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Language: Portuguese | Currency: Cape Verdean escudo | Local time: UTC+01.00 | Avg. Flight time: 10.5 hrs
Thomson Airways has weekly, year-round departures to both Sal and Boa Vista from London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester (MAN) and Birmingham (BHX) respectively. Almost all those routes have additional services in winter (November to April). A weekly service introduced in 2016 also links Bristol (BRS) with Sal, and from 2017, there will be summer flights from Glasgow (GLA) to Sal too.
Thomas Cook Airlines’ services to Sal depart from Gatwick (weekly) and Manchester (two or three times a week). Both airlines charter most seats for their own package holidays, with a smattering available to other travellers seeking flights to Cape Verde. Prices for those can vary enormously.
Fares dip slightly from June to August and in December, the optimum times for cheap trips to Cape Verde. Last-minute summer deals are also common.
An alternative is to book cheap flights to Cape Verde via a European city. The speediest connections are through Lisbon (LIS) with TAP Portugal, which has a codeshare with Cape Verde’s national carrier, TACV. Using TAP Portugal also enables you to land on Sao Vicente (VXE) or Santiago (RAI).
Other airports directly serving the archipelago include Paris Orly (ORY), Madrid (MAD) and – for a double whammy of island paradises – Gran Canaria (LPA). In these cases, expect a total flight time to Cape Verde of about nine hours.
With domestic flights somewhat unreliable, it’s sensible to endeavour to arrive at the airport closest to your island base. If, for example, you’re staying on Fogo, life will be a lot easier if you touch down in nearby Santiago.
Almost all the big-name cruise companies – including Cunard, Princess, P&O, and Fred Olsen – now dock at Cape Verde, typically combining the archipelago with the Canaries, where itineraries start and finish. Most itineraries stick to São Vicente (Mindelo) or Santiago (Praia). The majority stay for between 48 and 72 hours, giving you ample time to visit other, nearby islands.
For a more comprehensive Cape Verde tour, Noble Caledonia’s ‘island-hopping’ Cape Verde cruise covers an impressive eight islands, including the lesser known Maio and Brava. For sailors, meanwhile, Praia and Mindelo’s marinas are the best bets.
Palmeira (Sal) and Sal Rei (Boa Vista) are other potential ports, and every island has some anchorage – but moor in Mindelo or Praia if you need maintenance.
Visas are required for all international travellers (other than yachters who sleep on their boats) visiting Cape Verde. Sorting the paperwork on arrival is a laborious process, so try to finalise your visa in advance. UK citizens should apply at least a week before travelling and have a passport that is valid for at least six months.