Insider Guide to Durban

Durban by iStock

For those who live in KwaZulu-Natal, the list of fun activities and latest chill spots is never-ending. With business minds and families flocking to Durbs for Indaba 2016, I thought I’d share some of my top picks for those visiting my home province. These are the places I grew up visiting, always make sure to add to my “to-do list” and can’t wait to try next. So here’s your guide on what to do, where to go and how to make the best of your time in beautiful KZN:

Hillcrest and surrounds

The Shongweni Farmer’s Market began in 1998 and has grown immensely since I accompanied my gran to the fresh produce stalls as a young girl. It now boasts over 150 stalls in the open field venue every Saturday. With everything from art to clothing and the freshest food, it’s no wonder Durbanites head to Shongweni for their shopping fix. Be sure to check out the list of stalls and plan your car boot space accordingly.

Image courtesy of the Shongweni Farmer's Market

Image courtesy of Kevin Sawyer

The Durban Shongweni Club is a hotspot for KZN’s horse-riding community and is also an up-and-coming venue for Durban events. The Saddle Inn restaurant is great for a quick bite to eat while you enjoy equestrian events, live music or whatever else the club has on offer that day.

Named after the Roman wolf goddess, Lupa Osteria Restaurant has become a firm dining favourite for residents in Hillcrest. It has a vast Italian-inspired menu and a noteworthy cocktail and wine selection. My personal favourite  is the chicken escalope with lemon, white wine and cream sauce. It also has branches in Westville and Durban North.

Lupa in Westville - image courtesy of Kate Martens Photography

Lupa in Westville – image courtesy of Kate Martens Photography.

Bellevue Café in Kloof has always been a favourite tea spot for me, especially with its fresh pastries and cakes. The menu, however, extends to other meals with a focus on artisan foods and good flavours. Even with its modern design, the atmosphere at Bellevue is easy-going and welcoming.

Overlooking KZN’s Valley of 1000 Hills, The Pot and Kettle Family Restaurant is just that: a beloved family gathering spot. The restaurant has been going strong for over 21 years. Situated along the Comrades route and with some of the best views in the province, this cosy jaunt is definitely worth a visit.

Image courtesy of The Pot and Kettle Family Restaurant

Image courtesy of The Pot and Kettle Family Restaurant.

Umhlanga and surrounds

Not only is The Oyster Box a fantastic place to stay for some of Durban’s most beautiful seaside views, it’s also a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. Multiple dining options meet the needs of any traveller, but it’s the traditional afternoon teas that really excite. The spa also has an extensive treatment menu and emphasises luxury.

Image Courtesy of The Oyster Box

Image Courtesy of The Oyster Box.

For those looking for a less jam-packed shopping experience, La Lucia Mall is a great alternative to Gateway Theatre of Shopping – although Gateway has some exciting international stores like Lush and Topshop. La Lucia Mall, although smaller, has everything a shopper needs – from clothing to deli food – and is dotted with boutique stores. There’s also a Virgin Active on the grounds (I’ve spotted a few Sharks rugby players working out there) and the park just behind it is great for dog walking.

Most visitors to Durban flock to North Beach or to the Umhlanga Main Beach, but La Lucia Beach is a quiet haven that often slips under the radar. This tranquil beach is a good option for those looking for a quiet afternoon by the sea. It’s just a short drive from La Lucia Mall, so planning a full day in the area is easy to do.

The Dutch in Umhlanga is a unique music and tapas bar that combines sophisticated dining with high-quality entertainment. It’s so much more than an events venue and is sure to get foodies and wine-lovers excited. With a fine cocktail selection and great weekend line-ups, The Dutch is one to watch.

Image courtesy of The Dutch

Image courtesy of The Dutch.

Durban and Morningside

There are branches of Afro’s Chicken Shop situated all over Durban, making for an easy on-the-go meal in a number of areas. The great thing about Afro’s is that you’ll find all of your typical South African favourites on one menu. Think chicken strips and chips, cleverly labeled “strips and tjips” to bacon and egg rolls and ice-cream cones with flakes. The second great thing about Afro’s is the prices.

Owners Graham and Gina Neilson bought their travels to life in the form of 9th Avenue Bistro, a favourite for Durban’s foodies. The venue is full of modern design and the menu boasts creative takes on classic dishes; yet the bistro’s vibe is laid-back and unpretentious.

Image courtesy of 9th Avenue Bistro

Image courtesy of 9th Avenue Bistro.

The Chairman is a trendy jazz bar located in the point precinct of Durban. It can easily be missed if you’re not looking for it, but that’s part of its charm. The venue has an exclusive, almost secretive element to it. The Chairman is a celebration of South Africa’s art scene and plays host to top jazz artists. This is a visually compelling hotspot for jazz-lovers and those yearning for a memorable experience.

Tutu Puoane performing. Image courtesy of The Chairman

Tutu Puoane performing. Image courtesy of The Chairman.

Located on the popular Lilian Ngoyi Road, Love Coffee is a quirky and casual coffee bar. Their beverages are innovative and unique and they have a great selection of eats for diners with vegetarian and vegan requirements. What stands out most for this hot coffee company is their vintage-style mobile Kombi which shares their roasted delights across Durban, popping up at hot events.

Image courtesy of Love Coffee

Image courtesy of Love Coffee

The Boiler Room Café is 9th Avenue Bistro’s little sister which does excellent breakfasts and lunches. Located in the iconic Lion Match Factory Office Park, just a few minute’s drive from the ICC, this café is an ideal spot for a quick meal between presentations. It also hosts themed pop-up nights.

Image courtesy of the Boiler Room

Image courtesy of the Boiler Room.

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