Mindelo, port city, in the island of Sao Vicente.

A Weekend in Mindelo, Cape Verde: Your Ideal Two-Day Itinerary

A weekend in Mindelo, Cabo Verde, is all you’re getting? Use this itinerary to plan the perfect 2 day visit!

Mindelo is São Vicente’s main city and the second largest city on the 10 islands of the wonderful Cabo Verde archipelago, in the Atlantic Ocean. The city is additionally widely recognised as the cultural centre of the Cape Verde islands, with its vibrant nightlife and atmosphere.

Furthermore, the Portuguese and British influences include some impressive 19th-century buildings and the city enjoys a temperate climate year-round, making it the ideal destination, no matter the season.


A Weekend in Mindelo – Day 1 : Sports and relaxation

But first, a culinary delight

Fresh Cachupa, the national dish, can be enjoyed in Mindelo, Cabo Verde.

Start your first day on the island with a breakfast on the terrace of a coffee shop in the city center. Here, you’ll embrace the hustle and bustle of the local life, and discover traditional food and drinks.

Let yourself be tempted by the famous Catchupa guisod or refogado, the breakfast version of Cape Verde’s national dish, served with fried egg and traditional sausage. You can accompany it with a good local Santo Antão coffee, or a fresh herbal infusion.

Or, while also getting your money’s worth, you can try the Cuscus, served with butter and sometimes papaya jam, and take a fresh bissap juice to complement it.

Hiking to Monte Verde…

You are now full of energy for a hike up to Monte Verde, the highest point (750 meters) of São Vicente. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy the view over the entire Mindelo bay and even Santo Antão under the sun.

You can reach the start of this easy hike by taking a local aluguer or collectivo (shared minibus), for a cheap cost. Be prepared to wait, as it only departs once full.

By taking a taxi, you can skip the wait and get dropped off right at the top of the hill. The driver can even wait for you before heading back. It’s less of a workout, but the cost will increase. The view, however, remains excellent!

… Cycling to the East coast

Baía das Gatas and the 2 Calhau volcanoes in the distance - highlights from São Vicente Cape Verde.

If you prefer cycling rather than hiking, you can rent some bikes (electric or not) in the city, and go to explore the surroundings : Salamansa, Baía das Gatas or Calhau; 3 villages with sandy beaches on the east coast of the island.

… Or cycling to Calhau and hiking the volcanos

If you don’t want to choose between these two activities, you can combine them by cycling to Calhau and then hiking the volcanoes slopes to reach the summit.

Calhau, at the foot of the volcano - another gorgeous beach in this island, 18km from Mindelo.

Calhau is a small fishing village dominated by two small volcanoes. At the top, you’ll find a beautiful panoramic view over the bay of Calhau and, in the distance, on a clear day, you can see the uninhabited island of Santa Luzia.

Lunch time in São Vicente

For lunch, no matter what you did in the morning or your current location, you will always find a place to eat: a proper restaurant (“Creperie chez Zoé” on Salamansa Beach, or Restaurant Hamburg in Calhau, for example), or just a little place where local people will serve you traditional food.

Grilled octopus in São Vicente, a perfect beach food in local restaurants across the island.

Enjoy the ocean

Did you remember to pack your swimming costume? It’s time to use it ! Rest at the beach, go for a swim or snorkeling, walk along the sandy beaches… Enjoy your time out of the city in São Vicente, before going back for the evening.

A Weekend in Mindelo: Enjoy life at the beach at the delightful sandy beach(es)!

Time for cocktails at sunset

After a refreshing and invigorating shower, it’s time to go admire the sunset with a cocktail in hand, or a traditional grog (local rum). Several places in the city are perfect for this : Kalimba and Caravela on Laginha beach, Terra Lodge located on the top of a little hill in the centre of the city, Mindelo Marina Bar, etc…

São Vicente sunset with a cocktail on Laginha Beach and beyond.

… And bafas !

To accompany your drink, you can eat some traditional bafas, the local salted finger food. These will fill a small hole in the stomach, keep the hungry waiting, and cushion an excess of drink…

There are many varieties: pastels, croquetes, rissois, salgadinhas, empadas, pão – but they are all delicious !

Caïpirinha and bafas.

Dinner and live music

You can decide to stay in the same establishment for dinner or move to one of the many restaurants in the city center that offer live music, an expression of Cape Verdean joie de vivre. Metalo, Colombinho, Jazzy Bird,Livraria Nhô Djunga, etc… there are plenty of possibilities to enjoy live music in Mindelo (and São Vicente).

Live music at Metalo, Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde.

Did you know that live music and dance are vital elements of the Cape Verdean culture? Most locals dance, sing or play a musical instrument.

