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CAPE VERDE TRAVEL GUIDE

Welcome to Cape Verde! Located off the coast of West Africa, Cape Verde is a stunning archipelago made up of ten islands and five islets. This tropical paradise offers visitors a unique blend of African and Portuguese cultures, as well as breathtaking natural beauty.

 

With its year-round warm weather, stunning beaches, and crystal-clear waters, Cape Verde is the perfect destination for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts. The islands offer a variety of activities, including snorkeling, diving, kite surfing, and fishing. Visitors can also explore the islands' volcanic landscapes, lush valleys, and charming towns and villages.

 

Cape Verde is also known for its vibrant music scene, with genres such as morna, coladeira, and funana. Visitors can enjoy live music performances in many of the island's bars and restaurants.

 

The local cuisine is a fusion of African and Portuguese flavors, with seafood and fresh vegetables featuring heavily in many dishes. Visitors can sample traditional dishes such as cachupa, a hearty stew made with beans and corn, and pastel com diabo dentro, a fried pastry filled with spicy meat.

 

Overall, Cape Verde offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors seeking a tropical getaway with a twist of culture and adventure.

COUNTRY PAGE

Capital: Praia (moved from Cidade Velha in 1770)

Currency: Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)

Area: 4,033 sq km

Population: 543 767 (2018)

Language: Portuguese, Kriolu

Religion: Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)

Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT CAPE VERDE

The best time to visit Cape Verde depends on what you want to do and see during your trip. The islands have a warm and dry climate year-round, with temperatures averaging around 25-30°C (77-86°F) and low rainfall. However, there are some seasonal variations that may affect your travel plans.

 

If you are a beach lover and want to soak up the sun and swim in the clear waters, the best time to visit Cape Verde is from November to June, during the dry season. The weather during this time is sunny and hot, with very little rainfall, making it perfect for outdoor activities and water sports.

 

If you are interested in bird watching or hiking, the best time to visit Cape Verde is from July to October, during the wet season. Although there may be occasional rain showers during this time, the lush green landscapes and increased bird activity make it a great time to explore the islands' natural beauty.

 

It's worth noting that the islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean and can be affected by hurricanes and tropical storms, particularly between August and October. Visitors should keep an eye on weather reports and travel advisories before planning a trip during this time.

Overall, Cape Verde is a great destination to visit year-round, depending on your interests and travel preferences.

BEST TIME FOR:

The optimal time for beach lounging in Cape Verde is between November and June, when the weather is warm and the rainfall is minimal, making it ideal for enjoying the archipelago's stunning white-sand beaches. During this period, the average temperature hovers around 24°C to 27°C, and the sea temperature is comfortably warm, perfect for swimming and water sports. 


With its subtropical dry climate, Cape Verde offers a year-round sunny getaway, but these months provide the most pleasant conditions for beach activities. For those seeking adventure on Sal Island, there are unique experiences such as swimming in the super salty waters of Salt Lake Salinas, exploring the natural pools of the Blue Eye, and observing lemon sharks at Shark Bay.

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CAPE VERDE TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Cape Verde can vary depending on several factors, such as the time of year, the length of stay, the level of accommodation and the activities you plan to do. Here are some estimated costs to give you an idea:

  • Flights: A round-trip flight from Europe or North America can cost anywhere from $400 to $1000, depending on the time of year and airline.
  • Accommodation: Accommodation options in Cape Verde range from budget hostels and guesthouses to luxury resorts. A budget hotel or guesthouse can cost around $30 to $50 per night, while a mid-range hotel can cost $70 to $120 per night. Luxury resorts can cost upwards of $200 per night.
  • Food and drink: Eating out in Cape Verde can be affordable, with local restaurants offering dishes for as little as $5 to $10. Western-style restaurants can be more expensive, with prices ranging from $15 to $30 per meal. A beer or a cocktail can cost around $3 to $7.
  • Transportation: Taxis and buses are the most common modes of transportation on the islands. A taxi ride within a city can cost around $5 to $10, while a bus ride can cost $1 to $2. Car rentals are also available, with daily rates starting at around $30.
  • Activities: There are plenty of activities to do in Cape Verde, such as island hopping, water sports, hiking, and cultural tours. Prices can vary depending on the activity, but expect to pay around $50 to $100 per person for a day tour or activity.

