Santiago is an island of contrasts with fertile valleys in the centre and beautiful beaches along the coast. It is the largest island in the archipelago and the country’s capital, Praia, is located there.

Santiago was the first island to be populated and Ribeira Grande, known as Cidade Velha and considered the birthplace of ‘capeverdeanity’, was its first capital. Cidade Velha was considered World Patrimony by UNESCO on 26 June 2009 because of its history.

What to do?

Cidade Velha, World Patrimony (Cidade Velha, Património da Humanidade) – is a must  as the birth of ‘capeverdeanity’. You can see some monuments like the Royal San Filipe Fortress, built in the 1700s to protect the city from enemies pirate attacks, the Pillory Whipping Post, the Cathedral, San Francisco Monastery and others.

Assomada – the city of Assomada is about 50 km from Praia and there you can visit the Market and the Tabanca Museum

The Natural Park Serra Malagueta – this ecotourism park is located in the northern part of Santiago, near Assomada, and is a privileged place with a large number of endemic plants.


Tarrafal is an invitation to bathe in the waters of Tarrafal Bay, a white sand beach surrounded by palm trees, or to pay a visit to the Tarrafal Concentration Camp, a penal colony created in 1936 by the Portuguese Government, to put troublesome prisoners away from the metropolis. Many political prisoners were deported from all the former Portuguese colonies to Tarrafal Concentration Camp.