Cape Verde or the Canary Islands? Which archipelago is most suitable for your vacation? Both archipelagos are beautiful and are at about 2 hour flight (1,500 kilometers) from each other. They are located off the coast of Europe and Africa. There is much to see and experience on these beautiful island groups. Given the geographical location, there are many similarities, but also some important differences. We have listed a number of important differences (and similarities) in this article for you. This will makes it easier for you to make a choice for your holiday destination if you want to go for the first time to one of the two destinations.
Location and islands
Cape Verde and the Canary Islands (part of Spain) are part of Maracronesia, a collection of four archipelagos formed by sea mountains on the ocean bottom with peaks above the ocean surface. The islands are of volcanic origin and have a unique biosphere.
The Canary Islands consist of 7 inhabited islands, including Cran Ganaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote. This Spanish archipelago belongs to Europe and is located at around 1,100 kilometers from the mainland of Spain. The island of Lanzarote is approximately 100 kilometers off the coast of Morocco. The islands are very diverse and attract both beach and nature lovers. The large islands are very popular with tourists and are by now less unspoilt.
Cape Verde – the old colony of Portugal – consists of 9 inhabited islands including Santiago, Sao Vicente, Sal and Boavista. In addition to being located further south than the Canary Islands, Cape Verde is also further from the coast of Africa. Cape Verde is 664 kilometers from the mainland (Senegal). The islands differ greatly from each other, which makes it so unique. Each island has its qualities and is suitable for certain activities such as surfing, hiking or enjoying beautiful beaches.
Sun in abundance on both archipelagos. The weather on Cape Verde and the Canary Islands is fairly similar. Temperatures are nice all year round. Ofcourse in summer it is warmer than in winter. In Cape Verde temperatures – partly due to the closer location near the equator – are slightly higher than on the Canary Islands. The weather varies depending on the height and the location of the various islands. On the flat islands (Sal, Boavista, Maio or Fuerteventura, Lanzarote) it is generally warmer. Both archipelagos are a good winter sun destination and for surfing enthusiasts the conditions are perfect as well.
Beautiful beaches on both archipelagos
The beaches are an important reason for many travelers to go to Cape Verde or the Canary Islands. Both Cape Verde and the Canary Islands have beautiful beaches. Even so beautiful that they are often mentioned in the list of the top beaches in the world. You have both white and black volcanic sandy beaches on both archipelagos. On Cape Verde, especially the sandy beaches on Sal, Boavista and Maio are well known. On the Canary Islands, these are the sandy beaches on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
Cape Verde is cheaper
In addition to the average prices in Cape Verde being a lot lower than in the Europe, the price level in Cape Verde is also a lot lower compared to the Canary Islands. To illustrate, what do you pay for a comfortable hotel room, 2-course dinner, drinks and a taxi / museum visit? On Cape Verde between 40 and 90 euros. On the Canary Islands, these expenses are between 60 and 150 euros. Note: prices can vary greatly per island and location. Prices are much lower on the smaller islands.
Lots of tourism on the Canary Island
After the landing of the first charter plane (1956) on the Canary Islands, tourism exploded. Almost every year the record of tourists arriving at the Canary Islands is broken. In 2017, 4.6 million tourists visited the Canary Islands. Most tourists visit the islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
The number of tourists in Cape Verde is in stark contrast to that of the Canary Islands. In 2017 there were more than 700 thousand tourists in Cape Verde. Mainly on the islands of Sal, Boavista and Santiago. Tourism in Cape Verde is developing rapidly. The advantage for the government of Cape Verde is that they can watch and learn from other countries how they want to shape tourism or not. Cape Verde is increasingly trying to focus on sustainable tourism instead of only mass tourism
When the sun goes down nightlife starts. In every archipelago and on every island in its own way. On the tourist islands of the Canary Islands, nightlife is highly developed. Well-known areas are the Playa de las America on Tenerife and Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria. You have an abundance of restaurants, bars and clubs here. Nightlife on Cape Verde is at a smaller scale and you can mainly find it on the islands of Sal, Santiago (Praia) and Sao Vicente (Mindelo).
Cape Verde and the Canary Islands are difficult to compare. Both archipelagos have their own atmosphere and culture. Quite similar are the climate and the beautiful beaches. Cape Verde is approximately 700 kilometers more to the south than the Canary Islands and is closer to the equator. Partly because of this, the temperature is slightly higher in Cape Verde. Travelers who love a lot of bars, shops and commerce will like it best on the Canary Islands. For nature lovers, no mass tourism and relaxed culture, Cape Verde is a must. Both on Cape Verde and the Canary Islands there are major differences between the islands themselves. This means that there is something for everyone.
Eileen cox says
What is the best board to go for self catering or all inclusive, we have never been to Cape Verde before.
Sue Chaplin says
We always go All inclusive to Cape Verde, we have been to Sal & Boa Vista , the RIU hotels are fabulous with a great choice of food & drinks.
Hi, I think you should also mention water temperature as you talk about surfing. I think there is as much as 5 degree difference (although tbc, i only checked lanzarote vs sal in April on google).
Thanks for sharing, this is a good point!
Have only been to Tenerife, so cannot comments on any other of the Canary island, but I wouldn’t go back. It’s all fish and chips burgers, and British/Irish pubs not for me. Been to Sal in Cape Verde again only once, loved it and will go back definitely. Don’t be put off when you drive from the airport, not too pretty, but the beaches are amazing, as are the people. We stated AI in a Riu hotel, loved it
Thanks for sharing Sue!
Peter Zurich says
We found that in Cape Verde they like to have one price for tourists and another for locals/residents. They often increase prices if they think you are affluent so prices are not fixed i.e. you often don´t pay advertized prices.
Not uncommon outside northern Europe/the EU, so personally, I understand and accept that. The Canary Islands are part of the EU, Cabo Verde is an African nation. I was very pleasantly surprised by the lack of hassle/touting – only mild in central Santa Maria, and easily deterred with a pleasant no thanks, and none at all on the beaches. Like another correspondent, I now find the Canary Islands too full of tourists – I love Spanish culture and food, but it’s under threat in the Canaries. Cabo Verde seems to be avoiding that particular trap.
Name *Pap Zoltan says
Big difference, Cape Verde charges 31 €/person or more if not paid in advance for “so-called security cost but
The Canary Islands charges for this nothing.
That’s the difference between a developed relatively wealthy, EU country (since the Canaries are part of Spain) and an African, developing, country in need of more funding.
You can decide not to pay your 31 euros, not go to Cabo Verde, and miss out on a different cultural experience. Your choice.
An additional to this. It’s incorrect that you don’t pay any security cost for the Canaries (or any other European destination). Most of the times this is included in the flight ticket. For example, for major European hubs, the security charge per passenger can vary around €2 to €11.
Is there halal food available for tourists?
Please be so kindly to place your question under an article that is related to it.
Jay Levy says
Why not mention that Cabo Verde’s music has made a worldwide impression (Caesaria) while no one has ever heard of any musica de los Canarios.
That is a good addition, thanks Jay.