How To Get To Cape Verde: Full Travel Guide

Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands off the coast of West Africa. It’s a stunning destination for any traveler looking for sun-filled days and warm sandy beaches. Whether you want to explore the culture and history or relax in paradise, Cape Verde is a great place to be. And since we spend ten weeks on many different islands of Cape Verde, we know what we’re talking about. But, you might wonder, How Do I Get To Cape Verde?

You get to Cape Verde by flying into any of the four international airports on Santiago, Sāo Vicente, Sal, or Boa Vista. Most major European cities have direct or connected flights to Cape Verde. From the UK, only TUI has direct flights to Cape VerdeFrom the USA, you mostly fly via Lisbon, Portugal.

If you’re a first-time visitor to Cape Verde, you might be stressing about getting to the (other) islands. But don’t worry. In this article, we’ll go over ways to make your trip as stress-free as possible. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting to Cape Verde, from planning your flights and choosing the best time to visit. We’ll also cover tips on saving money on flights and making the most of your experience. So, let’s get started! 

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Can I Fly Directly to Cape Verde?

Often the first thing travelers look for when booking flights is whether there are direct routes to the destination. Let’s face it; nobody wants to endure layovers and long waits at the airport. So, what about Cape Verde? Are there direct flights you can take?

You can only fly directly to Cape Verde through TUI airlines. They operate direct flights to Sal and Boa Vista from Birmingham, Manchester, and Gatwick airports in the UK. These flights are scheduled to run at least twice a week. TAP Portugal operates direct flights from Lisbon to Cape Verde daily.

Note: TAP Air Portugal has flights from Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, and most other major European airports to Lisbon (from where you can book a connecting flight to Cape Verde). If you’re based out of the US or Canada, TAP Air Portugal also has daily flights to Lisbon from New York, Miami, Boston, and Toronto.

Other islands can be reached via domestic flights or ferries. Later in this article, I’ll tell you more about that topic.

How Long Is the Flight to Cape Verde?

Now that you know how to get to Cape Verde, let’s talk about how long the flight will be. Let’s also look at how much of a difference there is between a direct flight and a connecting flight.

A direct flight from the UK to Cape Verde Islands Sal or Boa Vista will take around five to six hours. On a connecting flight, the journey is around 9 hours, depending on your starting point in Europe and the number of layovers. Flights from US and Canada will take between 10 and 15 hours due to the layover in Lisbon.

Table Estimated Flight Times

Direct FlightsFlight TimeConnection Flights
(via Lisbon, Portugal)
Flight Time
Lisbon4 hours 15 minutesMadrid5 hours 35 minutes
Gatwick6 hours 1 minuteParis6 hours and 45 minutes
Manchester6 hours 11 minutesRome7 hours 15 minutes
Glasgow 6 hours 23 minutesAmsterdam7 hours 15 minutes
Heathrow7 hours 40 minutesFrankfurt7 hours 20 minutes

As you can see, the difference in flight time for direct flights from Lisbon and connecting flights is just around 3 hours in most cases. Perhaps you can use that extra time to relax and read up on what to do once you get to Cape Verde!

What Airport Do You Fly Into At Cape Verde?

Regardless of whether you take a direct or connecting flight, your final destination will be one of the four international airports located on the islands of Santiago, Sao Vicente, Sal, and Boa Vista. 

The airports at Cape Verde you can fly into are – Amílcar Cabral International Airport (SID) on the island of Sal, Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI) on the island of Santiago, Cesária Évora Airport (VXE) on the island of São Vicente, and Aristides Pereira International Airport (BVC) on the island of Boa Vista.

When you fly into one of the airports, you can easily go island hopping by using domestic flights or ferries. At all airports are car rental companies, so you can easily drive around the islands once you arrive. But let’s have a more in-depth look at each of these airports.

1) Amílcar Cabral International Airport (SID)

Located on the island of Sal, this is the busiest airport in Cape Verde, with over a million passengers every year. It’s a single-terminal airport that offers both international and domestic flights.

Fun Fact: Did you know that NASA once used this airport as a facility to handle the Space Shuttle upon its re-entry to orbit?

