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This city really has seen it all. It was part of an independent Boer Republic, was colonised by the British and was considered the heartland of the old South Africa. Nevertheless, it has become remarkably compliant with the realities of the new South Africa. Bloemfontein serves as the judicial capital of the country and major lawsuits are resolved in the august wood-panelled halls of its historical buildings.
Bloemfontein's history and culture is there for all to see. Take a stroll along President Brand Street and admire the majestic buildings and manicured gardens.
Make sure you pay a visit to City Hall, one of the impressive sandstone buildings designed by Sir Gordon Leith. The Old Presidency and Twin Spire Church are also fascinating buildings and the National Museum is home to one of the most extensive fossil collections in South Africa.
Other noteworthy historical attractions include the National Women's Memorial and Anglo-Boer War Museum, the Free State Agricultural Museum, Hertzog Square, New Clare Township and the Dam of Tears.
Art lovers should be sure to visit the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, an attractive Cape-Dutch-inspired gallery filled with creative treasures and significant artworks. There are also the Motheo art and the Mangaung cultural routes for those who like to get involved in culture in a real way.
The BaSotho have a proud and tenacious history, and one of the historic highlights of a trip to the Free State is a visit to the Basotho Cultural Village in QwaQwa, close to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Free State Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)51 404 0300
How to get here
There are daily flights between Bloemfontein and the major urban capitals of South Africa. The area is also easily accessible by car and bus along the N1.
Best time to visit
A temperate climate means that it’s always a good time to visit Bloemfontein.
Things to do
Lots to explore. Start off on foot and tour the city centre, it’s also a good idea to book yourself on an organised tour to see the main historical and cultural sights.
What to pack
Good walking shoes, especially if you're planning on exploring the city by foot.
Where to stay
There are lots of guest houses, B&Bs and city hotels on offer.
What to eat
Local food is always best and Bloemfontein offers a wide range of restaurants.