12 Best Things to Do in Cape Verde: Top Attractions to Visit

by Emil Backup
This post may have affiliate links, where I receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Are you looking to visit Cape Verde in the near future? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Cape Verde. These breathtaking sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Cradled in the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago of Cape Verde beckons travelers with its enchanting landscapes, cultures, and colors. Each island is a unique jewel, offering its own blend of experiences. This makes it a destination rich in things to do in Cape Verde, from the golden sands of Sal to the volcanic terrains of Fogo.

Cape Verde is not just a destination; it’s a symphony of sensory experiences waiting to be discovered. The islands whisper tales of their rich history and vibrant culture, where the rhythms of morna music fill the air, and the aroma of cachupa stew wafts through the streets. It’s a place where every sunset paints the sky in hues of amber and crimson, and the ocean sings lullabies to the shores.

For those yearning for adventure and serenity, for cultural richness and natural beauty, Cape Verde is the hidden gem in the vastness of the ocean, a paradise where the soul can dance to the tunes of life’s simple pleasures. So, let’s embark on a journey to explore the myriad wonders of this archipelago, to uncover the secrets of its islands, and to immerse ourselves in the magical allure of Cape Verde. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Cape Verde.

The best things to do in Cape Verde right now.
This article on the best things to do in Cape Verde contains affiliate links, where I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. 

Best Places to Visit in Cape Verde

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Cape Verde? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant vacation spot off the northwest coast of Africa. So keep reading to discover all these unique Cape Verde places to visit.

Are you looking to engage in watersports like windsurfing and snorkeling in the clear blue waters, and explore its rich cultural heritage through traditional music and cuisine? Or would you prefer to immerse yourself in the archipelago’s natural beauty by hiking volcanic landscapes or simply relaxing on pristine beaches? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Cape Verde can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Cape Verde that you should know about.

1. Sal

Embark on a journey to Sal, one of the best places in Cape Verde, where golden sands meet azure waters, creating a paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Sal is renowned for its stunning beaches like Santa Maria. This is where the sun kisses the ocean, and the waves whisper tales of the island’s charm.

Here, the days are painted with adventures in the crystal-clear waters. It’s where you can dive into the underwater world and dance with the colorful marine life. The island is a haven for windsurfers and kitesurfers, where the winds play melodies and the waves join in harmony.

In Sal, the vibrant local culture adds colors to your journey. Explore the lively town of Santa Maria, where the streets are a canvas of local art, and the air is filled with the rhythms of Cape Verdean music. Indulge in the flavors of the island, savoring the delicious cachupa and fresh seafood.

Sal is not just a destination. It’s a treasure trove of experiences, a place where every moment is a brushstroke on the canvas of your memories. So, when wondering about the coolest things to do in Cape Verde, let the allure of Sal be your muse and guide you to unforgettable adventures.

Where endless beaches and vibrant culture await, offering some of the best things to do in Cape Verde.
Where endless beaches and vibrant culture await, offering some of the best things to do in Cape Verde.

2. São Vicente

In the heart of Cape Verde lies São Vicente, a cultural hub brimming with music, art, and vibrant festivities. This island is a Cape Verde destination for those eager to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Cape Verdean traditions and witness the lively spirit of the locals.

The city of Mindelo is the soul of São Vicente, where colorful buildings narrate stories of the past, and the streets resonate with the harmonious tunes of morna music. It’s a place where every corner is a testament to the island’s artistic heritage, and every beat is a step in the dance of life. 

For those wondering where to visit in Cape Verde to experience its cultural richness, São Vicente offers a feast for the senses. The island’s festivals are a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds, where the energy is contagious, and the celebrations are a journey through the essence of Cape Verdean identity.

São Vicente is not just an island; it’s a living, breathing masterpiece. It’s also a symphony of experiences that invites you to be part of its rhythm and discover the Cape Verde places to visit that make it so special.

A vibrant island filled with music, art, and stunning landscapes – a must-visit destination for the best of Cape Verdean experiences.
A vibrant island filled with music, art, and stunning landscapes – a must-visit destination for the best of Cape Verdean experiences.

3. Santo Antão

For those who seek the embrace of nature and the thrill of exploration, Santo Antão offers a realm of breathtaking landscapes and exhilarating hikes. It’s a place where rugged mountains kiss the sky, and verdant valleys whisper secrets of the island’s beauty. This makes it one of the cool destinations in Cape Verde for nature enthusiasts.

The trails of Santo Antão weave through the heart of the island, unveiling the mesmerizing tapestry of its terrains. Every step is a dance with nature, every breath is filled with the scent of blooming flowers, and every moment is a chance to connect with the island’s soul.

