Best Places to Visit in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein, the “City of Roses” and stronghold of the Boers, is the capital and economic and cultural center of the Free State. Home to the Supreme Court of Appeal, the city is the judicial capital of South Africa. Due to its central location in the semi-arid highlands, this predominantly modern city is a hub for road and rail traffic and a popular stopover for travel between Cape Town and neighboring provinces.
The city is also a convenient starting point for exploring other attractions in the Free State. To the northeast, Navy Hill surrounds the city with its observatory theater and wildlife-rich nature preserve. Within the city, tourists will find an excellent art gallery, as well as museums that present fascinating exhibits about the cultural and natural history of the area. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Bloemfontein and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Bloemfontein
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Bloemfontein:
1. Navy Hill and Franklin Nature Reserve
The panoramic view of Bloemfontein is Navy Hill’s main attraction, but the area is also home to an abundance of wildlife and a few other surprises. This gentle hill to the northeast of the city is also home to the free Franklin Nature Reserve, which is home to zebras, spring birds, eland, giraffes and many birds. There is also a large (8 meters) statue of Nelson Mandela by sculptor Kobus Hattingh. There is always someone here who pays homage to this world icon. The statue overlooks the Waahawk Wesleyan Methodist Church, the birthplace of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912.
In the area, you can look for a large white horse statue on the east side of the hill, which was erected during the Boer War and was a landmark for the British cavalry. At the foot of Navy Hill, the Orchid House in Hamilton Park is home to hundreds of these stunning flowers.
2. Navy Hill Planetarium
The former Lamont Hersey Observatory on Navy Hill was rebuilt and converted into the Navy Hill Planetarium Theatre. Opened in 2013 and located at the top of Navy Hill in the Franklin Nature Reserve, the planetarium is the first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa. The dome cinema plays documentaries about the stars, planets and our solar system, and an impressive surround sound system and multiple data projectors amplify the immersive experience.
3. National Museum
Established in 1877, the National Museum is a great place for visitors to learn about the cultural, natural and political history and artistic traditions of the region. The museum has an extensive collection of fossil and archaeological materials, including chronological displays of Stone Age and Iron Age tools. In the Ethnic School District, visitors can learn about the lives of Bushmen, Himba, Zulu, and other cultural groups, and see exhibits of African musical instruments.
The historic streetscape is especially educational for children, with the astronomy section, the mammal section, and daily entertainment from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The satellite museum in the First Raadsaal, Bloemfontein’s oldest building, displays exhibits about the history of the Free State.
4. Anglo Boer War Museum
The Anglo Boer War Museum traces the history of this bitter conflict from 1899 to 1902 from a Boer perspective. History buffs can gain insight into the background of the war and life in brutal British prison camps through dioramas, a collection of artworks, audio-visual displays, artifacts and other exhibits.
The permanent collection focuses on some notable figures of the time, including a collection of weapons. Particularly poignant are the exhibits highlighting the impact of the war on black South Africans, and the bloody baby hats showing stray bullet holes.
There are several memorials outside the museum, including the National Monument to Women, a 37-foot-tall obelisk dedicated to the 26,000 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Boer War. At the foot of the monument is an urn containing the ashes of Emily Hobhouse, a British woman who campaigned for better treatment of detainees.
5. Bagamoa Wildlife Estate
Animal lovers will be in heaven at Bagamoa Wildlife Farm. About 30 kilometers from Bloemfontein, this safari park allows visitors to interact with the big cats under the watchful eye of expert staff who love to share their passion for these powerful creatures. Depending on the animals living at the time, visitors may bottle-feed lions and tiger cubs, blast cheetahs, and even help feed adult lions.
In addition to the big cat interactions, the park has a small zoo, and some of its favorite residents are bat-eared foxes, wallabies, and coyotes. Visitors can also take a guided game tour to see other animals such as giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, wild boars, and more. Detached cabins are available for overnight stay. Please call to check feeding schedules and opening times prior to visiting.
6. Oliewenhuis Art Gallery
Located in a mansion in Cape Holland, the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery is named after the wild olive trees in the surrounding hills. The gallery is a member of the National Museum of Bloemfontein and its permanent collection focuses on South African art, from Old Masters to contemporary paintings and sculptures. Artists include Thomas Baines, Pieter Wenning and Willem Coetzer. Evocative temporary exhibits are on display in the underground reservoir.
After admiring all the artwork in the gallery, wander through the beautiful gardens, marvel at sculptures of historic South African figures, and explore 12 acres on various hiking trails. It’s also a great spot for a picnic or grabs a bite to eat at the on-site patio cafe with outdoor seating. Don’t miss the colorful carousel that showcases European and African mythological themes, representing the fusion of the country’s cultures.
7. Free State National Botanical Gardens
Set in a gentle valley among basalt outcrops, the Free State National Arboretum immerses visitors in a scenic landscape of native forests, meadows, Kari trees, and sculptural wild olives. The 70-hectare gardens feature over 400 different plants (yes, they include roses), mostly from the Free State, Lesotho, and the Northern Cape. Part of the site is a well-maintained park with lawns and lakes, but the majority consists of native woodland.
Other highlights of the gardens include a replica of an old settler’s cottage, a traditional Soto cottage with an herb garden, fiery poker native to the area, and a birdhouse overlooking a lake where visitors can explore 144 recorded species. . Garden. Watch out for some of the park’s small reptiles and mammals such as meerkats as you wander the self-guided wilderness trails. After visiting the park, visitors can picnic on the beautiful lawn or refuel at the restaurant.
8. Loch Logan Waterfront
If shopping is on your to-do list in Bloemfontein, this is the place for you. Overlooking an artificial lake, Loch Logan Waterfront is known as the largest mall in Central South Africa. A mall is usually a lively event space with many shops, restaurants and boutiques.
On a rainy day, it’s a great place to watch a movie at the cinema or indulge in shopping therapy. While the sun is shining, shoppers can relax at one of the beachfront restaurants or cafes. Parking is plentiful and many sports fans sit here watching rugby at the nearby Free State Stadium.
9. Fourth Raadsaal
Opposite the Court of Appeal is the Fourth Raadsaal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The foundation stone was laid by President F. W. Reitz in 1890 and the building was completed in 1893. This Renaissance-style red-brick building has a distinctive dome and Ionic colonnade portico.
The last meeting of the Parliament of the Former Boer Republic in the Orange Free State took place here before the British occupation of Bloemfontein in March 1900. It is now the seat of the Free State Provincial Assembly.
In front of the building is a monument (designed by Coert Steynberg) dedicated to general Christiaan de Wet during the Boer War. One block west from here, Bloemfontein Town Hall, designed by Sir Gordon Leithe in 1935, is decorated with inlays of Italian marble and Burmese wood.
The popular Boeremark is a great place to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Bloemfontein. Tourists and locals alike come here to taste and buy local delicacies such as delicious pannekoek, as well as homemade jams, dried fruits and fresh produce. Other stalls were filled with secondhand books, clothes, plants, and furniture. This is also a great place to buy souvenirs at craft stalls. The market takes place every Saturday in Langenhovenpark from 7 am to 1 pm.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Bloemfontein. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Bloemfontein, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.