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45 Best Things To Do in Cape Verde in every Island

45 Top Things To Do in Cape Verde on every Island

A travel guide to the best Cape Verde attractions on every island

Recently, Cape Verde has been experiencing a boom when it comes to tourism. No wonder as the archipelago in the heart of the Atlantic has tons of things to offer! Whereas most people are just seeking pristine beaches and endless sunshine, there is much more to do in Cape Verde.

After having visited every island of Cape Verde (except Boa Vista and Sao Nicolau), I put together this extensive guide about the best things to do in Cape Verde.

Cape Verde consists of 10 islands. However, only 3 of them are properly suitable for beach holidays. They are divided into 2 groups: the Barlovento (northern) Islands and the Sotavento (southern) Islands.

So, what are the islands of the Cape Verde archipelago?

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After visiting every island of the Cape Verdean archipelago, I want to share with you a non-exhaustive list of the best things to do in Cape Verde and the most gorgeous attractions in Cape Verde.

Do u want to plan the perfect trip to Cape Verde? Make sure to get the Ultimate Cape Verde Travel Guide Book!

Thanks to affiliate links, I pay my bills. If you make a purchase through them, I may receive a small commission (for which I’m deeply grateful) at no cost to you. All opinions are always mine. Merci!

Table of Contents

Useful Information about Cape Verde

⚘ Don’t leave without a travel guide. Be prepared and get the Ultimate Cape Verde Travel Guide Book

✈ Book cheap flights to Cape Verde with Skyscanner or Kayak

✔ Book the best tours in Cape Verde with Viator

➳ Find the best hotel deals in Cape Verde with TripAdvisor

❖ Get the best car rental deals with DiscoverCars

☘ Get the best discounted outdoor gear (outlet) at REI.com

✎ Never leave without travel insurance. I get mine at HeyMondo. It’s easy to set up, cheap, and reliable.

✔ Skip the queue at the airport and get your Cape Verde visa in advance with iVisa

$ Withdraw money without hidden fees and avoid rubbish exchange rates with TransferWise (You’ll get a card for free!)

Intro: Tourism in Cape Verde: Why you matter!

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Cape Verde has extremely ambitious plans to become one of the most important holiday destinations in Western Africa.

So far, Sal and Boa Vista have been converted into mass tourism hubs with large all-inclusive holidays managed by international hotel groups. Unfortunately, the local population doesn’t see much of the benefits generated by the tourism on Sal and Boa Vista.

Even worse; the massive growth on these 2 islands fosters emigration from other, smaller islands. Hoping to land a (not very rewarding) job in the tourism sector, young people leave the poorer islands such as Brava, Fogo, or Santo Antao. The results are abandoned villages and lands. 

However, in theory, there is no need to leave the outer islands of Cape Verde!

Every single one is a treasure on its own and mostly; they differ a lot! Not only the landscapes but also the people and the culture are very different on every island. In all, every single island has the potential to be a tourist destination on its own: 

For some reason (that are unknown to me yet), Sal and Boa Vista get all the attention of large tour operators and most tourists in general, leaving the other islands deserted.

The good news though is, that you can change this! Take the decision to go beyond Sal and Boa Vista and you’ll be rewarded with a travel experience of a lifetime when going on sustainable holidays in Cape Verde.

Go dance alone on the empty beaches of Maio, wonder at the mesmerizing valleys of Santo Antao, listen to century-old music in Mindelo, be in awe of the Fogo volcano, etc.

In short; fall in love with the real wonders of Cape Verde!

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Sal

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Santa Maria, Sal

How to get to Sal:

How to move around in Sal:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Sal:

The Budha Beach Hotel ****
Odjo d’Agua Hotel ****
Ocean Suites
Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort *****
Oasis Salinas Sea *****
Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa *****

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more: The best things to do in Sal

1. Visit Santa Maria and its beaches

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Santa Maria is the main tourist hub of Sal. Most of the resorts, hotels, restaurants, and bars are located here. The town is famous for its Santa Maria Beach which boasts turquoise water and extremely fine sand.

There are many bars and restaurants on the beach that are waiting for you to serve the finest fish. 

The highlight of Santa Maria Beach is the pier where the locals sell their fish. It’s the best place to watch the daily grind and interact with the locals. It’s definitely one of the top things to do in Sal, Cape Verde.

