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.
4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles).
558,071 (UN estimate 2019).
135.4 per sq km.
President Jorge Carlos Fonseca since 2011.
Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva since 2016.
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.
Cape Verde air and sea borders are open.
You should check the conditions for travel with the airline before you book a flight. See Entry requirements for more information.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Cape Verde.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
Be prepared for your plans to change
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.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will have to self-isolate for 14 days at home or at your hotel. If you continue to test positive, you may not be able to get a fitness-to-fly certificate. You may also need to seek treatment.
Plan ahead and 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
Travel in Cape Verde
There are ferry and airline connections operating between islands. If you’re travelling between islands, you’ll need to complete an online health surveillance form and present a COVID certificate or a negative RT-PCR or antigen test done 72 before departure. Children up to the age of 12 are exempt from this requirement.
For international travel out of Cape Verde, you’ll need to present a COVID-19 test (RT-PCR or Ag-RDT) done in the last 72 hours before you travel or a COVID certificate. You can book your test online on some of the islands. This does not apply to children under the age of 12. You should check what the entry requirements are for the country you are travelling to.
Tests are available at health centres and cost 6500CV Escudos (around £55). You can find a list of health centres online.
If you are travelling to or from Cape Verde and transiting other countries, you will need to check the travel advice pages of that country. You should also check with your airline or travel provider about entry requirements when transiting other countries.
Find accommodation that is suitable for your needs. Some hotel accommodation is open and there is self-catering accommodation available. Look for hotels that have been awarded the “Cabo Verde – Secure Tourism” certification.
Public places and services
Cape Verde is in a ‘state of contingency’. The Cape Verde government has started to ease some of the restrictive measures previously in place, while maintaining the need to observe the rules on social distancing and hygiene:
- keep a social distance of at least 2m
- wash your hands regularly
- respect the rules on maximum occupancy in shops and service, restaurants, cafés and on public transport
If you test positive for COVID-19, it is still mandatory to self-isolate at your accommodation for 14 days.
With immediate effect:
- Shops and stores close at 8:30pm, with the exception of pharmacies and bread shops which close at 9pm
- Bars, open-air cafés selling alcoholic drinks, restaurants, snack bars and takeaways close at 12am
- Lounge bars close at 12am on weekdays and at 2am on weekends and bank holidays
- Parties and social gatherings are restricted to family groups up to a maximum of 10
- Cultural, recreational, sporting and leisure activities and family events, such as weddings and christening, are permitted, subject to the rules on social distancing and hygiene
- Beaches are open but access may be conditioned and rules on maximum capacity in force
Use of COVID certificates and negative test results
The Cape Verde government has introduced the use of COVID certificates and negative test results to access services and activities, including:
- to enter bars and lounge bars on the eve of public holidays and on the weekend from 7pm on Fridays
- to use gyms
- to check in to hotels and other tourist accommodation (with the exception of children up to the age of 18 when accompanied by a parent or guardian)
- to attend cultural, sporting, corporate, recreational and family events (with the exception of children up to the age of 18 when accompanied by a parent or guardian)
- from 1 September, to eat inside restaurants on the eve of public holidays and on weekends from 7pm on Fridays
- from 1 October, to enter nightclubs and dance halls
There are three Cape Verde COVID certificates – one proving the holder has been vaccinated, one proving the holder has recovered from COVID-19 and one showing evidence of a negative COVID test.
If you are resident in Cape Verde, check whether you are eligible for a COVID certificate on the Cape Verde government website.
If you are not eligible for a Cape Verde COVID certificate, you may show a negative COVID test result, obtained by one of the following means:
- Certified PCR test done within the previous 72 hours
- Certified antigen test done within the previous 72 hours
You must wear a face mask in enclosed spaces, such as shops and supermarkets, health centres, schools, airports and ports, cafes and restaurants and on public transport. You should wear your face covering when you enter the building and keep it on until you leave. In cafes and restaurants, keep your mask on until you are seated.
You must also wear a face mask outdoors where it is not possible to maintain a 2m social distance from people outside your family group.
These measures apply to everyone over the age of 10.
You may be exempt from using a face mask on medical grounds if authorised by the health authorities.
