Encounter South Africa
What to do
Where to go
Article Archive
Travel Tools
Coordinate Finder


Free State
>> See our Free State Gallery

The Free State is a rural province of wide horizons and blue skies, with farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns. It lies wedged between the magnificent Orange and Vaal Rivers in the centre of South Africa.

The capital of the Free State is Bloemfontein. Many of the towns display a mix of culture clearly evident in street names, public buildings, monuments and museums.

Featured attractions include the Vredefort Dome, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Xhariep Dam, Bloemfontein Botanical Gardens, Basotho Cultural Village, Free State Goldfields, Sterkfontein Dam, The Sentinel Rock and Vaal Dam.


Free State Highlights
bullet Vredefort Dome - Vredefort Dome, is a representative part of a larger meteorite impact structure, or astrobleme.
bullet Golden Gate Highlands National Park - Golden Gate Highlands National Park lies secretly tucked away in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains.
bullet Basotho Cultural Village - The Basotho Cultural Village is nestled in the heart of the Qwaqwa Nature Park
bullet Sterkfontein Dam - Sterkfontein Dam, deep and cool, it creates ideal conditions for trout and other varieties of fish.
bullet Free State National Botanical Garden - This garden, on the outskirts of Bloemfontein, spans a valley between picturesque dolerite koppies.


The fertile valley of the Maluti Mountains inspired by wheat farmers to name the new town Bethlehem.


Formed around a mission station in 1829, Bethulie offers many historical sites depicting the violent period prior to its formation, as well as nature reserves and resorts and various water-activities on the Dams in the area.


Bloemfontein is the city of Roses, and the capital of the Free State Province. Enjoy warm hospitality, friendly but diverse people, many attractions and cultural sites, an unique Orchid House with various rare Orchids, and much more.


Clarens in the mountainous Eastern Free State Highlands is situated 20 km from Golden Gate National Park and about 3 hours travelling from Johannesburg.


Clocolan is situated in the heart of the Eastern Free state halfway between Bethlehem and Bloemfontein. The town was established in 1907 and got it's name from the mispronunciation by the Afrikaners who farmed there of the name of the Hlohlowane mountain to the West of the town.


Deneysville is a central point to towns in the Vaal triangle and just an hour's drive from Johannesburg. It is a quiet picturesque village which is the gateway to recreation and sport on the Vaaldam.


Founded as a safe haven by Jacobus de Wet, field-cornet and father of Anglo-Boer War General Christiaan de Wet, on the farm Kareefontein. Dewetsdorp was eventually recognised and given municipal status in 1890.


Edenburg is a sheep and cattle ranching farm in the Free State, believed to the named in Afrikaans after Edinburgh.


Fauresmith was named after Rev Faure, moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church, and Sir Harry Smith, governor of the Cape Colony. Various monuments and places of interest, as well as outdoor adventures


Ficksburg is a small town situated at the foot of the Imperani Mountain. It is located in an important agricultural region of the Free State also known as the Cherry Town of South Africa.


Fouriesburg is a small farming community, founded in 1892 and named after one Christoffel Fourie. The town and surrounds offers a wide range of activities and is the quieter alternative to Clarens, just 30kms away.

Gariep Dam

Gariep Dam is a village built in 1960 to house the dam's labour force, now developed into a holiday resort serving the largest inland expanse of water in South Africa.


Surrounded by buttes and mesas, Harrismith was founded in 1849 and named after Governer Harry Smith. An important crossroad in the land trade routes, it is still rich in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers.


Heilbron meaning "source of well being" is a historic little village, founded in 1872. The town is situated 135 km from Johannesburg in what was traditionally known as the Riemland Area.


Situated in the Free State, with the famous Magesfontein Battlefields and Museum only 20 km north-west of town. Jacobsdal is a town with a rich historical and cultural heritage.


Jagersfontein was founded in a diamond rush, the town still exudes the whiff of the pioneer digger town. Various attractions, as well as an open mine museum and original mine where the 971-carat Excelsior diamond was found in 1893.


Transport riders found this spring a convenient stop for coffee drinking, until a diamond was found and a town grew rapidly. The name was retained and today Koffiefontein is a sheep farming region.


