Some practical information about Cape Verde - first trip
Before and at the beginning of my trip to Cape Verde I had lots of questions, about practical stuff. And I wish this before I arrived. I thought why not help other travellers by sharing what I've learnt.
Getting to and from the airport
I would suggest a taxi. It's best to ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host to arrange a taxi for you. The price will be the same so 10 EUR if the transfer is during the day, 15 EUR if the transfer is at night.
Getting around the island
Renting a car is certainly the best way to visit the island but it's pretty pricy. For that reason, my friends and I decided to use collective transport. The maximum I paid was 4 EUR (from Tarrafal to Praia). The downside is that you need to wait until the car fills up. Sometimes it takes 1 min, sometimes it takes hours (maximum I waited was 3 hours). They don't have schedules and sometimes you may simply be left stranded.
I strongly advise getting a CV Movel SIM card. They have the best reception.
Solo female travelling
I travelled solo for some time in Cabo Verde and that included a few days in Praia. I haven't felt unsafe walking during a day. However, during the night I didn't feel comfortable going out alone at night. It may not have anything to do with the city and whether it safe or not. I simply follow the rule, if I don't feel comfortable doing something, I don't do it. So my solution to still enjoy the amazing nightlife in Praia was to make friends or ask friends to introduce me to their friends so that I knew I had nice company. When it comes to taxis, the advice I liked the most was to get a phone number of one taxi driver and simply call him whenever I needed a lift at night. Ask for it at your hostel or hotel or someone you know so that you can feel 100% comfortable.
I've never felt unsafe in Praia but as in every city, there are districts that you'd better avoid or enter only with someone who knows the neighbourhood. I would always ask locals about it. You may think that it's okay to walk around somewhere when it isn't. It happened to us many times, we were thinking that a bar is close to a restaurant where we were eating so it would be fine to walk and the waitress would say the opposite.
Unfortunately, I struggled to eat only vegan in Cabo Verde. Praia was actually the easiest to eat as I would simply "create" my own dish with side dishes available at a restaurant. The best tip would be - don't use the word vegan or vegetarian. Whenever I did that, they said they didn't have anything. Instead, ask if they have beans and confirm many times that they don't go with any meat (On Santiago Island, in all places I've been to, the beans were never made with anything that comes from animals). Then, ask if they have French fries or rice (they always do and if you eat that, then you've got one more side dish to add to your plate). They will always have some veggies to make a salad, so you're safe here (although the salads may not be the biggest). Sometimes, they have even other vegetables so maybe they can boil them for you and voila. A tasty (and usually cheap) plant based dish is ready. I advice being as flexible as you can.
Cheap/Expensive is relative but almost all the products you find in the shops are imported and more expensive than in Europe. Fruits/Veggies from the market were on the pricy side too. True that I may have got tourist prices, but my Cape Verdian friends didn't get much different prices either. So that's something to be aware of while planning your budget. Eating out can be much cheaper in Europe, especially if you stick to local places and dishes of the day (although that is always meat so it didn't work for me) or be as expensive or even more expensive than Europe. When it comes to prices of public transport and taxis, there are around 0,50 EUR – 5 EUR, depending on the distance.
Best bars for nightlife
ATMs and paying by card.
There are a lot of ATMs where Visa/Mastercard are accepted. I would advise withdrawing as much money as you need and then paying in cash. Foreign cards are not so widely accepted in shops and restaurants so it's better to be always prepared.
You can pay in EUR
1 eur is around100 Escudos and this is how it is calculated in the street. If you run out of Escudos don't panic. You can always (at least I never had any problem with that) pay in Eur and you will receive an exchange in Escudos. I found it pretty useful at the end of my stay when I had only 2 more days in Cape Verde but run out of Escudos. I simply paid in EUR that I still had some with me.
Are you preparing for your trip to Cape Verde? Is there something you'd like to know before?