Getting between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein


Getting around SA

Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa, the capital of the Orange Free State province, and something of a quiet backwater as big cities go. It is oozing history, and is probably the most concentrated point of traditional Afrikaner culture left in a rapidly evolving South Africa.

Flights

There is only one commercial flight schedule available for the short flight between Johannesburg, and this is offered by South African Express, a subsidiary of South African Airways. The flight takes about a hour, and costs between US$100 and US$120

Inter-city coaches

Coaches moving backwards and forwards between Cape Town and Johannesburg/Pretoria drop off and pick up in Bloemfontein on the way through. The downside of this is that the schedules are often at inconvenient times, mostly in the early hours of the morning, but one or two services do originate in Bloemfontein.

The distance between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg is 368 Kilometers or 229 miles. The coach journey between these two cities takes about 5 hours, and expect to pay between US$25 and US$35 for a one way fare.

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Trains

Bloemfontein is bypassed by the main rail route between Cape Town and Johannesburg which is routed via Kimberley and Beaufort West. The only train services between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein is Shosholoza Meyl which offers both economy and tourist class services.

Tourist class services are available on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and economy daily except Saturdays. Get in touch with Shosholoza Meyl for more detailed times.

Expect to pay between US$15 and US$20 for a one way tourist call fare

Shosholoza FAQ

  • Bookings can be made 90-days in advance
  • Fares in fact vary by month
  • Travel is in a sleeper berth with a 2, 3, 4 or 6 berth capacity
  • Couples can request berths in a 2-berth compartment
  • Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillow, made up for you by the train attendant) is an extra US$5 or so per person. This is paid on the train
  • Children up to 9 (inclusive) travel at half fare
  • Returns are twice the one-way fare. There may be further reductions for students & seniors in off-peak periods, so ask when booking
  • Cars can be transported
  • Pets are not allowed on board, except guide dogs
  • Baz Bus

    Baz Bus does the route, but thanks to its nature as a jump-off-jump-on tour bus option, it is not the best available deal on the road. The Baz Bus coaches are also not ideally configured for long journeys, and being a stop/start type of trip it can take a long time.

    Driving

    This is a reasonably short hop, and although driving through the Orange Free State is an education in rural South Africa, the best part of it is not between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, so don’t expect a particularly memorable scenic drive. However the road is good, straight and uncomplicated, and the drive can take no more than a couple of hours on a good day.

    >>South Africa is a high crime region, and the main N1 highways can be very dangerous if you are stalled or broken down. Carry a cell phone and ensure that you have rescue cover in the car hire policy