Overall, Cape Verde can be an affordable destination, with plenty of budget-friendly options available. However, prices can vary depending on the level of comfort and activities you choose.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR CAPE VERDE

Here are some travel tips for visiting Cape Verde:

  • Learn some basic Portuguese or Cape Verdean Creole: While many people in Cape Verde speak English, knowing some basic Portuguese or Cape Verdean Creole can go a long way in helping you communicate with locals and navigate your way around.
  • Be prepared for the weather: Cape Verde has a warm and dry climate year-round, but temperatures can vary depending on the island and time of year. Be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing for the hot days, and a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.
  • Take precautions against mosquitoes: Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in Cape Verde, particularly during the wet season. Bring insect repellent and consider wearing long-sleeved clothing in the evenings.
  • Try local cuisine: Cape Verdean cuisine is a fusion of African and Portuguese flavors, with fresh seafood and vegetables featuring heavily in many dishes. Be sure to try local specialties like cachupa and pastel com diabo dentro.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: Cape Verde has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors should be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and ask permission before taking photos of people.
  • Take care with water activities: The waters around Cape Verde can be deceptively strong, particularly during the winter months. Be sure to check local conditions and only swim or take part in water activities where it is safe to do so.
  • Use common sense: While Cape Verde is generally a safe destination, visitors should use common sense and take precautions to ensure their safety. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep valuable belongings out of sight.


REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF CAPE VERDE

Cape Verde is a beautiful archipelago made up of 10 islands and several islets located off the coast of West Africa. Each island has its own unique culture, landscape, and attractions. Here are some of the main regions worth visiting and the highlights of each:

  • Sal: Sal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cape Verde, known for its long stretches of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Santa Maria is the main town and a hub for watersports like windsurfing and kitesurfing. Visitors can also take a boat trip to nearby Shark Bay to swim with nurse sharks.

  • Boa Vista: Boa Vista is another popular island for tourists, with stunning beaches and sand dunes that look like they belong in the Sahara Desert. Visitors can take a quad bike tour of the island, go whale watching, or visit the Viana Desert to see the unusual rock formations.

  • Santiago: Santiago is the largest island in Cape Verde and the cultural and political capital of the country. The city of Praia is the main hub and has a mix of modern and colonial architecture. Visitors can visit the UNESCO-listed Cidade Velha, the first European settlement in the tropics, or hike to the top of the Pico do Antónia for panoramic views of the island.

  • Fogo: Fogo is home to the highest peak in Cape Verde, the Pico do Fogo, and is known for its fertile volcanic soil and coffee plantations. Visitors can hike to the top of the volcano, explore the charming colonial town of São Filipe, or relax in one of the island's hot springs.

  • São Vicente: São Vicente is a cultural hub with a thriving music scene and colorful colonial architecture. The city of Mindelo is the main town and a hub for live music, festivals, and nightlife. Visitors can also explore the island's beautiful beaches, or take a boat trip to nearby Santo Antão to see stunning mountain landscapes.

These are just a few of the many regions worth visiting in Cape Verde, each with its own unique attractions and highlights.


ONE WEEK TRAVEL ITINERARY FOR CAPE VERDE

A seven-day journey through Cape Verde could be an exhilarating experience, blending adventure with cultural immersion. 

**Day 1: Arrival in Praia**

Fly into Praia, the capital on the island of Santiago. Spend your evening soaking in the local atmosphere and prepare for the adventure ahead.

**Day 2: Hiking Calabaceira Valley**

Start your day with a hike through the lush Calabaceira Valley, ending at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cidade Velha. Enjoy the historic sights and a lunch by the ocean.

**Day 3: Flight to Fogo and Hiking**

Take a short flight to the island of Fogo. Challenge yourself with a hike from Mosteiros to the foothills of Pico do Fogo, the island's towering volcano.

**Day 4: Summit Pico do Fogo**

Ascend to the summit of Pico do Fogo. The hike is demanding but rewarding, offering breathtaking views of the volcanic landscape.

**Day 5: Cultural Immersion**

Dedicate this day to understanding Cape Verde's musical heritage. Explore the local genres like morna and funaná, and enjoy live performances.