2. Head to Kite Beach

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Kite Beach, Sal

Kite Beach is only a 10-min drive away from Santa Maria. It’s one of the best beaches for kite surfing in Cape Verde. It’s extremely windy and the waves can be very strong!

Even if you don’t kite surf, you can just relax at the bar and watch the stunts of the surfers.

If you are eager to learn, there’s a kite school on site where you can borrow material or get a kite surfing lesson. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Santa Maria, Cape Verde.

Book here a kite lesson in Sal

3. Visit Blue Eye – Buracona Lagoon

burac
Buracona, Sal

Visiting the Blue Eye is probably one of the most popular tours from Santa Maria. Also known as “Buracona“, this place has a very special, almost magical atmosphere. 

The lagoon is located northwest of the island and a perfect place for a swim.

If the sun rays hit the water, its color turns turquoise and allows you to see the ground of the water.

Check rates for island tours here

4. Visit the Pedro Lume Salt Mines

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Pedro Lume Salt Mines, Sal

Sal is small and mostly desert. Besides the Buracona Lagoon, the salt mines of Pedro Luma are a must-do!

Located in the east of the country, they can be visited with a guided tour or by aluguer (collective taxi).

If you reach the village, you can already feel the remote vibe. To me, it felt like a ship graveyard as there were plenty of them. There’s also the emblematic church that makes a great photo motive.

Once you actually made it to the salt mines, you’ll stand in front of a natural wonder that once made Sal one of the wealthiest islands of Cape Verde.

Tourists can float in the salty waters of the salt mines and learn more about the salt production back in time.

There’s also an excellent restaurant next to the mine’s entrance. It serves some of the best fish carpaccio I’ve eaten in my life!

5. Go Sea Turtle Watching

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Did you know that Cape Verde has the third-largest population of nesting Caretta Caretta (loggerhead sea turtles) in the world?

If you love animals, sea turtle watching is a must in Cape Verde, and particularly on the sandy islands of Sal, Maio, and Boa Vista.

Indeed, the Cape Verde archipelago is one of the most important places for sea turtle nesting. The best time to spot turtles is between July and October. But please, always book a tour with a professional guide and respect the sea turtles!

Check sea turtle watching tours here

6. Go diving in Cape Verde

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If you love to dive into the big blue, I recommend go diving in Cape Verde.

Whereas there are also dive clubs in Boa Vista and Maio, you have the largest offer in Sal.

Book dives in advance here

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Boa Vista

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Verandinha Beach, Boa Vista

How to get to Boa Vista:

How to move around in Boa Vista:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Boa Vista:

Iberostar Club Boa Vista *****
Hotel Riu Karamboa ****
Royal Horizons Boa Vista ****

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more: The best beaches in Cape Verde

7. Do Watersports

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Summer sea fun and adventure, Boa Vista

Boa Vista is one of the best places to do water sports. Not only is the water extremely clear but on top, there seems to be a beach for every taste.

Whether you just want to have a relaxing swim, watch turtles or get active, there is a beach for you!

When it comes to water sports, you can opt between kite surfing, windsurfing, surfing, sailing, kayaking or diving. As you see, you’ll be spoiled for choice if you enjoy being in the sea.

Check water sport tours here

8. Visit The Viana Desert

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Sand dunes in the Viana desert, Boa Vista

The Viana Desert is one of the natural wonders of Cape Verde. Located in the northwestern part of the island, it is one of the top things to do in Cape Verde.

On a stretch of 5 km, the Atlantic winds carried the fine sands of the Sahara to Boa Vista. It’s truly a place where you’ll wonder at nature and its tranquility.

In order to visit the desert, you should book a tour and please note that access to motor vehicles is limited!

9. Explore Sal Rei

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Sal Rei, Boa Vista

Sal Rei is the capital of Boa Vista and with its 6.000 inhabitants, it’s home to more than half of Boa Vista’s population.

However, it is not a bustling capital! Sal Rei is famous for its relaxing and laid-back vibe. If you love colorful architecture, you’ll be amazed by the colorful houses and churches.

I also recommend just taking the time to sit down at a bar, have a local drink, and just soak up the Cape Verdean vibe of “No stress!”.

Check island tours and reviews here

10. Visit the Shipwreck of the Cabo Santa Maria

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Shipwreck of Cabo Santa Maria, Boa Vista

The massive shipwreck of the Cabo Santa Maria on the beach of Atalanta is probably the most popular photo motive of Boa Vista. It quickly became one of the most popular attractions of Cape Verde.

