Free State Tourist AttractionsThe Northern Free State Region
The Northern Free State is at once rural and far enough from the major tourist routes to offer a hint of true ‘platteland’ living to newcomers and locals alike. It is not only the most accessible part of the Free State to Gauteng - it lies not even an hour from OR Tambo International Airport - but this rustic area is also rich in water, and manages to whirl together a rich collection of activities and weekend getaways that make it attractive to both those travelling through, and others wanting a break from it all.
During summer this area, which produces a high share of the country’s maize, bursts into an array of sunflowers, fields of mealies and wheat, interspersed with the vivid pinks of cosmos that transforms the countryside into a tapestry of gold.
The Northern Free State includes a collection of typical little towns - with names like Kroonstad, Frankfort and Heilbron - that silently bear tribute to a rich history in the form of characteristic sandstone buildings, and a collection of historical sites that relate to the Boer Wars, some of which are national monuments.
The Vaal Dam and river provide effortless water play time from riding the white waters in a raft or canoe, to leisurely sailing the waters of the dam on a yacht.
In an arc to the north and west of Vredefort and Parys, lies a ring of hills known as the Vredefort Dome, South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site, recognised as the largest and oldest meteorite impact site in the world. Hike in the rugged mountains surrounding the dome, view untouched San paintings, and abseil or rock climb in the area.
Popular Towns in the Northern Free State
Overnight? Accommodation in Deneysville
Although regarded as lying on the Free State shore of the Vaal dam (the pretty little town literally lies next to the Vaal dam wall), Deneysville is also just 100 kilometres from the major metropolis of Johannesburg, and is subsequently...
More information and photographs: Deneysville Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Frankfort
Roughly 30 km from the N3, and an hour from Warden, Frankfort might serve fundamentally as a farming community town but it also makes an easy detour from the major route between Johannesburg and Durban - for those who prefer 'off...
More information and photographs: Frankfort Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Heilbron
Lying due west of Frankfort, and an hour's drive south of Vanderbijlpark, Heilbron is a little farming community town, the fields that surround it the site of cattle, dairy, sorghum, sunflower and maize farms. On the face of it, a not-much-happening...
More information and photographs: Heilbron Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Koppies
The little town of Koppies lies roughly halfway between the towns of Kroonstad and Vanderbijlpark on the N1. It is a little farming town that began its life as a railway station near the Renoster River. It boasts clear, starlit skies and time away...
More information and photographs: Koppies Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Kroonstad
Despite its allusion to royalty (kroon is Afrikaans for ‘crown’) Kroonstad has far more humble beginnings, rumoured to have been named after a horse belonging to one of the Voortrekker leaders - the jury is out as to whether it was Sarel Celliers...
More information and photographs: Kroonstad Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Parys
The little country town of Parys lies on the southern banks of the Vaal River about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Disputably named after its European counterpart on the banks of the Seine, what makes Parys interesting to visit is that it is...
More information and photographs: Parys Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Tweeling
The word “tweeling” means twins in Afrikaans, and the town of this name was established in 1920 on two farms that were named after a pair of similar looking hills in the area (Tweelingspruit and Tweelingkop). The town is a small one, situated in...
More information and photographs: Tweeling Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Villiers
The little town of Villiers only just makes it into the Free State, lying as it does practically on the border with Mpumalanga, east of the Vaal Dam. Villiers, named after the farmer Lourens de Villiers on whose farms the town was founded, is...
More information and photographs: Villiers Information