Healthcare in Cape Verde
If you’ve got COVID-19 symptoms you must self-isolate at your accommodation for 14 days. The government of Cape Verde has set up a free helpline, which you can call if you have any concerns about COVID-19: +238 (0)800 1112. This helpline is only available in Portuguese.
If you need medicine, you will only be able to buy it from a pharmacy. Unlike in the UK, non-prescription medication is not available in supermarkets or other shops. There are a limited number of pharmacies on each island and they are usually identified by a green cross. Find a pharmacy near you on the Pharmacy Network website.
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 might not be in stock so they will need to order it. This can take up to a week or more.
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.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Cape Verde
We will update this page when the Government of Cape Verde announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Cape Verde national vaccination programme (in Portuguese) started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm vaccines. The Government of Cape Verde has stated that British nationals resident in Cape Verde are eligible for vaccination, if they choose to join the programme. You can register online to be vaccinated.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Cape Verde, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
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.
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.
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 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.
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’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
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 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. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Cape Verde
Cape Verde’s air and sea borders are open. You’ll need a COVID certificate or a COVID-19 RT PCR nasal swab test or an antigen test (Ag-RDT) to enter Cape Verde. The test has to be done in the last 72 hours before travel. If you do not present a COVID-19 test done in the last 72 hours or a COVID vaccination certificate, you will not be allowed to board your flight. Children under 7 do not need to present a COVID-19 test.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Prior to your travel you will need to complete and submit:
the Airport Security Tax Form (TSA) on the EASE website and pay 3,400 escudos (approximately £30). This does not apply to visitors under 2 years of age or those who are normally resident in Cape Verde. (See Visas). If you’re travelling with a tour operator, check whether the cost of the TSA is included in your package.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 status
Cape Verde will only accept the UK’s letter version of proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. They will not accept digital proof. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
Screening on arrival
Your temperature will be taken on arrival in Cape Verde. If it is high, you will be taken to an assigned area at the airport where it will be measured again. If your temperature remains high, the Cape Verde authorities may need you to do a COVID-19 test.
If you arrive in Cape Verde without a negative COVID-19 test or a COVID certificate, you won’t be allowed to disembark. In exceptional circumstances, the Cape Verde authorities may allow you entry but you will have to take a COVID-19 test at your own expense.
Check the requirements for travel to Cape Verde with your airline before you book a flight.
Travelling between islands
Internal inter-island flights and passenger ferries are operational. If you’re travelling between islands, you’ll need to complete an online health surveillance form and present a COVID certificate or a negative RT-PCR or antigen test done 72 before departure.
Children under the age of 12 are exempt from this requirement.
You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.
If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the local immigration authorities or the nearest Cape Verdean embassy. You should also check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.
Regular entry requirements
From 1 January 2019, if you have a British Citizen passport you can enter Cape Verde as a visitor for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.
In place of a visa, before travelling you should register with the Cape Verde authorities on the EASE website and, if arriving by air, pay a new Airport Security Tax (TSA) of 3,400 escudos (approximately £30). This does not apply to visitors under 2 years of age or those who are normally resident in Cape Verde. Check with your tour operator or airline what arrangements are in place for your booking, as some tour operators and airlines may complete this on your behalf and have specific registration requirements. You can find more information on the pre-registration process and TSA in 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 entry requirements with the nearest Cape Verde Embassy:
the Cape Verde Embassy in Brussels, Ambassade du Cap-Vert, Avenue Jeanne 29, 1050, Bruxelles Telephone: +32 2 64 36 270 Fax:+32 2 64 63 385 Email: email@example.com
the Cape Verde Consulate General in the Netherlands, Baan 6, Rotterdam, 3011 CB, Telephone: +31 10 477 8977 Fax: +31 10 477 4553 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
the Embassy of Cape Verde, 3, Avenue El-Hadjily MBAYE, B.P. 11.269, Dakar, Senegal Telephone:+221-3382-11873/13936 Email: email@example.com
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cape Verde.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Cape Verde.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Cape Verde on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Cape Verde.
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).
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.
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.
Some of the islands are mountainous, and travellers venturing into areas of altitude may suffer from altitude sickness, which can potentially be life threatening.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
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
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.
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.
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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.