Here, the paths lead to hidden gems of Santo Antão, where the views are a symphony of colors, and the silence is a melody of peace. It’s a journey through the essence of Cape Verde’s natural splendor, a discovery of the untold stories of its lands.

Whether it’s the allure of the mountains or the charm of the valleys, Santo Antão invites you to experience the unique things to do in Cape Verde and to lose yourself in the wonder of its world.

Santo Antão, is a lush island paradise and breathtaking trails.
Santo Antão, is a lush island paradise and breathtaking trails.

4. Fogo

Fogo, with its towering volcano and undulating landscapes, is a marvel for those seeking Cape Verde attractions steeped in natural wonder and history. The island’s centerpiece, Pico do Fogo, stands as a majestic testament to the island’s volcanic origins. It truly invites adventurers to explore its craters and slopes.

The journey through Fogo is a revelation of the island’s diverse ecosystems, where lava fields meet lush vineyards, and the air is tinged with the fragrance of coffee plantations. It’s a place where every rock holds a story of geological transformations, and every trail leads to discoveries of the island’s multifaceted beauty. If you’re thinking about a one-of-a-kind thing to do in Cape Verde, exploring Fogo should be right there on top of your bucket list.

Visitors to Fogo are welcomed by the warmth of its people and the richness of its culinary traditions. The local wine and cheese are a symphony of flavors, a celebration of the island’s agricultural heritage. For those compiling a list of what to do in Cape Verde, savoring the tastes of Fogo is a delightful addition.

Fogo offers a canvas of experiences, allowing you to paint your adventure with the colors of its landscapes and the textures of its culture.

Experience the fiery allure of this volcanic island, known for its dramatic landscapes, and vibrant traditions.
Experience the fiery allure of this volcanic island, known for its dramatic landscapes, and vibrant traditions.

5. Maio

Maio, a hidden gem among the islands, is where tranquility and untouched beauty converge. This makes it one of the unique places in Cape Verde to escape the hustle and bustle. The island’s pristine beaches are a sanctuary for the soul, where the gentle whisper of the waves and the soft caress of the breeze create a symphony of peace.

Venturing through Maio reveals the charm of its quaint villages and the generosity of its inhabitants. The smiles are warm, the greetings are heartfelt, and the island’s atmosphere is imbued with a sense of community and simplicity. It’s a journey into the essence of Cape Verdean life, a glimpse into the traditions and values that shape the island’s identity.

For those seeking Cape Verde things to do that offer relaxation and connection, Maio presents a canvas of serene landscapes and cultural richness. The island invites you to explore its secrets, to immerse yourself in its rhythms, and to find solace in its embrace.

Maio’s allure lies in its ability to offer a refuge for the spirit and a feast for the senses, inviting travelers to experience the island’s gentle allure.

Maio, Cape Verde: Unwind on the tranquil shores of this serene island, where relaxation, water sports, and pristine beaches.
Maio, Cape Verde: Unwind on the tranquil shores of this serene island, where relaxation, water sports, and pristine beaches.

6. Boa Vista

Boa Vista welcomes wanderers with its expansive landscapes and diverse ecosystems. This makes it a captivating destination in Cape Verde. The island’s vast deserts and dunes whisper tales of time, while its azure waters hold the reflections of the boundless skies.

The exploration of Boa Vista is a dance with the elements, where the winds sculpt the sands and the waves carve the shores. Every grain tells a story of the island’s transformations, and every ripple sings a song of the ocean’s mysteries. It’s an odyssey through the realms of nature, a discovery of the island’s ever-changing beauty.

The charm of Boa Vista extends to its vibrant marine life and the warmth of its people. The underwater world is a treasure trove of colors and shapes, a sanctuary for the creatures of the deep. Meanwhile, the local communities share their traditions and hospitality, enriching the island experience with their smiles and stories.

Boa Vista is a canvas painted with the hues of its landscapes and the rhythms of its culture, inviting you to lose yourself in its scenic beauty and find treasures in its simplicity.

Boa Vista, Cape Verde: Sun, dunes, water sports, culture - experience the best of Cape Verde here.
Boa Vista, Cape Verde: Sun, dunes, water sports, culture – experience the best of Cape Verde here.

7. Santiago

Santiago, the largest of the islands, unfolds its historic charm and diverse landscapes to those who seek to uncover the roots of Cape Verdean culture. This is a place where the past and the present intertwine, where the echoes of history blend with the melodies of modern life. It offers a myriad of best things to do in Cape Verde.

