Cape Verde has been one of the hottest tourist destinations in recent years: an archipelago of ten volcanic islands with a tropical climate off the coast of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde is known for the beauty of its natural landscapes and wild and also for the hospitality of its residents. Visiting Cape Verde, those bits of moonlight perched on the Atlantic, will leave an indelible mark on your vacation. With a total population of 538,535 inhabitants, the Cape Verde archipelago is made up of the islands of Brava, Fogo, Santiago – the most populated -, Maio, Boa Vista, Sal, São Nicolau, Santa Luzia, São Vicente and Santo Antão. .
Between beaches, hikes, cultural visits, discoveries of Cape Verdean culture, you are probably wondering how to optimize your stay to know what to do in Cape Verde according to your dates. To guide you, we have concocted a top list of the must-sees to see and do in Cape Verde.
- 1. Santiago Island
- – 2. Beach
- 3. Fogo Island
- – 4. Mount Fogo
- – 5. Saint Philip
- 6. Brava Island
- 7. Boa Vista Island
- 8. Sal Island
- – 9. The salt pans of Pedra de Lume
- – 10. Saint Mary
- 11. L’Ile de São Vicente
- – 12. Mindelo
- – 13. The surrounding mountains
- 14. L’Ile de Santo Antão
1. Santiago Island
The largest island in Cape Verde, Santiago is considered the essence of the archipelago. Home to the majority of the population, Praia, its capital, prized for the traditional face it offers visitors. But Santiago is also a lush nature and surrounding landscapes with an exotic eclecticism which, from black sand beaches to high peaks, passing through desert expanses and typical villages, promises a trip rich in culture and adventure.
Fraîchement débarqués de l’avion à , on se trouve d’emblée mêlé à un carrefour de cultures, entre l’Europe, l’Afrique et l’Amérique Latine. Les voyageurs déplorent souvent le faible intérêt qu’ils ont pour Praia, la capitale capverdienne.
But there is indeed one unmissable thing to do in Cape Verde: the Praia market . Wandering among the stalls of fish, meat, fruit and vegetables freshly produced by the locals means exploring the popular culture of the country and immersing yourself in the culinary habits of its population.
Intoxicate yourself with multiple flavors and scents under the sounds of shopkeepers interacting with their customers, authentic charm guaranteed! The city center of Praia is surrounded by a rocky plateau nicknamed “Platô”. On both sides of this Platô, extend the two beaches of the city, Praia Mar and Quebra Canela . Enjoy a stroll through Praia to visit the Archaeological Museum of Praia, then set off to visit Cidade Velha , ten kilometers to the west: the first city built by the Portuguese in the Middle Ages.
3. Fogo Island
Fogo is the island that attracts adventurers. It is she who shelters the eponymous volcano, a sleeping beauty that has become, since 1995, an epic symbol in its own right for all enthusiasts looking for what to do in Cape Verde. Fogo is also São Filipe: capital of the place, starting point for volcanic ascent, it is a pied-à-terre that visitors like to encounter through a heritage of unsuspected riches.
As surprising as it may seem, Fogo is also a fertile land renowned throughout the archipelago: coffee, goat cheese, vegetables and vines ensure the island’s production is recognized throughout the world and promises to give visitors another taste. travel.
4. Mount Fogo
Very famous, Pico do Fogo is the only still active volcano in the country, the highest point in Cape Verde, at 2,829 meters above sea level. How to visit Cape Verde without climbing Fogo?
Overlooking the caldera of Chã das Caldeiras, the volcano offers a magnificent spectacle. It has been active for 22 to 24 million years and the last eruption dates back to 2014. The hike with 1,200 meters of elevation in the scoria is really worth the detour: lunar landscape unique in the world or almost!
5. Saint Philip
Beyond its volcano, Fogo is home to a unique culture and heritage born of a crossbreeding of multiple traditions. A rich mix that has transformed the history of the island, originally colonized and slavery to develop the culture of cotton and more particularly, the manufacture of loincloths. Witness to the history of yesterday and tomorrow, São Filipe , capital of this volcanic land, is now home to some 5,000 inhabitants. Dressed in old colonial residences, churches and other places, it is a base that will appeal to all types of travellers.
If for you, visiting Cape Verde and Fogo exempts you from climbing the volcano, know that São Filipe has more than one trick in its land. After having criss-crossed the alleys of the city, discover its black sand beaches and let yourself be surprised by the superb panorama offered by the belvedere of Aguadinha.
A lunar experience that takes on its full meaning at the foot of the volcano, in the villages of Portela and Bangaeira . Victims of the volcano and today sentinels, they bear the marks of a nature as beautiful as it is powerful.
