An Insider’s Guide to Winter Holidays in Cape Verde at Christmas
For those who follow my blog regularly, you know that I am a huge fan of the Cape Verde islands? Why? There are plenty of reasons! First, the archipelago consisting of 10 islands is super diverse. Indeed, every island is a little world. The second reason is without any doubt the great temperatures all year round. Also in winter and Christmas! This guide is about travel to Cape Verde at Christmas and how to spend your winter holidays in Cape Verde.
Indeed, every island is very different and some are suitable particularly for hikers, others for city life, others mostly for beach and all-inclusive holidays. This guide gives you in-depth information about the best island for your Cape Verde holiday.
Useful Travel Information for Cape Verde
Book holiday and vacation rentals in Cape Verde with Flipkey – Cape Verde
Find the best Hotel Deals in Cape Verde with TripAdvisor Hotels – Wisconsin
Best tours and activities in Cape Verde with Viator
Rent a car with the best discounts at RentalCars.com
The best discounted Outdoor Gear at REI.com – Outlet
✎ Never leave without travel insurance. I get mine at WorldNomads
⚘ Get a travel guide in order to prepare your trip. I recommend Lonely Planet Guide – West Africa (get -10% off with code “PAULINA10”)
All you need to know about flights, ferries and visa in Cape Verde in this ultimate Cape Verde travel guide
1. Why travel to Cape Verde for Christmas
Not only does the profile of each island vary a lot, but also the activities and types of vacation depend on each island. Whereas Santo Antao is a paradise for hikers, Sal and Boa Vista are rather destinations for Cape Verde all-inclusive deals and resorts.
Thus there is an island for every kind of traveler. Second, winter temperatures in Cape Verde are warm, thus be ready to hit the beach. And third, the destination is still relatively unknown thus you get great value for your (Western European) money.
In this article, you’ll get information on how they celebrate Christmas in Cape Verde, which is the best island for your winter sun holiday in Cape Verde and some inspirational tips to spend your Cape Verde islands holidays.
After staying in Cape Verde for almost 2 months and visiting every island except Sao Nicolau and Boa Vista, I found it to be about time to put together a guide to this surprising winter sun destination.
2. What is Cape Verde average temperature in winter?
I visited the Cape Verde islands once during September and stayed once from December to January. Both times, temperatures were mild and perfect to spend some time on the beach. Cape Verde is thus the perfect place for winter sun and Christmas on the beach.
Cape Verde’s average temperature in December ranges between 20-25°C. Sometimes they can even reach higher temperatures! Nights can get a bit chilly with 15-20°C, thus I recommend bringing a little jacket. Good news: there is almost no rainfall during the winter months in Cape Verde.
However, I recommend paying attention to the average winter temperatures in Cape Verde as they differ a lot per island.
3. How to celebrate in Cape Verde at Christmas
As a tourist or a traveler, you probably want to spend Christmas on the beach! The weather conditions and warm temperatures are just perfect!
The local Christmas traditions in Cape Verde include extended meals in the family with typical food and drinks from Cape Verde such as grogue or ponche. Like in Western countries, there’s the culture of making presents for your beloved ones and your family.
Traditionally, people go to mass and then visit their family and friends at home.
A typical thing I observed during Christmas in Cape Verde was the omnipresence of music…It was just everywhere! Huge speakers were placed on the main squares of Mindelo and Ribeira Grande, Santo Antao and day in, day out, the songs of Cesaria Evora were played. Oh, and I probably heard the tune “Boas Festas” by Luis Morais 100 times!
I didn’t feel bothered by the omnipresence of music… just the opposite was the case! Music is a key element of Cape Verde’s society and culture. On top, the tunes were very slow, nostalgic and relaxing. After this overdose, I am a huge fan of Cape Verdean music styles such as morna, batuque, coladeira, and funaná.
If you want to spend Christmas and New Year holidays in the sun, Cape Verde is the place to visit!
4. How to celebrate in Cape Verde at New Year
To me, it seemed as if the entire December month would be a huge party in Cape Verde. I guess, it strongly depends on where you’ll spend your Cape Verda vacation too. I stayed for 1 month over New Year’s Eve in Mindelo, Sao Vicente, a town that’s famous for its cultural and music scene.
So, in Mindelo, the days from Christmas to New Year’s Eve are a huge party. There is music around the clock and people gather in the street in order to celebrate all together.
On top, several commemoration events for the legendary singer Cesaria Evora are held during that time in her hometown, Mindelo. One evening, I managed to enjoy a show including such legendary singers as Tito Paris, Fantcha and Bau. All of them were paying tribute to Cesaria Evora.
On New Year’s Eve, there are spectacular fireworks taking place in the town center. You can watch it from the marina of Mindelo. After the fireworks, everybody is dancing in the streets and listens to the open-air concerts. Definitely a night to remember!
Just ask at the reception of your hotel which events are being held for New Year’s Eve! The local community is happy to showcase the traditions of Cape Verde to its visitors.
