Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa

Golden Gate National Park near Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa.
SANParks - Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Vast wheat and sunflower fields characterise the area around Bethlehem as well as the typical sandstone buildings and churches.

Bethlehem offers great water sports activities on one of its four dams as well as historical sites like battlefields. City lovers can hop over to Durban for a quick visit and enjoy the sandy beaches. The Golden Gate Highland National Park and the Maluti Mountains build a magnificent backdrop in this Free State area that also acts as the gateway to the Kingdom of Heaven, Lesotho.


Bethlehem is the principal town of the Free State in South Africa and the centre of this magnificent wheat growing area that stretches for as far as the eye can see. The name has the meaning House of Bread. The landscapes around this Free State town change dramatically with the seasons, a tapestry of colour and varying hues.

This town hosts the magnificent National Hot Air Balloon Championship and Air Show in late May / June and the Maluti Classic Cycle Tour in October. Mountains and sandstone cliffs dissect the stunning Free State countryside and whilst traversing this fertile valley, fields of cosmos and sunflowers can be seen.

Bethlehem can be found on the N5 highway between the cities of Bloemfontein and Durban. Apart from being a wheat growing centre, this South African town also produces maize and asparagus as well as yummy yellow peaches and apples.

The air is sweet here, invigorating and sought after by weary city dwellers who love the mild climate. This Free State town has well tended gardens and parks as well as a love of music and art. The gentle Basotho people have lived here for generations and apart from their musical nature have a deep appreciation of their natural environment.

Bethlehem, like any town in South Africa's Eastern Free State, is typically characterised by unique and distinctive sandstone churches which have been built with blocks of rock, hewn from the cliffs nearby and shaped by hand. These buildings are a source of pride and heritage now recognised as National Monuments and include; the Dutch Reformed Mother Church, Town Hall I Civic Centre, Strapp Building and St Augustine's Anglican Church.

Today, this South African town has a good mix of the old and new and there are plenty of interesting places to shop for up-market boutique wears and local gift or craft. Any retail therapy encourages an appetite and Bethlehem has its fair share of restaurants and coffee shops to explore.

Activities and sights in or near Bethlehem, Eastern Free State town, include:

  • Nazareth Mission Church Museum:

For a journey back into the past and a source of historical items from Settler years

  • Pretoriuskloof Nature Reserve:

Featuring delightful walks along the Jordan River

  • Wolhuterskop Game and Nature Reserve:

For game viewing by car or on horseback of many antelope species in attractive countryside - there is also an overnight hiking trail

  • Water Sports:

There are 4 dams in the vicinity of this Eastern Free State Town

  • Attractions in this region:

Battlefield sites, ancient fossil footprints and the Golden Gate National Park, Maluti Mountains, gateway to Lesotho