Did you know?
At the national botanical garden you can see more than 100 species of birdlife.
Most of Bloemfontein's tourism destinations have a low profile. This city, in the middle of South Africa, isn't generally regarded as a prime tourist destination despite its claim to fame as the birthplace of 'The Lord of the Rings' scribe J.R.R. Tolkien.
In recent years, however, it has been voted as one of South Africa's best places to live, because although it has the size and heft of a large African city, it still feels like you're in a small country town.
The literal translation of Bloemfontein into English is "flower fountain", and thereby hangs a tale:
Rudolph Britz was the first white person to settle here, back in 1840. His nephew, Johan, set up home near a good water source so he could establish an orchard and a rose garden for his wife. It was named Bloemfontein, presumably after Mrs Britz's top-class rose garden.
The first thing you realise as you follow the Bloemfontein tourist routes is that they're a mix of indigenous, British and Boer memories. The settlement swapped back and forth between Boer and British hands several times.
Arguably the most moving monument in the Bloemfontein region is the National Women's Monument, dedicated to the 23 000 women and children who died in British concentration camps in the South African War.
The city also has an excellent national botanical garden, home to dozens of reptiles. There's also a nature reserve within the city limits. Called the Franklin Nature Reserve, it is a sanctuary for various antelope species, including eland, blesbok and zebra.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mangaung (Bloemfontein) Local Municipality Tourism Office
Tel: +27 (0) 51 405 8489/8490
Fax: +27 (0) 51 447 3859
Free State Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0) 51 411 4300