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Cape Verde

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Travel Warning

NOTE: The CDC has identified Cape Verde as an affected area of the Zika outbreak. Pregnant women are advised to be cautious as the virus can lead to birth defects. Adults affected by the virus experience fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) typically lasting a week. You can learn more by visiting the official CDC website.

Fort Real de São Felipe, Saotiago
Quick Facts
Capital Praia (moved from Cidade Velha in 1770)
Government republic
Currency Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
Area 4,033 sq km
Population 506,000* (August 2013 est.)
Language Portuguese, Kriolu
Religion Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +238
Internet TLD .cv
Time Zone UTC -1

Cape Verde [1] (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, Kriolu: Kabu Verdi) is a country in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of western Africa. It comprises a group of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. It is part of the region of Islands collectively known as Macaronesia.

Despite its remoteness in elevation with all but 3 islands being mountainous, the lack of natural resources, its isolation from many other countries, and devastating famines in the later 20th century, Cape Verde has won a positive reputation in promoting what is considered the most stable democracy in Africa, a standard of living higher than most African nations, and one of the most politically liberal nations on the continent, and in the world.


Cape Verde (pop. 506,000) is located 500 km from the west coast of Africa. The once uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and re-supply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Independence was achieved in 1975.

Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.


Cape Verde’s climate is tropical, with a warm, dry summer. As a part of the greater Sahel region of Africa precipitation is meager and falls between the months of June to February, peaking in September.

Some islands see almost no rain, these are Sal, Boa Vista and Maio; these are arid. The islands with the most rain fall are Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao, but are nonetheless semi-arid.


The national holiday is the 5th of July, Independence Day.


Cape Verde is formed by 10 main islands and about 8 islets. The main islands are (clockwise from northwest):

Cabo Verde regions map.png
Santo Antão
Great hiking.
São Vicente
With the cultural capital of Mindelo.
Santa Luzia
Santa Luzia is uninhabited but can be visited as a day trip from São Vicente.
São Nicolau
Rural mountainous island based on agriculture. A quiet and relaxed get away.
Has great beaches, water sports and resorts aplenty.
Boa Vista
Even nicer beaches. Great scuba diving
Even more nice beaches.
Santiago Island
The first island settled in Cape Verde. It holds the current capital Praia, the original capital Cidade Velha, and the bulk of the nation's population.
A spectacular volcano island which erupted as recently as November 2014.
A small island only accessible by boat and is a great place to get away from it all.


  • There are 24 cities in Cape Verde.

Other destinations[edit]

  • Brava, the smallest island, is a botanist's paradise, home to many unique flora that live in its misty forests
  • Pico de Fogo - an active volcano on Fogo that has created a unique landscape best explored on foot or horseback

Get in[edit]


If you are arriving from a country with a Cape Verde embassy, you are required to purchase a visa in advance (though visitors from countries with an embassy seem to be allowed to purchase the visa in the airport). Otherwise, a visa can be purchased on arrival. The visa costs 25€. It is recommended that you carry exact change with you to purchase the visa.

The Cape Verde Bureau (Cape Verde Consul) in Liverpool, England provides travel visas for travellers from the UK and Ireland.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. [2]

Cape Verde has an embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cape Verde has a consulate in Rotterdam[3], The Netherlands.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Washington, D.C., USA

Cape Verde has a consulate in Quincy, MA, USA

Cape Verde has a consulate in Moscow, Russia. [4]

Cape Verde has an embassy in Brasília, Brazil. [5]

Cape Verde has a consulate in Vienna, Austria. [6]

Cape Verde has an embassy in New Delhi India : 6/24 shanti niketan, new delhi

By plane[edit]

Cape Verde has international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente. Connections to Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Not all the connections are visible to travel booking websites, it is usually worth checking with a travel agent.

From Europe[edit]

There are regular flights from Amsterdam, Lisbon (daily), Madrid, Milan, Munich, and Oporto operated by TACV [7].