6. Brava Island
The smallest island of Cape Verde, the main activity of Brava consists of hiking, pleasant if you do not feel like surveying the 2,829 meters of altitude of Pico do Fogo. We recommend Fontanha de Vinagre, Faja De Agua (especially for the natural pools, perfect for swimming) and the Jalunga lighthouse. In the north of the island, the islets of Rei and Luiz Carneiro allow you to see many colonies of birds and the highest point of Brava, the pico de Fontainhas, promises you a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Enfin pour découvrir la vie locale, son patrimoine et ses spécialités, faites une escale à Nova Sintra : capitale de l’île, elle est appréciée pour son accueil et ses soirées animées.
Good to know : Brava nevertheless remains the least easily accessible island of the archipelago (only accessible by boat from Fogo): if you go to visit Cape Verde wishing to be sheltered from tourism and off the beaten, then you’ve come to the right place.
7. Boa Vista Island
“Island of Dunes” known to shelter countless turtles, Boa Vista is especially famous for its beaches as far as the eye can see. The easternmost desert island of the archipelago offers its visitors a unique mix of plain, oasis, beach and desert.
In Boa Vista, various activities are inevitably to be done: the dune route, the village of Rabil, snorkeling to admire the turtles and fish, the whale observatory, treat yourself to a catamaran trip. You can also take a surf lesson , a Stand Up Paddle lesson , a windsurf lesson , or a kitesurf lesson in Boa Vista!
8. L’île de Sal
Sal is a must to visit Cape Verde. It is a desert and flat island, between landscapes and salt flats. Treat yourself to beautiful excursions, often departing from Santa Maria, inland – relatively sheltered from wind and dust – or along the coast to admire the beauty of the beaches.
Here’s what to do in Sal: the port of Palmeira, see the colorful buildings of the authentic alleys, the natural pools and the “blue eye” of Sal – on a clear day -, Pedra Lume and the salt pans. Finally, if you like surfing, the island of Sal will sublimate your holidays: the wave of Ponta Preta , which can reach up to five meters in height, is known to top athletes!
9. The salt pans of Pedra de Lume
It is in the small village of Pedra de Lume that what was the wealth of the island has taken up residence. Nestled in a crater, surrounded by a lunar landscape at the very end of a tunnel dug in the ground, the salt pans of Pedra de Lume offer a timeless setting typical of the village of Perda de Lume which also, with its old buildings to its stranded boats, to this immutable something. From the colors to the scents, the saltworks preserve a natural beauty which, despite being abandoned (activity there is now almost non-existent), definitely does not lose any charm.
10. Santa Maria
Long banks of fine sand, heavenly beaches and idleness rhyme with the capital of the island. Typical and lively, Santa Maria is renowned for its warm welcome and relaxed pace of life. Moreover, its welcoming side has transformed it into a tourist destination: a village that has become a city, Santa Maria also bears a certain contrast.
Traditional buildings very quickly rubbed shoulders with hotel complexes… However, the charm still operates. So what to do in Cape Verde in Santa Maria? Well… Take a stroll! Opt for a lazy session on the beach of Santa Maria, discover the religious heritage in the arteries of the city and taste the local flavors in one of its small restaurants.
11. L’Ile de São Vicente
The second largest island in the archipelago, São Vicente is the birthplace of the famous singer Cesária Évora (1941-2011), nicknamed the “Barefoot Diva”, who lived in Mindelo, the cultural capital of island.
Easy to access, popular for its hiking trails, São Vicente conceals many treasures and a heritage rich in discoveries: its volcanic lands, its small perched villages, its natural park and its superb beaches capsize travelers, whatever their projects.
A cultural hotspot on the island, Mindelo is the liveliest city in Cape Verde: with 71,952 inhabitants, it is also known for being a cradle of art and music. It is said of Mindelo that it opens onto one of the most beautiful bays in the world. To party there, this is the place to go to visit Cape Verde in music: bars, discos, restaurants are more numerous there than in Praia. If you come at the beginning of February, don’t miss the Mindelo Carnival, a must-do when visiting Cape Verde.
13. The surrounding mountains
What to do in Cape Verde in São Vicente besides cultural discoveries? Go hiking! Raw and lush, the nature of the surroundings is a postcard setting. Discover Monte Verde , the highest point of the island and enjoy the superb panoramas of the place. As you pass by the fishermen’s houses on your way, meet the symbolic face of São Vicente, Monte Cara : a volcanic peak that looks like a reclining face for which the singer Cesaria Evora gave her name to the one of his titles.
14. L’Ile de Santo Antão
What to do in Cape Verde other than the beach and photographing lunar scenery? In Santo Antão , the vegetation is the densest there than on all the islands of the archipelago, especially in the north of the island. It’s a bit like the green lung of Cape Verde: banana plantations, papayas, rum factories and hikes will punctuate your excursions on Santo Antão.
15. A boat ride
As you will have understood, to go around Cape Verde, it is essential to explore its islands… And for that, what better than to enjoy real moments of happiness by renting a boat in Cape Verde ? You will be able to navigate at your ease, but also and above all take the time to admire the beauty of the surrounding nature!
Whether you want to be a pilot, or whether you prefer to be guided by a skipper, boat rental in Cape Verde is a real must!ve an airport, you must access them by ferry.