World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Cape Verde

Cape Verde travel guide

About Cape Verde

The islands of Cape Verde are a bewitching blend of Portuguese and African influences. You'll see it in the many European-style buildings and the curious musical styles, but its particularly noticeable in the food. Portuguese fare – especially seafood dishes laden with garlic and olive oil – and more African-style fare – such as stews, beans, maize and tropical crops – comfortably combined on most menus.

Many associate Cape Verde with the mournful songs of Cesaria Evoria, the islands' best known singer. The ‘barefoot diva' is the best exponent of morna, a lovelorn type of folk music similar to Portuguese fado. Music is a key component of life on Cape Verde, and several of the islands stage exuberant carnivals, with the best known being the Baia das Gatas Festival. São Vicente is also renowned for its exuberant festivities.

Once a colony and slave trade outpost, Cape Verde varies wildly in character and scenery through its 10 islands and five tiny islets. From spectacular verdant mountain ranges, to deserted beaches, with a few volcanic landscapes thrown in for good measure, it's the variety that makes Cape Verde such an unusual and appealing destination.

There’s lush and lively Santiago, the biggest of the islands, which boasts verdant hillsides, jungle and plenty of remarkable wildlife. It’s also the cultural heart of Cape Verde, home to the UNESCO-listed old fort at Cidade da Ribeira Grande de Santiagog (previously called Cidade Velha).

Near Santiago, divers will discover 16th century shipwrecks littering the sea floor. Blue marlin, yellowfin tuna and the odd humpback whale can be seen in the clear blue waters off Boa Vista. The island of Sal is popular for watersports and white sandy beaches, while Fogo is a hiker’s paradise, where volcanic peaks tower 2,829m (9,821 ft) above sea-level.

Cape Verde may have struggled economically since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, but many argue that it's isolation is a blessing, leaving these islands comparatively unspoiled. The economy is currently stable and investing in modernized infrastructure, service, commerce, foreign investment and tourism. Get there before the crowds inevitably catch on.

Key facts


4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles).


558,071 (UN estimate 2019).

Population density:

135.4 per sq km.





Head of state:

President José Maria Neves since 2021.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva since 2021.

Travel Advice

Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Cape Verde’s current entry restrictions and requirements. Due to COVID-19, these may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.

If you plan to pass through another country on your journey, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides appropriate cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

Most visits to Cape Verde are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions against petty crime. See Crime.

There is a low risk of malaria in the capital city, Praia (Santiago Island). For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. See Health

Many British nationals have experienced serious problems when buying property in Cape Verde. Before buying property anywhere on the islands, you should seek independent qualified legal advice. See our list of English speaking lawyers in Cape Verde.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Cape Verde, attacks cannot be ruled out. See Terrorism

Consular support is not available from the British government in Cape Verde as there is no British Embassy. However, the British Embassy Lisbon in Portugal can provide consular support to British nationals.

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Cape Verde on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Cape Verde.

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Cape Verde

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Cape Verde, you will have to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of your symptoms or from the day on which you received a positive test.

The people you have been in close contact with will only have to take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate if they have symptoms.

In these circumstances, make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

If you need medical advice while you are in isolation, you should contact the Health authorities on +238 (0) 800 1112 (service only available in Portuguese).

Onward or return travel from Cape Verde

Travel in Cape Verde

There are no longer any COVID-19 vaccination, testing or passenger locator form requirements for entry to Cape Verde

You should follow the advice of the Cape Verde authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.

Some safety precautions are still in force:

  • keep a social distance
  • use a face mask in the circumstances described below
  • wash your hands frequently

Public places and services

You must wear a face mask:

  • on entry to hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, retirement and nursing homes

You should wear your face covering when you enter the building and keep it on until you leave.

This requirement does not apply to children aged 9 and under.

You may be exempt from using a face mask on medical grounds if authorised by the health authorities. The Cape Verde health authority still recommends that you use a face mask when in crowded areas and in enclosed spaces.

Healthcare in Cape Verde

There are both state and private medical facilities in Cape Verde. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call the helpline on +238 (0) 800 11 12 (available only in Portuguese).

If you need to take a COVID-19 test, find a facility near you from this list of authorised providers .

You will only be able to buy medication from a pharmacy. Find a pharmacy near you on the Ministry of Health’s list of registered pharmacies.

If you have a UK prescription, take it to a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist whether they can dispense your medication for you. Remember the pharmacist will have to apply national rules so may not be able to give you the same strength or dosage. Some medicines may not be available or may not be authorised for sale in Cape Verde. In some cases, the medicine may be out of stock. If it needs to be ordered, it can take at least a week to arrive.

If you need a repeat prescription, go to the nearest health centre or hospital A&E.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Cape Verde.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.


For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7. British nationals should contact the British Embassy Lisbon in Portugal.


Crime affects all islands of Cape Verde, but the number of incidents affecting British nationals is generally low. Burglaries and muggings have been reported on the main tourist islands of Sal and Boavista. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Keep sight of your belongings at all times. Leave valuables in a hotel safe if possible and do not carry large amounts of cash. Avoid unlit areas after dark. Petty crimes e.g. pick-pocketing or handbag snatching can occur, including on beaches.