From Sal, you can transit to the island of São Nicolau by ferry.

2) Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI)

Formerly called the Praia International Airport, this airport is located on the island of Santiago and is the second busiest in Cape Verde. It has both domestic and international flights, as well as charter services.

Santiago is the biggest southern island of Cape Verde. When you want to visit the smaller south islands such as Fogo, Brava, and Maio, you fly into Santiago and hop on a ferry to one of these islands.

3) Cesária Évora Airport (VXE)

Located on the island of São Vicente and operated by Aeroportos Segurança Aérea, this is one of the oldest airports in Cape Verde. It offers both domestic and international flights, with a modern terminal that can process almost 500 passengers an hour. The airport was named after the famous singer Cesária Évora, who was born on the island.

When you want to visit Santo Antão island, you fly into this airport and take the one-hour ferry to Santo Antão that goes twice a day.

4) Aristides Pereira International Airport (BVC)

Originally a domestic airport, this airport was recently upgraded to an international airport in 2007. Named after the first president of Cape Verde, it is located on the island of Boa Vista and serves the island of Sal Rei. Currently, the airport offers services to many African and European countries. 

All four airports offer basic amenities such as ATMs, currency exchange booths, food outlets, and duty-free shopping.

Read more: Which Is The Best Island To Visit In Cape Verde?

When Can I Get The Cheapest Flight To Cape Verde?

As with any destination, the cheapest time to visit Cape Verde is during the low season – i.e., mid-January, mid-June, and mid-September to mid-December. The peak season for tourists visiting the islands is from July to September and during Christmas, so expect higher prices during these times. 

The cheapest flights to Cape Verde are in the months of February and March when ticket prices drop to around $400-$500. The most expensive months to fly in are July and October, when ticket prices can go up to $750. 

Graph Average Ticket Price To Cape Verde By Month

Remember that these prices may also fluctuate depending on the airline you choose, so always compare your options and book early for the best deals.

Can I Take The Ferry To Cape Verde?

We’ve been talking quite a bit about flights, so we’re sure you’re wondering if there are other ways to get to Cape Verde. Being an island nation, you must be asking yourself, can I take the ferry to cape Verde? Because it seems natural that some ferry services must be available, right?

You can’t take the ferry to Cape Verde, but domestic ferry services between the islands are available. This means you fly into one of the four international airports and are able to take a ferry to visit other Cape Verde islands without an airport.

We’ve taken the ferry between São Vicente and Santo Antão. And visited the island of Fogo by using the ferry from Santiago island and flew back by plane. And want to share a bit more information and our experience.

Domestic ferries usually travel at fixed times every day, and tickets can be bought on the spot or in advance via website. The ferry usually takes between 1-3 hours for shorter distances but sometimes takes up to 12 hours between islands at a far distance.

For ferry route schedules, times and tickets, it is best to check the Cape Verde ferry company CV Interilhas. Please note that the ferry routes and times aren’t always very reliable. We experienced times ferries didn’t sail between certain islands or were canceled due to weather, lack of people, or other sometimes unclear reasons.

Read more: Can You Get A Ferry From Sal To Boa Vista?

When Is The Best Time To Fly To Cape Verde?

When planning a trip to Cape Verde, it’s important to consider the time of year you’ll be traveling. The weather in Cape Verde is generally pleasant all year round and windy since its islands. But the best time to visit Cape Verde will depend on what kind of activities and experiences you’re looking for. But let me give you the most straightforward answer;

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Cape Verde is between June – July, and September – November. The best time for cultural events is the month of February when you can visit the tropical carnival. Whale Watching season in Boa Vista is between March and May. While the turtle season runs from July – October. Activities like hiking, kite, and windsurfing can be done year-round.

During the summer months (June to October), temperatures are higher, and the weather is generally quite humid. The island experiences some rain in September, but this time of year is a great time to visit if you’re looking for fun beach days and outdoor activities.

The winter months (November to May) tend to have cooler temperatures and less humidity, doing sightseeing or exploring the islands more comfortable. This is also the best time to see some of the local wildlife, as the waters are clearer, and it’s easier to spot whales (March-May around Boa Vista), dolphins, turtles, and other marine life.

