- City Area : 236,17 km² (91.19 sq mi)
- Calling Code : (0) 51
- Currency : South African Rand (ZAR)
- (EST) City Population : 256,185
- Official Languages : Afrikaans, Sotho, English, Xhosa
- Time Zone : UTC/GMT+2
- Airport : Bram Fischer International Airport
Tourists landing in the country from Europe, the East or America take full advantage of connecting cheap flights to Bloemfontein Airport, with car hire and accommodation included, especially when they’re visiting Bloemfontein’s annual ‘Rose Festival’, a world renowned event.
Airlines landing at Bloemfontein Airport comprise:
- South African Airways
Reasons to Visit Bloemfontein
- Once a farm, Bloemfontein was established in 1846 as a British outpost and then in 1849 as a municipality. Bloody battles were fought with thousands losing their lives including Boer prisoners who died in British concentration camps. The farm was first inhabited and owned by Johannes N Britz, born in 1790 and who later sold it to Maj. Warden. The construction of a railway line in 1890 connected Bloemfontein to Cape Town that would prove a vital component to the British and their future occupation of Bloemfontein.
- Bloemfontein is one of three national capitals and the judicial capital of South Africa. Its situated centrally in the Transgariep Area in the heart of South Africa in a terrain of dry grassland and surprisingly, is well known as the City of Roses. It’s a large city with everything to offer visitors, except skyscrapers. It’s also home to three universities, one being the Central University of Technology.
- It’s a great place to stop for an overnight break for travellers driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town on the N1 with plenty of accommodation comprising hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and lodges.
- The city has relatively few museums but each one holds a wealth of information, artworks and exhibits that visitors find extremely interesting.
Places to Visit in Bloemfontein
- The Anglo Boer War Museum is the only one of its kind in the world that is dedicated wholly to the Anglo-Boer Wars that took place between 1899 and 1902. It holds the largest Anglo Boer War Collection globally comprising around 35 000 cultural heritage and historical objects, photographs and documents. As you meander through the museum, the development of the war unfolds giving a greater understanding to the background for which the war took place.
- The National Women’s Memorial came about after a national conference took place on 7th February 1907 determining the necessity to erect a monument in memory of the 27,000 Boer women and children that suffered and died during the 2nd Boer War in British concentration camps. After a powerful appeal by President Steyn, contributions were made by Afrikaans and English speaking individuals including Jewish citizens.
- The National Museum in Bloemfontein has a range of interesting permanent exhibitions that include archaeology, geology, birds, invertebrates, astronomy and others as well as the amazing Historical Street Scene, built in the latter 1970s, depicting daily lives of ordinary people. This exhibition extends more than 400m², taking around 4 years to delve into and build, with house-hold articles shown in context. A definite must see that will have children fascinated with history like never before!
- The stunning Neo-Dutch style Oliewenhuis mansion completed in 1941 was home to the Governor General of the Union of South Africa from 1942 until 1961 with the establishment of the Republic of South Africa, after which it became the State Presidents official residence during official visits to Bloemfontein. The mansion had the honour of accommodating King George VI and his family in 1947 on their three-day visit to Bloemfontein. In 1989 Oliewenhuis was officially opened as Oliewenhuis Art Museum with its mission being to collect, conserve and exhibit art works representative of South Africa’s heritage.
- A visit to the Wagon Museum provides visitors with a splendid range of historical wagons and is free of charge. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday to Friday.
- The city’s annual Rose Festival in October, when roses are in glorious full bloom, attracts thousands of local and overseas visitors and has placed the city on the flower map. Established in 1976 by the local community to create awareness of Bloemfontein globally, it has more than successfully achieved its goal. While most activities are held at the Lock Logan Waterfront with mass flower displays by resident nurseries including the official municipal rose festival display, private gardens all over the city open their gates to the public for viewing.
- Kings Park and Zoo has beautiful lush lawns and manicured beds located around a lake with 4000 rose bushes to be admired. The zoo is home to wild dogs, lions, tigers, elephants and primates and makes for a perfect family day out.
- The Free State National Botanical Garden located on the outskirts of the city comprises 70 hectares of natural tall grass and woodland with marvellous wild olive and karee trees including hardy and decorative trees indigenous to the area. Home to approximately 400 plant species, the area includes a valley and dolerite koppies and boasts over 140 bird species with a convenient bird hide. 54 reptile species and around 32 mammal species also reside here. A great time to visit is from November to March when most plants are in full leaf.
- The city offers a great variety of eateries. To indulge in gourmet burgers, pizza and pub grub, the Boudoir Boutique Bar offers light meals in an elegant setting. For an evening of fine Italian dining Avanti Restaurant is the place. Visitors wanting to savour an authentic South African cuisine of delectable game should book at De Oude Kraal. The Koekela Huiskafee coffee shop offers a local cuisine of breakfast and light meals in a homely atmosphere.
- There’s an array of nightclubs located all around the city for a great night of dancing and fun. The Topaz Lounge an event venue and night club is the hotspot, followed by Wiesbaden Bloemfontein Night Club for dancing, drinking and enjoying a meal.
- A day’s fun in the sun will be had at Florisbad where you can rejuvenate your body in the mineral water swimming pool, have a game of beach volleyball, take a walking or bicycle trail and end off with a scrumptious braai. Booking is essential.
Getting Around Bloemfontein
The Bloemfontein Bus Service operates return trips at fixed times from numerous suburbs to Hofman Plein. Bus routes can be obtained from the Park Road Bus Station.
Park & Go Shuttles can be found at prearranged parking lots when certain major events are taking place making it much easier to get around.
Metered taxis are available 24 hours a day and there are at least 16 companies to choose from that offer transfers, airport shuttles, executive shuttles or just a ride downtown. Book with either Bloem Taxis on 072 349 9738, Alfa Taxis on 051 433 3341 or Rooikat Taxis on 051 522 5446 or ask the hotel reception desk to book a reliable one for you.
Ideal for business people and holiday makers wanting to travel further afield, Bram Fischer International Airport has branches for many reputable car hire companies that include Europcar, Avis, Sixt, First and Budget and in the city, located at 50 Nelson Mandela Drive is Avis and Budget while First is at the President Hotel and Hertz on the corner of Nelson Mandela Road and Muller Road.
To hire a bicycle for your holiday go online to http://www.go4bike.com/bike-rental/south-africa/enduro-planet.html to secure your booking or try Bikeshop Online at 051 430 0582 located on the corner of Nelson Mandela Road and Oos Burger Street.