Standing out tall of the water, these are the remains of a large cargo ship that ran aground in 1968 while crossing the Atlantic.

Today, the shipwreck is a source of inspiration for local artists and a popular destination for tours from Boa Vista. It’s one of the prettiest things to do on Cape Verde.

Please, note that recently, petty theft is raising on Atalanta Beach!

11. Relax at Chaves Beach

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Chaves Beach is located in the western part of the island. This 5 km long beach is probably one of the best beaches in Cape Verde.

The gold-white sand is extremely fine and you’ll be amazed by the saturated turquoise color of the ocean. There are almost no facilities, but it is a great place for a swim. If you are lucky, there will be some wind so that you can even go windsurfing!

During July and August, Chaves Beach is one of the best places to go turtle watching in Cape Verde. But please always remain respectful and keep your distance!

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Fogo

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Volcano, Fogo

How to get to Fogo:

How to move around in Fogo:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Fogo:

The Colonial Guest House
Hotel Xaguate ****

In the volcano crater (a must do!):

Casa Alcindo
Ciza e Rose

Where to eat in Fogo:

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more: The best things to do in Fogo

12. Hike the volcano

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Ready to hike in Fogo

The Pico do Fogo is probably one of the most stunning natural attractions of Cape Verde. No wonder that it is considered one of the 7 natural wonders of the archipelago.

The hike takes around 5 hours and is of moderate difficulty. You’ll climb up to 2.829 m. You can also opt to do the Pico do Fogo combined with the Pico Pequeno (small volcano). 

The trail starts Cha das Caldeiras and I recommend asking your host to organize a guided hike. Indeed, the trail is not easy to find and it can even be dangerous to climb the volcano!

I recommend staying at Casa Alcindo as he’s not only an extraordinary guide but also provides beautiful accommodation inside the crater. 

Guided tour of the big volcano: 40 €

Check tours here

13. Do a wine tasting

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At the winery, Fogo

Did you ever associate wine to Cape Verde? Well, Fogo is home to the only wine production on the entire archipelago!

The grapes are growing inside the crater which gives the wine of Fogo its unique, characteristic taste. Fogo wine, generally known as “Vinho do Chã“, is only selectively exported, thus it’s a true gem that you’ll taste here!

The entire production is eco-friendly and managed by small, local and family-owned businesses.

In order to visit the wine cellars, follow the signs after reaching the Fogo crater.

14. Buy local coffee

Fogo boasts the largest coffee production on Cape Verde. The plantations are located in the surroundings of Mostreiros and can be visited.

However, you don’t need to head to Fogo to purchase coffee from Cape Verde. Almost every supermarket on any island sells the tasty coffee beans. Just ask the vendor for “kriola” or “emicela” coffee.

15. Visit the colonial town of Sao Filipe

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Colorful Sao Filipe, Fogo

There are only a few towns on Cape Verde that can compete with Sao Filipe from an architectural perspective. 

The bright, colorful buildings, the town’s grid layout, and the cobblestone paved, narrow streets are symbolical for colonial architecture.

Most hotels on Fogo are located in Sao Filipe and I recommend staying at least one night in order to dive into the local, easy-going grind.

A walk at night in Sao Filipe is one of the most scenic experiences in Cape Verde.

16. Hike from Cha das Caldeiras to Mostreiros

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Hiking from Cha das Caldeiras to Mostreiros, Fogo

If you think that hiking up the Pico do Fogo is the only hike to do on Fogo, you couldn’t be more wrong. 

There is another spectacular trail waiting for you from Cha das Caldeiras to Mostreiros

I particularly liked the extremely saturated green colors of Mother Nature. They seem even brighter after experiencing the baren, black sands of the Fogo crater.

17. Enjoy local music in Fogo

Concert at the 7Sois7Luas Center, Fogo

Before Cape Verde became a coveted holiday destination, the archipelago was mostly known for one thing: its music! Namely; it was Cesaria Evora who exported the most famous music genre of Cape Verde: morna.

However, there are plenty of talented musicians who are excelling at morna. If you want to enjoy local music and support local artists, I recommend attending a concert at the Sete Sois Sete Luas cultural center in Sao Filipe, Fogo.

