The 8 best places to visit in Cape Verde
Among the ten islands that make up the archipelago of Cape Verde, the variety of landscapes and activities on offer mean there really is something for everyone! Fans of lazy days and long sandy beaches can choose between Sal, perhaps the most touristy island, or Boa Vista, "the island of dunes", a must-see not only for its beaches, but also for the Viana desert, one of the seven wonders of Cape Verde.
Looking for something unspoilt and less crowded? Then head to Brava, the smallest island of the archipelago, or Sao Nicolau, an authentic island known for the kindness of its local population. If hiking is more your thing, then Cape Verde has to be put at the top of your must-see list: climb the steep slopes of Pico de Fogo, the volcano-guardian of Fogo island; or opt for a trekking adventure on Santa Antao’s walking trails , through beautiful natural landscapes, combing lush valleys and volcanic deserts. Cape Verde is also brimming with historical and cultural heritage, which can be seen in its population, gastronomy and traditional songs and dances. Not to be missed, the cultural capital of Cape Verde, Mindelo, on the island of Sao Vicente, offering visitors a good overview of Cape Verdean culture, a mixture of Portuguese, African and Brazilian influences.
Our selection of must-see places
Still relatively unknown to tourists, the island of Sao Nicolau is often overshadowed by its neighbour, Sao Vicente. But this has its advantages as the island has preserved its authentic character and a natural environment. Agriculture is the predominant industry on the island. While pretty arid on the east side, much of the island is still dedicated to terraced crops: sugar cane, cassava, fruits, vegetables ... the island has very fertile soil. Due to its volcanic history, there are also some black sandy beaches. However, the most wonderful thing about Sao Nicolau is the kindness of its people. They are very welcoming, and it is also one of the few places in the archipelago where you can uncover traditional Cape Verdean customs and songs. The island is also a gem for hikers, who can roam the most beautiful natural sites of the island on foot, such as the Faja valley or the Monte Gordo natural park, the highest point on the island.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Hiking
Hidden just behind Fogo is Brava, the smallest and most southern island in the archipelago. Nicknamed "the island of flowers" by the locals, the island remains seldom visited by tourists, because it is very isolated. However, it offers beautiful walking opportunities. Accessible only by boat from Fogo, this small piece of land is home to a warm and welcoming population and enchanting landscapes that can be discovered during the various walks. From Fontainhas pico, the highest point of the island with superb ocean panoramas, down to the natural swimming pools of Faja de Agua and then onwards to the island’s capital, Nova Sintra, perfect for a day visit, with lively nightime entertainment. You can also stop in the charming fishing village of Furna.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Hiking
As the little sister island to Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, easily accessible thanks to its airport, is also renowned for its hiking trails, but also for the charm of its typical villages. A must-see, Mindelo, the cultural capital of the island, vibrates constantly to the rhythm of Portuguese, African and Brazilian rhythms. It has a festive atmosphere day and night, which has earned the island the nickname "Little Brazil". Mindelo is the birthplace of the singer Cesaria Evora, a proud ambassador of Cape Verde. While lovers of hiking can explore the volcanic terrain of the island, including the Monte Verde national park, this very windy island also has beaches that will delight surfing enthusiasts.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Parks | Water sports
As the second largest island in the Cape Verde archipelago, Santo Antao is often included in adventure and trekking tours due to its variety of hiking trails winding between valleys and mountains. Volcanic in origin, the island offers visitors a multitude of landscapes: from arid and desert scenery in the south to green valleys, favourable to agriculture, in the north. A paradise for hikers, who can discover the island's must-see places by following its marked trails, from the lush Paul Valley to the tropical valleys synonymous with the Ribeira Grande region. A trip to Santo Antao is also an opportunity to meet the locals, and discover the rural potential of the island, with fields of sugar cane, tropical trees and sweet potatoes. And whatever you do, don’t leave without tasting the local rum, reputed to be the best in the country!
Nature | Beach | Sea | Mountain
As the largest island of the Cape Verde archipelago, Santiago is also the most populated with a quarter of the Cape Verdean population settled in the capital, Praia. While the city does not host major tourist attractions, it is nevertheless worth a visit if only to enjoy the atmosphere and traditional music, especially in the evenings, where several bars and nightclubs will delight the night owls amongst you. Nicknamed "the African", the island brings together a beautiful diversity of landscapes: volcanic peaks, arid deserts, deep valleys, beautiful beaches of black sand, but also white sand such as that of Tarrafal beach, and small historic villages such as Cidade Velha.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Desert | Mountain
Together with the island of Boa Vista, Sal is famous for its long sandy beaches, the most beautiful of which is the 8km-long Santa Maria beach. The island is an ideal destination for lovers of relaxation and water sports, including kitesurfing, and has benefitted from the most tourism development. Besides its beautiful beaches, some excursions are not to be missed: first of all, there’s the Pedra de Lume salt mines, located in the hollow of a now extinct volcano, and also the azur-blue natural pools of Buracona. Also worthy of a visit is the charming town of Santa Maria, home to cobbled streets lined with small traditional restaurants, and craft shops.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Water sports | Natural wonders
The main attraction of the island is, of course, its majestic volcano, Mount Fogo, located in the centre of the island, and from which it takes its name. Its name signifies "fire". While the last eruption dates back to 1995, the volcano is still active. The bravest amongst you may attempt to climb this impressive conical mountain covered with ash, which offers breathtaking lunar landscapes on the caldera, before finally reaching the summit which rises to over 2800 metres above sea level. During a stay on Fogo, the island’s main town, Sao Felipe, should not be missed; this is a quiet city and the starting point for climbing the Fogo volcano. The less adventurous can choose to wander around at the foot of the volcano, along the black sandy beaches and around the villages perched on the sides of the volcano, where miraculously, the inhabitants manage to cultivate vineyards and coffee plantations.
Nature | Beach | Sea | Natural wonders | Volcano
Of all the Cape Verde islands, Boa Vista, the island dubbed "dune island", is home to many treasures. With the development of tourism, Boa Vista is attracting more and more visitors in search of sun and paradise beaches. Indeed, the island has the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago, such as the unmissable Santa Monica beach, a huge strip of white sand where lovers of lazy days will be in their element. But Boa Vista is far from being limited to its dream coastline: to the north of the island is one of the seven wonders of Cape Verde: the Viana desert or "the crumb of the Sahara", as the locals call it here. A mini dune desert of dazzling clarity, and a playground prized for its superb quad rides. Finally, to discover a little more local culture, don’t leave without having visited its capital, Sal Rei, and the other small charming towns dotted around the island.
Places to visit in Boa Vista
Nature | Beach | Sea | Natural wonders