Cape Verde: Local Travel Info
An Archipelago of 10 Volcanic Islands
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in Cape Verde
The main Cape Verde international airport is located on Sal. There are also two new international airports which have recently started operating: one in Praia on Santiago island and another on Boavista island. Sal airport is 1.6km south of the town of Espargos in central Sal, taxis are available for transport to hotels and towns throughout the island, but are expensive compared to the public Aluguers (shared taxis). Aluguers and car rental are also available. Most international flights land on Sal, though Praia is seeing an increasing amount of international activity. TACV – Cabo Verde Airlines is the main domestic carrier. There are internal flights available to all inhabited islands except Brava and San Antao. Private charters are available from the Cape Verde Express air-taxi service. TACV has flights three to four times weekly from Lisbon, and once or twice per week from Boston, Amsterdam, Basel, Fortaleza, Madrid, Munich and Paris. TAP Air Portugal has daily flights from Lisbon. South African Airways flies to Sal from New York and Atlanta, Johannesburg, and Buenos Aires. From West Africa, TACV flies between Praia and Dakar (Senegal) three to four times weekly. Air Sénégal International has three flights weekly to/from Dakar, with connections to most major West African cities. Amílcar Cabral (SID) on Sal, is 2km south of Espargos. Taxis are available to the city centre and to resort areas. Praia International Airport, Santiago, takes flights from Paris, Amsterdam and Lisbon. Boa Vista International Airport takes flights from major European cities. An international airport is under construction on the island of St Vincent, due to open around 2010.
Getting to and from the Airport in Cape Verde
The two busiest airports of Cape Verde are situated close to island life and both are serviced by competent transport links. The airport 2 km north east of Praia on São Tiago Island is the main area of arrival for holidaymakers in Cape Verde while Amilcar Cabral in Sal is 3km south of Espargos. Both airports are readily accessible by road and there are several regular transport services into the towns and villages scattered across the island as well as ferries to the other islands of Cape Verde. Buses run fairly frequently during weekdays from the airport to the city centre and major resorts. Taxis also serve the terminals, and are a much quicker, but costlier, alternative.
Travel Costs in Cape Verde
Public transport in Cape Verde consists of minibuses, also referred to as hiaces (or 'yassers'), and open trucks with seating in the back, identifiable by the sign Aluguer. They normally meet at a point in a town or village, drive around town picking up passengers and leave when they are full. Aluguers can be flagged down anywhere along the roads. Tell them where you want to get off and if you don't know the price, we advise you to agree it before you get on, you pay after disembarking. Compared to African standards, Cape Verde minibuses are in very good condition and the drivers are careful. Taxis meanwhile, generally refer to cars with meters and taxi signs and to public minibuses or trucks that have been chartered by a person. Chartering costs about ten times the public fare but you might want to consider it if you want to go somewhere at a different time of the day from everyone else. Generally, prices are fixed and a bit high but an overall good solution for tourists. Taxis are readily available in the larger towns and are generally of a good standard. Although they work on a meter they can at times be creative so it is always worth checking what the fare is before setting off. As a guide a 4-5 km journey would cost approximately £2-3. Getting between islands, your best bet in Cape Verde is by ferry. There are regular connections to all nine inhabited islands, and prices are reasonable. However, be prepared for delays. Seas can be rough, and most boats also carry cargo, so unloading time can be unpredictable. Sometimes departures are delayed by a day or more. There are cafés onboard, but it’s always a good idea to bring a reserve of water and snacks.
Renting Cars in Cape Verde
You can rent cars on many islands, but the only three that make the expense worth it are Santiago, Boa Vista and Fogo. Consider a four-wheel drive, as conditions are rough once you get off the few main roads. The largest company is Alucar. Cars cost from about CVE4500 per day, including tax and insurance all-inclusive, with the first 100km free (CVE0.10 per kilometre thereafter). As tourism grows, international car rental agencies are also opening up and making their services increasingly available.
View our Car Hire Section to rent a car in Cape Verde. Our links offer all Ok Alpha users with the best rates on Car Hire in Cape Verde.
Drivers License Requirements in Cape Verde
An International Driving Permit is legally required and proof of insurance should be displayed on the car windscreen.
