20 fun things to do in Durban this Winter

Private Property South Africa
Taryn Isaac

Don’t let the drop in temperature keep you indoors - here are 20 of our favourite winter activities to try out, in and around Durban.

The air may have turned cooler, but there are lots of ways to stay active and still keep warm. Don’t let the season pass you by without trying a few:

1. Spice up your palate:

There is no better way to beat the winter cold than with a big serving of hot, spicy food. Durban is home to some of the best curry hot spots that offer a dose of heat and a flavourful sensation to wet your taste buds. The Jeera restaurant in Suncoast Towers is one such popular spot for fine dining. The menu offers a range of classic Indian dishes with a contemporary twist and a pinch of Durban inspiration to make for a remarkable dining experience.

Suncoast Towers, 20 Battery Beach Road, Durban.

2. Experience the thrill of uShaka Sea World:

uShaka Marine World is considered one of the ultimate tourist destinations for the city all year round. It is Africa's biggest marine park, with the fifth-largest aquarium in the world and home to a variety of indigenous sea creatures. uShaka offers lots to do in the winter season to keep warm - from musical performances, dolphin and seal displays, excellent cuisine and a grand shopping experience to indulge in at the uShaka Village Walk.

1 King Shaka Ave, Point, Durban.

uShaka Marine World's Sea World adventure for kids

3. Try out the big swing:

If you are a daredevil and don’t mind the winter chill, then you may want to experience the Big Rush Urban Adrenaline at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Not only is this attraction the only stadium bungee swing in the world, but it also holds the Guinness Record for being the world’s tallest swing too. Conquering the Big Rush is a definite winter warm up and the jump will undoubtedly get your adrenalin pumping.

Shop No. 15, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Masabalala Yengwa Ave, Durban.

4. Camp out and watch the Comrades:

The Comrades Marathon is an iconic Durban winter event that takes place every year. The race is considered a world class sporting occasion. It is both the oldest and largest ultramarathon run over a distance of 90km, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Whether participating or cheering from a distance, the 12-hour event provides a fantastic atmosphere to be a part of and is ideal for a family outing.

18 Connaught Road, Pietermaritzburg | Kingsmead Way, Kingsmead, Durban.

5. Dress up for the Vodacom Durban July:

The excitement of the Vodacom Durban July horse racing and fashion extravaganza surpasses any other event in Durban. The annual affair makes its regular appearance every winter on the first Saturday of July. It embodies all things fashionable and glamorous, with a host of festive marquees and of course a horse race or two. Despite the chill in the air, the event still holds as the ultimate family extravaganza with lots to see, plenty of entertainment and scrumptious food to be enjoyed.

Greyville Racecourse, 150 Avondale Road, Durban.

6. Have a cold one at the Beer Festival:

A world of flavour and warmth can be anticipated at the annual SA Tap Craft Beer Festival. The event takes place during the winter season each year and features over 180 of SA's finest hand crafted brews, ciders, whiskeys & wines to get you warmed up. The affair is known for its great food and drinks, fun entertainment and offers sheltered seating to fight off the cold breeze.

People’s Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium, 44 Isaiah Ntshangase Road, Windermere.

7. Head to the chocolate bar:

If you are a serious chocoholic, then the Cacao Chocolate Bar located in Gateway’s Theatre of Shopping, has you right in your comfort zone. This gem of a chocolate lover's paradise is the perfect way to relax and keep warm by indulging in all things chocolate. Whether its chocolate dipped fruit, waffles, pancakes, or a cup of hot cocoa, it is a definite activity to include on your winter to-do list.

Gateway Theatre of Shopping, 1 Palm Blvd, Umhlanga.

A gourmet chocolate dish with ice cream, cake and strawberries on a white plate

8. Visit Durban`s Playhouse theatre:

There is always a hot line-up to counter the cold temperatures at Durban's premier theatre venue, The Playhouse. The theatre is always nice and toasty and offers a host of award-winning dramas, ballet and opera. If performance, drama and art gets you excited, then this will be right up your alley and promises to be quite the experience.

29 Anton Lembede St, Durban.

9. Get your ride on at Bike and Bean:

Who said coffee and cycling don’t go together? In winter this combination is best. A morning cycle along the iconic golden mile is always more refreshing during the colder parts of the year. From as little as R50 you can hire out a range of bikes and beach equipment from the bike rental café. It also offers the chance to treat yourself to a taste of original African coffee and healthy delicious snacks after a long cycle out and about. It’s the perfect way to stay active and keep warm amidst the Durban chill.

Country Club Beach, 290 Snell Parade, Durban.

10. Join in on the sardine run:

Every year, between May and July, millions of silvery sardines escape the cool waters of the Cape and travel up to the east coast of Durban. More formally known as the annual sardine run, this seasonal peculiarity is quite popular amongst local and international visitors. It is also known for causing a stir amongst the fishing fraternity who populate the beach to net as many sardines they possibly can. Fisherman aren’t the only ones who make a fuss over these tiny fish – birds are often seen plummeting out of the sky to grab their share as the sardines move closer to the surface of the water. Schools of sharks also make an appearance to feast on the unlimited supply of fish. The annual sardine visit is a marine spectacle worth marvelling over.

Netting hot-spots can be found mostly at the Sun Coast area, between Blue Lagoon, uShaka beach and Addington.

