Only a few short years ago, Durban, South Africa’s Station Drive Precinct was a rundown warehouse district. Today, however, the area is the go-to spot to eat, drink, shop and play, creating a “buzzing” new scene for creative types and travelers alike.
There are now all types of businesses in the district, from homegrown distilleries and breweries to locally produced home décor stores, art galleries and coffee shops. Station Drive Precinct is also home to the Morning Trade market on Sundays as well as the First Thursday open gallery program.
Among fun things to do and see in Durban are the street art, I Heart Market, BAT Centre and African Art Centre.
Durban street art was originally associated with local gangs, but has “found new life” through artists and redevelopment projects throughout different neighborhoods. The art explores several themes, including politics and nature, and is used by artists such as Louis de Villiers, also known as Skullboy, Sakhile Mhlongo and Daniel Chapman, also known as Mook Lion, as a form of social activism. Travelers can visit these decorated sites with tour companies like Street Scene, which can provide them with contextual information during half-day graffiti tours complete with lunch at a local pub.
The BAT Centre is where visitors can meet local artists and crafters who work on-site. The center was founded in 1995 and is a nonprofit arts center dedicated to “the preservation, promotion and celebration of the visual arts, crafts, music, dance and literature of KwaZulu-Natal Province,” according to a press release. This is a great spot for visitors wanting to learn about the region’s cultural heritage, enjoy performances and shop for original artwork. The center also houses a drum shop that sells a variety of African instruments.
The African Art Centre helps those in townships and rural areas hone their crafting skills in areas such as beadwork, ceramics, traditional Zulu baskets, textiles and more. It was originally founded in 1959 on Florida Road in the hopes of preserving traditional forms of arts and crafts while also promoting financial empowerment and self-sufficiency among underprivileged South Africans, the release said. The artworks here are on display in the gallery and can be purchased at an on-site gift shop, with each purchase helping to provide a sustainable income for more than 1,000 crafters associated with the center.
Durban is located an hour southeast of Johannesburg by air, settled on the Indian Ocean. The city has a rich cultural heritage, harboring remnants of British colonialism as well as a mix of Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions.