6 Amazing Small Towns in The Free State, South Africa

The Free State is nestled virtually in the heart of South Africa. Known for its traditional richness of the Afrikaner; you can drive en route from Johannesburg or the Western Cape.

There are many artistic towns that will seduce you, if you happen to travel the Free State.

Small Towns in The Free State South Africa

Spread across huge swathes of farmland, snuggled up against the commanding Maluti Mountains, along the Lesotho border. Here are the best small towns that you can visit for a soothing and comforting time here in South Africa.

1. Ficksburg

Small Towns in The Free State South Africa

Ficksburg’s cheerful annual cherry festival has offered this little town recognition. It is one of the longest-running annual festivals in the country, which was started in 1905 when cherry trees were first planted on a farm near Ficksburg and today this place is the biggest cherry-producing place in the country.

This town is also known for its position at the foot of the Mpharane Mountain and on the banks of the Caledon River, which becomes perfect for activities like hiking and horse riding.

2. Clarens


It is the gem of the Free State, it is known for its quintessential country retreat and a charming weekend bolthole for city-strained Gautengers.

It is known for its quiet, tree-lined streets, craggy limestone backdrop, sandstone character homes, quaint guesthouses, art galleries, restaurants and bustling village square.

You can visit the Rooiberge and Malutis for hiking, river rafting, horse riding, golf, and the nearby Golden Gate Highlands National Park adds to its attraction.

3. Fouriesburg


Fouriesburg is located 40 km southwest of Clarens across the road from the border with Lesotho. It is popular amongst the tourist due to its glamour. The scenery is breath-taking, the sandstone cottages quaint, and the access to horse trails and hiking, mountain biking and outdoor living easily compete with Clarens, without the weekend clamor of the village square.

Fouriesburg is the best awarded as Kwela Kyknet Town of the Year in 2013. The best time to visit Fouriesburg is during the Ficksburg Cherry Festival in November when it is difficult to find accommodation in Ficksburg.

4. Smithfield


Smithfield is located in N6 en route to Port Elizabeth, which is a natural overnight destination, and, like its country-town counterparts Clarens and Fouriesburg, it lies close to the Maluti Mountains making the scenery here incredible.

It is a hub to writers and artists who produce a couple of annual festivals worth attending like The Platteland Preview Arts Festival. It is also popular for its classy eateries, accommodation and a regular newspaper called the Smiffy. It features vintage architecture as it is the third oldest town in the Free State, with restored historic cottages and Free State hospitality.

5. Parys


Inspired by the name Paris, it is set on the Vaal River, in the northern reaches of the Free State. Nearby local flock here to spend a weekend in the town close to the Vredefort Dome, which is a major attraction encompassing a two-billion-year-old crater formed when a huge meteorite hit the earth.

This has created a semi-circular mountainous basin. This basin is now the source of an annual Dome Adventure Festival in Parys where the now-famous Dragon Boat Race is organized.

You can enjoy various activities like skydiving, abseiling, archery, extreme go-karting, fishing, horse riding, quad and mountain biking, star-gazing and river rafting.

6. Rosendal


Rosendal is a gorgeous town with a tiny hamlet that still does not have an ATM despite its frequent tourist visitors. It is located in the foothills of the Malutis. It is not easy for each of these towns due to its obscure position on Route 70 between Ficksburg and Senekal.

Due to its tough accessibility, it remains a dust-road-ridden farming community as only one of its roads is tarred which attracts artists and writers to enjoy its rustic charm.

Here you will find ‘dorp’ style living with quaint sandstone cottages, tin roofs, rusty windmills, and a Waaipoort permaculture farm just outside the town. You can experience here hiking, biking, fishing, sacred sites, arts, crafts and Turksvy Trading in abundance.


There are some of the most popular and amazing small towns located in Free State, South Africa. Do not miss to visit these places if you plan to spend your vacations this year in South Africa.

About the author

Mamta Sharma