Make sure your holiday accommodation is secure. Lock all doors and windows at night and when you go out. If you’re worried about security at your accommodation, speak to your tour operator, hotel manager or to the owner of the property.

Sexual assaults are rare but they do occur. Be alert and avoid secluded stretches of the beach with limited or restricted visibility. If you become a victim of crime, contact the local police. In an emergency call 132 (police) or 131 (fire). Response times vary and service standards may not be as high as in the UK.

Road travel

You can drive in Cape Verde with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 months, or on a valid International Driving Permit. If you’re staying longer or living in Cape Verde, you’ll need to get a Cape Verde driving licence.

Traffic is usually light and main road conditions are generally of a reasonable quality.

If you hire a car, scooter or quad bike, make sure it’s in good condition and that it’s fully insured. Quad biking is considered to be an extreme sport and may not be included in your travel insurance policy. Check whether you need additional insurance and make sure it covers you for the cost of medical care and repatriation.

Crash helmets are needed by law. Your insurance policy may be invalidated if you have an accident and you’re not wearing a helmet.

The rainy season in Cape Verde is from mid August to mid October. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.

Local travel

Intercity bus services can be dangerous due to poor driving. Taxis hailed from hotels are generally reliable. In Praia, city buses and taxis are reliable, clean and in good condition. Car rental is widely available on the islands of Santiago, Sal, Boa Vista and São Vicente.

Sea travel  

Sea conditions around Cape Verde are sometimes dangerous. Take local advice before travelling by sea. Travel by sea to the southern islands of Fogo and Brava in particular can often be disrupted.

Take care if you participate in water sports, swimming, boating and fishing. Tides and currents around the islands are very strong. Respect the warning flags and keep within sight of the lifeguard.

Political situation

The political situation is generally stable, but you should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Cape Verde, attacks cannot be ruled out.

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Local laws and customs

There is zero tolerance towards possessing, using or trafficking any type of illegal drugs. Penalties are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

This page has information on travelling to Cape Verde.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Cape Verde set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Cape Verde’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All travellers

There are no longer any COVID-19 vaccination, testing or passenger locator form requirements for entry to Cape Verde

You need to complete a Traveller Pre-registration Form and, if arriving by air, pay the airport security tax (TSA) before you travel to Cape Verde (see Visas ).

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Cape Verde are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Cape Verde are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

If you’re transiting through Cape Verde

If you are transiting through Cape Verde on your way to another country, you do not need to show proof of your vaccination status or take a COVID-19 test.

You should still check the COVID-19 entry requirements for your final destination.

For further information on travelling to Cape Verde, see the Cape Verde government’s Travel Guide.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cape Verde.


If you have a British Citizen passport, you can enter Cape Verde as a visitor for up to 30 days without a visa.

Before you travel, you must complete a Traveller Pre-registration form and, if arriving by air, pay the airport security tax (TSA). This does not apply to children aged 1 and under or those who are resident in Cape Verde.

If you are travelling with a tour operator, check whether they have arrangements in place to complete the form on your behalf.

For further information on the pre-registration process, see this information leaflet.

If you’re travelling on a different type of British passport, are travelling for a purpose other than tourism, or intending to stay longer than 90 days, you should check the entry requirements with the nearest Cape Verde Embassy .

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or brought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Cape Verde as some of the islands are mountainous. Travellers venturing into areas of altitude may suffer from altitude sickness, which can potentially be life threatening. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre).

UK health authorities have classified Cape Verde as having a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission. There is a low risk of malaria in the capital city, Praia (Santiago Island). For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Health risks

Since August 2022, there has been an increase in cases of Shigellosis, a form of dysentery, among travellers returning from Cape Verde. Further reports in February 2023 suggest that most cases reported stayed in the Santa Maria region on the island of Sal. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre and make sure you are observing standard food, water and personal hygiene precautions, such as washing hands and only using bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth etc.

Local medical care

Medical facilities in Cape Verde are limited, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. The largest hospitals are in Praia and Mindelo, with smaller medical facilities and clinics located throughout the country. Medical facilities are particularly limited on the island of Boavista. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão no longer have functioning airports, so air evacuation in the event of a medical emergency is extremely difficult from these two islands.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 130 (Santiago Island) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.


The rainy season in Cape Verde runs from August to October.

Hurricanes can develop, although hurricanes often begin their formation in the waters around the Cape Verde Islands, they rarely reach hurricane strength close to the Islands. A typical Cape Verde-type hurricane develops in the area south of the islands, usually during the rainy season from August to October. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Center.. See Tropical cyclones

Sand storms

Some of the islands may experience sand storms (known locally as “bruma seca”) between December and February. The intensity of the storms varies but can disrupt air travel especially on the island of Boa Vista. If a sand storm occurs while you’re on one of the islands contact your tour operator or airline.

The Cape Verde Escudo is tied to the euro at CV Esc 110.265 = 1 Euro. Banks will exchange hard currencies. Large hotels and restaurants accept some credit cards and payment in euros.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or cannot offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you cannot find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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