Transavia flies twice a week from Amsterdam to the island of Sal. Plus there are flights from Paris (ORLY Sud) to Sal and Boa Vista [8].

TAP Portugal [9] flies from Lisbon.

Jetairfly [10] has cheap flights from Brussels to Sal and Boa Vista.

TUIfly [11] has cheap flights from various German cities and Basel to Sal and Boa Vista.

Binter Canarias [12] flies twice a week, for as low as 100€, to Praia from Gran Canaria, Spain.

There are several options to fly from the UK. London, Manchester and Birmingham all have non-stop flights to Cape Verde with TUI [13].

From the Americas[edit]

There are regular flights from Boston (weekly), Fortaleza (Brazil) (weekly). Service will launch to Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport in December 2019.

From Africa[edit]

West Africa is also serviced by the oldest functioning and leading regional airline TACV Cabo Verde Airlines.

Royal Air Maroc[14] fly from Casablanca.

By boat[edit]

There are only infrequent, expensive connections to the mainland.

Get around[edit]

Timetables in Cape Verde are not to be taken too seriously - don't be too surprised if that boat departs ahead of schedule . This is important to consider if you decide to do some island-hopping. Due to weather and other conditions flights may be delayed or canceled. Carry your toothbrush with you and build in some buffer time to your planning especially if you need to meet an international connection.

By plane[edit]

TACV Cabo Verde [15] airlines has regular flights between the majority of the islands.

If you can afford to wait until you arrive, domestic tickets are cheaper if purchased in Cape Verde.

If your international flights are booked with TACV, you can purchase a Cabo Verde Air Pass for flights within 21 day period. Price start at €110 for two coupons and €60 for every extra coupon.

TACV flights can be rebooked for 2,000$.

  • TACV Cabo Verde Islands [16]
  • TACV Air Pass [17]
  • TACV (German Site) [18]
  • Cabo Verde Express [19]

By boat[edit]

There are ferry services between the islands. Depending on the distance between the islands you are going from and to, flying can be significantly shorter but also significantly more expensive.

Private Yacht. Cape Verde is a popular transit stop off for yachts that cross the Atlantic Ocean bound for the Caribbean. In November the ARC+ rally and the Cornell Odessey all arrive at the marina in Mindelo whilst those not part of an organised rally anchor locally. Requirements for entry of private yachts is relatively easy with immigration and customs offices in Mindelo and Praia. Special permission is required to visit some islands, obtained from the local Police.

By taxi[edit]

Nice, new taxis are available in the major cities and are metered.

Aluguers, which are usually either open back pickup trucks with bench seats or 15 passenger Toyota vans, tend to travel between more rural destinations, particularly on Santo Antão. Also called hices (due to its model, Toyota Hiace), they work as a collective taxi: they drive by the main streets, usually near the city market, and they announce the final destination from the window, gathering passengers. They depart when they are full, which may take some time.


The official language is Portuguese, used in all official publications and announcements as well as in business, media and schools, but the local language is Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu kabuverdianu), a Portuguese-based creole language with 95% of the words from Portuguese and the rest mainly from West African languages. It is divided into 9 dialects spoken on various parts of the country. Even though Kriolu is comprehensible to a skilled Portuguese-speaker, almost all people can also speak Portuguese as a second language. French is also known by many, and some people also speak English.

It is a good idea to know some Kriolu or at least Portuguese, since even though young urban people are often quite proficient in English, this does not apply to old and rural people, and even those who can speak English will highly appreciate any attempt you do to speak Kriolu or Portuguese.

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Game fishing
  • Kite surfing
  • Jetskiing and other water sports
  • Canyoning in Santo Antao
  • Hiking on Fogo: here some proposals

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • famous Coffee of Fogo
  • Wine from Cha das Caldeiras/Fogo
  • Grogue (local term for rum)
  • Cans of local tuna


The official currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, abbreviated CVE and indicated with a cifrão (a symbol similar to the dollar sign, but with two vertical strokes instead of one) after the amount. The currency is fixed against the euro at 110$ per euro.

