Get There and Stay There
It’s only a four hour drive or a 45 minute flight out of Jozi and less than 90 minutes when jetting from Cape Town or Durban. Mango flies daily between Cape Town and Bloemfontein while SA Express services Durban and Johannesburg. Road trips are easy with great road infrastructure.
Accommodation in Bloemfontein is easy. Check out www.lekkeslaap.co.za for a fantastic selection of boutique hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast options. Alternatively the Urban Hotel in central Bloemfontein, the City Lodge or the Tsogo Sun are in the middle of the middle if hotels are your preferred bed night fare.
The legendary Mystic Boer is probably one of the country and Bloemfontein’s most famous landmarks. It opened its doors in 1997 and has since become an institution; no visit is complete without painting the town red at Mystic and trying their absolutely delicious burritos. Check out their Facebook page to source some of the latest information on gigs, events and information on this amazing spot. Dine, party and immerse yourself with the locals with whatever’s on tap.
It’s history day and in and a day-long itinerary of culture awaits. The Oliewenhuis Art Museum opens at 8am so you’re off to an early start. It’s a satellite of the National Museum and aims to preserve collections that showcase our South African art heritage. Spend at least a couple of hours drinking in the exceptional talent we have in this country. Lunch at Bella Casa in Westdene (yes there is one in Bloem) for great Italian style lunch.
After lunch visit the Anglo Boer War Museum. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to one of our country’s great wars (1899-1902). Stop by the Botanical Garden later with a picnic basket of champagne and crackers. A necessary diversion after a day of culture-vulturing.
Other places of interest easily woven into the day include the President Steyn (Boer War President) House, Naval Hill, the Bloemfontein Observatory and the National Museum among many others.
Dinner at 1 On Park is a must. This is one of the most romantic fine dining experiences available in Bloemfontein. It is the public outlet of the Central University of Technology’s culinary school where third year graduates ply their trade. It is silver-service extraordinaire with inventive dishes such as blue cheese soufflé that make 1 On Park an unforgettable experience all-round.
The Cheetah Experience is probably one of the most engaging and exhilarating experiences. Get up close with one of Africa’s most graceful creatures and fall in love with conservation. It is centres like these that curate our heritage; the passion and care of the staff at the centre is admirable and no visit to Bloemfontein is complete without visiting.
Now, Sunday lunch to many families is probably one of the most important meals of the week. It’s where lazy conversation and family time meet over a slow roasted lamb or simply a braai. When traveling, Sunday lunch should maintain its importance not only in meaning, but in taste.
Take a 40 minute drive in a southerly direction out of town to De Oudekraal Restaurant. It’s been around for two decades and offers an authentic South African farm-style dining experience. The venue is famed for its six course menu that includes traditional fare such as bobotie, absolutely irresistible oxtail through to venison and much more. An impressive wine list that is reasonably priced also sets the venue apart from its peers. There is no other quite like it and De Oudekraal is an itinerary must.
Head back to town sated and spend the afternoon window shopping at the Waterfront or Mimosa Mall. If you are an enthusiastic photographer, take a walk through the centre of town and capture the heart of the city, its historic buildings and ox-wagon wide main roads.
This was simply a taste of what the City Of Roses has to offer. Often forgotten by travelers tunnel-visioning about the coast or the Cape Winelands, the central part of our country is incredibly beautiful with inspiring landscapes and a host of attractions and things to do within easy reach. Only a few hours away are the Maluti mountains, Golden Gate National Park, the impressive Gariep Dam and the countryside that ultimately became Middle-Earth in Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings saga.
Bloemfontein is certainly in the centre, but in more ways than one could have ever imagined.