Bloemfontein (Fountain of flowers) is the judicial capital of South Africa. It is also the capital of the Free State Province.


Bloemfontein was founded in 1846 and now has a population of around half a million people.

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings was born in Bloemfontein in 1892.

In 1923, the African National Congress (ANC) political party was founded in Bloemfontein.

Today, Bloemfontein is a compact city surrounded by sprawling suburbs.

Happily, the city centre is safe to walk around during the day, but many of the city's activities are focused on the Waterfront and Mimosa malls and on the large sporting complex. Second Avenue, north of the Waterfront mall, has the majority of the city's bars and restaurants.

Get in

By plane

Bloemfontein Airport ((IATA: BFN)) is just outside the city and a number of flights to major South African cities take off from here, operated by South African Airways and SA Airlink. and Mango airlines fly to Cape Town

See Air travel in South Africa for more information.

By train

Bloemfontein is a major rail junction in the middle of South Africa. From here, Spoornet operates regular trains to all points of the country: south to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Mthatha, west to Kimberley, north to Johannesburg and east to Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The train station is in the city centre, on the corner of Maitland and Harvey streets.

For train ticket bookings, phone +27 86 000-8888 (from within SA) or +27 11 774-4555 (from outside SA).

By car

The N1, N6 and N8 national highways meet in Bloemfontein, making it easily reachable from any part of the country.

The N1 northbound from Bloemfontein towards Gauteng is a toll road.


By bus

A number of bus services offer connections to major South African cities.

Get around

By car

As with most of South Africa, it is best to hire a car.





The ongoing expansion of the Waterfront mall means that Bloemfontein now has two branches of each of the standard South African chain stores (the other branches being in the Mimosa Mall 2 km up the road). There is a craft market near the Waterfront mall on the first Saturday of the month. Many shops close Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday.


People eat early in Bloemfontein - even by South African standards, if you arrive at a restaurant after 7:30PM, especially on a weeknight, you may get some funny looks from the staff, and rushed service as they try to get you out the door so they can lock up and go home.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000




Stay safe

Bloemfontein is much safer than most other cities. You can walk around downtown during the day time (although it will be eerily quiet after the shops close). The Waterfront and other shopping malls are safe and patrolled with 24 hour security, and 2nd Street (the main restaurant strip) is fine day and night. The dodgy areas to avoid if possible are near the train station and anywhere east of the railway lines (where the traditional townships are located).

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.