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Large areas of the Free State are dedicated to farming

The Free State Province[dead link], "South Africa's breadbasket", sits in the heartland of the Karoo semi-desert.


Map of Free State

Free State
  Fezile Dabi
Formerly Northern Free State, large portions of this area still show the scars of the Vredefort Dome meteor impact.
  Thabo Mofutsanyana
Eastern portion of the Free State, bordering onto the Lesotho highlands to the south.
Western Free State, also known as the Free State Gold Fields
Formerly Motheo.
The southern grass plains


Fezile Dabi[edit]

  • 1 Parys — a popular weekend trip from Jo'burg because of its shops, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and adventure activities
  • 2 Vredefort — a farming town in the Vredefort Dome (Crater)
  • 3 Kroonstad — the centre of a rich agricultural district, producing maize, wheat, dairy and meat products and wool

Thabo Mofutsanyana[edit]

  • 4 Bethlehem — the heart of the picturesque north-eastern Free State
  • 5 Clarens — a convenient base for visiting Golden Gate Highlands Park
  • 6 Ficksburg — home of an annual cherry festival
  • 7 Ladybrand — a good place to prepare for visiting the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho


  • 8 Welkom — a gold mining town known internationally for its efficient road traffic


  • 9 Bloemfontein — known for its abundance of roses and the annual rose festival held there


  • 10 Gariep Dam — a popular outdoor destination for boating and water sports, and a good break on the journey between Cape Town and Johannesburg
  • 11 Norvalspont — site of a British concentration camp during the Secongd Boer War

Other destinations[edit]

National parks[edit]

  • 1 Golden Gate Highlands Park — the province's prime tourist attraction gets its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the spectacular sandstone cliffs

Other nature reserves[edit]


The former Oranje-Vrystaat (Orange Free State) was the heartland of the white Afrikaner population and therefore most people in this region speak Afrikaans, although the majority have SeSotho as mother tongue. It was one of the first independent states, before joining the South African Union, and the people here still live up to the Voortrekker traditions of braaing. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow a thriving agricultural industry. With more than 30,000 farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket. The Free State is an important agricultural area in South Africa, with beef and maize the primary products.

The flats in the south of the reserve provide ideal conditions for large herds of plain game such as black wildebeest and springbok. The ridges, koppies and plains typical of the northern section are home to kudu, red hartebeest, southern white rhinoceros and buffalo. The Southern African wildcat, black wildebeest, zebra, eland, white rhinoceros and wild dog can be seen at the Soetdoring Nature Reserve near Bloemfontein. South African cheetahs were reintroduced in the Free State in 2013 after a hundred years of regional extinction.


The Free State enjoys warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Areas in the east experience frequent snowfalls, especially on the higher ranges, whilst the west can be extremely hot in summer. Almost all precipitation falls in the summer months as brief afternoon thunderstorms, with aridity increasing towards the west. Areas in the east around Harrismith, Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. The capital, Bloemfontein, experiences hot, moist summers and cold, dry winters frequented by severe frost.


Afrikaans is still the first language of many, but most will definitely understand and speak English. Be prepared for understanding through the accent.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The N5 only serves as a connection between the N1 and the N3.

By plane[edit]

Bloemfontein Airport[dead link] (BFN IATA) has flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town and some other cities in South Africa. Flights are operated by the South African Airways family.

Get around[edit]

Best by car, as there are little means of public transport and great distances between each of the towns and cities.

The traffic police are very active, especially on the N1 — keep to the speed limit!





Stay safe[edit]

Always have enough water with you, in case your car has a break down. Tell your last hotel where you are going to and which route you use, especially when going into a less populated and rural area.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Free State is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!