The cobblestone streets of Cidade Velha, the old capital, narrate tales of bygone eras, of explorers and settlers who shaped the island’s destiny. The fortresses and churches stand as silent witnesses to the unfolding of time, to the transformation of Santiago into the cultural heart of Cape Verde.

Santiago’s lush valleys and rugged mountains invite exploration and reflection, allowing you to traverse the island’s terrains and ponder the beauty of its natural wonders. The vibrant markets and lively festivals are a celebration of Santiago’s heritage, a showcase of its culinary delights and artistic expressions.

In Santiago, every moment is an opportunity to connect with the island’s spirit, to embrace its rhythms, and to discover the richness of its traditions and the warmth of its people.

Santiago, Cape Verde: Explore history, culture, and stunning landscapes.
Santiago, Cape Verde: Explore history, culture, and stunning landscapes.

8. Brava

Brava, known as the island of flowers, opens its arms to travelers. It reveals a world where serenity and beauty reign. This enchanting island is a haven for those who find joy in the subtle whisper of the sea breeze and the delicate dance of the petals. This makes it a must-see in Cape Verde for lovers of nature’s quiet allure.

The landscapes of Brava are a poetic composition of rolling hills, blooming gardens, and sparkling waters. It’s a place where the land sings lullabies to the sea, and the flowers paint the air with their fragrances. The exploration of Brava is a journey through nature’s artistry, a discovery of the island’s gentle soul.

The small villages of Brava radiate a sense of community and warmth, where the smiles are genuine, and the hospitality is heartfelt. The island invites you to experience its traditions, to taste its culinary creations, and to immerse yourself in its peaceful rhythm.

Brava offers a refuge from the rush, a space to breathe and to connect with the essence of Cape Verde’s tranquil charm. Is visiting this island among the top things to do on Cape Verde? 100%!

Brava: Experience the tranquility and scenic beauty.
Brava: Experience the tranquility and scenic beauty. | Photo credits: franks-travelbox.com

9. São Nicolau

São Nicolau, a less-traveled island, beckons the curious with its untold stories and untouched landscapes. This stands out as one of the Cape Verde attractions for those with a thirst for discovery. The island’s rugged terrains and secluded beaches are whispers of nature’s secrets, waiting to be unveiled.

The trails of São Nicolau wind through the whispers of the winds and the shadows of the mountains, leading to hidden treasures of the island. This is a realm where the land speaks in colors and textures, and the sea murmurs tales of the deep. São Nicolau is a canvas of nature’s wonders. It offers a palette of coolest things to do in Cape Verde for the adventurous spirit.

The warmth of São Nicolau’s people and the richness of its traditions add layers to the island’s allure. The local dances and songs are echoes of São Nicolau’s heritage, reflections of its vibrant soul. The island extends an invitation to delve into its culture, to savor its flavors, and to dance to its rhythms.

In São Nicolau, every step is a revelation, every moment is a brushstroke on the canvas of your Cape Verde journey.

São Nicolau: Discover the natural beauty and cultural richness.
São Nicolau: Discover the natural beauty and cultural richness. | Photo credits: capeverde.co.uk

10. Santa Luzia

Santa Luzia, an uninhabited island, offers a sanctuary of pristine beauty and vibrant ecosystems. Exploring this island is among the coolest activities to do in Cape Verde for explorers and nature enthusiasts. The untouched beaches and crystal-clear waters are canvases of nature’s brilliance, where the sands sparkle and the waves dance in harmony.

Santa Luzia’s landscapes are a symphony of colors and forms, where the hills roll in green and the cliffs stand in majesty. It’s a place where the earth and the sea compose melodies of life and beauty, inviting you to listen to their tunes and to witness their creations. The island is a gallery of natural artistry, displaying the masterpieces of the elements.

Wondering where to go in Cape Verde to witness the beauty of marine life? The surrounding waters of Santa Luzia is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The coral reefs are gardens of the sea, where the fish swim in colors and the corals bloom in shapes. Santa Luzia whispers invitations to explore its underwater wonders, to marvel at its aquatic treasures.

In Santa Luzia, the silence speaks in whispers of nature’s magic, and the landscapes tell tales of unspoiled splendor.

Explore the untouched beauty of this secluded island, a hidden gem in Cape Verde.
Explore the untouched beauty of this secluded island, a hidden gem in Cape Verde. | Photo credits: visit-caboverde.com

11. Raso and Branco

Raso and Branco, two uninhabited islets, are hidden jewels in the archipelago. It offers a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems and unique things to do in Cape Verde. These islets are sanctuaries for wildlife, where the air is filled with the songs of birds and the land is adorned with the colors of flora.

