Praia is Cape Verde's capital and busiest city. Settlements in Praia started in the 1615 which then became capital of the country in the year 1770. The city is located in the southern end of Santiago Island and has year round good weather. The city is divided into various small unofficial districts, the most important ones being, Plateau (city center), Achada Santo Antonio, Palmarejo, Fazenda, Achada Grande, Varzea, Safende, Sucupira(bazaar area), Calbeciera, Terra Branca, Vila Nova, Achadinha, Bairro, Prainha, Monte Vermelho, Achada Mato, Achada Sao Felipe, and other smaller ones. Most part of the city are residential areas, so probably not worth visiting in itself, but worth a half-day exploration if you are passing through to another destination.
The center of the city lies on a plateau overlooking the bay to the southeast. The airport lies a few kilometers to the northeast.
Praia has an international airport. TACV (national flag carrier) and TAP airlines fly to various destinations in Europe, Africa, South America and United States. Taxis from the airport to Plateau cost 500$. After 18:00 the cost is 800$. There is one bus line that serves the airport but it’s better to just take a taxi since there is actually only one or two buses that serves this line. You can also enter the city through the port. There are ferry boats that have irregular service to and from the islands of Maio, Boavista, Sal and Sao Nicolau, and more regular and scheduled service to and from Sao Vicente and Fogo.
The city has countless bus stops, and taxis are everywhere waiting for customers. There are two main bus companies that serve the city, Moura Company and Sol Atlantico. Each route has their own numbers. The main lines are from Safende to Achada Santo Antonio, Vila Nova to Achada Santo Antonio, Calbeceira to Palmarejo, Pensamento to Terra Branca, Achada Grande to Achada Santo Antonio, Sao Felipe to Plateau, Ponta D'Agua to Plateau,Achada Mato to Palmarejo. Most of these lines pass by Plateau (city center), Varzea and Terra Branca, the bus fair is about 35 escudos. When it comes to taxis you should be careful with illegal taxis that sometimes roam around and might rip you off. The normal taxi fare between two furthest points of the city shouldn’t be more 1500 escudos in daytime and 1800 escudos at night time, example Pensamento to Palmarejo, or Palmarejo to Achada Mato. Taxi drivers usually expect to get a tip, give around 50 escudos to 100 escudos. Just be careful and always drive with the taxis that have a taximeter, so that they don’t overcharge you.
The city doesn’t really have a good way to navigate because of the lack of an official map. This is because large part of the city doesn’t have their names or house numbers yet. In the city center and in the more important parts of the city most streets have names and numbers. However, most people are friendly and will give you directions. Walking by foot between the different districts is not recommended, especially since most of the city's side walks are made out of loose cobblestone and is difficult to walk, also because the city is full of hills that can be tiring to walk. But if you want to have a good cardio-workout try it!
Praia's high-end options are located south of the main town in the area of Prainha.
Being the capital and biggest city of the country, Praia has a bigger crime rate than most parts of the country. Most crimes involve petty thievery and these are mostly focused on actual residents and not on tourist, although there have been a few cases which involved tourist. So Praia is still a very safe city, just be careful with flaunting any expensive jewelry or gadgets like iPhones and such. Cape Verde in the past few years has seen an increase of petty crimes which are done mostly by groups of young people so avoid groups of young men especially at night.
Praia is also a badly illuminated city at night, so be careful in places that might not have street lights and is somewhat isolated, always travel in pairs or in groups for safety. However if anything does occur there are police stations in various parts of the city and a general hospital in the city center.
Cidade Velha, the historic capital, is an easy half-day trip.