The town of Koppies is situated in the highveld region of the northern Free State 55km north of Kroonstad and accessed is from the N1.


Kroonstad is the third largest town in the Free State and lies two hours' drive from Gauteng.


Ladybrand is a small agricultural town in the Free State, situated 18 km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The town was founded in 1867 following the Basotho Wars.


Established in 1894 in the Free State, Luckhoff is situated close to the Van Der Kloof Dam (Orange River) and the Rolfontein Nature Reserve.


Marquard is a vibrant and energetic community and truly a hidden jewel of the Free State. This beautiful little town is a peaceful getaway.


Memel is a small town named after the port city of Memel, East Prussia, Germany. The name means surrounded by water in Old Prussian. The Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, a massive wetland spanning some 30 kmē, surrounds the town.


Odendaalsrus is a tranquil town in the Free State Goldfields which boasts all the necessary facilities and services, yet lies in close proximity to other cities.


Parys is situated on the banks of the Vaal River. The name of the town is the direct translation of "Paris" in Afrikaans.


Philippolis was founded in 1823 after the Toverberg mission station was closed in 1818 and Dr John Philip, superintendent of South Africa, wanted a mission station in the area, making it the oldest town in the Free State.


The farm Vlakfontein was bought by the Dutch Reformed Church for a parish and named 'Saviour's Fort', a town well known for strict moral laws. Reddersburg is now a sheep farming community.


This peaceful town is situated in the heart of the Free State and is only two hours drive from Johannesburg which makes it the perfect getaway for a typical countryside weekend. Reitz offers a wide range of tranquil accommodation, various activities and popular attractions.


Rouxville is a small wool and cattle farming town in the Free State and is situated on the N6 national route. The town is at the centre of the wool producing area of the Transgariep.


Senekal is a small town situated on the banks of the Klipspruit, a Vaal River tributary in the Free State. It was named after Commodant-General FP Senekal.


Smithfield was founded in 1848 for Sir Harry Smith, now an important cattle ranching area. Various Places of interest, museums, monuments and memorials of bygone days, including Bersheeba Farm, an old French mission station with 1m-thick walls.


Mixed farming and the outdoor life are central to the lives of the Springfontein residents. A crucial link between Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Thaba Nchu

Thaba Nchu is located 60km east of Bloemfontein. Its population is comprised largely of Tswana and Sotho people. With the warm summers the town is perfect for outdoor activities.


Theunissen is a small town that has the only wine estate, the Theunissen Wine Farm, in the Free State. Theunissen has a small community (mostly farmers and miners) which supports the local businesses.

Van Reenen

Van Reenen is located at the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Set in a panorama of natural beauty the Van Reenen area offers gracious splendour to rural simplicity with many varied and interesting places to stay.


Ventersburg is situated on the N1 highway between Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. The town is the agricultural centre for the surrounding areas and also offers visitors a number of historical and worth while sights.


Laid out at the peak of the 1950's gold rush on the banks of the Sand River, named after US surveyors who carved their name into a stone at Merriespruit in 1890. Virginia is one of the Free State's most popular holiday destinations.


Vrede is a scenic little town with an imposing sandstone church. The town is surrounded by undulating, highveld hills and is a rewarding tourist destination offering a diversity of attractions, adventures, accommodation, arts, crafts and restaurants.


Vredefort is a small farming town in the Free State with cattle, peanuts, sorghum, sunflowers and maize being farmed. The town is known for the Vredefort Dome World Heritage site, currently the largest and oldest known meteor impact site in the world.


Welkom is South Africa's youngest city established around the gold mining industry.


Wepener, on the Lesotho border, is home to the Caledon Nature Reserve. It has many game species and a flourishing birdlife. The town offers various historical and cultural heritage sites.


Winburg is one of the Free State towns with a rich historical and cultural heritage, as well as various historical buildings and monuments. The Willem Pretorius Game Reserve is north down the N1 towards Ventersburg.


Witsieshoek is situated in the corner formed by the boundaries of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho and is characterized by magnificent mountain scenery.


Zastron was named after the wife of the owner of the farm Verliesfontein on which the town was founded, whose surname, Zastron, was a corruption of the German name Zastrow.