Cape Verde or Madeira? Which archipelago is most suitable for your holiday? Both destinations are part of Macaronesia, a geographical area of various islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. There is much to experience on these beautiful island groups. There are certain similarities between certain islands of both archipelagos, but also some important differences. In this article, we have compiled these main differences and similarities for you.
Location and islands
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal with its own local government. The Madeira archipelago is located approximately 1,600 kilometers away from Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) and consists of 2 inhabited islands and the uninhabited sub-archipelagos of Desertas Islands and Selvagens Islands, located further south. The archipelago has a volcanic origin and consists of a high central plateau and several mountain ranges that steeply descend towards the coast. Madeira is about 400 kilometers north of the Canary Islands and about 1,000 kilometers west of mainland Portugal. From the Netherlands or Belgium, you can fly directly to Madeira in about four hours. This is perfect for people who do not want to spend too much time on a plane. Due to the beautiful nature with many exotic flowers, numerous hiking trails, and a moderate climate all year round, Madeira is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.
Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony and consists of nine inhabited islands, including Sal, Boavista, Sao Vicente, Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antao. The islands differ greatly from each other, from mountainous green islands to desert areas with white beaches. Each island has its own qualities. Geographically, Cape Verde is located south of the Canary Islands. The flight time is therefore slightly longer than to Madeira, about 6.5 hours from the Netherlands or Belgium. This is approximately 2 hours longer flying time. Cape Verde is also much closer to the mainland of Africa. From Senegal, the distance to Cape Verde is about 650 kilometers.
Warmer and drier in Cape Verde
Madeira has a mild and subtropical climate where temperatures range between 16 – 22 degrees Celsius in winter and 23 – 28 degrees Celsius in summer. There is more rainfall, especially during the winter months, and there is high humidity. Due to these mild temperatures, Madeira is extremely suitable for active holidays. Activities such as hiking are perfect to do. Cape Verde has a dry and warm desert climate with very little chance of rain. Temperatures are also higher throughout the year, ranging from about 25 degrees Celsius in winter to over 30 degrees Celsius in the summer months, especially on the more flat islands like Sal or Boavista. Cape Verde is more suitable as a winter sun destination or for beach and water sports activities.
Lush nature on Madeira
Madeira is the island of flowers. Due to the mild climate and altitude differences, there is an abundance of varied flora. The botanical gardens, levadas (irrigation channels), forests, waterfalls, and nature parks make it a green paradise. Due to the extensive hiking trails and trekking opportunities, the archipelago is very popular with hikers.
Cape Verde has some islands where it is truly a paradise for nature lovers. Especially on the islands of Santo Antao, Sao Nicolau, and Brava, there are unique flora and fauna and green mountain landscapes. You can also hike here. However, compared to Madeira, Cape Verde has less variety.
Beautiful beaches in Cape Verde
During a visit to an island, a refreshing swim in the sea is often a must. You can enjoy swimming in many places in both Cape Verde and Madeira. However, in Madeira, there are no natural beaches since the island is rocky with steep cliffs. There are a few small man-made beaches like Praia da Calheta and a few other places where you can access the sea. In contrast, Cape Verde has plenty of long sandy beaches on most of its islands. These gorgeous beaches are so beautiful that they are often listed among the top beaches in the world.
Cape Verde is cheaper
Generally, the cost of living in Cape Verde is cheaper than in the Madeira archipelago. On Madeira, for a comfortable hotel room, a two-course dinner, drinks, and a taxi ride/museum visit, you could expect to pay between 80 and 120 euros per person per day, depending on the level of hotel and restaurants you choose. On Cape Verde, you could expect to pay an average of between 50 and 80 euros per person per day for the same services, depending on the type of accommodation and restaurants. Of course, these are estimates, and prices can vary significantly by island and location. Prices are generally lower on the smaller islands.
Madeira is an established tourist destination
Both destinations cater to tourists, but Madeira is an established tourist destination, while Cape Verde is still relatively new to the tourism sector. On some islands in Cape Verde, there are not as many hotels, restaurants, bars, and other tourist facilities, although there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local culture. This is well-developed everywhere on Madeira, particularly in the capital city of Funchal and along the south coast of Madeira.
There are differences and similarities between Cape Verde and Madeira that depend on the traveler’s interests. The temperature in Cape Verde is warmer, and there is hardly any rain on the Cape Verde islands compared to Madeira. Madeira has a milder climate, which is great for lush green nature. Madeira is not recommended for a beach vacation, but you can still take a swim in the sea. For stunning wide beaches, Cape Verde is the place to be! Cape Verde is rapidly developing as a tourist destination, but not all tourist facilities are abundant on the less popular islands. Madeira, on the other hand, is an established tourist destination, and the cost of living is slightly higher. Both Cape Verde and Madeira are beautiful destinations! The choice mainly depends on your personal interests.