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The Ultimate Guide: How to Travel to Santo Antão, Cabo Verde (2022)

Whether you talk to locals of Cabo Verde or visitors having explored this magnificent archipelago, there’s one thing everyone agrees with: Santo Antão is Cabo Verde’s treasure.

It’s a must-see for anyone visiting these islands, but it’s not as accessible as some of the others like Sal or Santiago. But that’s part of what makes it so magical – that feeling of being on the edge of the earth.

So you may be wondering now, how do you get to Santo Antão these days? It’s probably easier than you think.

Step one of traveling to Santo Antão: Flying into Cabo Verde from Europe or the USA

Campo Redondo is one of Santo Antao’s most spectacular views, a must-see on any Cabo Verde itinerary.
You won’t want to miss out on the spectacular lunar-like valleys on Santo Antão’s Campo Redondo.

Santo Antão does not have its own airport. Well technically it does, but it was shut down in the 1990s for being too dangerous!

This means you’ll first have to fly into Mindelo, Sao Vicente (VXE).

  • There are 5 flights per week from Lisbon (LIS) directly to Sao Vicente (VXE) on TAP Air Portugal

You can find great connecting options on TAP Air Portugal (Star Alliance) from all over Europe and the USA.

Currently, you do need a pre-travel authorization to enter Cabo Verde. iVisa can help you with this process and even expedite your application.

Other options to get to Santo Antão by way of Europe or the US

TAP Air Portugal provides convenient direct flights to Sao Vicente and other islands in Cabo Verde.
TAP Air Portugal operates daily flights into almost all of the islands of Cabo Verde. [Photo CC BY-2.0: tjdarmstadt]

Alternately, you could fly into Praia (RAI) or Sal (SID), then take a smaller prop plane to Sao Vicente on BestFly.

You can fly to Praia (RAI) from:

  • Lisbon (LIS) 2x per day on TAP Air Portugal
  • Dakar several times per week (as we did) on Air Senegal

You can fly to Sal (SID) from:

  • Lisbon (LIS) several times per day
  • Manchester (MAN) once per day
  • London Gatwick (LGW) several times per week
  • Amsterdam (AMS) a couple times per week

How to get to Santo Antão from within Cabo Verde (via the local airline)

BestFly is the only way to fly between islands of Cabo verde.
We had great experiences flying on bestfly’s ATR72 modern turboprop airplanes.

If you decide to fly to Sal (SID) or Praia (RAI), whether it’s because the fares are cheaper or the times are more convenient (or you are following my one-week Cape Verde itinerary!), it’s actually super easy and cheap to buy a ticket on the local airline, BestFly, to get between the islands.

  1. Check the schedule on BestFly’s online website. Make sure to see if seats are still available. They always sell out.
  2. Call or visit a travel agency in Cabo Verde. Authorized vendors include: Girassol (2 locations in Santiago), Polar (Praia, Santiago), Barracuda Tours (Sal), Morabitur, and more. 

You’ll still have to fly into Sao Vicente (VXE) before the next step, taking a ferry to Santo Antão.

I’m told by locals that the BestFly website online works for bookings made a month or more ahead. We booked last minute so we had to visit Girassol to buy our tickets and pay a surcharge.

If you can’t book online, contact one of the above vendors as early as possible; flights tend to fill up 3-10 days ahead, and there’s no way to book them once they’re full.

Step 2: Getting from Sao Vicente Airport to the Ferry Port in Mindelo

The Fast Ferry on CV Interilhas between Mindelo and Porto Novo takes about one hour and offers phenomenal views on both islands.
Mindelo, São Vicente in the background on our way over to Santo Antão, Cabo Verde. The ferry lasts about 1 hour and only costs 800 CVE (about $8) per person.

The next step is getting to the ferry port in Mindelo, São Vicente so you can take a ferry to Porto Novo, Santo Antão.

Upon arrival at São Vicente airport (VXE), exit to the left and head to a taxi stand. Ask for the ferry. A one-way fare from São Vicente to the Mindelo Ferry Port costs 1000CVE ($10USD) and takes 15-20 minutes.

Step 3: Take the ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão

The last step here is taking one of the 4x per day ferries across to Santo Antão.

The ferry schedule, as of November 2021, is as follows:

The ferry schedule between Sao Vicente and Santo Antão is convenient and offers multiple trips daily.
The ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão runs regularly, aligning well with inbound flights.

The last departure to Santo Antão departs at 1400, which can be made with ease if you take any flight departing from Sal or Praia before noon.

The ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão costs about 800CVE per person and takes just under an hour.

Make sure to book your ferry ticket ahead at CV Interhilas to skip the line and have an easier time.

How we got from Sal (SID) to Santo Antão all in one day

It is possible to get all the way from Sal to Santo Antão by way of flight and ferry all in one day. Here’s how we did it.

  1. First, take the 950AM or 1150AM flight to Sao Vicente (VXE) on BestFly
  2. Then, hop on a taxi to the ferry port in Mindelo. On the way, check out a local market!
  3. Lastly, take the 2PM ferry from Mindelo, Sao Vicente to Porto Novo, Santo Antão.

There are also two flights per day from Praia that may or may not line up with the ferry schedule.

Why Santo Antão is Cabo Verde’s best island, and why you need to visit

The best hike in Santo Antao starts in Fontainhas and continues onwards past Corvo. It makes for epic ocean views and wonderful exercise.
Best hike on Santo Antão? Probably the North Coast trail between Corvo and Fontainhas. You can walk or drive to Fontainhas from Ponta do Sol and continue for these EPIC views.

Without a doubt, Santo Antão takes the cake for most beautiful island not just in Cabo Verde, but much of the world.

Extravagant valleys and jaw-droppingly massive volcanic mountains and cliffs make the island jut out of the Atlantic with incredible beauty. The islands are raw nature at its finest, and there’s no other way to put it.

You can experience the beauty of Santo Antão on a plethora of amazing hikes located on all corners of the island. Make sure to rent a car so you can explore all the incredible hidden gems this island has to offer!

Read more about our incredible week traveling across to Cabo Verde archipelago here.

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