The most versatile African Cape Verdean island
Indulge yourself in the Cape Verdean culture on Santiago, the most African island of the archipelago. Face unspoiled natural parks, rocky coastlines, scenic mountain roads and African markets. Relax on the coconut-bounty beach Tarrafal and learn about the colonial past in Cidade Velha. Santiago island has all elements for a diverse holiday!
Praia is the capital and the most populated city of the country with 200.000 inhabitants.
It’s a vibrant city with a mix of modern and historic architecture, as well as bustling markets, restaurants, and cultural institutions. Some of the popular attractions in Praia include the Presidential Palace, the Praia Archaeology Museum, and the Municipal Market all located in the historical centre ‘Plateau’.
The untouched interior
The interior of the island is dominated by mountains, with the highest peak being Pico da Antónia, which stands at 1,392 meters. The mountainous terrain is ideal for hiking, with several trails winding through the countryside and offering stunning views of the island.
Serra Malagueta national park and the Gon-Gon valley offer great adventures for nature- and bird lovers.
Santiago has a volcanic origin like all the other Cape Verdean islands but is the most diverse one in terms of its landscape. The coastline is marked by sandy beaches, remote bays and wild ocean waters. The inlands are known for its mighty mountain roads and dry lands, but also for the fertile agriculture valleys. The landscape is dominated by 2 mountain ranges: the volcanic area of Pico d'Antonio around Assomada and Serra de Malagueta up North. Both areas are great for exploring the off-the beaten tracks. The whole island colors beautifully green in the period after the rain season in summer months and is a real delight to visit.
Natural sweet water sources in the interior
Highlights of Santiago
Praia: feel the bustling activities in the capital city and explore the local lifestyle of the merchandisers. Best visited during a guided city tour of Praia.
Quebra Canela beach: the hotspot in Praia for a fun day out by the beach and a meal in a beach club.
Tarrafal: the most beautiful beach on the island to drink from a coconut under a palmtree. Definitely recommended staying in one of the guesthouses in town when visiting Santiago.
Assomada: this city is an important commercial area and a great place to immerse yourself in the African culture. Its famous market on Wednesday and Saturday has all local produce of fruits, vegetables and is great for souvenir shopping.
Cidade Velha: the first settlement on the Cape Verdean islands was founded in the then very green valley around town. A place to learn about the slave trade in Africa, with well preserved colonial buildings and an authentic street: Rua de Banana.
Pico d'Antonio: the highest mountain peak on the island can be reached by an impressive hike all the way up to 1.392 meters.
Park Poilão: visit the immense Baobab tree that is said that to be planted by Senegalese fishermen 500 years ago. The tree rises up to 40 meters.
Ribeira da Prata: a hotspot for refreshment in summer months by the natural pools between grey volcanic rocks.
Serra Malagueta: the most known area for hiking on Santiago is this natural park with stunning landscapes from coastlines to tropical valleys. The park is well looked after as it's an important ecological system for the island.
Principal: this valley down Serra Malagueta is one of the most beautiful tracks you can follow. Follow the paths between plantations and end by the sweet water lakes by Barragem.
Where to stay
Explore Santiago: Your gateway to the Cape Verdean diversity
Santiago, the vibrant heart of Cape Verde and your gateway to start an African adventure. While Praia airport (RAI) might not be the largest of the country, but offers unique flight options that stand out from the other Cape Verdean islands. Here, we'll guide you through the various transportation options to and from the capital island.
International flights to Santiago
Praia Airport daily buzzes with activity as it welcomes daily flights from Europe and West Africa, notably Dakar. With the anticipated re-establishment of flights to the US and Brazil in 2024, Santiago is set to become more accessible to global travellers.
Domestic Travel to Santiago, hub for all the islands
Santiago is the home base of Bestfly, the Angolese airline that operates the domestic flights in Cape Verde. With daily flights to Fogo, Sal, and Sao Vicente and weekly services to Maio, Sao Nicolau, and Boa Vista, exploring the archipelago is the most accessible from Santiago. Whether you're looking to bask in the sun on Sal's renowned beaches or experience the volcanic landscapes of Fogo, flying over Santiago is a must.
While flying is the most common way to reach Santiago , travelling by sea is an alternative option. It's worth noting that ferry travel can be time-consuming and the Atlantic Ocean can have rough conditions. However, planning is critical. Ferry connections aren't daily, and securing your tickets from CV Interilhas in advance is advisable to avoid any last-minute hassles.
Travel duration by ferry
Praia - Palmeira, Sal : 10 hours
Praia - Vila do Maio, Maio : 2 hours
Praia - Mindelo, São Vicente : 10 hours
Praia - São Filipe, Fogo : 4 hours
Travel duration by plane
Praia (RAI) - Sal (SID) : 45 minutes
Praia (RAI) - São Vicente (VXE) : 50 minutes
Praia (RAI) - São Filipe, Fogo (SFL) : 20 minutes
Discover the Convenience of Travel with Cabo Mundo
As you plan your trip to or from Santiago, consider the convenience and reliability of our tourist services. We specialize in making your travel experience smooth and enjoyable, whether arriving on Santiago or exploring the other beautiful islands of Cape Verde. We offer comfortable and efficient transportation options, ensuring that your journey is hassle-free. Our services include airport transfers, activities and ferry ticket booking assistance.