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HHome to the Vredefort Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the Free State offers visitors a relaxing, unhurried experience. Learn about the customs and traditions of the Basotho people, enjoy a myriad of water sports, and stroll around artsy Clarens.
The Free State province is the known as the breadbasket of South Africa due to its thriving agricultural industry. The main city, Mangaung/Bloemfontein (Flower Fountain), renowned for its spectacular gardens, is the country's legislative capital.
Enjoy the sights at the Franklin Nature Reserve or drink cocktails at the well-known Naval Hill lookout point. For more traditional African flavour, make sure you visit one of the local townships and get to know a bit more about the local culture.
Further afield there is much to be enjoyed in the Free State province. Head off to arty Clarens in the eastern Free State and on the way make sure you stop over at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park – one of the country's most spectacular reserves. Take time to explore the Basotho Cultural Village as well as Phuthaditjhaba. Small towns like Ladybrand, Clocolan and Fouriesberg offer fascinating insights into everyday life in the province.
For water-sports lovers, there are the Vaal and Gariep dams. The Vredefort Dome, near the town of Parys, is the world's oldest meteorite impact site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is definitely worth visiting.
Whilst Bloemfontein is more rustic than Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, there are a number of excellent meetings and conference options to choose from, with the added benefit of enjoying the incredible hospitality on offer in this wholesome part of the world.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Free State Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)51 409 9900
How to get here
It depends which part of the Free State you're travelling to. If you're visiting Bloemfontein, you can fly in on one of South Africa's domestic airlines from cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. To get to the eastern or northern Free State, travelling by road is the best way to get there.
Tours to do
If you're travelling the Free State by car there are some lovely routes to explore as suggested by the Free State Tourism Authority. These are the Maloti Route, Goldfields Route, Friendly N6 Route, Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu Heritage Route, Battlefield Route and the Diamond & Wine Route. Each focuses on different cultural, historical and heritage aspects of the Free State. See the Free State Tourism Authority website for more details.
The Free State is primarily accessible by road, so hiring a car or travelling by coach or tour bus is the best way to see the province.
Length of stay
To really explore the gems of the Free State stay at least a week.
What to pack
During our spring and summer season (September through March), pack light clothing as the days can be hot and the nights are generally mild. Do bring along a light windbreaker for times when it does get cooler. During autumn and winter (April through August), be sure to bring warm clothing and a warm jacket as nights and early mornings can get chilly. Days are generally long-sweater weather.
Where to stay
There are a wide variety of accommodation options in the Free State from hotels and guest houses to lodges and guest farms. You can also spend the night in a cave.
If you're visiting the Basotho Cultural Village in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park be sure to buy some handmade African arts and crafts like woven baskets, drums and wood carvings.