Let’s go party in São Vicente!

If you still have some energy left and the live music gets you in the mood to dance, you can extend the night in one of Mindelo’s trendy clubs and enjoy its vibrant nightlife. Martini Sunset, Caravela, Cristal… different places for different atmospheres.

Let yourself be carried away by the lively rhythms and enjoy a few dances with the locals. We have told you, they’ve got rhythm in their skin!

A Weekend in Mindelo – Day 2 : Culture and experiences

Time for brunch!

Sunday morning, after a night of dancing, is the perfect time for brunch. Several places are a fit: Pastelaria Morabeza, Casa Café Mindelo, Cremositos, in the city center; or, if you prefer a quiet place, Casamarel, a hotel on a hill, which offers a nice view and a swimming pool.

Brunch with fresh juices in São Vicente over a Mindelo weekend.

A weekend in Mindelo isn’t complete without a cultural immersion…

Welcome to the CNAD (National Center for Art, Crafts and Design)

CNAD, in São Vicente, Cabo Verde.

If you’ve ever walked the streets of the city center, you’ve probably noticed this big wall harmoniously composed of colorful drumheads. It represents the social, cultural, and symbolic context that the metallic barrels bring to the islands, loaded with goods and stories of a vast Cape Verdean diaspora spread worldwide.

The CNAD hosts permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a library and research centre, collection and artistic residencies spaces, a shop, a café and a multipurpose courtyard, in which concerts are regularly organised.

And don’t forget to stop by the CCM

Centro Cultural de Mindelo, São Vicente.

A weekend in Mindelo isn’t complete without rounding up your cultural excursion with a visit to the Mindelo Cultural Center, where music rehearsals, theatre, yoga, choral singing, and visual arts are held with the doors open. And if you are a music player, you can showcase your talent thanks to the grand piano available to anyone.

The Mindelo Cultural Center also has a bookshop, a craft shop and a pleasant patio for those who like to enjoy the weather and the sweet routine of the city’s main cultural center.

As you pass from one to the other, stroll through the streets to admire the rich architecture packed with British and Portuguese influences.

The replica of Lisbon’s Torre de Belém, the Palácio do Povo (Presidential Palace), and the building that holds the fish market, as well as the colourful houses that line the cobble streets are some architectural landmarks not to be missed!

Torre de Belém in Mindelo - Sao Vicente and the Torre de Belem in this vibrant city

São Pedro, a short trip away from São Vicente

It’s time to take an aluguer and reach the wonderful fishing village of São Pedro, and its not less marvellous beach, where you may discover a new experience: to swim with non-captive turtles.

The activity began a few years ago when a group of turtles became acquainted with the village’s fishermen, who began feeding and removing them from the fishing nets where they were trapped.

Did you know Cape Verde is the 3rd country in the world with the highest number of nesting Caretta caretta turtles ? This species of turtle is the most common on the archipelago, but not the only one.

Swim with a diverse range of turtles in São Pedro, São Vicente Island, during a weekend in Mindelo.

Or, you can also hike to the Farol Dona Amelia, the São Pedro lighthouse, by walking along the sandy beach, and going up behind the new residential complex. The path doesn’t present any particular difficulties, but caution is advised as it is on a cliff face.

On the way to the lighthouse in Sao Vicente (specifically Sao Pedro).

If the lighthouse keeper is present, you may be able to climb to the top of the lighthouse to admire the 180°C view.

Relaxing to finish off a weekend in Mindelo

The weekend is drawing to a close, and by now you should take some time to relax and unwind.

Why not treat yourself to a relaxing massage, or a more dynamic one to help your muscles recover from a weekend of intense exercise in São Vicente? Or perhaps a private yoga lesson to integrate all the good energies captured during this weekend of discovering the cultural capital?

You can easily find many available professionals for both activities in Mindelo. We strongly advise you to book your massage or yoga lesson at the start of your weekend, or even before if possible, to be sure to finish your 2-days trip on a soft note.


The cultural heart of the Cape Verde Archipelago

In conclusion, a weekend in Mindelo can and will be filled with rich cultural experiences, historical exploration, culinary delights, and stunning natural beauty. As the cultural capital of Cape Verde, Mindelo is a city that wears its history and heritage with pride, offering a tapestry of experiences that are as diverse and vibrant as the city itself.

On the Island of São Vicente, Mindelo is the main port city and attraction. You'll love, despite being there for a 3 day trips or a full week

If you have about 7 days to spare in Mindelo, there’s a lot more to discover in São Vicente, and even more on the neighbouring island of Santo Antão, where you will find a lush green countryside, various wonderful hikes and a welcoming population.

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