The center is the cultural hub of the island and is home to an excellent restaurant. A must thing to do in Fogo

Top Things to do in Cape Verde: Sao Vicente

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Mindelo marina, Sao Vicente

How to get to Sao Vicente:

How to move around in Sao Vicente:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Sao Vicente:

Flag Hotel Foya Branca ****
Hotel Residencial Goa
Aquiles Eco Hotel

Where to eat in Sao Vicente:

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more:

18. Enjoy culture in Mindelo

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Old Carnival Figure, Mindelo, Sao Vicente

Mindelo is also known for being the cultural capital of Cape Verde. Not only is it the hometown of the most famous Cape Verdean singer, Cesaria Evora, but it also boasts numerous museums and art shops.

The variety and cultural wealth of Mindelo are partly due to the Mindelo marina and harbor. For a long time, the port of Mindelo was the main gate for exports and imports.

Nowadays, Mindelo is home to the only marina in Cape Verde. There’s thus always a large international community in Mindelo.

Considered as one of the top things to do in Cape Verde, the cultural scene of Mindelo is a must!

Check guided tours of Mindelo here

19. Visit the Mindelo Market

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Mindelo Market, Sao Vicente

One of my favorite places in Mindelo is definitely the covered market. In fact, there are 2 markets in Mindelo.

The first one is the most traditional, ancient and covered one. It’s located in the main boulevard street. The building alone is worth a visit!

The second one is open-air and is located on Praça d’Estrela. Here, you can get all kinds of fruits, vegetables, electronic gadgets, and clothes.

My highlight was the tailors from the African mainland who will make you a tailor-made dress within 3 days! It’s definitely one of the best Cape Verde souvenirs to get in Mindelo.

20. Hike Monte Verde

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Monte Verde, Sao Vicente

Even though Sao Vicente is often seen as a gate to Santo Antao (a hiker’s paradise!), you can also do fabulous hikes in Sao Vicente.

One of the best ones is without any doubt climbing Monte Verde. It will provide you with breathtaking views over Mindelo, Monte Cara, and neighboring Santo Antao.

In order to get to the trail, take an aluguer (collective taxi) to Calhau and ask the driver to drop you off at the feet of Monte Verde.

The hike is of intermediate difficulty and takes about 2-3 hours.

Check Sao Vicente tours here

21. Dine out in Calhau

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Calhau Beach, Sao Vicente

I probably had the best meal of all my Cape Verde visits in Calhau. The small town is a coveted destination for Sunday excursions which consist in eating all day long!

There are 2 main restaurants in Calhao, Restaurante Hamburg and Chez Loutcha. Both are competing for the title of the best fish and seafood barbecue in Cape Verde.

If you want to enjoy their legendary buffet, book your experience ahead in Chez Loutcha in Mindelo. Prices include the transfer to Calhau.

Restaurante Hamburg is much smaller but the grilled baby squids were some of the best I had in my entire life!

If you want to extend your visit, head to Calhao Beach which is one of the prettiest beaches in Sao Vicente

22. Windsurf in Sao Pedro

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Sao Pedro Beach, Sao Vicente

Somehow, Sao Vicente holds something for every type of traveler. Also for water sports lovers!

If you come with your own material, you can have great surfing conditions in Salamansa and Baia das Gatas.

However, the best conditions for windsurfing can be found in Sao Pedro. It’s a scenic bay and there are several companies where you can rent your surfing gear.

If you don’t want to get wet, I recommend hiking to the Farol de D. Amélia lighthouse. It provides some of the best panorama views on the island!

23. Eat a cachupa

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Typical food from Cape Verde: cachupa

You can’t leave Cape Verde without eating a cachupa! It’s the most typical food from Cape Verde.

Every restaurant and family have their very own recipe and you can have cachupa on any island. 

It consists of corn and beans, topped with a fried egg. To make it extra tasty, a slice of fried linguiça (sausage) is added. Cachupa is not only a must-eat in Cape Verde but also one of the cheapest food to eat in Cape Verde.

I particularly liked the cachupas in Mindelo and my favorite one was at Dokas, at the dive center of Mindelo.

Set in a cool, rather sophisticated location with perfect Wi-Fi, you can get a cachupa for 1,5 €! Add a fresh fruit juice to it and you’ll have the perfect foodie experience in Cabo Verde!

