Capital: Praia (Praia de Santa Maria)
Inhabitants: 290,000 people (about 130,000 in Praia)
In three words: craggy mountains, a strong African flavour, Cidade Velha
Santiago is the largest island in the archipelago. It is also the principal agricultural producer of Cabo Verde. The bustling capital city Praia, built on a tableland of rock, is a place where you can experience the colourful Sucupira market. The interior of the island, on the other hand, is filled with spectacular mountains, ribeiras and plantations which make the island a good place for hiking.
Make sure you pay a visit to the national park Serra Malagueta, which is one of protected areas in the archipelago and one of the last remaining forest resources on Santiago. The area boasts a large number of endemic plant and bird species.
The island is also an interesting place to visit for archaeologists and people interested in history because of Cidade Velha (‘Old City’), the ruins of a 500-year-old once proud town, formerly known as Ribeira Grande.
Recommended places to visit:
- Assomada: (the Mercado Municipal in the city center provides a variety of tropical fruits and other products. Tip: visit on Wednesday or Saturday)
- Tarrafal (a tranquil city with a beautiful beach. Visit the Campo da Morta Lenta, used as a concentration camp in the past, located just outside of Tarrafal)
- Sucupira-market Praia (Praia’s biggest market: lively and colourful)
- Jardim Botanico Nacional (the national botanical garden)
- Parque Natural de Serra Malagueta (designed to protect plants that are threatened with extinction and to study endemic species)
- Cidade Velha (the most important historic site in the archipelago)
Source: Marco Polo Cape Verde
Bradt Travel Guide Cape Verde
Watch our video of Santiago!
What to bring to Santiago!
Cidade Velha:UNESCO World Heritage Site
Our visit to Campo da morta lenta