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Durban

Africa > South Africa > Durban

See: Why rent a car in Durban ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Durban?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Durban?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Durban car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Durban with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Durban? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Durban, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Durban is in car rental price band: 2/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Durban? 

Yes. Very cheap car rental by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Durban between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 8/10

Non car score:3/10

Balance: 8

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Our general advice is that in Durban a hire car is extremely useful, both in terms of access to coastal scenery, and also for national parks heading inland.

Why? Visiting Durban using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Durban ?


Why should you hire a car in Durban?

  • Drive to any of the various spectacular national and other scenic parks which can be found to the northwest of Durban.
  • Drive (limited roads) or hike in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park – the largest park in the region, on the border with Lesotho.
  • Visit the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, the setting for many scenes in the Michael Caine classic “Zulu”. Note that the amphitheatre is in the Royal Natal National Park, not in Maloti-Drakensberg Park.
  • Consider a one way drive between Durban and Johannesburg – in one move, it’s around 8 hours, but with stops at various parks on the way, you easily have a 3-7 day itinerary.
  • Drive along the coast towards Lake St Lucia in the northeast.
  • Drive towards Cape Town in the southeast. Note that a direct drive to Cape Town would take at least 20 hours. Many of the most scenic areas are to the west of East London – see our Cape Town / Cape Town road trip pages for more details. There are more direct routes heading via Bloemfontein, but these would miss much of the coast. However, there are few coastal stretches of road between Margate and East London.
  • There is no direct rail connection to King Shaka Airport, Durban.
  • Generally, public transport in the area is poor, except within the city limits of Durban and nearby suburbs.
  • Rail services around Durban can be moderately useful for travelling in either direction along the coast, but they are mainly used by commuters rather than tourists.
  • There is no subway or light rail system in Durban.
  • Even within the city, many bus services are operated by private minibus owners, who have a reputation for over-filling their vehicles.

Why not? Visiting Durban without a car

Why don't you need a car in Durban ?


  • Generally, visiting Durban without a hire car will be fine if you plan just to stick to the city itself, and local destinations along the coast.
  • Golden Mile – within the city, this popular beach front area is a natural place to hire a bike, or similar.
  • Local rail services (Metrorail) are adequate within the city, or for heading down towards Kelso on the coast to the south, or to KwaDukuza (Stanger) in the north.
  • Durban people mover – this bus service aimed more at visitors operates on a regular schedule in the most popular tourist areas of downtown Durban.
  • Coaches connect major towns, for example there are 5 competing services operating buses from Durban to Johannesburg. However, buses are largely aimed at inter-city passenger service, not at providing a way to reach national parks.
  • Security is a concern when renting a car in South Africa, but reports of car crime tend to be in cities, and much more common in Johannesburg or Cape Town.
  • The roads in South Africa are relatively unsafe when compared with countries in North America or Europe. However, compared to anywhere in Africa, the roads in South Africa are amongst the safest, and there are regular speed patrols.

Ratings: How does Durban compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Durban? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Durban, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Durban? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Durban (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Durban? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Durban airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Durban car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 7

2021 - 8

Average score - 8

Notes:

 

Should you rent a car in Durban?

Whereas a city like Cape Town offers a wide range of tourist infrastructure which can make it easy to get around using trains and buses, this really doesn’t apply so much in Durban.

There’s a much greater range of places to see which are well outside the city, and which aren’t served by reliable public transport service.

This means that almost by default, our recommendation here would be to hire a car.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Durban ?

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