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Cape Verde - Attractions

Dusk at Yoff


This flat desert island, home to the international airport, is a package-tour destination for Europeans with large wallets and a yen for the tropics without local involvement. The village of Santa Maria caters to the packagers; it's 18km (11mi) from the main village of Espargos. Independent travellers should head for Espargos, where you'll have no difficulty finding a pensão (pension) or a restaurant. There are daily flights between Sal and Praia; there are also boats running between the islands that pick up passengers at Sal about twice a week.

São Tiago

São Tiago is the main island and home to the capital, Praia. The city isn't the most beautiful of the archipelago's two cities (this distinction belongs to Mindelo), but it's a pleasant place, with its centre perched on a rocky plateau known as Platô. This central area is surrounded by urban sprawl in three directions. The city's two beaches, Praia Mar and Quebra-Canela, are west of the centre.

For a half-day trip out of Praia, go to the Cidade Velha (Old City), the first town built by the Portuguese on the islands. There are great views of the village on the climb up to Fort Real de São Felipe. The Old City is about 10km (6mi) west of Praia. Some 20km (12mi) inland from Praia, the village of São Domingos is the closest green agricultural valley to the capital. There are one or two shops selling handicrafts. At the northern end of São Tiago is the island's second largest settlement, Tarrafal, which is famous for its beaches. It can be reached by chartered bus from Praia.

São Vicente

São Vicente is Cape Verde's second most important island. It's got the liveliest city in the islands, Mindelo. The ships passing through (Mindelo's port is the deepest in Cape Verde) might have something to do with the higher energy level. Certainly the bars and nightclubs are more numerous and the restaurants a cut above those in Praia. The picturesque colonial houses are mostly two-storey affairs with balconies and shuttered windows. There are several flights a day to and from Sal and Praia; there's also a ferry.

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