With all eyes on Durban as it hosts this week’s International Film Festival, here are our reasons for why it's a city on the rise.
Credit: Fridmar Damm/Corbis

What can we say about Durban? This seaside city on South Africa’s southern coast is generally overlooked by foreign travelers, who tend to focus on the country’s safari-and-wine circuits, but we can’t fathom why. The beaches are beautiful, the weather is glorious year-round, the people are friendly, and, thanks to one of the world’s largest Indian communities established here for more than a century, the food is fiery.

If you’re in South Africa this week, all the more reason to get down to Durban now. The 36th annual Durban International Film Festival, featuring selections from China, Argentina, India, Senegal, the U.S., Germany—not to mention plenty of local South African talent—runs from July 16-26.

The city has plenty to offer visitors these days, as a few urban enclaves are in the midst of something of a revival. Suddenly, creative Durbanites who, in the past, fled the city all too soon for greener pastures in Johannesburg, Cape Town, or overseas, now are sticking around to be a part of the city’s rejuvenation.

These efforts can be seen in Rivertown, a project helmed by the successful developer behind Johannesburg’s popular Maboneng Precinct. While the neighborhood’s progress has slowed since it launched with much fanfare last year, it seems like things are heating up. The 8 Morrison Street complex is planning to unveil a collection of pods in August housing independent mini-boutiques for local brands, including Firebird Coffee Works, Forge jewelry, menswear by Spine, and Vintager furniture. On deck for next month is the Easy Eating restaurant and the Standing Room bar from Standeaven Brewery.

Sarah Khan is based in Cape Town and covers South Africa for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.