Top Things to do in Cape Verde: Santo Antao

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Hiking in Santo Antao

How to get to Santo Antao:

How to move around in Santo Antao:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Santo Antao:

Casa Santa Barbara Deluxe
Ribeira Grande Country House
Biosfera Amor do Dia
Tiduca Hotel ****

Where to eat in Santo Antao:

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more: Discover Santo Antao

24. Hike Cova Crater – Paul trail

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Cova Crater, Santo Antao

Santo Antao is famous for being a paradise for hikers. There are countless trails awaiting you and one is more scenic than the other one. In total, I stayed more than 10 days in Santo Antao and I found it too short to do all the hikes that I wanted to do!

Thus, even if you are staying only 2 days in Santo Antao, I recommend doing at least the most scenic trail: from Cova Crater through Paul valley.

Take an aluguer (collective taxi) to Cova and have a quick breakfast at Biosfera do Amor which offers splendid views over Sao Vicente. Their handmade jams and bread are a real delight!

From here, hike down the crater until the trail takes you up to the crater’s borders. You’ll enjoy the best view of Santo Antao in Paul valley.

The entire trail goes downwards and lasts about 3 hours. You’ll pass through scenic villages where you can stop at local bars, having a drink or traditional meal. To me, it’s one of Cape Verde’s main points of interest. 

Read more: The best hiking trails in Santo Antao

25. Enjoy street art of Ribeira Grande

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Santo Antao is not all about nature! If you want to enjoy local street art and culture, I strongly recommend heading to Ribeira Grande. Have a walk through the city and explore its colorful murals.

Even though the town appears to be really grey at first sight, the colorful street art makes the city walks much more enjoyable.

If you can’t get enough of the local, contemporary art, head to the cultural center of 7 Sois 7 Luas, which hosts concerts and exhibitions on a regular basis. It’s definitely one of the best places to get to know local artists.

26. Take a dip at the natural swimming pools

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Sinagoga swimming pools, Santo Antao

Unfortunately, Santo Antao doesn’t boast many beaches (except Tarrafal on the southern side). The few beaches that you may come across may seem tempting, but please keep in mind that it’s extremely dangerous to swim here!

Thus, in order to be on the safe side when it comes to swimming, take an aluguer (collective taxi) to Sinagoga (15 min from Ribeira Grande). This quaint village boasts some of the best natural swimming pools in Santo Antao.

They are completely safe! Ask the locals for the “piscinas naturais” or head directly towards the ruins on top of the rocks.

27. Visit Fontainhas, the prettiest village of Cape Verde

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Fontainhas, Santo Antao

Some consider Fontainhas one of the natural wonders of Cape Verde. No wonder as the scenic setting of this small village even was awarded the label of “prettiest village of Cape Verde” by National Geographic!

It’s definitely a must-do when visiting Santo Antao! I recommend discovering the village on foot. It’s an easy hike away from Ponta do Sol and lasts about 1 hour.

When in Fontainhas, make sure to enter the village and have a drink at Tchu’s Bar. His fruit juices are a delight!

28. Have a grogue and local fruit

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Santo Antao is also known as being the garden of Cape Verde. Almost ⅓ of the archipelago’s population is being sustained by fruits and vegetables coming from Santo Antao.

One of the lushest valleys is probably Paul valley. It’s home to countless coconut, papaya, banana, and mango trees.

Thus, when in Santo Antao, ask at the restaurant for the seasonal fruit and indulge in coconut biscuits, passion fruit caipirinhas, and banana bread.

Santo Antao is also home to one of the largest grogue production sites in the archipelago. The local distilled spirit is made of sugar cane and used to prepare tasty caipirinhas.

If you want to go for the softer option, try a ponche. It’s a liquor prepared with local fruits, such as passion fruit, coconut, or tamarind.

29. Hike til you drop

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If you enjoy hiking, Santo Antao will be your heaven! Even after staying for more than 10 days in Santo Antao, I didn’t have time enough to do all the hikes I wanted!

The volcanic landscape created plenty of valleys and each of them has a different microclimate. Some trails take you to villages such as Corvo or Fontainhas that seem to be cut off from time. 

So far, not many trails are indicated. However, there are efforts to put landmarks in order to help hikers. In most cases, the trails are former caminhos vicinais (side roads) which were used to interconnect villages. 

