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Essential Cape Verde Travel Guide

A destination that promises diversity and has something to appeal to every kind of traveler – Cape Verde or Cabo Verde located in the North Atlantic about 600 km off the extreme western tip of Africa is a cluster of 10 islands. 

Cape Verde’s culture is equally eclectic, offering a vibrant mix of African, Portuguese, and Caribbean influences with a touch of Brazil and even maritime New England. 

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Each Cape Verde Island boasts a distinct landscape offering an individual experience. Santo Antao has rugged peaks hiding green valleys of flowers and sugar cane, ideal for epic hikes.

Sao Vicente is home to the cultural capital of the islands, Mindelo throbbing with bars and music clubs for great nightlife.

Sal and Maio have undulating windswept dunes merging with indigo-blue seas.

On the other end of the spectrum are Fogo and Brava which offer their enchantments, from surreal volcanic landscapes to sparkling bays framed by towering peaks making them great for hiking.

You will fall in love with this almost unknown archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Quick links to Cabo Verde islands:

Useful Information about Cape Verde

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Important Facts when Traveling to Cape Verde

Capital: Praia

Languages: Portuguese, Cape Verde Creole is the mother tongue. English is semi-widely spoken.

Religion(s): Christianity (Catholic-Protestant)

Currency: Cape Verdean escudo

Climate: Subtropical makes year-round travel pleasant.

Power voltage + socket type(s): 230V, plug types F and C

Safety rating: International SOS has ranked Cape Verde as one of the safest tourist countries in the world.

Female solo travel: Cape Verde is famed for and the renowned morabeza (Creole for hospitality) of its people making it a carefree place for solo women travelers. It is one of the safest countries in West Africa.

Travel Insurance: Highly recommended as only spare medical services are available. Read more about Cape Verde Travel Insurance.

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Do I need a Visa to Travel to Cape Verde?

Fast Track: Get Cape Verde visa in advance

Every individual visiting Cape Verde needs to obtain a visa unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries.

People visiting from the USA, Canada, and Australia need a visa to Cape Verde, while people traveling from the UK and other EU countries do not need a visa. 

However, since January 2019, holders of a British passport can enter Cape Verde for a maximum of 30 days without a visa.

The visitors, before departure, need to register with the Cape Verde authorities on the EASE website and, if traveling by air, pay Airport Security Tax of 3.400 CVE (30 €). This does not apply to those under two years of age and those who are usually residents in Cape Verde. 

Visitors can also apply for a visa on arrival, depending on the country of departure. Visitors traveling from the UK are eligible and it is advised to apply in advance as it takes up to 2 hours to process at the airport.  

Types and Cost Visitor visa cost is 45 €lus delivery charges, multiple entry visa is for 86,30 €. Tourist visas can also be purchased at one of Cape Verde’s international airports at 25 € which is valid for up to 30 days. 

Accommodation in Cape Verde

Prices for accommodation in Cape Verde are considerably higher than in other areas of West Africa. There are no official campsites but it is possible to camp on remote beaches.

Sal and Boa Vista – Most resort hotels are included in the holiday package. Elsewhere, there are simple mid-range hotels as well as a few hostels. – Check resorts in Sal and Boa Vista

Praia – The excellent value hotel in Praia is Oasis Praia Mar **** offering splendid views over the ocean and high standard rooms. The breakfast is simply to die for. – Check Hotels in Praia

Santiago – has some of the best value accommodations. The simple, attractive bungalows cluster around palm groves set back from the main beach in Tarrafal. The bungalows here start from 35 €. – Check Hotels in Santiago

Fogo – On the island of Fogo, one can find a few good hotels and one of them is Hotel Residencial Savana ***. It has modest rooms with high ceilings and Juliet balconies, and the black volcanic rock decorations contrast sharply with the bright color scheme. The price starts from 40 €. – Check Hotels in Fogo

Mindelo has the best accommodation, the Casa Cafe Mindelo which is a French-run guesthouse with four rooms offering a mix of African art with contemporary décor. There’s also a café specializing in seafood. The price of this accommodation starts at 60 €. – Check Hotels in Mindelo

Read more: Where to stay in Cape Verde

Best Time to Visit Cape Verde

Cape Verde Islands is a year-round destination because it has a subtropical climate. The average annual temperatures range between 26°C and 30°C. 