The untouched landscapes of Raso and Branco are a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty. They are realms where the rocks whisper tales of endurance and the waves sing hymns of eternity. These islets are canvases of the elements, portraying the dance of life and the rhythm of the earth.

The flora and fauna of Raso and Branco are treasures of biodiversity, where every leaf tells a story and every feather sings a melody. The islets invite you to witness the spectacle of nature’s creations, to learn the language of the earth and the sky. They are gateways to the secrets of life and the mysteries of existence.

In Raso and Branco, every breeze is a breath of the wild, and every footprint is a step into the heart of nature’s wonder.

12. Ilhéu dos Pássaros

Ilhéu dos Pássaros, a secluded islet, is a haven of untouched beauty and serene landscapes. This makes it one of the best places to go in Cape Verde. Its tranquil islet is a whisper of nature’s elegance, where the sands are soft whispers of the earth and the waters are gentle murmurs of the sea.

The landscapes of Ilhéu dos Pássaros are poems of the elements, where the hills are verses of the land and the waves are rhymes of the ocean. This islet is a melody of nature’s grace, where the winds are tunes of the air and the rocks are notes of the earth.

Ilhéu dos Pássaros invites you to immerse in its serene beauty, to listen to the symphony of its landscapes. It’s a place where the silence is a song of peace and the solitude is a dance of the soul. The islet is a journey into the essence of nature’s charm, a voyage into the heart of the earth’s tranquility.

In Ilhéu dos Pássaros, every moment is a breath of nature’s purity, and every step is a walk into the realm of the earth’s elegance.

Ilhéu dos Pássaros: A paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, a hidden treasure in Cape Verde.
Ilhéu dos Pássaros: A paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, a hidden treasure in Cape Verde. | Photo credits: commons.wikimedia.org

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Cape Verde

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Cape Verde? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Cape Verde:

Is Cape Verde safe for tourists?

Cape Verde is generally considered safe for tourists. It has a low crime rate and is known for its welcoming and friendly locals. However, travelers should exercise common precautions like safeguarding belongings and being aware of their surroundings, particularly in busy areas and during the night.

What is the best time to visit Cape Verde?

The best time to visit Cape Verde is during the dry season, which runs from November to July. This period offers pleasant weather with sunny days and minimal rainfall. This makes it ideal for beach activities, water sports, and exploring the islands’ diverse landscapes. August to October is the rainy season and less ideal for tourism.

Do I need a visa to visit Cape Verde?

For many nationalities, including citizens of the European Union and the United States, a visa is not required for short stays (typically up to 30 days) in Cape Verde for tourism purposes. However, entry requirements can vary. So it’s essential to check the latest visa policies and requirements with the Cape Verdean embassy or consulate before your trip.

What languages are spoken in Cape Verde?

The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese. However, Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu) is widely spoken and understood by the local population. Additionally, due to its tourism industry, English and French are also spoken, especially in tourist areas. This makes it easier for travelers to communicate.

Is Cape Verde expensive to visit?

Cape Verde can be moderately expensive to visit, especially in popular tourist destinations. Accommodation and dining costs vary but can be relatively high in some areas. However, budget-friendly options are available, and travelers can find affordable accommodations and meals with some planning. Activities like hiking and beachcombing are often free or low-cost.

Visiting Cape Verde: Embark on a journey to discover the natural wonders, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.
Visiting Cape Verde: Embark on a journey to discover the natural wonders, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.

What is Cape Verde best known for?

Cape Verde is best known for its diverse and enchanting archipelago. It offers a blend of vibrant cultures, serene landscapes, and rich history. Each island boasts unique charms, from the golden sands of Sal to the lively rhythms of São Vicente. It’s a haven for lovers of music, dance, and unspoiled nature.

Is it worth visiting Cape Verde?

Absolutely! Visiting Cape Verde is worth every moment for its stunning diversity in landscapes, vibrant cultural scenes, and warm, welcoming locals. Whether you’re a lover of pristine beaches, a culture enthusiast, or an adventure seeker, Cape Verde promises a unique and enriching experience that caters to all travel tastes.

Is there a lot to do on Cape Verde?