Some of the best hikes in Santo Antao are:

  • Cova-Paul
  • Ponta do Sol – Cha d’Igreja
  • Tarrafal
  • Ribeira Grande – Xoxo
  • Corda – Coculi

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Santiago

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Fonte Lima mountains, Santiago, Cape Verde

How to get to Santiago:

How to move around in Santiago:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi)

Where to stay in Santiago:

Pestana Tropico ****
Oasis Praiamar ****
Syd’s Guesthouse (outstanding, home-made breakfast!)

Where to book tours: Viator

Read more: The best things to do in Santiago

30. Visit Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha old fort  in Santiago - Cape Verde - Cabo Verde
Cidade Velha (Old Town), Santiago, Cape Verde

Santiago is home to Cidade Velha (Old Town), declared “Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by the UNESCO. It’s the first city to be built by the Europeans in the South of the Sahara and it was the capital of Cape Verde until 1770.

The original design of the settlement is still intact and you feel like you dived right into the 16th century! It’s impressive how the original features remain untouched!

Cidade Velha (Old Town) was one of the most important places for the Atlantic trade of enslaved persons. That’s why it is also considered as one of the birthplaces of the first developed creole societies.

Book a tour to Cidade Velha here

31. Explore the bustling capital of Praia

santiago, praia things to do in cape verde, cabo verde
Colors of Praia, Santiago

Praia is a “love at second sight affair”. Before visiting, I mostly heard that it was a dangerous place, for locals and tourists alike. Then, when you arrive, you’ll spot countless grey, often unfinished houses or resorts. 

However, Praia’s magic becomes evident after you scratch on the surface. 

The main tourist area is the Plateau where you can enjoy the administrative buildings in colonial architecture style. Don’t forget to visit the market which is considered one of the prettiest in Cape Verde.

From here, head towards Prainha and Quebra Canela to enjoy a drink at the numerous beach bars that opened recently.

Check guided tours in Praia here

32. Have a music night out in Praia

If you are interested in enjoying Cape Verde’s rich musical culture, Praia is the place to be! Quintal da Musica – 5al da Musica host live concerts in Cape Verde’s most famous music styles such as morna, funaná, and coladeira.

Some of the best music bars in Praia are:

Praia music festivals you shouldn’t miss:

  • Kriol Jazz Festival Praia
  • Festival Gamboa
  • Virada d’Anu
  • Noite Branca 

A night out in the Cape Verdean capital is definitely one of the best things to do in Cape Verde.

33. Enjoy the beach of Tarrafal

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Tarrafal Beach, Santiago, Cape Verde

Tarrafal Beach, located in the north of Santiago, is often considered as one of the prettiest beaches in Cape Verde.

Indeed, it’s different from the beaches of Maio or Boa Vista, as Tarrafal Beach has palm trees and a very laid-back, surfer vibe that you can’t find on any other islands. On top, it has white, fine sand.

There are plenty of accommodation options and restaurants. Thus, I recommend staying at least a few days in order to enjoy the “No stress!” vibe.

Check island tours and reviews here

34. Hike in Serra Malagueta

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Hiking in Serra Malagueta, Santiago

Santiago holds something for any type of traveler. It’s not only an island with an immense cultural offer but it also has numerous hiking trails for nature lovers.

The best hikes of Santiago, Cape Verde can be found in Serra Malagueta. With a total surface of 774 hectares and 25 endemic species, this natural park is one of the most important ones of the archipelago.

There are hikes for any level, whether you’re up to a 2-hours hike or an 8-hours one!

You can reach the entrance gate of Serra Malagueta natural park by aluguer (collective taxi) from Praia, Assomada, and Tarrafal. Just tell the driver that he should drop you off at Serra Malagueta.

The entrance fee to the natural park costs 200 CVE (1,81 €)

35. Visit the Market of Assomada

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The market of Assomada is the most important market in Santiago. It’s even livelier than the market of Praia!

Whereas every day is market day in Assomada, Tuesdays and Saturdays are the most important days. On these days, the market duplicates in size!

From early in the morning until 5 pm, you can buy anything from vegetables, fruits, Cabo Verde souvenirs, clothing, and even animals!

Visiting the market of Assomada is definitely a unique way to dive into the Cape Verdean daily grind.

Visit the Assomada market with a guided tour.

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Maio

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How to get to Maio:

How to move around in Maio:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi) – only until 6 pm!

