While the natural beauty of Bloemfontein natural beauty is evident in the many parks and gardens, the museums and historical sites are also not to be missed during your visit.
King’s Park in Bloemfontein
Why you should visit: Stop and smell the roses in the City of Roses. King’s Park is situated on Loch Logan on the outskirts of the city. The park is centred around a lake with rolling green lawns and trees that provide much-needed shade on hot summer days. The rose garden has more than 4 000 rose bushes. Some of them were planted as far back as 1925 when the garden was first opened. The park also houses the Bloemfontein Zoo, and there’s an arts-and-crafts market on the first Saturday of each month.
How to get there: Find King’s Park on Henry Street.
How much does it cost to stay here: Entrance is free.
Free State National Botanical Garden
Why you should visit: This 70-hectare garden is situated just outside of Bloemfontein and is home to more than 400 species of plants, indigenous to the Free State and neighbouring Northern Cape and Lesotho. Visitors can also spot 54 species of reptiles, 151 species of birds and almost 50 species of small mammals. The garden is divided into different sections, based on the different vegetation. View a map of the gardens and plan your visit on sanbi.org. Guided tours are available on weekdays and cost R10 per person. Pop into the Visitors Centre curio shop and nursery before leaving, where you can buy indigenous plants. It’s open seven days a week.
How to get there: Find the garden on Rayton Road off Dan Pienaar.
How much does it cost to stay here: Adult tickets are R25 and it’s R15 per child.
Mangaung Rose Festival
Why you should visit: The most famous rose festival in Bloemfontein takes place every October when the city’s namesake flower starts to bloom. Started in 1976, today’s festival line-up offers various rose-related events, including; rose cutting and planting ceremonies, walks, rose-themed high teas and food markets, street parades and pageants.
How to get there: The main festival takes place at Urth Garden Centre, 2147 Eeufeesweg, Bayswater.
How much does it cost: Different pricing for the different events apply. Visit www.mangaungrosefestival.co.za for up to date information on pricing and dates.
Loch Logan Waterfront
Why you should visit: Although not quite as vast as Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, Bloemfontein boasts its own waterfront complex. The Loch Logan Waterfront sits next to the King’s Park Zoo, built around a small body of water. It makes for a good couple of hours of dining and shopping.
How to get there: Find it on Henry Street, Willows.
Oliewenhuis Art Museum
Why you should visit: History and art-fundies may be surprised to discover just how many rich cultural and historical treasures there are in the city. Oliewenhuis Art Museum is situated in a restored Dutch-style mansion and is one of the country’s youngest art museums. The museum houses a collection of historical and contemporary South African art. Outdoors, don’t miss the African Carousel (it’s a living piece of art – a working carousel composed of 16 artworks), the Sculpture Park and the Cement and Mosaic Project.
Visitors to the Oliewenhuis Art Museum can picnic in the museum’s 12-hectare garden, or walk one of the four marked trails.
History buffs should also visit the National Museum. The historical street scene exhibition, a recreation of life in the Free State in the 19th to early 20th century, is particularly fascinating. Find the National Museum on 36 Aliwal Street. Entrance fee is R10 per adult.
Freshford House Museum is a restored house museum that offers a glimpse into the lives of the upper-middle classes during the 1890s. Architecturally, it’s also unique, as it was built during the transition period of the late Victorian and Edwardian era and shows elements of both. Find it on 31 Kellnerstraat.
How to get there: Find the Oliewenhuis Art Museum on 16 Harry Smith Street.
How much does it cost: Oliewenhuis Art Museum admission is free.