The Free State, South Africa’s heartland

Lying in the heart of South Africa, the Free State’s rolling farmlands make it the breadbasket of South Africa. It is a province with a rich history, diverse cultures, and fascinating geological structures.

Free State 01A statue of South African statesman Nelson Mandela looks out over Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State, from Naval Hill in the centre of the city. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Compiled by Mary Alexander

It’s September. It’s spring in South Africa – and Tourism Month, celebrated this year with the theme “Tourism for All”. To inspire your next road trip we bring you nine galleries, one for each province, showcasing our country’s remarkable beauty and diversity.

A thriving tourism industry means South Africa is closer to achieving its National Development Plan goals of skills development and creating decent employment through inclusive economic growth.

The Free State’s attractions include the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the provincial capital of Bloemfontein, hiking in the Maluti Mountains, and watersports on the Vaal and Orange rivers.

Free State 02The iconic Brandwag – “sentinel” – rock in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Eastern Free State. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 03A typical Free State landscape: Farmlands on the plains giving way to the mountains beyond. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 04Public art outside the city hall in Bloemfontein. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 05Die Mystic Boer nightclub and restaurant in Bloemfontein. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 06Cosmos flowers bloom on the side of the road. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 07An old farmhouse in the Eastern Free State. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 08Hiking the Cave Trail in the Maluti Mountains. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 09A diorama in the National Museum in Bloemfontein. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 10San Bushman art in a rock shelter in the Eastern Free State, near the town of Ficksburg. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 11The Maluti Mountains. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 12The Gariep Dam on the Orange River. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 13Sunset over farms and mountains in the Eastern Free State. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 14The Sterkfontein Dam. (Image: South African Tourism, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

Free State 15Sunflowers in bloom. (Image: Brand South Africa)

Free State 16Traditional Basotho musicians perform in a cultural village. (Image: Brand South Africa)