Where to stay in Maio:

Barracuda
Casa Evora (the cutest boutique hotel on the entire island!)
Villa Maris Ecolodge

Stella Maris Villa

Where to eat in Maio:

  • Restaurante 7Sois7Luas (best views in town!)
  • Bar Tropikal Maio
  • Big Game
  • Bar Tibau (run by the legendary singer Tibau Tavares!)
  • Horace Silver (known for its great cocktails!)

Read more: The best things to do in Maio

36. Chill at the best beaches of Cape Verde

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To me, Maio has the best beaches in Cape Verde. Although Sal and Boa Vista also have beautiful beaches, in recent years they have fallen victim to mass tourism and the large hotel complexes that go with it.

Maio seems to be a precious gem that managed to (still) protect its pristine beaches and unspoiled character. On some beaches, you can literally walk for hours without ever crossing a soul!

So don’t expect to find any bars or restaurants ! The beaches of Maio have preserved their original state.

Some of the best beaches in Maio can be found close to the capital, Vila do Maio. In order to explore the other ones, I recommend taking a taxi or renting a bike.

The best beaches in Maio are:

  • Bitche Rocha
  • Ponta Preta
  • Ribeira Dom Joao (for surfing!)
  • Praia de Santana

To me, it is the best place to go in Cape Verde for pristine beaches.

37. Eat fresh goat cheese 

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Cheese Factory, Ribeira Dom Joao, Maio

Fresh goat cheese is one of the star products of the Sotavento (southern) Islands. Almost every household produces its own! However, in Maio, more precisely in Ribeira Dom Joao, one of the first goat cheese factories has been built.

Maintained exclusively by women and supported by the European Union, I strongly recommend visiting them and supporting this small, local business.

They have installed a little bar where you can taste the freshly made goat cheese.

Address: Main road of Ribeira Dom João

38. Enjoy Cape Verdean music

If the Gross Domestic Product of Cape Verde could be measured in terms of music, the country would be one of the richest in the world!

Whereas Cesaria Evora and Mayra Andrade are Cape Verde’s most famous exports, there are plenty of local artists to be discovered. You’ll hear some of the songs during your entire stay because music is simply everywhere in Cape Verde!

If you want to support local artists in Cape Verde and have a unique experience, why not organize a private concert? The 7Sois7Luas cultural centers are fostering and supporting local musicians.

The centers are spread out throughout the archipelago and at any of them, you can order a private concert.

Find all the information and contacts at www.7sois7luas.com

39. Go sea turtle spotting in Maio

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Sea turtle, Maio

Did you know that the flattest island in Cape Verde is also one of the most important places for sea turtle nesting?

Second only to Boa Vista, the extensive sandy beaches of Maio are important for the nesting Caretta caretta (loggerhead sea turtles).

In order to preserve this unique wealth, the Maio Biodiversity Foundation was created in 2010, with the main objective to know and protect nature for sustainable development.

For this purpose, the Maio Biodiversity Foundation invites both national and international volunteers to come to Maio for an extended stay and support their endeavors.

However, if you are only staying for a short time in Maio, ask for a sea turtle nesting tour at the office of the Maio Biodiversity Foundation at the church’s square. Indeed, sea turtle tours are one of the top things to do in Cape Verde.

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Brava

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View from Brava to Fogo

How to get to Brava:

How to move around in Brava:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi) – only until 6 pm!

Where to stay in Brava:

Hotel Pousada
Djabraba’s Eco-Lodge Giandinoto’s Place

Hotel Cruz Grande ***
Hotel Nazareth

Where to eat in Brava:

40. Explore the colonial town of Nova Sintra

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Nova Sintra, Brava

Nova Sintra is the only island capital that is not located on the sea. After arriving in Furna with the ferry, a long winding road takes you up to Nova Sintra, with its 7.000 inhabitants.

Named after the Portuguese town near Lisbon, Nova Sintra shares some characteristics with its Portuguese equivalent. It has a humid and fresh climate and is surrounded by lush greenery and fabulous views on the ocean.

Even the floors and the houses have been built in an architectural style that remembers Portugal. In my humble opinion, Nova Sintra is one of the prettiest cities in Cape Verde.

Find more hidden gems and local insights in the Ultimate Cape Verde Travel Guide

41. Swim in the natural swimming pools of Faja d’Agua

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Faja d’Agua, Brava

After Nova Sintra, the bay of Fajã d’Agua is a real must-see in Brava! Cut out on an imposing escarpment dotted with colorful houses, Fajã d’Agua is a place to watch time go by.

