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Cape Verde holidays: A West African beach paradise destination

Located off the northwestern coast of Africa, Cape Verde is a year-round island paradise for travellers from the UK. Cape Verde is made up of 10 islands, each offering something a little different, and this archipelago has become increasingly popular as an ultimate beach holiday destination.

These islands are home to buzzing cities, lovely beaches and relaxing retreats that are set against a backdrop of truly sublime natural beauty. If you're looking to explore beyond the popular islands of Europe, Cape Verde may just be your perfect destination. Plus, Cape Verde experiences warm weather throughout the year, making it a great option for a winter sun getaway too.

Whether you're looking to book a family holiday or a romantic trip for two, Cape Verde holidays offer something that's truly special - and that happens to be great value too.

The best Cape Verde holiday destinations

Cape Verde is home to 10 main islands, featuring vastly varied landscapes, from volcanic scenery and beaches to salt lakes and dense forests. This means that you can expect a lot of variety during a trip to Cape Verde, especially when choosing where to base yourself during your holiday.

If you've got more time to play with, why not do a bit of island hopping? There are ferry services between most of the islands, as well as quick domestic flights. This means that you can visit multiple islands during your stay, giving you a real feel for what Cape Verde has to offer.

Here are some of the most popular places to stay during a Cape Verde holiday.

Santa Maria

One of the most popular spots in all of Cape Verde, the buzzing town of Santa Maria can be found on the southern tip of Sal. This is where you'll find plenty of resorts, as well as a pristine white-sand beach. Santa Maria is a hotspot for beach lovers who want to spend most of their days swimming or lazing on the sand. The town itself has a number of eateries and bars, including some lovely al fresco options.

While there are attractions to be found on Sal, this island is predominantly known for its beaches and favourable conditions for watersports, including wind- and kitesurfing and scuba diving.


Considered to be the cultural capital of Cape Verde and certainly one of the liveliest places you can stay on the islands, you can find Mindelo on São Vicente's northern coast. This larger port city is a great option for those keen on learning more about the islands' history; Mindelo's streets are lined with pastel-coloured historical buildings. Head up to Fortim d'El Rei to see the ruins of a 19th-Century fort - and for some of the best views in the city.

Mindelo is also a great spot for watersports, nightlife and restaurants, and its proximity to Monte Verde means that hiking is on the cards too.


The capital city of Cape Verde, Praia is the ideal base for anyone wanting to feel like they're on a unique city break. Being the capital, Praia has the widest range of accommodation on offer in Cape Verde, including for those on a budget. While it's tempting to head straight to the beautiful beaches in and around Praia, don't miss out on a visit to Plateau, the city's centre. This area is filled with cafes, historic buildings and shops.

The island of Santiago is one of Cape Verde's biggest, and you'll find plenty to do here. Learn about Cape Verdean culture at Cidade Velha, climb Pico de Antónia - the island's highest peak - or try your hand at surfing at Tarrafal beach.

Sal Rei

If you prefer stepping off the beaten track, Sal Rei on Boa Vista island offers something quite different to the rest of the holiday destinations on our list. A mecca for those keen on watersports and adventurous land-based sports, Sal Rei is the ideal base for enjoying all that Boa Vista has to offer. Known for simultaneously having some of the best beaches in all of Cape Verde and for its arid, dune-riddled interior, Boa Vista is a holiday destination you won't soon forget.

Sal Rei may be small, but you'll find plenty of accommodation, eateries and museums here, as well as a number of tour providers that offer half- and full-day trips to other parts of the island.

A guide to Cape Verde's 10 main islands

Santiago – Housing the capital, Praia, and its stunning colonial architecture and plenty of great beaches.

São Vicente – With the second city Mindelo, which has markets and plenty of facilities but a quieter feel.

Boa Vista, Sal and Maio – All known for their popular and breathtaking beaches.

Fogo and São Nicolau – Ideal for a rural vibe by the coast.

Santa Luzia and Brava – Tiny pockets of paradise, with virtually no permanent dwellers and a real treat for nature lovers.

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Not sure what you should expect when visiting Cape Verde? Or do you want to make sure you'll experience perfect weather on your holiday there? We've rounded up some top travel tips that'll ensure you have the best time during your Cape Verde holiday.

When is the best time to visit Cape Verde?

With consistently hot weather and low rainfall throughout the year, it could be argued that there isn't a bad time to visit Cape Verde! Here's our guide to the seasons in Cape Verde.

🌸 Spring: Boasting long hours of sunshine and temperatures up to 25°C, spring is one of the best times to be in Cape Verde. This is the time to take advantage of the islands' outdoor pursuits.

☀️ Summer: As temperatures rise (up to 28°C), daylight hours start to drop slightly. Low rainfall, low winds and warmer sea temperatures mean that this is a great time to hit the beach.

🍁 Autumn: While marking the start of Cape Verde's rainy season, September and October happen to be the hottest months of the year, reaching highs of 30°C. This is when Cape Verde feels truly tropical.

❄️ Winter: While temperatures cool a little (but still reach highs of 26°C), winter is a great time for watersports thanks to stronger winds and stellar surf conditions.

Why should you take a Cape Verde holiday?

The islands of Cape Verde enjoy a stable economy and political situation and, in fact, it's often cited as one of the most liberal and welcoming countries in the world. Families, couples and groups of friends alike will find the country an ideal spot for a beach break that still feels distinct to the coasts of Portugal, Spain and the rest of Europe. You'll find that many Cape Verdeans love to mingle with visitors, and you can expect a friendly chat in the local bars or when browsing the markets.

The best dishes to try in Cape Verde

Cachupa, a stew made with meat, fish and vegetables, is perhaps Cape Verde's most famous dish and it's a hearty one that shouldn't be missed! For those who love seafood, buzio and bafas are both popular choices. If you have a sweet tooth, don't miss out on bol de cus-cus, a cake made with sugar, corn and cinnamon that's usually served warm. Wash it all down with grogue, a strong spirit made using sugarcane.

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The best things to do in Cape Verde

As mentioned, the islands of Cape Verde offer holidaymakers a lot of variety. There are islands that are rich in natural beauty but with a wide array of landscapes to explore, from volcanoes to dry, sandy deserts. Some of the islands are hotspots for learning more about Cape Verde's history.

No matter what you're into, the islands are fantastic destinations for all types of travellers, from those on a solo holiday to those on a fun-filled trip with the kids. And there'll be plenty to keep you busy, including beach activities, day tours and adventuring outdoors.

Top things to do in Cape Verde

  1. Hike to the summit of Pico do Fogo

  2. Spot sea turtles on Boa Vista

  3. Go kitesurfing on Sal or Boa Vista

  4. Hop on for a horse riding trip to the beach

  5. Pay a visit to Sal's old salt mines

  6. Try scuba diving or snorkelling

  7. Learn about local history at Cidade Velha

  8. Float in a salt lake at Pedra de Lume

  9. Join a dolphin or whale watching tour

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