BloemfonteinBloemfontein (Fountain of flowers, Afrikaans pronunciation: ) is the judicial capital of South Africa. It is also the capital of the Free State Province.
J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, was born in Bloemfontein in 1892. Despite Tolkien's fame, there is surprisingly little commemorating him in the city.
In 1923, the African National Congress (ANC) political party was founded in Bloemfontein.
Today, Bloemfontein is a compact city surrounded by sprawling suburbs.
The city centre is safe to walk around during the day, but many of the city's activities are focused on the Waterfront and Mimosa malls and on the large sporting complex. Second Avenue, north of the Waterfront mall, has the majority of the city's bars and restaurants.
See Air travel in South Africa for more information.
Bloemfontein is a major rail junction in the middle of South Africa, however services have been reduced to trains from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and East London three times a week. Trains are run by Shosholo Zameyl. is in the city centre, on the corner of Maitland and Harvey streets.
By carThe N1, N6 and N8 national highways meet in Bloemfontein, making it easily reachable from any part of the country.
The N1 northbound from Bloemfontein towards Gauteng is a toll road.
- Bloemfontein-Johannesburg: 398 km
- Bloemfontein-Cape Town: 1004 km
- Bloemfontein-Maseru: 137 km
- Bloemfontein-Port Elizabeth: 677 km
- Bloemfontein-Kimberley: 160 km
By busA number of bus services offer connections to major South African cities.
phone: +27 83 915-9000
phone: +27 21 380-4400
phone: +27 11 333-2223
By carAs with most of South Africa, it is best to hire a car.
phone: +27 51 433-2331address: Bloemfontein Airport
phone: +27 51 433-2146address: Bloemfontein Airport
phone: +27 51 400-2100address: Bloemfontein Airport
phone: +27 51 430-0390address: Bloemfontein Airport
phone: +27 51 447-3447address: Monument RoadFor a history on the war 1899 to 1902
phone: +27 84 429-9080address: Mazelspoort RoadExplore the southern skies under dark and clear Free State conditions
Choet Visser Rugby Museumphone: +27 51 436-4124
phone: +27 51 405-8730address: Erlich Park Fire Station, Church Street17 vintage fire engines, cars, bikes steam engines and even ox wagons.
phone: +27 51 436-361address: Rayton Road,off Dan Pienaar Drive
phone: +27 51 447-9609address: 36 Aliwal StreetHome to the Florisbad skull.
Naval Hill and Franklin Game ReserveThe reserve has various wild animals (nothing dangerous) and is located on top of a hill overlooking the centre of the city. There is a driving circuit weaving around the edge of the hill. You can also park the car near the observatory and go for a walk / have a picnic.
phone: +27 51 447-9609address: 16 Harry Smith StreetOutstanding art museum in a beautifully restored Cape-Dutch style house and gardens. Oliewenhuis hosts ever changing temporary displays of contemporary art and photography, whilst upstairs is a more traditional permanent exhibition. There is a very nice cafe in the sculpture garden at the back and is the ideal retreat from the city's sterile shopping malls.
Presidency Museumphone: +27 51 448-0949address: Pres. Brand StreetThis former residence of presidents of the Orange Free Stare Republic has been restored to what it would have been at the turn of the century.
Queens Fort Military Museumphone: +27 51 447-5478address: 116 Church StreetExhibitions on the two Boer wars and the apartheid struggle.
phone: +27 51 402 1959The SA Armour Museum, on the grounds of Tempe Military Base, exhibits various items dealing specifically with military armour. The SA Armour Museum consists of an indoor-, outdoor-, and reference library area. Some of the more interesting exhibits include South African built apartheid era riot control vehicles, and some old Soviet tanks the South African's captured in Angola.
- Go to the Waterfront
- Play a round of golf
- Visit one of the numerous game reserves in the area and go sightseeing / hunting
- Take a walk through the tree-lined President Brand Street and visit the various museums
- Take a drive through the northern suburbs and see the lush gardens
- Visit the City Zoo just behind the Waterfront shopping mall. This zoo is home to a stuffed Liger a cross between a lion and a tiger, that was bred at the zoo in the 1930s. This specimen holds the world record for being the largest ever living cat. And at 798 kg you can see why!
Soetdoring Nature ReserveA pleasant Free State nature reserve close to Bloemfontein. What sets it apart are the lions in the small enclosure in the middle of the park – although the enclosure is big enough to mean that you are not guaranteed to see the cats. The rest of the reserve is pleasant with open plains, wooded areas and a dam – there are no dangerous animals in the main park so walking is allowed. There is a one-day hiking trail which follows the Modder River, easy enough for families with young children.
phone: +27 51 401-3219address: Bloemfontein
phone: +27 51 507-3911address: Bloemfontein
Fishpaste restaurant and barphone: +27 51 430-2662address: 31 President Steyn ave, WestdeneThe place to go. Excellent food in an interesting atmosphere.
Mexican Restaurantphone: +27 51 430-4526address: 19A Second Avenue WestdeneThere isn't much that is Mexican about this place, except for the big Aztec statue that overlooks the dining area. Seafood and steakhouse. One of the city's more upmarket steakhouses. Fantastic food and service in a beautiful restaurant with a selective bar.
phone: +27 51 436-6148address: Eeufees RoadBranch of the popular CTFM chain. Worth the trip into the northern suburbs.
Beethoven's Cafe Restaurantphone: +27 51 448-7223address: Victorian Square, Second AvenueA good choice for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner, and a tad more sophisticated (by Bloemfontein standards) than the chain restaurants in the shopping malls. The only downside is that the terrace overlooks the car park.
New York'sphone: +27 51 447-7279address: 60 Medene Centre, Second AveOne of the better steakhouses in town, although not the best. Not a bad choice for families.
Bains Caravan Parkphone: +27 51 451-1115address: 31 Kimberley Rd
Naval Hill Backpackersphone: +27 51-4307266address: Belville driveDorm beds.
phone: +27 51 447-3399address: 3rd AvenueSpotlessly clean and functional hotel in a good location equidistant between 2nd Streets restaurants and the Waterfront mall - and Mimosa mall is a 10 minute walk. Secure parking, full English breakfast, en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning and DSTV. A good alternative to the considerably more expensive City Lodge up the road.
phone: +27 51 451-1928Serviced chalets.
phone: +27 51 436-1567address: Raytonweg, Lilyvale
phone: +27 51 444-2974address: Cnr Nelson Mandela Drive & Parfitt Avenue
phone: +27 82 853-7472address: 2c Louis Botha St, WaverleySafe parking and accommodation.
phone: +27 51 447-0663A boutique hotel, a good choice if you are with your intended. From R500 per room inc. breakfast.
phone: +27 51 421-0559address: 6 Blink-Vosperdstr. PellissierGerman-speaking management.
phone: +27 51 430-1111address: 1 Union Avenue
phone: +27 51 403-0600
phone: +27 51 444-1253address: Cnr. Nelson Mandela and Melville Drive, Brandwag
- Visit the beautiful Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet and the Mountain Zebra National Park in the south.
- Heading east you will reach Thaba 'Nchu, 60 km outside Bloemfontein, which has a luxury hotel and casino complex as well as Maria Moroka Nature Reserve. 130 km from Bloemfontein is the pleasant town of Ladybrand close to Lesotho and its capital city of Maseru.
- The N6 will take you to East London and the N1 will take you to Gauteng (which is a toll road) or Cape Town