According to Baglib, Praia is the capital of Cape Verde, the most populated island of the country, its economic and financial center. The city is located on the southern coast of the island of Santiago and has the largest port from which coffee, sugar cane and tropical fruits going to Europe are shipped. But not a single industry – Praia is also the largest resort, where people come not only to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, but also to have a great rest during one of the many festivals.
Praia has a cosmopolitan culture. The majority of the population of the capital are blacks – the descendants of slaves who worked on local cane plantations. But there are also enough Europeans, especially the Portuguese. African influences are felt in language, food and social relationships, while European influences are felt in architecture and clothing. As in other former Portuguese colonies, Creole traditions are strong in Praia, supported by the descendants of mixed Portuguese-African families.
How to get to Praia
Getting to Praia from Moscow is not the easiest, but still quite solvable task. Every 2 days, Royal Air Maroc planes fly from Sheremetyevo to Casablanca. The same carrier delivers travelers from the Moroccan city to Praia in 4 hours.
A taxi from the Praia airport named after Nelson Mandela to the city center (the locals call the central quarters of the Plateau) costs about 3300 CVE. You can also pay in euros, then the trip will cost 32 EUR. Buses also run between the airport and the city, but they run so infrequently that it is not particularly necessary to rely on this public transport. Prices on the page are for July 2021.
As for the currency, it is best to take the euro with you. EU money can be exchanged for Escuda at the airport, banks or hotels. Euros are also accepted by many shops, but at a lower rate. So the same product is cheaper in escudos than in euros. There are often problems with ATMs and cashless payments, so it’s worth taking a card with you, but it’s better not to rely solely on it.
Praia is quite an expensive city even for Europeans. A standard double room in a decent hotel costs about 5500 CVE per night. A bed and breakfast hotel will cost approximately 2860 CVE. The choice of staying in apartments will help you save a lot of money: apartments in the capital – about 5000 CVE per day.
What to see
Despite the fact that Praia can hardly be called a tourist city, there are several sights worthy of attention here. The heart of the old city, located on a plateau, is Plaza Alejandro de Albuquerque, with its attractive colonial-style houses. In the area of Ajada de Santo António are the Church of God’s Grace, the Palace of Justice, the Ethnographic Museum, the Presidential Palace and the Parliament. Here are the best bars, restaurants and nightclubs of the city. Also in the Old City is the Bateira Fort, from the walls of which there are wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean.
On the northeastern outskirts of the Old Town, next to the football stadium, is the central market of Praia. Here you can buy traditional African clothes, local artisans, souvenirs and cheap discs with Cape Verdian music, try local dishes. A few years ago, the market underwent reconstruction, taking on a more civilized look.
Most of the city is occupied by private housing blocks. It is relatively safe there, but still it is better not to visit these places – there is simply nothing interesting there.
The best urban beaches – “Praia Prainha” and “Cuebra Canella” – are located in the Prainha area. Praia da Gamboa is also popular with locals – despite the ban on swimming, this beach is often used for parties and the annual music festival.
Things to do
Praia is a famous center of festivals in Africa – holidays are held here very often. From 11 to 13 April, the city hosts a major International Creole Jazz Festival. Its format is not limited exclusively to concerts. Within its framework, lectures are given, exhibitions and screenings of documentaries and feature films are held, workshops work.
Another big holiday is the religious festival of God’s grace on August 15th.
If holidays are not expected in the near future, then they can (and should) be organized independently. This is what the inhabitants of Praia use, arranging grandiose parties on city beaches just like that, for no reason. On Friday and Saturday evenings, beer flows like water here, freshly caught fish is cooked on the grill.
In May, the city hosts a major music festival called Gamboa. And at the end of July, Tabanka is celebrated in Praia – a holiday dedicated to all saints popular in Cape Verde at once. People from all parts of the island of Santiago come to the capital and take part in the procession led by the “king” and “queen”.
In Praia, refreshed by sea breezes, the air temperature is slightly lower than in African countries located at its latitude. The rainy season starts in July and ends in October. At this time, floods often occur, destroying roads. The air temperature reaches +30 °C.
The dry season, which lasts from November to June, is characterized by strong winds. The air temperature from December to March is about +20 °C. The water temperature fluctuates between +23…+26 °C all year round. The best time to visit Praia is August-October – it is not so dry and hot anymore, so the trip will not be too tiring.