As the capital city of the Free State province, Bloemfontein is full of history and a uniquely South African culture. If you’re planning a trip to the “city of roses”, we’ve put together a list of 10 Bloemfontein attractions and things to do.
So, once you’ve found the cheapest flight to Bloemfontein, you can arrive knowing that your trip will be packed with memorable experiences.
Fun Things To Do In Bloemfontein
Whether you visit the inland city in the heat of summer, or in the icy grip of winter, there’s plenty of fun to be had for the whole family.
1. Naval Hill
A visit to Naval Hill promises great fun for the whole family. Naval Hill is one of the main attractions in Bloemfontein because of the breathtaking view that it offers. In addition, it is home to exciting wildlife such as giraffes, elands and birds as the hill is located in Franklin Nature Reserve.
But that’s not all. The spot also features the first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa – the Naval Hill Planetarium (Observatory). From here, you can gaze up at the stars above Bloemfontein. Planetarium tickets cost R50 for adults and R30 for children. The shows last approximately an hour.
2. Free State National Botanical Gardens
The Free State National Botanical Gardens is home to a 200-year-old olive tree and over 140 species of birds. Located in the valleys of Bloemfontein, the gardens provide a wonderfully relaxing and beautiful escape for nature lovers, families and couples.
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Bloemfontein, then pack a picnic basket and make your way to the gardens. Open from 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Sunday, entrance costs as little as R28 for adults and R12 for kids.
3. Ruins Paintball
Grab your group of friends and head on over to the city’s favourite game of paintball. Bloemfontein’s Ruins Paintball and Airsoft Field has earned quite a reputation for providing hours of fun, laughter and sometimes a few bruises.
The experience will cost you as little as R120 for 100 paintballs, or R160 for 200 paintballs. If you’re looking for a little bit of extra fun, keep your eyes peeled for their regular zombie vs. alien night events. If you’re looking for adventure activities in Bloemfontein, then Ruins Paintball is a great place to start.
Visiting one of Bloemfontein’s markets is a great activity to do with the whole family. You can discover some of the arts and crafts, taste some authentic South African food, and brush shoulders with travellers and locals alike.
Some of the most popular markets in Bloemfontein are the Volksblad Kos and Kunsmaark, and the Boeremark. Volksblad Kos en Kunsmark is held on the last Saturday of every month in the Botanical Gardens and starts at 9 am. The Boeremark is a local farmer’s market that opens every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm and is a great free activity.
Historical Places To Visit In Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein’s history is predominantly focused on the Afrikaaner settlement. The legacy of the culture has continued to today and plays a large role in Bloemfontein tourism.
4. Anglo Boer War Museum
The Anglo Boer War Museum sheds light on the background of the war that occurred between 1899 – 1902 and shaped the history of the country. As one of the top Bloemfontein tourist attractions, the Anglo Boer War Museum is an insightful experience for all – especially history-lovers.
The permanent exhibition of audio-visual presentations, art and artefacts highlight the struggle that tore the country apart, making today’s unity all the more impressive.
5. National Women’s Memorial
Located just outside the Anglo Boer War Museum is the National Women’s Monument. The 37-metre-high obelisk is dedicated to the 26,000 women and children who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.
Both attractions are located on Monument Road and represent the memory of a difficult past. By visiting these sites, and appreciating the history that they tell, South Africa’s current situation becomes all the more encouraging.
6. Oliewenhuis Art Museum
The Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a Dutch-style gallery that celebrates the beauty of African art. Entrance is free, and there is even a route marked out that helps visitors enjoy the best experience.
The museum is open from 8 am to 5 pm during the week, and from 9 am to 4 pm on weekends and public holidays. If you’re an art lover looking for a creative release, then the Oliewenhuis Art Museum has what you need. Once you’ve finished marvelling at the art, take the time to wander around the beautiful gardens that surround the building.
7. Mapikela House
Although Bloemfontein is largely centred around Afrikaans culture, it is also the birthplace of the African National Congress (ANC). Mapikela House is the previous home of Thomas Mapikela, one of the political figures who founded the party.
Today, the house is a national heritage site and still occupied by the family. So, while you can’t go inside the house, it is worth driving by the outside and taking a moment to appreciate the history that it represents.
Day Trips From Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is not a huge city, but its attractions extend further than the city boundaries. There are some awesome activities and experiences a stone’s throw from the city centre.
8. Boyden Observatory
Another popular Bloemfontein planetarium is the Boyden Observatory. Located a short 20 kilometres outside of Bloemfontein, Boyden Observatory is an astronomical research observatory and science education centre.
Visits to the educational facility can be made upon request and are well worth the effort for anyone interested in astrology and the universe.
9. Day Spa Merino Sheep Farm
If you need a break and want a serious pamper experience, then book a spot at the day spa at Merino Sheep Farm. Loved as one of the most luxurious spas in the country, Merino Sheep Farm is located on De Oude Kraal Estate, a 40-minute drive from Bloemfontein.
Once there, you can enjoy a special merino wool treatment and even book a seat at their fantastic fine-dining restaurant.
Final Thoughts on What To Do in Bloemfontein
In many ways, Bloemfontein is a hidden gem. Hopefully, this list of fun and insightful activities have given you some ideas on what to do the next time that you visit. The best news is that there are plenty other amazing South African destinations to explore once you’ve ticked Bloemfontein off of the list.