What You Need To Know
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the province of Free State of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa’s three national capitals; the other two capitals are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital. Bloemfontein is the sixth largest city in South Africa.
Bloemfontein was popularly and poetically known as “the city of roses”, owing to the annual visit of Paul Roos Gymnasium. The city’s Sesotho name is Mangaung, meaning “place of cheetahs”. Bloemfontein has since 2011 formed part of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, having been in the Mangaung Local Municipality beforehand.
Area: 91.19 mi²
The currency used in South Africa is the rand (R), with 100 cents making up one rand. Notes are available in R10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 while coins come in denominations of 1, 2, and 5 rand as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. The best exchange rates are available from banks. All major Mastercards, VISA, and American Express cards are accepted.
Bloemfontein has an average maximum summer temperature is of 26 degrees C and an average maximum winter temperature of 16 degrees C with evening temperatures falling to -2 degrees C. Bloemfontein lies at an altitude of 1351m on latitude 29º06′ South and longitude of 26º18′ East.
Sesotho is the dominant home language in most of the province. Afrikaans is widely spoken throughout the province, as a first language for the majority of whites and coloureds and as a second or third language by Sesotho, Setswana and isiZulu speakers. Although the numbers of first language English speakers are relatively low, it is becoming increasingly important as the language of business and government.
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).
Bloemfontein is located on the important rail junction between Johannesburg and Cape Town, with daily trains to Port Elizabeth ,East London and Johannesburg. Bloemfontein is served by Bram Fischer International Airport, with flights to all major cities in South Africa.
Bloemfontein’s national and regional roads are as follows: The N1, a major highway running roughly SE to NW from Cape Town to Johannesburg and Zimbabwe largely bypasses this city to the west. The N8 runs east/west connecting Bloemfontein to Kimberley and Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. Bloemfontein is also the northern end of the N6 road heading roughly southwards to the port of East London. At a T-junction just before the city, the N6 becomes the M30, and the intersecting road is designated the N6. This road ends in an interchange with the N1.
Bloemfontein suburbs include Heidedal to the east and southeast, Bain’s Vlei, Woodland Hills Wildlife Estate, Brandwag, Ehrlich Park, Fauna, Fichardt Park, Fleurdal, Gardenia Park, Generaal De Wet, Hospitaalpark, Kiepersol, Loerier Park, Park West, Pellissier, Uitsig, Universitas, Westdene, Wilgehof and Willows to the south of the city. To the west of Bloemfontein, you will find Langenhoven Park. To the north you will find Arboretum, Baysvalley, Bayswater, Dan Pienaar, Helicon Heights, Heuwelsig, Hillsboro, Hillside, Hilton, Naval Hill, Navalsig, Noordhoek, Pentagon Park, Panorama Park, and Waverley. To the north east you will find Roodewal and Vallombrosa. The predominantly black suburbs are; Rocklands, Phahameng, Phelindaba, Bloemanda, Botshabelo and the most historic Batho where the Maphikela House (where the African National Congress started) is situated.