5. Which island for your Cape Verde holidays in winter?
With 10 islands to choose from, it might be overwhelming to go for only one island. Of course, you can combine some of them. You can read more in this ultimate Cape Verde Travel Guide about hopping between islands in Cape Verde and flights between the Cape Verde islands.
In fact, Cape Verde is an archipelago of several destinations. If you are wondering where to go in Cape Verde, let me give you some inspiration.
My favorite thing to do is combining a “beach island” (Sal, Boa Vista, Maio) with a “mountain island” (Santo Antao, Fogo, Brava, Sao Nicolau). Santiago and Sao Vicente island offer a cool mix of everything: hiking, sandy beaches and city vibes. As all of the Cape Verdean islands are so diverse, it would be a pity to limit your trip to Cape Verde to one island only.
In a nutshell, the following islands would suit you best if you enjoy:
- Hiking & climbing: Fogo, Brava, Santo Antao, parts of Sao Vicente
- Virgin beaches: Maio, Sao Nicolau
- Cultural scene & history: Praia (Santiago island), Sao Felipe (Fogo), Mindelo (Sao Vicente)
- Tourist hubs and all-inclusive resorts: Sal, Boa Vista
- Off-the-beaten track and remote: Maio, Brava, Sao Nicolau
6. Cape Verde at Christmas: Winter Holiday Inspirations
There are plenty of ways to spend your winter holiday in Cape Verde. No matter if you plan to visit in the beginning of December, spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Cape Verde or finally end up staying until January. All you need is being ready to spend Christmas and New Year holidays in the sun!
As there are at least as many ways to spend holidays in Cape Verde as there are islands on the archipelago, I prepared for you a list with some inspiration.
a) Go on Cape Verde Villa Holidays
You don’t enjoy large resorts and prefer a more cozy, personal Cape Verde vacation? Then, I recommend booking a villa on a Cape Verde island that is famous for its beaches: Sal, Boa Vista or Maio. But also Sao Vicente boats gorgeous beaches, for example in Calhao and Sao Pedro.
In case you prefer to completely want to avoid international tourism, head to Tarrafal of Santiago island. There are several great vacation homes at unbeatable prices on the internationally best-connected island.
The advantage of booking a holiday home in Cape Verde is that you’ll feel at home and can even save money. Indeed, cooking at home or spending some evenings of your vacation at “home”, will minimize your costs. It´s also a great idea to spend a Cape Verde honeymoon.
On top, I enjoy the feeling of being like a local for some time. You can do your grocery shopping, invite people, just like at home! But with much warmer temperatures though! On top, of any of the mentioned islands, the beach is never far away!
b) Get Pampered with Luxury Cape Verde Holidays in winter
You may not immediately associate Cape Verde with luxury holidays… but there are plenty of new resorts and hotels that will be the perfect recreation place for a luxury getaway.
When looking for Cape Verde 5 star all-inclusive or top hotels in Cape Verde with the finest luxury details, I recommend the islands of Boa Vista and Sal. Most of them come with huge swimming pools, fancy beach clubs, countless entertainment options, …
On top, most Cape Verde resorts in Boa Vista and Sal island have direct access to the beach. In less than 5 minutes, you can get from your hotel room to some of the best, sandy beaches of Cape Verde.
Please be aware that both islands don’t boast the most sustainable form of tourism. Both islands are mostly desert and yet, the huge resorts pump tons of water to satisfy the needs of their visitors. When opting for this form of traveling, please make sure to make a valuable contribution to the local community by purchasing your souvenirs at local artisans or dining out in local restaurants.
c) Grab a bikini: Winter Beach Holidays in Cape Verde
If you are looking forward to spending Christmas on the beach, I highly recommend having a look at Cape Verde’s beach islands. The most famous, and best-connected ones are Sal and Boa Vista. Both have international airports, thus they can easily be reached from Europe or the United States.
If you are looking for a more quiet beach destination, with pristine coastal landscapes, no large resorts, and mass tourism, I highly recommend considering Maio island. The island is largely untouched by mass tourism. It’s a true gem at a pristine state that will remind you of the unspoiled Caribbean.
OPTION 1: Beach Holidays in Sal, Cape Verde
If you finally opted for beach holidays in Sal, you’ll most probably want to stay close to the island’s best beach: Santa Maria. Santa Maria is a small-sized town and is the main tourist hub of Sal island. Most resorts and hotels are located here.
The town is pleasant and there are plenty of small restaurants, ice-cream shops, and artisans selling African-themed souvenirs.
When looking for Santa Maria Cape Verde weather in December, expect an average of 25°C! On top, the island is safe, thus a fabulous destination for family holidays.
You’ll explore Santa Maria in 1 or 2 days, thus you’ll want to see what else Sal island has to offer. There are plenty of tours departing from Santa Maria and they’ll take you to the famous Pedro Lume Salt Mines, the Blue Eye and much more. Book here your tours in Sal, Cape Verde
One of the best things to do in Sal is water sports, the most popular being kitesurfing. Champions from all over the world travel to Sal in order to enjoy the wind and waves. Another great thing to do on Sal island during your winter beach holidays is turtle watching. You can book your turtle watching tour in Sal right here.
