Santiago, Cape Verde
Santiago has a lot to offer from the bustling towns full of bars and restaurants with live music to the diverse landscapes which are popular for hiking.
Santiago has a mountainous and fertile landscape with rugged and dramatic stretches of coastline and a few sandy beaches. Popular activities here include hiking, bird-watching and generally gaining a real insight to the resourceful 'make do and mend' ways of life in a fairly poor country.
Things to Do
The capital of Praia is a lively port town rich with culture and an ideal place to observe local traditions and experience daily life with the locals. Fishing and agriculture are the main business on Santiago and there are many sugar cane, banana, mango, corn and coffee plantations. Stroll around the African market to pick up fresh produce; note the colonial style architecture and government buildings around the historic quarter and the Square of Alexandre de Albuquerque.
On the south west coast visit the old village of Cidade Velha, a former capital and slave trading post. Here you can admire excellent views from the historic and impressive Sao Filipe fortress, see the ruins of the Se Cathedral which overlooks the sea, the hillside Convent of San Francisco and the charming Nossa Senhora do Rosario church. You can also visit the Maritime Museum and see the Pelourinho, where slaves were once publicly whipped.
At the north of the island lies the town of Tarrafal, most visited for its beautiful palm-backed sandy beach. Stop for lunch, admire the mountain views, watch the fishermen trade their daily catch and see the deserted Tarrafal Concentration Camp.
Out and About
Santiago is the largest of the Cape Verde islands, but a main road runs through the centre of the island making it easy to explore the inland towns and villages whilst enjoying views over the mountainous peaks and valleys.
Indeed, you can travel the length of the island, from Praia in the south to Tarrafal in the north, in approx 90 minutes. Along this road you will come across Sao Domingos handicraft centre and the nearby National Botanical Gardens.
In the centre of the island, the city of Assomada is rich with Portuguese colonial architecture. Here you can relax in the city squares, visit the Tabanka Museum and browse the busy street market which is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
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