Mindelo

A bay of volcanic origins

An unforgettable setting

Lisbon’s Belém Tower replica

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Mindelo

A dip in the 19th century

Arriving to Capo Verde with an MSC cruise, the volcanic origins of the island of São Vicente become immediately apparent. The bay where the capital of São Vicente, Mindelo, is situated is actually the remains of a caldera, the most recognizable of those found on the island.
 
This population centre was founded in the second half of the 19th century when it became a refuelling stop for motor vessels on trans-Atlantic voyages. Mindelo has remained mostly unchanged.

Once disembarked from your MSC cruise ship, you well be greeted by shops selling typical objects of local artisanship. Textile works are greatly prized; however, ceramics, objects made from coconuts and jewellery made from the Capo Verde shells and lava rocks are also not to be brushed aside. At every corner, there are shops, galleries and small cafés. Even before you leave the port, you will encounter remnants of the past such as the Fortim do Rei, and excellent panoramic point dating back to the 19th century.

Beyond the old commercial quay, there is the old customs house, Alfandega, which today houses the Cultural Centre; and shortly thereafter, the Belém Tower, a copy of the tower in Lisbon, which has been restored after the fish market had been moved. From here, you can stroll down Rua Libertad d’Africa, or Rua de Lisboa as it was called before independence from Portugal, which ends in front of Palacio do Povo (the people’s palace), the former residence of the governor.

Continuing along a street leading uphill past the town hall and the Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz, you will find yourselves in Praça Estrela, known for its azulejos, painted tiles typical of Portuguese architecture. As for the beaches, the choices are endless, beginning with Laginha: close to the port, it is a favourite with Mindelo residents. However, don’t miss out on the Baya de Gatas, the bay of the cats: a large natural pool in an unforgettable setting.

Must see places in Mindelo

  • Mindelo city

    Mindelo city

  • Landing Commemorative Monument

    Landing Commemorative Monument

  • Mindelo Harbour

    Mindelo Harbour

Discover our excursions

4 results found

  • JEEP SAFARI

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    MLO03

    Volcanic in origin, the island of São Vicente is home to a fascinating landscape of rugged valleys, petrified lava fields and a scenic coastline, all of which you’ll get to explore on this adventurous tour in a 4x4 vehicle. After leaving the ship and boarding the vehicle, you’ll set off on a contrastive route that aims to showcase some of the more remote and less visited corners of the island. A number of stops are planned along the way to give you a chance to snap photos of and savour the island’s stark natural beauty, with the main highlight being a visit to a volcanic crater. And to round off the outing, you’ll then move on to a rural community to find out how country life works in these parts before you return to the ship. Please note: guests are recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes and must be in good physical health. The tour is considered to be unsuitable for guests of limited mobility, with back/neck problems and pregnant women. The tour involves a bumpy ride in a jeep on rocky terrain; each jeep seats a maximum of 4 guests. No information will be provided by the driver; instead, an English-speaking guide will provide information at each of the stops. The tour can be booked only during the cruise.
    • Limited seats

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      5 h

  • CITY TOUR

    CITY TOUR

    MLO01

    A roundup of city sights awaits you in the town of Mindelo, the Cabo Verdean centre of all things, cultural and cosmopolitan. A coach ride will take you there from the port, after which you’ll first be able to have a look at a monument erected to commemorate Gaga Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, two Portuguese aviators who in 1922 crossed the Atlantic by air. Moving on, the second monument on the tour’s itinerary is in honour of another Portuguese adventurer named Diogo Afonso, the man who put the Cabo Verde Islands on the map in 1460. A photo stop is also scheduled at the Pik D’Zau vantage point, from where you can savour splendid views of both the town and the port. Last up, you’ll be taken to Catfish Bay for some time to spend by yourself browsing around or relaxing with a drink. The tour draws to an end with your return journey to the port. Please note: the tour involves travelling on a minivan without air conditioning. Guides are available only for English, French and Portuguese. The distance from the harbour to the city centre is about 2 km/1.25 miles. The tour can be booked only during the cruise.
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      00 m

  • EXPLORE SANTO ANTÃO ISLAND

    SCENIC ROUTE

    MLO04

    Treat yourself to full day of exploring São Vicente’s neighbouring isle of Santo Antão, the largest within the Cabo Verde Archipelago. A minivan will first transfer you to the ferry terminal for the roughly 50-minute crossing to Porto Novo on Santo Antão. You’ll then board a coach and head down a scenic mountain route to reach the Ribeira Grande Valley. A few photo stops will also be made en route, so it’s worth keeping your camera at hand to capture views of Ribeira do Paul valley and the now green crater of the extinct volcano of Cova. A look at the colonial buildings left by the Portuguese in the 17th century in Ribeira Grande – the island’s largest settlement – and the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário follows, after which you’ll go to have lunch in a local hotel. Next up is the village of Ponta do Sol, the northernmost town of Santo Antão, where you’ll have some free time to go shopping and visit the Ponta do Sol Gardens. Last up is a visit to a traditional rum production plant before the ferry returns you to São Vicente and then a short transfer back to the ship. Please note: guides are available only in English, French or Portuguese. You can book this tour only during your cruise. This tour is not recommended for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
    • Lunch or dinner included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      9:30 h

  • PANORAMIC TOUR OF ST. VINCENTE ISLAND

    SCENIC ROUTE

    MLO02

    Leave the ship, board a minivan and enjoy a bit of time exploring the interior of São Vicente, one of the Barlavento (Windward) islands of the Cabo Verde Archipelago. The scenic drive will take you through a spellbinding landscape in which the brown of mountains contrasts starkly with the white sand of the beaches and the blue of the Atlantic Ocean beyond. You’ll travel through the Ribeira de Julião and Ribeira do Calhau valleys to reach the fishing village of Calhau, a vantage point that affords glimpses of the islands of Santa Luzia and São Nicolau in the distance. The tour then continues on up Monte Verde to reach Boca de Vento, from whose elevated location gorgeous views of the island can be enjoyed. And as a final flourish, the tour also includes a sightseeing drive around the city of Mindelo plus a break during which you can savour a refreshing drink and watch a Cabo Verdean dance show. Please note: the tour involves travelling on a minivan without air conditioning. Guides are available only for English, French and Portuguese. The tour can be booked only during the cruise.
    • Drink included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      3 h

The excursions in the programme are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
 
Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

Cape Verde

The Sahara in the middle of the ocean

The Sahara in the middle of the ocean

Cape Verde is an incredible archipelago formed by ten islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Africa. Someone has defined its immense sandy beaches as “a piece of the Sahara in the middle of the ocean”. During your vacation in Cape Verde you will find daring mountains, like the Pico do Fogo, 2829 metres a.s.l. that looms above the archipelago and luxuriant valleys.

The  two main towns of colonial origin in the archipelago are lively urban centres. One is Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, north-west of the group of barlovento islands (windward for navigators sailing here on the trade winds), the other is Praia, the capital, on the island of Santiago, on the southern tip and the sotavento islands (or downwind).

In Mindelo you can get a taste of the local creole culture and passion for music: this is where the famous singer Cesaria Evora was born. Many fascinating and still off the mass tourism map, the islands of Cape Verde are a wonderfully relaxing oasis (‘no stress’ is a characteristic of these parts), where you can admire the beautiful landscapes with the same spirit as the locals, summed up in the term morabeza: spontaneity, unselfish kindness and a constant smile.