11. Take the kids to Mini Town:

Mini Town is an asset to Durban and popular tourist attraction. It is a miniature replica of some of the city's most iconic landmarks. A stroll through the knee-high layout makes for a great family treat, especially if you are looking to impress your little ones. The attraction is open seven days a week and the revamped venue now includes an upper deck and party arena which can be booked out, for those looking to celebrate their winter birthdays in style.

Located near Fitzsimmons Snake Park on 114 Snell Parade, Durban.

12. Surf up a storm:

Durban is definitely considered one of South Africa’s surfing capitals. The coastline is teeming with classic waves that beg to be explored, especially during the winter season when the temperatures start to drop and the waves start to peak. The cool beaches of Ballito always offer some great wave action with a variety of surf points, reefs and beach breaks that cater to all surfing abilities. For surfing enthusiasts, the Ballito Pro (formally known as Mr. Price Pro) is a highly anticipated and longest running professional surfing event that takes place every year in Ballito. The event offers the thrill of top level surfing action to enjoy, alongside a number of exciting outdoor activities to take advantage of.

The Dolphin Coast, KwaZulu-Natal.

13. Hop aboard a steam train for a ride:

On the last Sunday of every month there’s the unique opportunity to take a steam train ride from KwaZulu-Natal’s Kloof Station to Inchanga Station for a 45-minute trip down memory lane. The fascinating route takes passengers along the edge of the picturesque Valley of a Thousand Hills, which overlooks the farmlands and existing valley below. It is the ideal way to spend a relaxed chilly Sunday.

Station Road, Inchanga, Umgeni, Durban.

The black and orange Umgeni steam train on the railway track

14. Muse over some science:

The Durban Natural Science Museum is one of the smallest of South Africa’s science museums and is the only one of its kind to be funded by the eThekwini Municipality. It’s free to the public and is open for 363 days of the year. The centre also offers the public access to the third largest collection of birds in Africa which is an absolute must-see for the everyday bird enthusiast.

Durban City Hall, 1st Floor, Smith Street, Durban.

15. Skate away the cold:

Durban is home to two state-of-the-art ice rinks that both promise an exciting time out with a range of fun-filled recreational skating activities to explore. Whether you’re a pro, just starting out, or looking for some winter fun on ice - put on your woolly mittens and give it a try. Both rinks are open seven days a week, from morning till 10pm.

Galleria Ice Rink, Galleria Shopping Mall, Amanzimtoti | Durban Ice Rink, 81 Somtseu Road.

16. Winter spa retreats:

Nothing helps to ward off the 'winter blues' like a warm luxurious day at the spa. Mangwanani Spa is a private African day spa facility, located in eight different areas in and around Durban. The spa is a true royal African experience. It offers you the chance to relax in exquisite surroundings while enjoying a few self-indulgent body treatments. All of the available treatments help to soothe tension, stress and insomnia.

1 Sibaya Drive, Umhlanga, KZN, 4320 | Shop JO 2, 1 Bell Road, Durban, 4001, KZN

A Mangwanani Spa sundeck feature with white towels, relaxing spa products and red pebbles

If you’re willing to travel a little further outside of your comfort zone, then you may want to consider these exciting activities that lie just outside of Durban:

17. Go on a hot air balloon ride:

Experience 1200 degrees of winter adventure and romance by enjoying a hot air balloon flight in the clouds. KwaZulu-Natal has a total of 3 ballooning venues. You can choose from picturesque mountaintops in Champagne Valley, the scenic countryside in the KZN Midlands or a wildlife view at Tala Private Game Reserve. All three venues are the essence of luxury and offer hot drinks before you fly, sparkling wine in the sky and a buffet breakfast after the flight.

Champagne Valley, Northern Drakensburg, R600, Winterton | R603 Umbuvbulu Road, Easton, 3202 Silverton.

18. Whale watching out at sea:

Winter is considered the best time to for whale watching at sea, especially on the upper north coast of the city. St Lucia, a small town situated 2 hours away from Durban, is home to the extraordinary adventure and offers the chance to spot a whale in season. The quest is certainly worth the long drive. The activity includes a wonderful high energy boat cruise across the stunning coastline and allows you to take in the beautiful fishing villages and majestic mountains that lie in the distance.

1 McKenzie Street, Dolphin Centre, St Lucia Estuary, 3936, Elephant Coast.

19. Go on an African safari:

Going on safari is an unforgettable experience and offers an exciting mix of wildlife adventure and spectacular scenery. Visiting is best done in the winter season because the air is cooler and the watering holes become busier, which makes game spotting easier. The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is one such place to enjoy a wildlife tour. It is the oldest game reserve in Africa and one of the best places in the country to catch a glimpse of the big five.

Situated on the Elephant Coast in the heart of Zululand, north of Durban.

Two giraffes out in nature, photographed at an African game reserve

20. Snow hunting in the Midlands:

Everyone relishes the chance to see snow, which is why nothing beats a winter escape like snow hunting in the icy Midlands. Nottingham Road in particular, is about a 90-minute drive away from Durban and almost always guarantees a blanket of snow to take your breath away. The path travelled is one of the country’s most famous routes and offers a few exciting stops along the way. From a cheese and chocolate tasting, Howick Falls and Nottingham Brewery, the Midlands route makes for a family road trip worth pursuing.

Nottingham Road, 19 km south of Mooi River and 59 km north-west of Pietermaritzburg.

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