But it is the natural pools of Fajã d’Agua that are the real attraction of the village. With its crystal clear waters, it invites visitors to have a refreshing bath. For me, the swimming pools are some of the best Cape Verde tourist attractions.

Fajã d’Agua can be reached by hiking or by aluguer (collective taxi).

42. Hike, hike, hike!

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Hiking Views, Brava

Brava has plenty of trails to be explored. Serving initially to connect villages, they are nowadays mostly used by tourists that fell in love with Brava’s rough landscape.

Also known as “Ilhas das Flores” (“Island of Flowers”), your hikes will be a green delight if you visit between August and October. The trails are framed by colorful bougainvillea, hibiscus flowers, and jasmine.

The best hiking Trails in Brava are:

  • Mato Grande: I recommend hiking up to Mato Grande in order to have a privileged view on Fogo and its massive volcano.
  • Fontainhas trail: It takes 4 hours and starts at the Mira Beleza viewpoint.
  • Hiking to Fajã d’Agua.

43. Enjoy some of the best Cape Verdean music

The rhythm of Brava is easy going and Nova Sintra has an almost enchanting, relaxing atmosphere.

In order to mingle with the locals and to get to know the music of Brava, I recommend watching out for the small tocatines (traditional music halls) in a bar or even in private houses that are open to visitors.

I am a big fan of the 7Sois7Luas band of Brava. The main singer, Rosa, is a real “power of nature”, as friends of mine call her! Her charism and the rhythm of the band are unbeatable and will make sure that you’ll fall in love with the Cape Verdean music.

Ask at the 7Sois7Luas center in Nova Sintra about their next performances.

Best Things to do in Cape Verde: Sao Nicolau

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Hiking in Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde

How to get to Sao Nicolau:

How to move around in Sao Nicolau:

  • By taxi
  • By aluguer (collective taxi) – only until 6 pm!

Where to stay in Sao Nicolau:

Bed & Breakfast Regina 
Farinha de Pau – Eco B&B

Edificio Magico
Casa Patio

Where to eat in Sao Nicolau:

Read more: The best things to do in Sao Nicolau

44. Visit Carbeirinho

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Miocene shallow-water limestones, Sao Nicolau

The rock formations of Carbeinho are considered one of the 7 natural wonders of Cape Verde.

If you are visiting Sao Nicolau, it’s a real must on every visit to marvel at Mother Nature’s artistry!

The rock formations and shapes will remind you of the Grand Canyon. Just that in Sao Nicolau you can have on top a refreshing swim next to the rock formations!

45. Hike the Monte Gordo National Park

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Hiking in Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde

Monte Gordo, a magnificent mountain volcanic in origin, rises to 1.312 m, the highest point in Sao Nicolau

It’s the perfect place for those who enjoy hiking in remote places.

Indeed, tourism is not very developed in Sao Nicolau. Thus, you’ll get a unique privileged experience.


Map of Cape Verde

cape verde map

FAQ – Cape Verde Travel

What is the best place in Cape Verde?

The best place in Cape Verde for your holiday depends on your plans. If you want beaches, go to Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio.
If you want hiking, go to Santo Antao, Brava and Fogo.
If you want culture, go to Santiago and Sao Vicente.

What is the best time to go to Cape Verde?

If you want greenery: August – October
If you want to enjoy the winter sun: November – February
If you like it really hot: April – June

What’s the best Cape Verde island?

In terms of beach holidays, Maio, Sal, and Boa Vista are the best options. But, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the other island gems! Indeed, they hide a paradise for hikers, such as Santo Antao or dramatic volcanic landscapes such as Fogo.

Whereas Sal and Boa Vista are the most touristy islands, it’s absolutely worth it to go beyond and explore the colorful landscapes and the rich culture of the other Cape Verdean islands. 



Share the love!

Casey

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

This place looks like outdoor paradise! Can;t wait to visit Cape Verde someday :)

Paulina

Monday 24th of February 2020

Yes, they are stunning indeed! I absolutely fell in love with this country.

Alanna Koritzke

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

Wow those natural swimming pools look incredible! I need to add this to my travel bucket list!

Paulina

Monday 24th of February 2020

Yes, they are absolutely fabulous!