**Day 6: Sal's Natural Wonders**

Discover Sal's Pedra de Lume Salt Crater and enjoy guided tours of the island's natural attractions, including Shark Bay and the salt lakes.

**Day 7: Marine Life and Relaxation**

Conclude your trip with a snorkeling adventure exploring shipwrecks and reefs, or relax on the beautiful beaches of Sal.


This itinerary offers a blend of adventure, culture, and relaxation, perfect for a week in Cape Verde. For more detailed plans, consider checking out travel guides that provide customizable itineraries.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN CAPE VERDE

There are many amazing things to see and do when visiting Cape Verde. Here are some of the best:

  • Visit the beaches: Cape Verde is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and stunning scenery. Sal and Boa Vista are particularly popular for their long stretches of white sandy beaches.

  • Go hiking: Cape Verde has many stunning hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the islands' landscapes. Some of the best trails include the hike to the top of the Pico do Fogo volcano on Fogo Island and the hike to the top of Monte Gordo on Santo Antão Island.

  • Explore the colonial towns: Cape Verde has a rich history of colonialism, and visitors can explore many charming colonial towns with colorful architecture and fascinating cultural heritage. Cidade Velha on Santiago Island and São Filipe on Fogo Island are particularly worth a visit.

  • Experience the music and culture: Cape Verde has a vibrant music and cultural scene, with many live music performances, festivals, and celebrations throughout the year. Mindelo on São Vicente Island is particularly known for its music scene.

  • Sample the local cuisine: Cape Verdean cuisine is a blend of African and Portuguese flavors, with fresh seafood, vegetables, and spices featuring heavily in many dishes. Some of the must-try dishes include cachupa, pastel com diabo dentro, and grilled lobster.

  • Take part in watersports: Cape Verde's crystal-clear waters are perfect for watersports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and diving. Many beaches offer rental equipment and lessons for beginners.

  • Visit the natural attractions: Cape Verde is home to many stunning natural attractions, including the salt flats of Pedra de Lume on Sal Island, the sand dunes of Boa Vista, and the hot springs of Fogo Island.

These are just a few of the many amazing things to see and do in Cape Verde. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm and friendly people, Cape Verde is a destination that offers something for everyone.

There are many amazing things to see and do when visiting Cape Verde.


Here are some of the best:

  • Visit the beaches: Cape Verde is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and stunning scenery. Sal and Boa Vista are particularly popular for their long stretches of white sandy beaches.

  • Go hiking: Cape Verde has many stunning hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the islands' landscapes. Some of the best trails include the hike to the top of the Pico do Fogo volcano on Fogo Island and the hike to the top of Monte Gordo on Santo Antão Island.

  • Explore the colonial towns: Cape Verde has a rich history of colonialism, and visitors can explore many charming colonial towns with colorful architecture and fascinating cultural heritage. Cidade Velha on Santiago Island and São Filipe on Fogo Island are particularly worth a visit.


  • Experience the music and culture: Cape Verde has a vibrant music and cultural scene, with many live music performances, festivals, and celebrations throughout the year. Mindelo on São Vicente Island is particularly known for its music scene.

  • Sample the local cuisine: Cape Verdean cuisine is a blend of African and Portuguese flavors, with fresh seafood, vegetables, and spices featuring heavily in many dishes. Some of the must-try dishes include cachupa, pastel com diabo dentro, and grilled lobster.

  • Take part in watersports: Cape Verde's crystal-clear waters are perfect for watersports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and diving. Many beaches offer rental equipment and lessons for beginners.

  • Visit the natural attractions: Cape Verde is home to many stunning natural attractions, including the salt flats of Pedra de Lume on Sal Island, the sand dunes of Boa Vista, and the hot springs of Fogo Island.


These are just a few of the many amazing things to see and do in Cape Verde. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm and friendly people, Cape Verde is a destination that offers something for everyone.

