquarium and water park packed with loads of activities. uShaka has the fifth-largest aquarium in the world (built in an old cargo ship), and and Wet ’n Wild, a water park with the highest slide in the southern hemisphere.
2. Stay At ‘On The Beach’
On The Beach is a beautiful backpacker hostel in Durban with perfect views of the Indian Ocean. There are self- catering facilities, a daily buffet breakfast included in the rates, and various room options including luxury en suite beachfront rooms at US$76 per night. Guest can also enjoy the pool and have direct access to the beach.
3. Shop For Spices At The Victoria Street Market
With over 180 stalls selling everything from basket ware and brass objects to meat and fresh vegetables, you’ll find loads to buy or browse at the Victoria Street Market. This market is best known for is its imported Indian spices — which you can smell as soon as you enter.
4. Visit the Mangrove Swamps
If you head to the north bank of the Mgeni River, you’ll find some lush mangrove swamps. The area features red and black mangrove trees, along with an abundance of bird life. Entry to the reserve is absolutely free.
5. Enjoy A Rugby Game At Joe Cools
If you love rugby as much as South Africans do, then head to Joe Cools to catch game or two. With delicious lunches under US$8, cheap drinks, and a beautiful ocean view, you can enjoy enjoy the game and the view at the same time.
6. Use A Minibus Taxi
If you’re really on a budget and can’t afford to take a private taxi, then try using a minibus taxi. For under a buck, you can travel almost anywhere around the city, but make sure you ask where the taxi is going before you get in, and have the correct amount of money to pay your fare. The system is very informal, and you should ask a local which taxi to take.
7. Haggle For Some Souvenirs On The Beachfront
Head to the beachfront and pick up a few souvenirs for your friends and family. Not only are there beautiful African wood carvings and crafts, but you can get a good deal if you’re not afraid to haggle.
8. Go To A Summer Concert In Durban Botanical Gardens
Visit Durban’s Botanical Gardens on the eastern slopes of the Berea Ridge to view tropical plants, an orchid house, a Cycad collection, a garden for the blind and a charity tea garden. In the summer, the gardens host free summer concerts called Music At The Lake.
9. Have A Drink At Billy The B.U.M.S.
Enjoy a sundowner or a midday drink at this popular spot in Durban. With an awesome atmosphere, American-style food (costing around US$8 per meal), and 50 exotic and classic mixed drinks on their menu (made by world-class bartenders), Billy The B.U.M.S is a must try.
10. Take A Trip On The Umgeni Steam Railway
Enjoy a trip to Inchanga on the Umgeni Steam Train every first and last Sunday of the month. This steam train is the pride and joy of Durban’s railway system and offers a great way to entertain the kids. It’s also a fun way to get to Inchanga and check out the sights in this cute little town.
11. Go Snorkelling
Several companies take tourists out to Durban’s amazing snorkeling spots for under US$10. Some of the best spots include Dolphin Reef, Cooperlight Wreck, Limestone Reef, and Lighthouse Reef.
12. Watch A Cricket Game At Kingsmead
If you’re in Durban in the summertime during T20 season, head out to Kingsmead Cricket Ground and go watch the The Dolphins in action. The 25,000-seat stadium gets packed and makes for an exciting (and sometimes noisy) environment.
13. Spend the day at Hazelmere Dam
For US$3 or less, Hazelmere Dam is a great place to spend a family day out. You can swim, BBQ and fish in this beautiful setting.
14. Visit the Phezulu Safari Park
If you want to witness some true African culture, then head to Phezulu village. Enjoy the music, dance and culture of the Gasa clan. You can explore their thatched roof huts and watch them show off their impressive dance moves. It’s only US$9 for adults and US$6 for children.
15. Swim At Margate Beach
Enjoy some fun in the sun with the locals just a short drive outside of Durban at Margate Beach. It’s known for its tropical waters, white sands and amazing family-friendly surroundings — including restaurants and a tidal pool.
This article was originally published on April 9, 2015.