Best Hotels in Sal, Cape Verde for Beach holidays:
Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde ****
Melia Dunas Beach Resort & Spa *****
Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort *****
Oasis Salinas Sea *****
Hotel Budha Beach THe Senses Collection ****
Melia Llana Beach Resort & Spa *****
Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa *****
OPTION 2: Beach Holidays in Boa Vista, Cape Verde
The other island famous for its vast, sandy beaches is Boa Vista. Largely a desert island, the island boats some of the largest dunes in Cape Verde. Flights to Boa Vista Cape Verde are generally not very expensive.
Boa Vista is also home to one of the most famous tourist attractions of Cape Verde: the scenic shipwreck. Indeed, it’s nowadays one of the most coveted photo motives in Cape Verde.
Unlike in Sal, there are several tourist hubs in Boa Vista, thus you are free to choose where you want to base yourself. Boa Vista is home to some of the best resorts in Cape Verde. There are plenty of organized tours in Boa Vista that will take you around the island. Book here your tours in Boa Vista Island.
Best Hotels in Boa Vista for Beach holidays:
OPTION 3: Villa Beach Holidays in Maio, Cape Verde
You know that Maio has a special place in my heart… Thus I can’t recommend it enough when you are looking to spend (winter) beach holidays in Cape Verde.
Unlike the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, Maio is largely unspoiled. There are no resorts and you get an authentic insight in the Cape Verdean culture.
The beaches of Maio look straight from the Caribbean and the people are extremely laid-back, genuinely friendly and gentle. It’s a unique oasis of peace. Read about the best beaches in Cabo Verde.
Although there are a few hotels in Maio, I recommend renting a villa or holiday home in order to fully absorb the tranquil vibe of this island paradise. Maio Island is easy to reach by plane from Cape Verde capital city: Praia.
d) Visit more islands with a Cape Verde Cruise
If among all the possible Cape Verde trips, you’re having a hard time deciding which island is the best for you, why don’t you opt for a Cape Verde cruise? It’s the easiest way to explore all the islands of this gorgeous archipelago… without having to make a decision!
Currently, Cape Verde cruises depart only 2-3 times a year, thus be ready to book them in advance.
Some cruise operators offer cruises only in Cape Verde, others include the archipelago as a stop on their Transatlantic cruise. There still isn’t any constant offer of Cape Verde islands only cruise, I found one last year with Tourradar.
It doesn’t matter for which cruise you opt. It will definitely be a way of spending unforgettable Cape Verde winter holidays.
e) Get active: Cape Verde at Christmas for Hikers
Cape Verde is not all about beaches! If you want to get active and you enjoy hiking and trekking, then Cape Verde is your best place to visit this winter.
During December, January and February, the temperatures are still really mild. And it’s not too hot for hiking the trails of Cape Verde. It’s thus a perfect idea for Cape Verde January holidays.
Whereas Santiago and San Vicente have several great trails, they lack the spectacular and breath-taking aspect of Santo Antao, Fogo, and Brava. Brava and Santo Antao have similar characteristics: lush green valleys, steep mountains, waterfalls, rocky coasts.
Fogo is an island on its own that can’t be compared to any other Cape Verdean island thanks to its volcano.
Whereas many trails can be done without a guide, I recommend getting one in order to learn more about Cape Verdean culture and the lifestyle in such extreme landscapes.
f) Be lazy: Stay in Cape Verde all-inclusive Resorts
Sometimes all you want to do is relax! Thus you might want to consider an all-inclusive resort for your Cabo Verde holidays. Indeed, there are plenty of Cape Verde 5 star all-inclusive hotels waiting for you.
All-inclusive deals present many advantages: you can arrive worry-free at your destination and you don’t need to take care of anything. It’s thus the perfect way to unwind and disconnect.
As temperatures during winter are warm in Cape Verde (+/- 25 °C), staying in a resort is a relaxing way to spend your Cape Verde Christmas holidays.
In the last few years, many all-inclusive resorts have opened their doors to the Cape Verdean archipelago. The most famous ones can be found in Santa Maria, Sal island and Boa Vista island. Some offer incredible value for your money. There are plenty of cheap all-inclusive in Cape Verde.
Please be aware that all-inclusive holidays and resorts are not the most sustainable way of traveling. If you opt for this kind of holiday, please contribute actively to the local community when buying your souvenirs, when eating out or when booking a tour. It will cost you 5 minutes of research but it will have a massive impact on the local development.
The Best Cape Verde All Inclusive Hotels in Sal
The Best Cape Verde All Inclusive Hotels in Boa Vista
I hope that this guide for Cape Verde at Christmas will help you to spend the best Cape Verde islands holidays you’ve ever had! Please let me know if anything should be unclear and I will love to help out!