WHAT TO EAT IN CAPE VERDE

Cape Verdean cuisine is a blend of African and Portuguese influences, with fresh seafood, vegetables, and spices playing a big part in many dishes. Here are some of the must-try foods when visiting Cape Verde:

  • Cachupa: This is the national dish of Cape Verde and is a hearty stew made with beans, corn, vegetables, and sometimes meat or fish.
  • Catchupa Rica: Similar to Cachupa, but with added ingredients like sausage and bacon.
  • Grilled lobster: Cape Verde's crystal-clear waters are home to some of the freshest and most delicious lobster you will ever taste. Grilled with garlic and butter, it's a must-try dish for seafood lovers.
  • Pastel com diabo dentro: This is a savory pastry filled with spicy meat or fish, and is a popular snack food in Cape Verde.
  • Buzio: This is a type of shellfish that is often served in a garlic and wine sauce.
  • Feijoada: This is a popular Portuguese stew made with beans, meat, and vegetables that is often served in Cape Verde.
  • Grogue: This is a strong alcoholic drink made from sugar cane that is popular in Cape Verde.
  • Ponche: This is a sweet dessert drink made from condensed milk, sugar, and rum.

These are just a few of the many delicious foods and drinks to try when visiting Cape Verde. With its blend of African and Portuguese flavors, Cape Verdean cuisine is unique and flavorful, and sure to delight foodies and adventurous eaters alike.

LGBTQ IN CAPE VERDE

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WHERE TO STAY IN CAPE VERDE

When visiting Cape Verde for the first time, choosing the right area or region to stay in is essential to fully experience the diverse landscapes, culture, and attractions that the islands have to offer. Here are some recommendations along with accommodation suggestions for each category: budget, mid-range, and luxury.


Where to stay in Sal Island:

Sal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cape Verde, known for its stunning beaches, water sports activities, and vibrant nightlife, making it an ideal base for a lively and sun-filled vacation.

  • Budget: Surf House Hostel - Affordable hostel located in the heart of Santa Maria, offering dormitory and private rooms, a communal kitchen, and a friendly atmosphere, within walking distance of the beach and restaurants.

  • Mid-range: Hotel Pontao - A mid-range hotel featuring comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, conveniently situated near the beach and town center.

  • Luxury: Melia Llana Beach Resort & Spa - A luxurious beachfront resort offering upscale rooms, gourmet dining options, multiple swimming pools, a spa, and direct access to the beach, providing a lavish retreat for discerning travelers.


Tips: To find the best value accommodation in Sal, consider visiting during the offseason (May to November) when prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists. Additionally, booking accommodation well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons like December to April, can help secure better rates.


Where to stay in Boa Vista Island:

Boa Vista is known for its pristine beaches, sand dunes, and relaxed atmosphere, offering visitors a tranquil escape with plenty of opportunities for sunbathing, water sports, and turtle watching.

  • Budget: Aparthotel Ca'Nicola - Affordable aparthotel located near the beach in Sal Rei, offering self-catering apartments, basic amenities, and a quiet setting away from the town center.

  • Mid-range: Hotel Riu Karamboa - A mid-range all-inclusive resort featuring comfortable rooms, multiple swimming pools, a spa, and a variety of dining options, set amidst landscaped gardens near Praia de Salines.

  • Luxury: Iberostar Club Boavista - A luxurious beachfront resort offering elegant rooms, gourmet dining options, a spa, and a range of leisure activities, including water sports and entertainment programs.


Tips: To find the best value accommodation in Boa Vista, consider booking a package deal that includes flights and accommodations, as this can often result in significant savings. Additionally, exploring accommodations in smaller guesthouses or apartments outside of the main tourist areas may offer more affordable options.


Where to stay in Santiago Island:

Santiago is the largest and most diverse island in Cape Verde, known for its cultural heritage, lively markets, and historic sites, offering visitors a rich blend of African and Portuguese influences.

  • Budget: Residencial Cosmos - Affordable guesthouse located in Praia, offering simple rooms, basic amenities, and a central location near the city's attractions and transportation hubs.

  • Mid-range: Pestana Tropico Hotel - A mid-range hotel featuring modern rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving Cape Verdean and international cuisine, situated in a quiet neighborhood near the beach.

  • Luxury: Hotel Oasis Praiamar - A luxurious beachfront hotel offering spacious rooms, gourmet dining options, a spa, and conference facilities, with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Santiago's coastline.

Tips: To find the best value accommodation in Santiago, consider staying in Praia, the capital city, where you'll find a range of accommodations to suit different budgets. Additionally, exploring local guesthouses or bed and breakfast options may provide unique and affordable stays with a more authentic experience.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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