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Tropical winter sun, with a melting pot of cultural flavour

The Cape Verde archipelago are volcanic islands in the Atlantic, about 500km from the African north-west coast. They have a colonial heritage, with shared cultural influences from Africa, Portugal and Brazil, offering a beautifully diverse blend of music and cuisine to those who visit.

The Cape Verde islands are a popular tourist destination for their stunning white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and a warm tropical climate all year around. The capital city Praia is located on Santiago – the largest of the Cape Verde islands. It’s a bustling city that has a deep history in Charles Darwin and pirates. If you prefer something more laid back, then the island of Boa Vista makes a great place to relax on its many beaches.

Top holidays in Cape Verde

Culture and history

Cape Verde was discovered by Portuguese mariners in 1456, who settled in Cape Verde's oldest city, Cidade Velho (formerly Ribeira Grande) less than a decade later. The slave trade became the archipelago’s main industry as its location provided the perfect stop off between Africa and The Americas. This led to Cape Verde becoming very wealthy a century on. Pirates were naturally attracted to the archipelago and in 1585 Sir Francis Drake raided Santiago.

The slave trade resulted in a mixed-race population, influences of which are evident in their modern-day culture. You will find that a predominant Portuguese identity exists, with heavy African and Latin American influences.

Things to do

Cape Verde boasts a rich and lively music scene and you can find an array of different music events, from traditional Morna music, to Funana across the islands.

If you’re after a beach holiday, there is a plethora of idyllic white sandy beaches to explore. Choose to relax under a palm tree or indulge in an array of water sports, such as diving or snorkelling.

Sal
Sal is the most popular of the islands among tourists and a haven for water sports. Visit Santa Maria for its white pastel buildings and live music bars. Sample the local cuisine in one of the many al fresco restaurants.
Santiago

The largest Cape Verde island, Santiago is rich in culture and history. Visit Cidade Velha, the first European city in West Africa and now a registered UNESCO world heritage site. Santiago plays host to regular markets selling local produce, and two major festivals; Gamboa Music Festival and Tabanka, celebrating the liberation of slaves.

Boa Vista

A true beach lover’s paradise. This laid-back island has no less than 55km of quiet sandy beaches, perfect for relaxing on. The best beaches are Praia de Chaves and Santa Monica beach. You don’t need to stray too far from the coast to take in the island’s attractions. Between the months of July and October, you may see loggerhead turtles hatching. Or, for a more permanent viewing, there’s the shipwreck at Cabo Santa Maria.

Flight time

Flights from London to Cape Verde take around 6 hours. You can fly to Boa Vista, Praia, Sal or Sao Vincente, depending on which island you are staying on.

Currency

Cape Verdean escudo -

The local currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, however euros are widely accepted.

Passports and visas

You’ll need a current passport valid for the duration of your stay, which you’ll need to carry with you at all times because it’s the only officially recognised form of identification.

You’ll need a visa to enter Cape Verde. Specialist travel agents dealing with Cape Verde can often arrange visas. It’s also possible to get a visa on arrival, although some travellers have reported difficulties and delays. Alternatively, you can go to one of the embassies.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Here are a few words to help you get by in Cape Verde:

Good morning – Bon dia

Good afternoon – Boa tardi

Please - Pur favor

Thank you – Obrigadu

Hello – Olá or Oi

Goodbye – Te logu

Yes – Sin

No - Nau

Timezone

Cape Verde is one hour behind GMT/UK time.

Electricity

The Cape Verde standard voltage is 230 volts and the frequency is 50Hz. There are two plug types used in Cape Verde; C and F. Type C has two round pins and type F is the plug which has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. You will need an adapter and you may also need a voltage converter, if your appliance does not run at 230 volts.

Language

Portuguese -

The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, however Creole is often used in day-to-day conversation. Creole is a mixture of African languages, with influences from several European languages. Written communication is in Portuguese.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected, but it is appreciated as income on the island is low. Tipping in local currency is preferred, but euros are also fine.

Climate

Cape Verde enjoys a warm, sunny climate most of the year, with winter being slightly cooler. The warmest month is August, averaging at 81°F (27°C). January is the coolest at 73°F (23°C).

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The population of Cape Verde is around 540,000, with around half of the population living on the main island of Santiago.

There are ten islands and five islets that comprise Cape Verde, scattered across an area of 4,033 km².

Smoking

Smoking in public places is permitted, however designated smoking areas exist in certain areas, including hotels, restaurants, healthcare facilities, education establishments and sports venues.



Climate