As your plane begins its descent over this sparkling archipelago spread out like a necklace in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across an unexplored paradise. But thanks to an increasing number of cheap flights to Cape Verde, your footsteps won’t be the first in the soft sand of these treasure islands. Four international airports bring inquisitive travellers from all corners of the globe to this tiny republic, lured by the promise of fabulous weather, glorious natural beauty and unspoiled beaches. From the colonial-era landmarks of Mindelo to the water sports playground of Santa Maria, you won’t need a map to lead you to Cape Verde’s jewels – they’re on glittering display all around you.
Cape Verde’s location 350 miles off the coast of Senegal is one of its great advantages as a holiday destination – the ocean brings cooling breezes and luxurious vegetation, while the warm Atlantic currents keep bathing temperatures pleasant all year round. The rainy season lasts from August to October, although storms are usually intermittent and short-lived. You’re most likely to find cheap flights to Cape Verde during the autumn months. As the island nation becomes an increasingly popular destination for winter sun holidays, this is the time of year when flights from the UK are in most demand, and consequently more expensive. Strong winds from the Sahara from December through April make these the best months for surfing and sailboarding. However, if you book well in advance and are prepared to shop around, you should be able to snap up some good deals, especially if you keep your options open with regard to possible dates and routes.
The most popular airports for flights from the UK are Nelson Mandela International located in the country’s capital, Praia on Santiago island, and Amílcar Cabral International on Sal island. TAP Portugal flies from London Gatwick to both destinations via Lisbon with a quickest journey time of around 8 hours. Transavia flies from London Luton via Paris Orly to Boa Vista island’s Aristides Pereira International Airport, while TAP Portugal offers the same destination from Heathrow via Lisbon. Alternatively, check out Thomson Airways’ seasonal charter departures to Cape Verde from Birmingham, Manchester and London Gatwick, which can offer some great rates.
Most travellers will have pre-booked their accommodation in Cape Verde’s towns and resorts, so check whether your hotel provides a courtesy shuttle from the airport – most do. There are limited public transport facilities on all the islands so you are strongly advised to make arrangements before you travel, such as pre-booking a taxi or minibus to your destination. Car hire is available at Boa Vista and Praia airports, which is a great way to see the sights independently during your stay.
Island hopping or chilling out in one place – whichever way you approach it, Cape Verde offers a bewitching combination of heritage and hedonism. Go in search of culture in Mindelo, a picture-perfect harbour fringed by graceful colonial buildings and friendly bistros – pop into the old customs house to admire exhibitions of local arts and crafts and treat yourself to a handmade souvenir. Wander round the quaint old quarter of Praia; be dazzled by Cidade Velha, which gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2009 as the first European settlement in the tropics; then shake off the dust in the cooling waves of Santiago’s fabulous coast. Get your pulses racing on Sal, a windsurfing hotspot with a buzzing nightlife to match, or hike the canyons and gorges of Santo Antao, famous for its dramatic natural beauty. Cape Verde is a little slice of paradise that’s waiting to be discovered.
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