The lively city of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente
São Vicente is one of the ten islands of the Republic of Cape Verde. Located on the northern side of this archipelago, it is an increasing popular touristic destination. The beautiful and constant subtropical weather and the world-class surfing conditions explain part of the island's popularity. But there is much more to São Vicente. For instance the capital of the island, Mindelo, which is famous for its Carnival celebrations. It is also the beating heart of the island.
The perfect holiday destination all year long
São Vicente has perfect conditions to make it an all year long holiday destination. The average temperature on the island is 23 degrees Centigrade, which varies only a few degrees during the year. This means that São Vicente has the same climate as the Canary Islands, and it is even two degrees Centigrade warmer in the winter. Although there is a dry season and a rainy season, the average rainfall per year is 100 millimetres. These conditions make it the perfect holiday destination. And to visit Sao Vicente means to visit Mindelo. On our Cape Verde weather page you can find the full details about the weather in Cape Verde.
Mindelo: the capital of São Vicente
Mindelo is the capital of São Vicente and hosts 93% of the island's total population. It is located in the bay area of Porte Grande in the north of São Vicente. Mindelo is surrounded by mountains that protect its natural harbour. As the main port and main town of the island, you can find several restaurants, hotels and tourist agencies in Mindelo. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1795 and served as a coal deposit throughout a large part of the nineteenth century. The abandonment of coal at the beginning of the twentieth century led to economic decline. It was only after the Cape Verdean independence from Portugal in 1975, that the city started to prosper again. Today the city has a population of over 70,000 people, largely young (most of them not older than 30 years) and of Creole descent (mixed African-Portuguese).
The heart of Cape Verdean Carnival
Mindelo is the main place in the Republic of Cape Verde to celebrate Carnival. Every year in February or March, thousands of tourists and locals celebrate this catholic feast the Cape Verdean way. Loud live music competes with colourful processions and the smell of street food. The streets of Mindelo are filled with revellers dressed up in exotic and outgoing clothing. This electrifying atmosphere is the result of the combination of Brazilian style Carnival, local Creole influences and Portuguese colonial flavours. The celebrations start as early as nine in the morning and can go on until the evening. Enjoy this one in a lifetime experience in very pleasant subtropical temperatures.
Things to see and do in Mindelo
Apart from the Carnival celebrations, Mindelo has a lot to offer. You can easily explore the town by foot. Visit the local fish market or the old fort on the top of the hill overlooking the harbour. The two-stories high Governor's Palace (Palácio do Governador) is a good preserved example of colonial architecture. Examples of local craftsmanship can be seen in the small but charming National Arts Museum (Centro Nacional de Artesanato). The local music is interesting and Mindelo has lots of restaurants, clubs and pubs that guarantee a good night out. Beaches and surfing opportunities are always nearby, and if you want to skip town for a while you can visit Monte Verde, the highest peak of the island. You will find this Green Mountain just five kilometres outside the city.