Friendly Heart of the Free State

Bethlehem lies in the valley at the northern tip of the Maluti mountain range and close to the towns of Clarens and Fouriesburg.

For those who appreciate history and architecture, Bethlehem features numerous Victorian sandstone buildings that can be viewed on the Sandstone Walking Tour – the route can be obtained from the Bethlehem Tourism office. The town’s proud history is reflected in these beautiful sandstone buildings and many have now been proclaimed national monuments that are still used today as churches, museums, restaurants, coffee shops and businesses.

Bethlehem is surrounded by the beautiful and unique scenery of the Eastern Free State and on the outskirts of the town visitors can find various retreats offering many forms of outdoor activity such as 4x4 trails, quad biking, mountaineering, fishing, game drives and hiking.

Three dams, Gerrands, Athlone and Saulspoort, provide Bethlehem with water. All are used for fishing, boating and swimming and they make the town a popular inland holiday resort. The dams are stocked with large-mouth black bass, yellowfish and blue-gill sunfish.

Bethlehem offers all types of accommodation, including Guest Houses, B&B’s, self-catering cottages and camping.

Things to do and see

  • Bethlehem Museum
  • Nazareth Mission Church
  • Baartman Wagon House
  • Pretoriuskloof Nature Reserve
  • Holhoek Hiking Trail
  • Sporekrans Hiking Trail
  • Tepelkop Hiking Trail
  • Basotho Cultural Village
  • Moteng Pass
  • Frontier Inn & Casino
  • Bethlehem Golf Course


Bethlehem receives approximately 506 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during Summer.

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 13˚C and 27˚C.

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 15˚C.


There are daily flights into the Bram Fischer International Airport, approximately 249 km’s away via the N1 and N5 and the O R Tambo International Airport, approximately 278 km’s away via the N3 and R26. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.


Bethlehem was founded in 1864 on the farm Pretoriuskloof. The towns name is of Hebrew origin, meaning “house of bread”, and was so named because of the towns fertile land where wheat grows in abundance.

Bethlehem grew rapidly after it was founded and this mostly due to the town being connected to Johannesburg, Harrismith and Bloemfontein by rail.

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