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Your guide to Bloemfontein
All About Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein, the capital of South Africa’s Free State province, is famous for its abundance of fragrant roses and proximity to several nature reserves, where wildlife roam free on protected lands. The city houses a number of historical landmarks, such as the triumphant statue of activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela that looks over the Free State from the top of Naval Hill, and Oliewenhuis Art Museum, which displays works by South African artists in a Neo-Dutch-style mansion. On the outskirts of town, you’ll find the Free State Botanical Garden, a mix of grasslands and woodlands surrounded by wild olive and karee trees.
There’s an exciting restaurant scene in Bloemfontein that blends traditional Basotho cuisine with an Afrikaans influence. You can snack on casual bites from street vendors selling deep-fried fritters filled with minced meat, dine al fresco for casual lunch in a local cafe, or go all in for an upscale steakhouse dinner.
Along the Loch Logan waterfront, explore one of the biggest shopping malls in the region, or visit the Boeremark in Langenhovenpark, a marketplace of food vendors and craftspeople selling souvenirs, clothes, and vintage trinkets.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Bloemfontein?
Thanks to the city’s high elevation and semi-arid climate, weather is very warm and pleasant here throughout the day, while temperatures drop dramatically after sundown. So be sure to pack layers if you’re traveling to Bloemfontein, especially if you plan to enjoy the nightlife. Since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, the hottest months are November through February, which also is the rainiest time of year. If you intend to travel during these months, pack waterproof layers. Fall brings clear skies and ideal weather for enjoying the outdoors and the season’s golden foliage. The spring months are lively, and October is one of the most exciting months in the city. This is when Bloemfontein hosts its annual rose festival, as well as the 10-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival, which incorporates music, dance, comedy, and visual arts.
What are the top things to do in Bloemfontein?
The top of Naval Hill offers sweeping panoramic views of the city, a large statue of Nelson Mandela, a planetarium, and a 617-acre nature reserve. Enjoy the extensive walking paths as you try to spot iconic wildlife like giraffes and zebras. For a unique dining experience with a view of the city, grab a meal at the restaurant perched here.
Oliewenhuis Art Museum
What was once a lavish estate built by a wealthy European family is now a public building focused on uplifting and celebrating South African artists. There are about 1,400 works in the permanent collection, along with rotating visiting exhibitions. The museum also houses a children’s museum, an auditorium for film screenings and lectures, and rooms dedicated to natural history. Outside, you’ll find a sculpture park and a striking carousel designed by 16 artists.
Free State National Botanical Garden
This popular park showcases native flora like karee trees, sweeping tracts of grassland, medicinal plants, African lilies, river bushwillow, and African irises. There are hiking trails to explore as well as a shade garden and traditional huts built using native materials. If you’re lucky, you may spot wildlife like aardvarks, porcupines, vervet monkeys, and tortoises here too.