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Free State

The Free State is renowned for its wide open plains, exquisite sandstone mountains and historical significance. Dip into this melting pot and explore its endless offerings.

Free State, South Africa , is a province of extreme diversity - natural, cultural or historical. This makes Free State tourism particularly attractive, as it provides a plethora of things to see and do. Exploring the province's nature reserves and mountains, museums and monuments and extensive cultural heritage are popular Free State attractions. It's almost as though time itself began in this picturesque province. It is home to the Vredefort Dome, the world's oldest meteorite impact site, ancient San rock art and dinosaur remains and fossils. The National Museum in Bloemfontein has prime examples of the latter

As one of South Africa's agricultural hubs, the Free State largely comprises rolling farmland, although its dominant natural feature is its beautiful sandstone cliffs

Located in the province's north eastern region, at the foot of the Maluti Mountains, is the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Aside from its imposing sandstone peaks, the park boasts a highland habitat sustaining a variety of animals and birds, including the rare bearded vulture. It offers guided walks, hikes, game viewing and horse riding.

Due to its great diversity, the Free State boasts a number of tourism routes. Do the Maloti Route and discover the eastern highlands and Maluti Mountains of neighbouring Lesotho; follow the Goldfields Route and delve into the history of Lejweleputswa's gold mines; or explore the province's battlefields and war museums on the Battlefield Route

Experience the region's cultural and political heritage on the BBT Heritage route or walk in the footsteps of the diamond prospectors of old on the Diamond and Wine Route. This tour also features the Landzicht, Wilreza and Jacobsdal wine estates.

If authentic home-grown hospitality is what you're after, make sure you do the Friendly N6 Route, which covers the area from Bloemfontein to Aliwal North

With its bountiful natural, historical and cultural attractions, there's something to tempt every visitor's fancy in the beautiful Free State.

How to get there:

Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Bloemfontein Airport. If you’re driving; from Johannesburg and Cape Town take the N1 south and north respectively to Bloemfontein. From Durban, take the N3 out of KwaZulu Natal, and pick up the N5 at Harrismith to Bloemfontein. 

In order to cover the large stretches of territory required, getting around by car is recommended.

Best time to visit:

Spring to autumn (September to April). Summer days get very hot, while winter days are mild, with cold evenings. Snow regularly falls on the eastern highlands.

Where to stay:

The region offers a full range of accomodation from backpackers and B&B's to hotels and guest houses.

What to eat:

Traditional boerekos (farm-style food) and potjiekos (pot stew) in most towns and villages; authentic African cuisine at the many African cultural villages; the Free State’s famed corn on the cob and juicy cherries.

What's happening:

Philippolis Witblits Festival in June (a festival featuring traditional home-brewed alcoholic spirits); NAMPO Farm Show (agricultural show) at Bothaville in May; the Bloemfontein Show (agricultural and entertainment festival) at Bloemfontein in April; the Free State Food Fair and Macufe Mangaung African Cultural Festival, both at Bloemfontein in October; the Cherry Festival at Ficksburg in November.

Tour Winnie Mandela House in Majwemasoeu; the region’s various wine cellars; the self-drive tourism routes (Battlefields, Friendly N6, Diamond and Wine, BBT Heritage, Maloti and Goldfields); the National Museum in Bloemfontein; the Basotho Cultural Village; the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

Who to contact:

Free State Tourism Tel: +27 (0) 51 411 4300 Email: info@freestatetourism.org
South Africa National Parks Tel: + 27 (0) 12 428 9111 E-mail: reservations@sanparks.org