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Travel Guide Africa Cape Verde Praia

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Introduction

Praia is the capital and largest city of Cape Verde. It is located on the island of Santiago island in the Sotavento group and has a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. It is the administrative, cultural and economic centre of the country and is home to one of several international airports. It also functions as the major port in the country, mainly for import and export of many of the island's products. For travellers, there are abundant hotels, restaurants and a great nightlife, as well as cultural activities. Features include the Palace of Culture, the Ethnographic Museum and the National Historical Archive.

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Sights and Activities

A large part of the sights are located at the plateau. The old city wall complete with the old cannons protected it from attackers arriving by sea. The governmental district is in the southern part of town.

  • Praia town hall (Antiga Câmara Municipal). Built in neoclassicist style with a square central tower, the town hall is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture around. It's still in use. When the doors are open, make sure to have a look inside. There's even some information on the building's history available for visitors.
  • Praia Cathedral (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça). The city's cathedral was constructed in 1902 in classicist style.

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Events and Festivals

Cape Verde Carnival

February sees the most colorful and spectacular festival of the island’s calendar and is one of the best times of the year to visit Cape Verde. No matter where you go, it is virtually impossible to escape the party and endless music in full swing. The most elaborate and hedonistic celebrations take place on the streets of Praia and Mindelo where everyone pulls out their fancy costumes and puts away their inhibitions. The dancing, drinking and debauchery goes on for days, with music, fireworks and huge parades.

Kriol Jazz Festival

Started in 2009, the Kriol Jazz Festival is held in the capital of Praia every April and attracts artists from around Cape Verde and abroad. The event promotes Cape Verde’s rich musical heritage, which hails from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Performances are held at locations around the city and get the community moving to the music all weekend long.

Cape Verde Independence Day

A raucous event which is celebrated on every island, Independence Day festivities are held July 5, commemorating the day the country gained its freedom from Portugal. Colorful celebrations complete with serious drinking the local favorite grogue and feasting are the norm and the fun carries through into the evening. It’s a great time to visit and experience the pride and light-heartedness of the locals.

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Weather

Praia features a mild desert climate with a short wet season and a lengthy, very pronounced dry season. In fact, outside of the months of August, September and October, little precipitation falls on Praia. The city on average sees about 260 millimetres of rain per year, between February and June, Praia has no rainy days, it has 8 rainy days in August. Since the coldest month is far above 18 °C its temperature patterns resembles a tropical climate, but lacks enough precipitation to be classified as such. Despite the fact that it has an arid climate, Praia seldom gets very hot or very cold, due to its oceanside location on Santiago Island. Temperatures are warm and constant with an average high temperature of 27 °C and an average low temperature of 23 °C.

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Getting There

By Plane

TACV Cabo Verde Airlines is the national airline of Cape Verde and flies from Praia International Airport (RAI). There are connections to Banjul, Boston, Dakar, Fortaleza, Lisbon and London.

By Boat

You can also enter the city through the port. There are ferry boats that have irregular service to and from the islands of Maio, Boavista, Sal and Sao Nicolau, and more regular and scheduled service to and from Sao Vicente and Fogo.

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Getting Around

By Car

Rental cars can be found mainly at the airport, but with the boom of tourism some downtown locations have opened as well. Rates are around 4500$ per day including tax and insurance. Usually the first 100km are included in the price too, after this it's 0.10$ for each additional kilometer.

When it comes to taxis you should be careful with illegal taxis that sometimes roam around and might rip you off. The normal taxi fare between two furthest points of the city, for example Pensamento to Palmarejo, or Palmarejo to Achada Mato, shouldn’t be more than 1500$ during the day or 1800$ at night. Taxi drivers usually expect to get a tip, give around 50-100$. Just be careful and always use taxis that have a taximeter, so that they don’t overcharge you.

By Public Transport

There are two main bus companies that serve the city, Moura Company and Sol Atlantico. Each route has their own numbers. The main lines are from Safende to Achada Santo Antonio, Vila Nova to Achada Santo Antonio, Calbeceira to Palmarejo, Pensamento to Terra Branca, Achada Grande to Achada Santo Antonio, Sao Felipe to Plateau, Ponta D'Agua to Plateau,Achada Mato to Palmarejo. Most of these lines pass by Plateau (city center), Varzea and Terra Branca, the bus fare is about 35$.

By Foot

The lack of an official map makes the city a little hard to navigate, especially since large parts still lack proper street names and house numbers. Fortunately, most streets in the city center and in the more important parts of the city do have names and numbers and most people are friendly and will give you directions. Walking between the different districts is not recommended, especially since most of the city's sidewalks are made out of loose cobblestone that make it difficult to walk. Also keep in mind that this town is full of hills that can be tiring to walk. However, if you want to have a good cardio-workout, try it!

By Bike

A bike can be a good way of getting around both Praia and the island itself. The problem is that bike rentals are sparse, so if you're looking forward to a bike vacation, you may need to bring your own.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

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This is version 7. Last edited at 13:42 on Jul 11, 17 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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