Yes, Cape Verde offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. This archipelago of ten islands in the central Atlantic Ocean has a unique blend of African, Portuguese, and Brazilian cultures. Here’s a rundown of some of the things you can do and see in Cape Verde:

  1. Beaches: Cape Verde boasts some stunning beaches. Whether you’re into sunbathing, swimming, or water sports, there’s a beach for you. Popular ones include Santa Maria on Sal, Praia de Chaves on Boa Vista, and Laginha Beach in Mindelo.
  2. Water Sports: The islands are a hotspot for windsurfing, kite surfing, and diving. The underwater world is rich with marine life, and the clear waters make for excellent visibility.
  3. Hiking: For those who prefer mountains to beaches, the island of Santo Antão offers rugged landscapes and challenging hiking trails. Fogo Island, with its active volcano, is another great hiking destination.
  4. Music and Dance: Cape Verde has a rich musical heritage. You can experience live music in local bars and restaurants, especially the traditional morna, coladeira, and funaná. The island of São Vicente, particularly the town of Mindelo, is known as the cultural capital and hosts the annual Carnival.
  5. Wildlife: Boa Vista and Maio are known for turtle nesting sites. Between June and October, you can witness loggerhead turtles laying their eggs.
  6. Cuisine: Cape Verdean cuisine is a blend of African and Portuguese influences. Be sure to try cachupa, a hearty stew, and grogue, a local sugarcane spirit.
  7. Island Hopping: With ten main islands, each having its unique charm, island hopping is a must. Ferries and domestic flights make it relatively easy to move between the islands.
  8. Historical Sites: Cidade Velha on Santiago Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was once a bustling center for the transatlantic slave trade.

How long should I spend in Cape Verde?

The ideal duration for a trip to Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) largely depends on your interests and how many islands you wish to explore. Here’s a general guideline:

  1. Short Stay (1 Week):
    • If you have a week or less, it’s best to focus on one or two islands.
    • Sal and Boa Vista are popular choices for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. These islands have international airports, making them easily accessible.
    • If you’re more into culture and music, São Vicente (especially the town of Mindelo) is a great option.
  2. Medium Stay (2 Weeks):
    • In two weeks, you can comfortably explore three to four islands.
    • You could combine beach relaxation on Sal or Boa Vista with hiking on Santo Antão and cultural experiences on São Vicente or Santiago.
    • This duration allows for a more in-depth exploration and understanding of the diverse culture and landscapes of Cape Verde.
  3. Long Stay (3 Weeks or More):
    • With three weeks or more, you can indulge in island hopping and visit a majority of the ten main islands.
    • This duration allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, try various activities, and even attend local festivals or events.
    • You’ll have the flexibility to spend more time in places you love and discover off-the-beaten-path attractions.

Is three days enough to see Cape Verde?

Three days is a very limited time to experience Cape Verde, given that it’s an archipelago consisting of ten main islands, each with its unique charm and attractions. However, if you only have three days, here’s how you can make the most of it:

Day 1: Sal Island

  • Morning: Arrive at Amílcar Cabral International Airport and head to the town of Santa Maria. Enjoy the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
  • Afternoon: Engage in water sports like windsurfing, kite surfing, or simply relax on the beach.
  • Evening: Explore the vibrant nightlife of Santa Maria with its bars, restaurants, and live music venues.

Day 2: Day Trip to Boa Vista

  • Morning: Take an early flight or ferry to Boa Vista. Visit the Deserto de Viana, a small desert with white sand dunes.
  • Afternoon: Relax on the stunning beaches like Praia de Chaves or Praia de Santa Monica.
  • Evening: Return to Sal Island.

Explore Sal Island (Day 3)

  • Morning: Visit the Salinas salt flats in Pedra de Lume, located in an extinct volcanic crater.
  • Afternoon: Explore the Buracona area, known for its “Blue Eye” natural pool.
  • Evening: Enjoy a final evening in Santa Maria, perhaps indulging in some local Creole cuisine.

Closing Thoughts on Exploring Cape Verde

Cape Verde, a symphony of islands, whispers tales of beauty, resilience, and diversity. Each island is a unique chapter in the archipelago’s story, each landscape a different verse in nature’s poem. From the golden sands of Sal to the vibrant culture of São Vicente, Cape Verde attractions are a melody of experiences, a harmony of adventures.

Whether you’re seeking the tranquility of untouched islets or the rhythm of lively towns, Cape Verde places to visit offer a spectrum of wonders, a palette of colors. It’s a place where the winds tell stories of the sea, and the rocks narrate legends of the land.

So, if you’re wondering where to go in Cape Verde, let the islands be your guide, let the landscapes be your muse. Discover the magic of Cape Verde, explore the beauty of its realms, and dance to the tunes of its lands. Cape Verde is not just a destination. It’s a journey into the heart of nature’s elegance, a voyage into the soul of the earth’s charm.

Best things to do in Cape Verde for all types of travelers.
Enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Cape Verde? Pin it! 

You may also like

Leave a Comment