Mindelo: Music Town of Cape Verde
We made it to Cape Verde’s most important marina: Mindelo! Since we were unable to hitchhike a boat from Ilha do Sal to São Vicente island, we decided to continue our trip the easy (and more expensive) way: by plane.
After the barren wasteland of Sal and its cultural desert, I am really looking forward to get a closer look to the true Capeverdean culture. In Ilha do Sal, I’d get an approximate idea, but in the tourist stonghold Santa María it was simply impossible to imbibe the Capeverdean spirit.
Fortunately Mindelo is also known as the cultural capital of the archipelago, so I can’t wait to celebrate Capeverdean style!
Home Town of Cesaria Evora
Due to its most important citizen, Cesária Évora, Mindelo reached worldwide fame for being the craddle of Morna, the traditional Capeverdean music genre. Many singers from São Vicente popularized Morna all over the world.
But none of them reached the status of the legendary “Barefoot Diva”, the queen of Morna. Many singers following her footsteps are from Mindelo and made it a hub for Capeverdean culture.
Mindelo’s Music Scene
The city is full of music bars, art galleries and creative ateliers (CapVertDesign+Artesanato, Arte d’Cretcheu, Tchalé Figueira Gallery). Lampposts are placked with posters announcing cultural activities.
Almost every weekend, you can attend a concert of a major Capeverdean singer coming back to his home place to sing for his people.
I truely enjoyed the mixture of a lively art scene and simple street life. At every corner, market women are selling fish, caring containers with fresh herbs and sweets on their heads. Others sell their hand-made African dresses.
Market in Mindelo
Despite being a quite smelly affair, alone the fish market is worth a visit. You’ll hardly get this full immersion to authentic Capeverdean life anywhere else. The same happens in the city market.
Set in a photogenic building, the market ladies will try to sell you, in a sometimes a bit forceful way, their homemade banana and papaya jams.
The city center of Mindelo can easily be discovered in a few hours. The colourful house fronts and their colonial style will let you feel a step closer to tropical Brasil. S
ao Vicente has something else in common with Brasil: The Carnival of Mindelo is supposed to be best of the Capeverdean archipelago. It is one of the top things to do when visiting Mindelo.
If Mindelo seems the dooryard of Brasil, then Laginha beach must be the Capeverdean version of Copacabana. With its white sandy beach and turquoise water, it’s not only a popular photo motive but also one of the prettiest city beaches I’ve seen so far. Read here about the best beaches in Cape Verde.
Are you looking for a hotel in Mindelo?
They say that Mindelo’s nightlife can compete directly with Praia’s. But many locals told me that it has changed a lot in the last years: poverty increased and there’s hardly any night bar where locals and tourists mingle.
We tried to access some local clubs, but we went through a few awkward situations to get there. Many are located in dark side streets. Since then, we desisted of the idea of clubbing in Mindelo.
But if you’re up to a more quiet night out, then Mindelo has plenty of options. I enjoyed the creative athmosphere at Library “Nho Djunga“. The guitarrist of Cesária Évora frequently gives concerts here and it’s the only place where I saw Capeverdean people mix with tourists to listen to some authentic Morna.
Another option is Casa da Morna. It belongs to famous singer Tito Paris who often steps by to give a gig. To start the night, I recommend Passion Fruit or Kiwi Caipirinhas at Elvis’ Bar. They are simply the best!
Mindelo is a great destination to stay for a few days. If you need a break from the city, I recommend a hike to Monte Verde or Monte Cara. After enjoying Cape Verde’s city life to the fullest, I can’t wait to discover the green island whose impressive silhouette amazes you from São Vicente: Santo Antão!
To eat the traditional Cachupa, Cape Verde’s most famous dish, I recommend Dokas. Set right next to the ships of the marina, its Cachupa is always fresh at an unbeatable price of 1,50€.
By all the affinity I felt for Mindelo and its liveliness, it gets a little minus due to safety issues. Most of the times I was accompanied by my boyfriend, but still Capeverdean boys would try to get my attention as a girl.
When walking alone, I got harshly stopped in the streets. Boys shouting after me of staring at me as if I’d be a pink elephant were part of daily life. At some point it just gets annoying! In several situations we felt unsafe, i.e. when youngsters were running at us to ask for some escudos and were too insisting.
We stayed at Simabo, a hostel managed by the Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment.
Mindelo is also a great place to do a day trip to Santo Antao. Read more about how to spend a weekend in Santo Antao.
For more information about tourism on Sao Vicente, Cape Verde I recommend the following webpage: Tourism of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde.
For specific information on the capital Mindelo, I recommend MindeloCaboVerde.com
This blog post can also be downloaded on GPSmyCity as an offline city map and self-guided walking tour. Click here, to download this post as an app.