January is the perfect month to experience the mountainous islands of Fogo, Santo Antao, and Sao Nicolau. Thus, making Cape Verde a perfect winter holiday destination.

Visit Mindelo on Sao Vicente in February as it hosts one of the most important carnivals. There are daily events during the carnival season. Percussion and dance groups start rehearsing in early December.

The Autumn and spring months are dry with very little rainfall, making them the best time to go to Cape Verde for sunny and dry weather.

Exclusive Download: Free Cape Verde Destination Guide + Packing List

Transportation in Cape Verde

Getting There – The main international airports are Amilcar Cabral (SID) on Sal and Praia-Francisco Mendes (RAI) 2 km from Praia. Direct flights come in from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and most parts of New Zealand. – Check flights to Cape Verde

Getting Around – Traveling between the islands is fairly easy and convenient. Several options exist for tourists with various budgets. BestFly Airlines is the main domestic airline to travel from one island to another. – Check rates for inter-island flights

To travel by sea, you may use the daily ferry service (far cheaper) that runs between Santiago, Fogo, and Brava.

Car hire is also available on all main islands as well as African minibusses are also there which will pick you up and drop you off where you like. 

Food in Cape Verde

Locally caught fresh fish and seafood are available throughout the Cape Verde Islands. If you want to taste the traditional dish then cachupa is the one to relish.

It is a vegetable stew but is also served with meat or fish. Bacalau, dried salted cod is another Cape Verde traditional food you can try.

Port city of Mindelo has great cafes, meet here for coffee in the daytime and in the evening it is excellent for caipirinhas priced at 3 €. These cafes also offer hearty French-accented meals at very reasonable prices. 

Sao Vicente has open-air bar restaurants very popular with evening drinkers with its frequent live music performances and is a prime spot for fish eating starting for 7 €.   

Portuguese wine and beer, Sagres and Super Bock are available all over Cape Verde. 

Best Things to Do in Cape Verde

Holidays to Cape Verde offer rewarding and exciting experiences, allowing holidaymakers to enjoy a range of different holiday types. There are innumerable things to do in Cape Verde. 

Chill on the Beach – Relaxing on the beach is the best thing to do in Cape Verde. There are several great coastal spots to choose from, but among the finest is Santa Maria Beach on Sal, Praia de Chaves, and Santa Monica on Boa Vista. 

Go Snorkeling – Cape Verde Island offers many diving and snorkeling options. The best places to experience snorkeling are on the island of Sal and there are many opportunities for this activity on Santa Maria Beach. – Book snorkeling tours in Cape Verde

Walk Around Santa Maria – Santa Maria located on the island of Sal is a colorful and atmospheric place to wander around. It is a great way to soak up the authentic flavors of Cape Verde that would otherwise be lost if you choose to spend the entire trip on the beaches. 

Kitesurf – Archipelago Island offers a fantastic range of water sports, but among the most exciting are wind sports. The winds are quite strong on the coastline of Sal and Boa Vista between November and March, offering the best kitesurfing conditions. Whether you are a seasoned pro of a newbie, there are ample facilities and training available to holidaymakers looking to engage in the sport. – Book watersport activities in Cape Verde

Hike a Volcano – Wear your hiking boots and grab your walking poles, the island of Fogo offers ample opportunities for hiking. There are various great trails to hike on the island, but one of the best is trekking Pico do Fogo. If you love outdoor adventure, then trekking and hiking are for you. – Book a guided tour to Mount Fogo 

Spot Turtles – Turtles can be seen on Ervatão Beach on Boa Vista between July and September. This is the world’s third most important loggerhead turtle nesting site, where the turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand. The best time to see this incredible natural phenomenon is at night with guided tours. – Book a turtle nesting tour

Quad Biking – This is a great activity to do if you are an adventure enthusiast. Quad biking tours are available across Sal and Boa Vista. The best quad biking experience is in the sand dunes while many will follow a strict itinerary guiding you from site to site or beach to beach.

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