Artistic towns and villages are scattered all over the Free State. Perhaps it’s the wide-open spaces, the enormous African skies, the home-grown bonhomie or the fact that people have time to explore their artistic yearnings. Whatever the reason, Ficksburg, Clarens, Verkykerskop, Rosendal and Parys offer a dose of inspiration.

Did you know?

The Botshabelo Library on the N8 has a vast collection of valuable Sotho arts and crafts.

Artistic towns of the Free State are scattered near and far, between farmlands that extend all the way to the imposing Maluti mountains. For years now, the Free State has witnessed the migration of creative urbanites towards the interior of the country in search of peace, quiet and the need to reinvent their lives. Artists, poets, musicians, chefs and writers have given some of the smaller Free State towns and villages a defined creative edge.

The Free State’s arty villages have no doubt been inspired by the surroundings. This is a province that offers arresting rural landscapes, mind-expanding wide open spaces, and local hospitality that can't be beaten. It is an ancient land that inspired the San to paint their stories in the many caves scattered around the countryside. The Free State also has ties to JRR Tolkien, the 'Boy from Bethulie' (beloved South African actor Patrick Mynhardt), poet and author Antjie Krog, and writer Sir Laurens van Der Post.

Creative towns or "dorps" of the Free State include places like Clarens (home to many artists, studios and art galleries), Verkykerskop, Rosendal, Parys, Smithfield, Zastron and Ficksburg. These are just a few rural hideaways that have been put on the map by the creative set. It’s at these villages that you can stop off and buy beautiful Free State art and local craft (many works inspired by the Basotho and Griqua cultures). You will also find antiques, mohair products, authentic crafts and home-made produce.

You can also get to enjoy the magnificent sandstone architecture of the eastern Free State or experience a culinary safari in Clarens or Smithfield. At certain times of the year there are various courses on offer - whether you want to learn to make koeksusters, learn to paint watercolours or find out how to photograph that perfect Free State sunset. Wherever you go in smalltown Free State, inspiration is always at hand.

Travel tips & Planning info

Related articles