If you like to go kitesurfing, then the months of January through March have the strongest winds, but it can be done year-round. The best islands for kitesurfing are Sal and Boa Vista. You can read more about that in my article: Best Surf Spots in Boa Vista Cape Verde. 

Note: If you’re going to Cape Verde to enjoy its cultural attractions, you should plan your trip around February/ March. This is when the islands celebrate the iconic Carnival with music, dance, and other festivities.

Cape Verde Carnival Travel Video

Tips To Keep In Mind For Your Cape Verde Trip

Once you’ve figured out the best time for your trip and booked your flights, there are several other things to keep in mind in order to make the most of your Cape Verde holiday. Here are some tips to help you get started: 

  • Currency: The currency of Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean Escudo. This is a closed currency, meaning it can only be purchased and exchanged within the country. Keep that in mind when planning your budget.
  • Language: The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese. However, Cape Verdean Creole is widely spoken in the country, so don’t be surprised if you hear it more than Portuguese. Learn a few key phrases so you can better communicate with locals. Read more: Do the People in Cape Verde Speak English?
  • Accommodation: Try to find hotels near beachfront areas so you can get gorgeous views of the ocean. You can also book private villas if you’re traveling in a group and want to experience more privacy. Some of the best beachfront hotels are Hotel Riu Palace (Santa Maria), Hotel MorabezaI (Santa Maria), and Iberostar Club (Boa Vista).
  • Travel Bookings: It’s always a good idea to book your travel arrangements in advance, such as accommodation and ferry tickets. Cape Verde tends to get quite busy during peak times, so you may find it difficult to secure last-minute bookings. 
  • Essentials: Please make sure you carry essentials such as sunscreen and any special medication you may need. Also, bring a hat, sunglasses, and light clothing to protect yourself from the sun.

We hope these tips help you plan the perfect trip to Cape Verde! Bon Voyage! 

Best Way To Book Your Cape Verde Holiday

Tui Booking Holiday

Are you ready to book your all-inclusive trip to Cape Verde? Then the best travel company you can choose is TUI. They offer many holiday deals for all Cape Verdean Islands, including direct flights from major cities in the UK and EU.
And if you are from the United States or elsewhere, you can still book your holiday via TUI. You book your stay via TUI and your flight tickets separately. Most travelers from the US will have a stopover in Lisbon, Portugal. Find out their latest deals here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most common questions about traveling to Cape Verde:

Q.1. What documents do I need to enter Cape Verde? 

A. If you’re planning to stay in Cape Verde as a tourist for less than 30 days, you’ll not need to a visa. However, you’ll need a passport that’s valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in Cape Verde. Travelers from Senegal and other West African countries might also need to carry an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. 

Q.2. Can I get to Cape Verde by road?

A. You can’t get to Cape Verde by road. The only way to get to Cape Verde is to fly to one of the four international airports. And use domestic flights or ferries between the islands.

Did you know: Graham Hughes, the first man to travel to all 201 countries without flying, once attempted to take a fishing boat from Senegal to Cape Verde in 2009. He paid almost $3500 for the service, and upon reaching the country, he was thrown into jail on charges of illegal entry! Fortunately, he was released a few days later and continued his journey. 

Q.3. Are there direct flights from Cape Verde to other countries?

A. There are direct flights from Cape Verde to many other countries in Africa and Europe. Some of the most popular routes include Lisbon (Portugal), Paris (France), London (UK), Madrid (Spain), and Amsterdam (Netherlands). You’ll be able to find regular flights to these destinations from Sal, Boa Vista, and Praia airports. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has been helpful in planning your Cape Verde trip. With its stunning beaches, spectacular wildlife, and vibrant culture, Cape Verde is an ideal destination for those seeking a fun beach holiday or a cultural experience. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast ahead of time so you can make the most of your vacation. Boas férias! (Have a great vacation!) Perhaps we can get you even more in the mood with our video: The Beauty Of Cape Verde Islands, below.

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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