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Where to shop in Cape Verde – where to go and what to buy

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When shopping in the Cape Verde islands, the key is to think local. The majority of everyday products sold here are imported, and therefore not cheap. To get the most out of your Cape Verdean shopping experience, look to buy locally grown or made produce. This includes Fogo wine, coffee beans, cheese, and creative handicrafts found in lively markets throughout the country.

Sean Coleman

My Destination local expert on

Cape Verde

With Cape Verde short on natural resources, most markets will display wares created from the few substances that are found abundantly throughout the islands. The resulting handicrafts include locally woven baskets and cloth, animated figurines and pots created from island clay, and rustic carved wood items. Shopping in Cape Verde also offers numerous opportunities to try tropical fruits grown right here on the islands: papaya, coconut, guava and mango.

 

Sao Filipe, Fogo

 

On the volcanic island of Fogo, the tranquil town of Sao Filipe is an ideal place to browse local produce while staying in Cape Verde. The bustling marketplace is the hub of Sao Filipe, and an exciting place to wander through on a sunny morning. Buy locally produced cheese and coffee; wine crushed from grapes grown on the slopes of Pico do Fogo; and jams made with local exotic fruit. The market hall also offers freshly caught fish, sold by the fishermen themselves who have just trekked up from the beach with their slippery haul.

 

Praia, Santiago

 

The capital of Cape Verde is where you’ll find the most diverse range of shops in the country. However, the best shopping is still to be found in local marketplaces – a great one to visit is the Mercado de Sucupira, in the Várzea quarter of the city. In these narrow labyrinthine streets you can buy a huge selection of items from all facets of Cape Verdean life: cheap clothing, music, African fabric, traditional handicrafts and also a mouth-watering array of typical island dishes.

 

Santa Maria, Sal

 

Looking for a souvenir so you can take a part of Cape Verde home with you? Head to the old weigh house on the harbour quay in Santa Maria; undoubtedly one of the town’s most distinct landmarks, this building used to weigh and bag salt, and is now home to several souvenir shops. Browse locally made handicrafts including pottery and woven baskets, knowing that a purchase will support the Cape Verdean community. You can also look out for the local fishermen, as they clean their catch on the crumbling harbour quay.

 

Mindelo, São Vicente

 

Like many other coastal Cape Verdean towns, Mindelo boasts a chaotic yet friendly fish market, or the Mercado de Peixe. For a more sophisticated shopping experience, the growing Praça Nova quarter is a European-style area with a charming selection of locally owned shops. A must-visit shopping area is to the south of Mindelo on the Praça Estrela – here African traders display wildly-dyed fabrics and CDs of local live bands alongside island-grown fruit and vegetables.

 

Cape Verde shopping tips

 

Although haggling is perfectly acceptable – and often expected – in the marketplace, be careful not to extend this practise to individual shops and stalls, and don’t start bargaining unless you intend to buy. It’s also important to consider who you are buying from if you are interested in supporting the local Cape Verdean economy; be aware that if you buy from an African trader, the money may end up outside the island community. Morning is the best time to visit markets, and most shops will close around midday, opening again later in the afternoon.