The Free State
Free State Information Directory
The Free State is characterised by wide open spaces and flat land interspersed by majestic mountains. The farming areas are fertile with areas rich in mineral deposits. The Free State is a region wedged between the magnificent Orange and Vaal Rivers with Lesotho as its border nestling in the hollow beneath impressive mountains.
The Orange River forms the southern boundary of the Free State and includes the Gariep and Vanderkloof Dams, which are the largest dams in the country. Many of the towns display a mix of culture clearly evident in the street names, public buildings, monuments and museums. Some of South Africa’s most valued San rock art is found in the regions in the Free State.
The capital city of the Free State is Bloemfontein and is often referred to as the “City of Roses”. Bloemfontein is also the judicial capital of South Africa. In the northeastern region of the Free State is the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, one the province’s main tourist attractions. The park incorporates fantastic examples of San rock paintings and great hiking trails suitable for all fitness levels.
As South Africa’s “bread basket” the Free State produces approximately 34% of maize, 53% of sorghum and 37% wheat of South Africa's produce. The Free State is the world’s fifth-largest gold producer and a leader in the chemicals industry.
Things to do in the Free State
Due to its great expanse, the Free State has 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.
- Charge your adrenalin with a water sport adventure on the Vaal River and the 320sq km Vaal Dam
- Get historical with the events of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 at various battle sites, memorials and museums
- Get to know the big cats at Dell Cheetah Sanctuary, Lion’s Rock and Tiger Canyons
- See the oldest known dinosaur nesting site as well as San Rock art
- Visit local wineries and the world’s deepest wine cellar
See the activities directory for a list of advertisers across the Free State, providing a great variety of things to do.
Take a guided tour inside the walls of the impressive Gariep Dam or part-take in the many water sport activities on offer.
Right in the center of Bloemfontein is Naval Hill. Recently revamped and host to the Park Run every Saturday, Navel Hill provides glorious views over the city. It contains a 6.5m-high statue of Nelson Mandela and a new digital planetarium. The 250 hectare Franklin Game Reserve within Naval Hill is one of only two nature reserves in the world to be located in a city center.
Festival of the Cherries! The small town of Ficksburg presents the pretty Cherry Festival each November. With live entertainment provided by well-known South African artists, festival activities including cherry tours, a golf classic, a half marathon, amongst many other activities, Ficksburg is a hive of fun and entertainment.
The oldest and largest crater on earth, the Vredefort Dome was caused when a massive meteorite struck the earth 2,000 million years ago. The force of the impact caused the rock layers to ‘bend’, resulting in a semi-circular ring of mountains that are home to abundant bird and plant life – and the world’s only pink granite. Both the towns of Parys and Vredefort are located within the Vredefort Dome’s original impact area.