Cheap Flights to Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde Islands
- Area (Santiago ) : 991km² (383 sq mi)
- Area Code : +238 260/1/2/3/4
- Currency : Escudo de Cabo Verde (ECV)
- Population (Santiago) : 272,312 (2010)
- Official Language : Portuguese, Kabuverdianu
- Time Zone : GMT-1
- Airport : Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI), also
known as ‘Praia International Airport’.
‘RAI’ is located on Santiago Island, part of the Cape Verde archipelago. Travel time from the airport to the city is around 12 minutes over a distance of approximately 6km. Passengers can arrange hotel shuttles, take taxis or hire vehicles at the airport.
Travellers in South Africa can take flights from Cape Town to ‘RAI’ with the following airlines:
- TAAG, TAP Portugal (via Luanda, Lisbon) 20h 55m+
- KLM, TACV (via Amsterdam, Lisbon) 23h 10m+
- South African Airways (via Johannesburg)
- British Airways (via Johannesburg, Accra) 1d 1h+
- Binter Canarias (via São Vicente) 1d 1h+
Additional airlines touching down at ‘RAI’ include:
- Etihad Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- TCV Cape Verde Airlines
Reasons to Visit Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde Islands:
- A splendid olden city located on the southern-most point of Santiago Island, Praia is Cape Verde’s largest city and capital to the island nation situated in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. During the ‘Capture of Santiago’ a settlement was destroyed by Francis Drake in 1585 with just the hospital remaining. In 1615 the town of ‘Praia de Santa Maria’ was established and in 1858 it received ‘city status’ and became the capital of Cabo Verde. The port is the busiest in Cape Verde and the only one with ferries to its other islands.
- Santiago Island with fertile valleys, great beaches and spectacular mountains ensures a perfect escape for any traveller. Take in history while meandering through the old town of ‘Plateau’ that overlooks the ocean. Visit ‘Achada Santo António’, a volcanic plateau and neighbourhood that’s ideal for shopping, stopping for a bite and with some attractive old structures such as the ‘Chapel of Santo António’. Another historic area is Gamboa plus its wonderful 700m beach, restaurants and accommodation. Take a ferry or plane for island hopping or go gambling at the new ‘Casino Royal’ located on the island of Sal.
- Praia affords a good variety of hotels, Speciality Lodgings, Holiday Rentals, B&Bs and for budget travellers ‘Praiadise’ and ‘Morabeza Kriol’ hostels or ‘Hotel Cesaria’. Whatever your preference in food is, you’ll find it with an excellent range of restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe. Dress up for an evening of fine dining, go casual in a relaxed atmosphere or chill out on an outside patio with ocean views. ‘Maracujá’ across from Gamboa beach is a cheerful café that dishes up fresh salads, superb grilled octopus, seafood spaghetti and lunch specials each day. The best local music is heard at ‘Quintal da Música’ with live shows each night excluding Sundays; a vibrant eating and drinking venue is ‘Freedom’ that overlooks Gamboa beach and the beach bar ‘Kebra Cabana’ is great on Friday nights with good food.
When to Visit Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde Islands:
The ‘Cape Verde’ archipelago has water temperatures ranging between 23 and 26°C all year round. The dry season from November to July has a few strong winds with temperatures averaging 20°C from December to March. August to October is the wet season with temperatures climbing to 30°C and considered by some, as the best time to go, avoiding the extreme dry weather.
Places to Visit Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde Islands:
- Take yourself back in time as you meander through the historic part of the city, ‘the plateau’ (Platô) with bustling squares, vibrant markets, colourful flower stands and sights that include the ‘Museu Etnográfico da Praia’;the ‘Praça Alexandre de Albuquerque’; the ‘Supremo Tribunal de Justiça’; the ‘Palacio Presidencial’, closed to visitors, but with pleasing architecture and lovely manicured gardens; the neo-classical styled ‘Igreja Nossa Senhora da Graca, located east of ‘Alexandre Albuquerque Square’, with its parish going back centuries that opened in 1902; the ‘Monumento de Diogo Gomes’ dedicated to the Portuguese navigator who discovered the islands in 1460, the ‘Quartel Jaime Mota’, former military barracks and one of the oldest buildings dating back to 1826.
- The oldest settlement in Cape Verde and heart of Creole culture is ‘Cidade Velha’, around 10km west from Praia. Today a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ it was used as a stop-over for Vasco da Gama in 1497 and Christopher Columbus in 1498. Attractions include the ‘Royal Fortress’, a 16th century town square and forming part of the ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site, the marvellous ‘Nossa Senhora da Rosário’ church, built in Manueline Gothic style between 1493 and 1495.
- Ideal for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts is the spectacularly scenic ‘Pico da Antónia National Park’ (Jagged Rooftop of Santiago) named after the highest mountain on the island, at 1,392m. The park comprises one of the largest wooded areas in the archipelago and offers a web of trails that include easy, moderate and arduous hiking challenges, such as ascending the summit. Guided tours are available and the ‘National Botanical Gardens’ are also within the park. It’s best to drive yourself to where the walks start. The second highest peak, on the island is ‘Serra da Malagueta’ at 1064m, also beautiful and great for hiking.
- The city’s ‘Parque 5 de Julho’ is a wonderful lush open space perfect for picnics and solitude.
Getting Around Praia:
Taxis abound throughout this city. Tips from around 50 to 100 escudos are acceptable and expected from drivers. Only use taxis with meters and be aware of illegal taxis that overcharge.
There are plenty of bus stops with two main companies operating in the city, ‘Moura’ and ‘Sol Atlantico’ with regulated fares, no set schedules but comfortable and air-conditioned. They normally start operating from 06h00 and stop around 21h00.
Navigation isn’t that user-friendly with a large portion of the city being void of street names and numbered housed, but the locals are friendly and helpful. Walking between suburbs isn’t recommended, unless you’re super fit as there are numerous hills and the majority of streets comprise loose cobblestones.
Known as ‘yasis’, these minibuses make pick-ups and drop-offs where needed and at bus stops.
If your plans include visiting lots of places, hiring a car is the cheapest means. Vehicles can be rented from ‘Hertz’, ‘Europcar’, ‘Avis’, ‘BBAS’, ‘Intercidades’ and others in the city.