Durban beaches

Durban is Always a Good Idea

A getaway to Durban is quick and easy… and always a good idea.

Durban (and its KZN surrounds) has my heart.

During our 4 giddy years living in Durbs we got to know her well. As Joburgers’ by birth and with our friends and family mostly based there we also travelled between the two South African cities often. And I mean really often. You could label us “N3 road trip experts.”

kites at La Mercy Lagoon

Playing ball in the La Mercy Lagoon while kite surfers play nearby too.

On the Road Again

We’ve driven that N3 in the rain, the throbbing heat, the moody mist, the pumping cross winds, the hail, and even the sleet.

We’ve driven it fast (well Graham has) and we’ve driven it at leisure. But always cautiously. (Don’t worry Moms.)

We even drove the route on a Saturday morning to make it to a JHB wedding that same afternoon… and made it on time with ease. We then returned again the very next day and arrived at work on Monday without bags beneath our eyes.

We’ve driven it hungover, far too many times, as we returned the next day after such weddings, New Year’s Eve parties and gatherings. But we’ve also driven it chipper and bright eyed.

We’ve each driven it alone and in convoy. We’ve each driven it loaded with chitter chattering travel mates and in solitary silence.

We’ve driven it with Graham in his element as various car clubs occasionally passed us on one of their club runs. He’s pointed out the Porsche, VW and Jag car clubs on different occasions with their members showing off their pretty cars and enjoying the open road with us.

We’ve driven it with our dogs sleeping in the back (precious cargo).

And we’ve driven it in cars packed full of our lives on moving days… twice. Who knew an entire clothes closet could fit in a little Mazda MX5 roadster?

That road is our travel companion and has been good to us.

Travelling between Johannesburg and Durbs is easy. There’s no excuse to miss out on special events because of the travel involved.

Umhlanga Lighthouse

Umhlanga Lighthouse. © Kelly Robertson

From Jo’burg to Durban, Easy peasy

Our loved ones may have done the reverse route, from Johannesburg to Durban and back again to come and see us even more frequently.  The allure of a quick visit with us and a weekend at the seaside was often just too tempting to resist. An escape from the Highveld freeze to winterless KZN and even a dip in the lukewarm ocean in mid-winter was a popular reason to drive down too. We loved that a getaway to our place in Durbs was easy and accessible for them. We had a full house most weekends and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

They drove it on a Friday afternoon after knocking off from work at half day and made it to us by dinner time – bunny chows on the menu off course.

They drove it during varsity and school holidays to spend some quality time with us or to flaunt it at the Durban July.

They drove it to join us for onward travel for holidays in the Drakensberg, along the coast or on the Wild Coast.

They even drove it with motorcycle in tow so dad could ride the bike from half way, because “the scenery from Harrismith to Durbs while riding a bike must be experienced at least once’.

They drove it often and each time it was worth it. Well worth it.

Durban attracts the Jo’burg visitor for all the right reasons.

Durban outings

KwaZulu Natal Beach days

Getting from Johannesburg to Durban

Since moving back to Johannesburg side (or more specifically Hartbeespoort about an hour out of town) we reminisce about our Durban days now and then. We find ourselves dissecting how we made it work, basically living between two provinces during that time. The answer is that it worked because getting between Durbs and “The Big Smoke” is so easy; the trip was never a daunting prospect. It was our connection between our two worlds at the time. It still is.

Beers with sea views on the South Coast

Beers with sea views on the South Coast © Kelly Robertson

There are many modes of transport which can get you from Jo’burg to Durbs. Here are the ones we and our people used most. Each choice has its pro’s.

The Car

Who it’s best for:

If you are more than 2 people travelling together, self-driving between Durban and Johannesburg is ideal. The toll route on the N3 highway is on immaculately maintained tar road. All you need is your road trip playlist, some padkos (snacks for the road) and you’re ready to take on the 6hr hour long road trip (or 5.5hrs in Graham’s car).

What we like about this mode:

  • Not a pothole in sight.
  • An easy, comfortable, independent and predictable journey.
  • You have your own transport to get yourself around once you get there. Very convenient.
  • You can watch the landscapes change from your window while the provincial radio stations set the background music to the scenes.
  • One tank of fuel with a “normal car” should get you there.

Travel Time:

 Approximately 6hrs depending on your car and your refreshment stop habits (570kms)


Fuel: Most cars could make it on just over a tank of petrol/diesel so work it out based on your car’s consumption. We work on about R700 or so petrol money for a one way trip in my reliable little Hyundai i10.

Tolls: R216 one way

Durban harbour cruise

The Durban skyline from harbour cruise perspective. A visit to Durban is always a good idea. © Kelly Robertson

The Bus

Who it’s best for:

The cost conscious traveller, or if you are travelling alone and are not in a big rush to get there.

What we like about this mode:

  • If the budget was tight for any of our potential visitors, the bus was the public transport mode which made sure they could still make it to us. It is much cheaper than driving (if you are travelling alone) or flying.
  • It is usually reliable and quite safe as long as passengers stay aware of their surroundings.
  • You may be lucky enough to see Chuck Norris in action in one of the old rerun movies played on the TV in the front of your bus. Lucky you.
  • The numerous bus carriers drive slightly different routes and often the passengers could select a ticket for a bus which would stop closer to their destination instead of the final stop at the terminal in town. Sometimes that was convenient.

Travel Time:

Between 7-9 hours, depending on the bus’s route

Cost: Between R190- R400 one way, depending on the carrier chosen

See the bus travel options on the Computicket site for comparison and to book.


Midland exploring

Midland Exploring. Just an hour out of Durban.

The Airplane

Who its best for:

Anyone travelling alone or limited on time.

What we like about this mode:

  • Convenience. Obviously.
  • We choose to fly from Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg to Durban whenever possible as it is the most convenient connection for us.
  • Shorter travel time (but only marginally compared to driving if you factor in the time taken to get to the airport, checked in and boarded.)
  • You can get some great flight deals and discounts if you look out for them, making it quite affordable at times.

Travel Time:

50 minute flight (approximately 4hrs total time including travel to the airport, check in and boarding)


 From R500-R2000 one way, depending on the airline chosen

Compare current air fares on the TravelStart website.

dog friendly beaches

Do we miss living in Durban? Sometimes, yes, of course! But we are just an easy drive down the N3 away from our old friend when we feel it’s been too long. She gave so much of herself to us from beach day memories, coastal forest walks and bike ride adventures. The weekend getaways to the Midlands, the seaside , the bush, the Drakensberg and even to seek out the snow were so easy to get to.

Durban activities

We often consider doing the Jo’burg to Durban trip these days, either for work, or for a sneaky escape to get some salt on our skin and sand between our toes. In our usual style, we always look for pet friendly accommodation as our first choice and bring our adventure companions (aka doggies) along too whenever possible.

No matter how you choose to get there, Durban is always a good idea.

Durban swim in the sea

This post was created in partnership with the  fabulous folk at

Browse through their listing of varied and great accommodation options in Durban here.

There’s something for every budget and for every style of getaway in and around warm and friendly Durban. You can filter by price, accommodation type, and best of all, by “Must Haves” such as the pet friendly accommodation options if you are travelling with the four legged furry ones as we like to do.