In the resort islands of Sal and Boa Vista, euros are commonly accepted, although you might receive change in escudos.

Money can be changed from all major currencies at the international airports at Sal and Praia. Bank branches at larger towns will also change money. Larger towns also have ATMs that will take Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.

High end hotels will accept credit cards. Other hotels will expect cash although many mid-range ones will accept euros at a reasonably exchange rate (slightly worse than the banks). For everything else, expect to pay in escudos.


Since most goods are imported, the cost of living is moderate to high. On the island resorts of Boa Vista and Sal, the cost of living oftentimes can be compared to their Caribbean counterparts. The island of Santiago is reasonably the least expensive.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Cape Verde has fantastic fresh seafood. Tuna is common, as is Wahoo - a white fleshed fish with similar texture.

  • Lagostada – a lobster dish
  • Cachupa - the national dish made with maize and potato. Fish or chicken commonly added for flavor.
  • Tosta mista - common toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

European food is common on all the islands. Italian is especially popular on Sal. Vegetarians can ask for omelets or salads.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The drinking age in Cape Verde is 18.

  • Beer: Strela is a Cape Verdean beer, produced by the Sociedade Cabo-verdiana de Cerveja e Refrigerantes (SCCR).
  • Grogue, also known as grogu or grogo (derived from English grog), is a Cape Verdean alcoholic beverage, an aguardente made from sugarcane. Its production is fundamentally artisanal.
  • Ponche is a Cape Verdean cocktail which includes grogue, lime and molasses.
  • Caipirinha, from the Portuguese caipira for hillbilly, is a cocktail popular throughout the former Portuguese colonies. Made with cachaça (white lightning), sugar and lime. Specifically with cachaça, the alcohol results from the fermentation of sugarcane juice that is afterwards distilled
  • You can easily find international beers and other drinks, including some from Portugal.
  • Local wine from Fogo: Chã (red, white, rosé), Saudade, Manecom
  • Bottled water, most of the islanders drink desalinated water, for those who have a hard time adjusting to this bottled water is available. Please recycle.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are plenty of hotels and guest houses throughout the archipelago. Though the largest hotels are based on the islands of Sal (Riu Funana and Garopa hotels--1000 rooms combined), and Boa Vista (Riu Touareg--881 rooms).

In the last decade a number of private villa resorts have been developed across the Islands, most notably on Sal, however with the 2008 property crash now subsiding a number of new private villas, townhouses and apartments in luxury resort communities have come onto the holiday rental market with many of the new resorts now on islands other than Sal. Cape Verde Private Holiday Rental Villas


There are 10 universities including institutes in the country. The largest universities are: University of Cape Verde and Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde.


The Cape Verdean economy is largely service-based, i.e., most Cape Verdeans work in industries, hospitals, transportation and tourism related activities.

Stay safe[edit]

Crime rates are relatively low.

Be careful in lonely areas. Don't showcase jewelry, expensive watches etc. Mostly you are secure in an attendance of a local guide of your trust.

The emergency number is 132.

Stay healthy[edit]

In the resorts, the tap water is usually desalinated and safe to drink. In other areas, bottled water is cheap and commonly available.


People are mostly polite and friendly. Senegaleses immigrants may try to sell you something. If you refuse, they will share stories about the hardship of their families. It is your decision to buy something, but important to bargain.


The telephone system is effective and improving. There is mobile phone coverage in all cities and most towns. Check with your provider as to the roaming costs.

Consider whether a local SIM-Card is benifical for you because of exorbitant roaming costs.

The country also has Internet service provider.

You will be friendly helped to prepaire you device for telephone and internet in the telephone shop.

Perhaps helpful (in German): [20]

Some hotels offer WLAN.

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