Driving Rules in Cape Verde
In Cape Verde, traffic moves on the right side of the road, as in the United States. There are over 2,250km of roads on the islands, of which one-third are cobbled. There is a road improvement programme underway to convert cobblestone roads into asphalt. Road conditions and driving standards are generally of a reasonable quality, although paved roads are mostly narrow and winding. Drivers and adult front seat passengers must wear seat belts. Children must wear seat belts or a suitable child/infant restraint, in both front and rear seats. It is an offence to drive whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. If you are involved in an accident you must stop and phone the Police for the correct course of action. Failure to do so is an offence.
Buses in Cape Verde
Each island has a regular, scheduled bus service around all of its main areas, and are easily nagivated. The cheapest way of getting around Cape Verde are the Aluguers, easily identifiable vehicles that drive around town picking up passengers. Often overloaded with people and packages, you simply shout when you want to get off. Watch the time as generally Aluguers do not operate in the late evenings. In Santa Antao there are often aluguers in the main squares of towns like Ribiera Grande or Ponta do Sol, which are usually much cheaper than on Sal. The most inexpensive way of getting around are the buses that are easily identified and you have proper bus stops. The invariably buses have little more than a small sign at the front saying where they are going, so keep your eyes peeled. Generally, buses costs around CVE 60 per person. These cost no more than 60p for a journey and can be found waiting where the main highway and around larger towns and villages. They depart when full up, which can take a while, especially at night. It is difficult to find one plying to Palmeira, which depart from a side street next to the largest minimarket. On other Cape Verde islands, Aluguers are less common in other islands. They usually travel between outlying villages and the main town early morning and late afternoon carrying commuters. There may not be a service at all at midday It is best to enquire of a driver, when he may be coming back or you could get stranded in some remote spot. Try asking "Quando voces va volta?" . Always negotiate before you enter. The Aluguers are very rare here and you may end up paying for a private one.
Taxis in Cape Verde
Taxis refer to cars with meters and taxi signs and to public minibuses or trucks that have been chartered by a person. Chartering costs about ten times the public fare but you might want to consider it if you want to go somewhere at a different time of the day or late at night. Generally, prices are fixed and a bit high but an overall good solution for tourists looking to experience all of Cape Verde. Taxis are readily available in the larger towns and are generally of a good standard. Although they work on a meter they can at times be creative so it is always worth checking what the fare is before setting off. As a guide, a 4-5 km journey would cost approximately £2-3.
Cycling in Cape Verde
Cycling is a good way to get around the islands, but there are few places to rent them; think about bringing your own. Sal has a number of off-road tracks, and a dual carriageway with very little traffic in it which runs down the middle of the island. Several keen cyclists train on this road. In February 2008, there were special triathlon training sessions being run in Sal, which included cycling.
Water Transport in Cape Verde
There are ferry connections to all nine inhabited islands, and prices are reasonable. However, be prepared for delays. Seas can be rough, and most boats also carry cargo, so unloading time can be unpredictable. Sometimes departures are delayed by a day or more. There are cafés onboard, but it’s always a good idea to bring a reserve of water and snacks. The most reliable – and comfortable – service is via SMT’s Tarrafal, which connects Mindelo and Praia via Saõ Nicolau. Twice a week, boats leave Mindelo in the early afternoon, arrive in Saõ Nicolau in the evening, and then head to Praia overnight, arriving the following morning. In the other direction, the Tarrafal leaves in the evening from Praia, arriving the following morning at São Nicolau and in Mindelo around midday.
The twice-daily service between São Vicente and Santo Antão is also very reliable. The trip lasts one hour and costs CVE600. operates a ferry that generally connects Praia, Fogo, Brava, and Maio, but also sometimes hits all the islands, including Boa Vista, Sal, São Vicente and São Nicolau. Prices vary. The short one- to two-hour trip from Fogo to Brava costs about CVE7000. The overnight trip from Praia to Sal costs CVE2100 in the second-class lounge and CVE3400 for an overnight berth. In the town of Espargos on Sal, the Anaú agency also handles boats to São Vicente. The eight- to 12-hour trip costs around CVE2500 (CVE4200 per person for a fairly comfortable overnight berth with four beds).
Hitchhiking in Cape Verde
Although hitchhiking is a not uncommon method of transport for travellers in Cape Verde, the potential dangers are huge and cases of violence and abduction not unheard of so it is not a recommended form of travel.