São Vicente is the second most populated island of Cape Verde.
It is dominated by the Monte Verde peak where, at 750 metres altitude, you have a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
On a clear day you can see the neighbouring island, Santa Antão, and the uninhabited islands of Santa Lucia, Branca and Raso.
Mindelo, the capital of São Vicente holds the status of the cultural centre of the Cape Verdean archipelago. Many artists, intellectuals and musicians have made Mindelo their home including the world renowned Cesaria Evora.
Mindelo is known for its music, nightlife and lively, Brazilian-influenced carnival celebrations. Colourful colonial houses line the shores of Porto Grande harbour, which is set against a backdrop of rugged mountains. The Torre de Belém, by the harbour, is a scaled-down replica of a centuries-old tower in Lisbon.
In the surrounding streets are the Mercado de Peixe (a popular fish market) and an indoor food market. The Centro Cultural do Mindelo offers exhibits of local arts, crafts and culture. Cafes cluster along the Rua Libertadores d’Africa, near the former governor’s elegant palace.
Within a community of intellectuals, artists and musicians, Mindelo offers an intensive nightlife. The carnival in Mindelo (usually held around Ash Wednesday) is Cape Verde’s liveliest, absorbing Portugese and Brazilian culture. In addition, the traditional festival of Baia das Gatas held for three days and three nights (usually during August) has become a reputable, international music event.
East of the city, the town of Baía das Gatas has the safest beach of São Vicente, including a lagoon separated naturally from the ocean by volcanic formation to form a swimming pool.
The beach of São Pedro is long and spectacular and, in the opinion of professionals, is one of the finest places in the world for speed wind surfing.