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If you are looking for something different and exotic, local and culturally satisfying on your Cape Verde vacation, then São Vicente is your choice. In São Vicente, you are at the heart of Cape Verde’s culture and local vibes, as its capital, Mindelo, offers cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs for every taste, as well as a genuine buzz of history, diverse cultural offerings, colorful buildings and the most popular carnivals and festivals in the Cape Verde islands. The world-famous singer Cesária Èvora is also from São Vicente.
THE CULTURE CAPITAL OF CAPE VERDE
São Vicente, or as the locals say Soncent, is one of the ten islands of Cape Verde and its capital, Mindelo, is called the cultural capital of the Cape Verde Islands. São Vicente is not full of tourists, as tourism is mainly concentrated in Sal and Boa Vista. Tourists in São Vicente are mostly adventurous backpackers and island hoppers and those who want to get to the heart of the local way of life.
Mindelo has in its time been an important port city and a stopover for merchant ships. Here the sailors rested in the bars drinking and fooling around in the brothels, until they continued their journey again with the storages full towards their destination. As times developed, the need for services decreased and a large part of the locals left for food and work to other countries, and today only about one third of Cape Verdeans live in Cape Verde. The largest community of Cape Verdeans can currently be found in Boston, the United States, and Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Germany also contain several Cape Verdeans. When I lived in Portugal for a year, most of the people I met happened to be either from Cape Verde or Brazil.
We traveled to São Vicente in October 2022, as my boyfriend is from the island originally. We took a local small plane from Sal and after about an hour we landed in the mountainous landscape of São Vicente, accompanied by cloudy weathers. The sun was totally left behind. To pick us up was my boyfriend’s brother, and in addition to getting to know the island, there was a lot of family bonding, because my boyfriend hadn’t visited his hometown in several years.
We conveniently stayed in a well-equipped, nice apartment near the city center booked through Booking.com, and the price was really not too high. São Vicente is cheaper compared to Sal, and you can find a variety of accommodations from hotels to apartments at a nice price level.
BEACH, FOOD & DRINKS
We spent time with relatives and we did a lot of eating in different restaurants and a also little bit of shopping. I was taken on a tour around the city and to see all the sceneries and sights, and I even got to the beautiful beach of Praia de Laginha to refresh a bit during the day.
Those looking for good food and drink should definitely head to the local market hall Mercado Municipal, where you can find both fresh fruit and nice atmospheric lunch restaurants. I recommend tasting the local dishes, Cachupa and Feijoada.
For an evening out, you can find excellent bars all around Mindelo, but my favorites are definitely the shot bar Pub Art on the central square Praca Nova, and Metalo, which serves good food and tasty cocktails, and of course the beach restaurant Caravela. The night clubbers can of course head to the Crystal nightclub, or Akon, a teepee-style nightclub in the middle of the harbor, or my favorite, the beautiful Martini Sunset, built on the mountainside a short taxi ride away, where you can enjoy not only cocktails, but also the infinity pool and wonderful views towards Mindelo at night and of course the open sea.
São Pedro and the turtles
A visit to São Vicente should definitely include a moment in the fishing village of São Pedro, where you can snorkel with turtles in the turquoise sea water on a local wooden boat. This is definitely the best must-do activity in São Vicente, so grab your own trip right now!
CHECK OUT ALL THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN São Vicente:
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<3: Tiina Johanna
*Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
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