The largest island in the archipelago, and arguably boasting the best scenery, Santiago is also the most populated. Its residents are more traditionally African in culture than those on many of the other islands, which is reflected in their musical traditions, markets and the many festivals held during the year.
Santiago is the site of Cape Verde's capital city, Praia, and the picturesque fishing town of Tarrafal. Praia has an interesting marine archaeology museum dedicated to documenting the various shipwrecks that have occurred around the islands. While not a popular tourist destination in its own right, Praia is the site of Cape Verde's busiest airport, and walking around the city is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two before venturing to another part of Santiago, or taking a ferry to one of the other islands.
The interior of Santiago is characterised by two towering chains of mountains, while the coastline sports small, sandy, palm-fringed coves. Other sites of interest on the islands include the historic old port city, Cidade Velha, which was a major slave-trading post and retains cobbled lanes and stone buildings in the shadow of its old 15th-century fortress and cathedral. Cidade Velha was once the second richest city in the Portuguese empire but it was raided frequently by pirates and declined as the slave trade did.