Bloemfontein - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Bloemfontein


Known as the 'City of Roses', Bloemfontein is a small interior city that forms the economic and cultural centre of the Free State and is the judicial capital of South Africa. With wide streets, beautifully kept gardens and dated state buildings, Bloemfontein is a modern city that has an old charm about it.

Surrounded by rural farmland for many miles in every direction, the metropolis is the central transport hub for the rest of the country and is visited mainly as a stopover to other destinations. While visiting, take a stroll down the historical, tree lined President Brand street, which has been declared a national conservation area and admire the architecture of the sandstone government buildings. One of the major centres of activity in Bloemfontein is the man-made Loch Logan Waterfront, which offers a range of shops, restaurants, bars and clubs and is the place to be after dark.

The Oliewenhuis Art Gallery is also a worthy sojourn as it houses magnificent work by both traditional and contemporary South African artists. The monthly art market in Kings Park, the annual Rose Festival in October and the Agricultural show in March all pull crowds from around South Africa and visiting tourists.

There are a number of reserves in the area, including Caledon, Franklin, Soetdoring Dam, and others. Bloemfontein also has several good golf courses, and a zoo that the kids will enjoy while Dad is on the links. Be sure to have visit the beautiful Free State National Botanical Gardens; and have a look at the Free State Stadium, the largest structure in town, that hosted five games for the 2010 World Cup.

Information & Facts


Bloemfontein experiences hot summer days with an average temperature of 73ºF (23ºC) and cooler winters with an average temperature of 46ºF (8ºC). Rainfall season is in the summer months and winters are sunny but frigid.

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.


Bloemfontein is pretty darn quiet in comparison to most major cities in South Africa and travellers from abroad looking for a hip and happening scene would be better off in Cape Town or Johannesburg. But for those who are content to stay and stick out the Bloemfontein nightlife scene, there is a decent variety of after dark entertainment to keep those die hard party animals sane - relatively speaking. The Lock Logan Waterfront is a good place to kick things off with a wide variety of bars and restaurants to choose from, have a few drinks or dinner here before heading off to the suburb of Westdene, which offers a comparable amount of bars and restaurants. For a really authentic Bloemfontein experience, visit the one and only Mystic Boer on Kelner Street for some local beer and a rip roaring good night out with the charismatic locals. Other popular bars include Cool Runnings, or Stones Pub and Pool bar, while Cubana Latino Cafe and Coobah are the perfect place to meet friends and enjoy a few cocktails before moving on to more upbeat venues such as Roxy's Rhythm Bar, a gay friendly bar where revellers are guaranteed a good night out.


Like most things in Bloemfontein, the shopping may not be world-class or even on par with many of its counterparts like Durban and Cape Town, but the 'City of Roses' still has enough to give shopaholics their retail fix while on holiday. The Sanlam Plaza and Middestad Centre in the Bloemfontein CBD are good places to start where major retail chains and fashion outlets can be found, while just outside the Sanlam Plaza plenty of street stalls selling curios such as African bead work, clothing, cheap handbags and music can be found. The Loch Logan Waterfront is also a good place to enjoy a few hours browsing the stores before stopping to refuel at one of the many restaurants and eateries surrounding the artificial lake, while the upmarket Mimosa Mall also offers plenty in the way of specialty shops and chain stores. Head to 'Die Volksblad' arts and crafts market in Kings Park which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. The Westdene Park Market and the Show Grounds Fleamarket. which take place every second and third Saturday of the month respectively, are the perfect place to spend a morning snacking on delicious local food such as boerewors rolls while browsing through the stalls selling everything from clothing, leather goods and accessories to plants, ceramics and home wares. Best buys in Bloemfontein? Apart from a one way ticket out of there you'll be looking for African woodcarvings, traditional boereWitblitz spirit, and sporting goods bearing the image of Freestate Cheetahs, the local rugby franchise.

Local time is GMT +2.

Opened by the Prince of Wales in 1925, King's Park boasts over 4,000 beautiful rose bushes, and is thus well placed as Bloemfontein literally means 'flower fountain' and is often referred to as the 'city of roses'. King's Park is also home to the Bloemfontein Zoo and its fascinating 'liger' (an African lion crossed with a Bengal tiger). There is an arts and crafts market at King's Park on the first Saturday of each month, another must for visitors.

From its distinguished setting in a Cape Dutch mansion, the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery is a must-see Bloemfontein attraction featuring an expansive display of South African art. Contemporary paintings and sculptures are exhibited here, as well as acclaimed masterpieces from days gone by. The gallery also has a café and outdoor sculpture park for visitors to enjoy.

Declared a national conservation area, and home to a number of monuments and buildings of historical value, President Brand Street is one of Bloemfontein's most renowned attractions. This stately street is the address of the South African Court of Appeal, Fourth Raadsaal, City Hall and the Supreme Court of South Africa. See the original transcript of Die Stemat the National Afrikaans Literature Museum, or visit the equally cultural National Music Museum.

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