Fogo, meaning fire, is the most prominent of all of the Cape Verde islands with a maximum altitude of 2,900 metres above sea level. The volcano Pico de Fogo is the main attraction here and can be climbed in around six hours, using the nearby town Cha de Caldeiras as a starting point. The largest city on the island is Sao Filipe which is the fourth largest city in Cape Verde and also home to the islands airport. The beaches on the island are stunning and well worth exploring.
The island of Sal is known as Cape Verde’s sunniest island. As you approach the island in your plane, you will find it hard to believe that you are about to land on such an unspoiled golden gem. The island does however have an international airport and a growing population of around 20,000 people. The islands climate is very hot and dry and the miles and miles of sandy beaches make this island a real tropical paradise for those looking to relax by the sea.
Situated on the sunny, sandy island of Sal, Palmeira is a busy harbour town responsible for many of Cape Verde’s imports and exports. There is plenty to attract tourists to the town including many restaurants, lively bars and beautiful architecture. The town is also revered amongst divers who flock from around the globe to experience the many underwater caves and reefs located just off the coastline of the town. If you are looking to cure some aching muscles after hiking (or even just exploring the town) then the salt baths here are perfect for soothing relaxation.
4. Santa Maria
Also situated on the island of Sal, Santa Maria is a lively and developed city. The hotels in the city are of the highest standard and will comfortably meet, if not surpass, the expectations of travellers from Europe and North America. The city is one of the most ideal locations in Cape Verde for a classic beach resort holiday. The sandy beaches that lie only a few minutes walk from the luxurious hotels offer clear blue water and watersports such as jet-skiiing and scuba diving. For tourists looking for culture and history, the main sight here is the Weighhouse in the old harbour which was used in the past to weigh salt before export.
Praia is situated on the fertile island of Santiago and is the capital city of Cape Verde. The city, like many capitals, is the economic and political home of Cape Verde. The town is not as focused on tourism as many destinations in Cape Verde but it does have plenty to explore nonetheless. The old colonial buildings in the city’s old town are great for exploring in the sunshine and make for some pretty photo opportunities too. There are also churches, a presidential palace and the parliament building to be seen. If all the exploring and culture gets too much then there are, of course, beautiful sandy beaches nearby although it should be noted that the nearby Praia de Gamboa is not recommended for swimming.
6. Sal Rei
The capital city of the Cape Verde’s easternmost island; Sal Rei retains a relaxed feel despite being home to more than half of the islands population. The main plaza of the city has a distinctly African feel with goods being sold by traders and colourful flowers and buildings. The plaza is a great place for souvenir shopping whilst in Cape Verde and the goods on offer here range from wooden ornaments to flamboyant fabrics. The baroque style church in the city is one of the main tourist attractions along with the many colonial buildings. There are also more stunning beaches to explore if you feel inclined to do so.
The city of Mindelo has a reputation for being home to a real mix of cultures. Mindelo is located on the island of Sao Vicente and due to a decline in the economy and harbour here in the last decade, the city is now home to many people living in slum like conditions. Despite these conditions however the island retains its claim of being the cultural capital of Cape Verde and is a must visit for travellers hoping to experience lively nightlife in the country. The music clubs and bars here will keep you entertained until the early hours. In the daytime, the fish market and harbour in the town are worth exploring.