Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe
According to wholevehicles, Sao Tome was founded by the Portuguese on a desert island at the very equator, as a strategic outpost to move into the territories in 1485. Now this cozy, picturesque town, located on the shores of the bay, decorated with buildings of colonial Portuguese construction, gardens and shady parks has become a real pearl of the African state of Sao Tome and Principe and, by all accounts, one of the safest and most welcoming African cities.
The city is named after the Christian saint Thomas the unbeliever.
How to get to Sao Tome
Flights from Portugal (on Fridays and Saturdays, TAP airline), Gabon and Angola arrive at Sao Tome International Airport. The airport is 4 kilometers from the city, a taxi will take you to your destination for 5 USD.
The nearest towns can be reached by the highway encircling the entire island of Sao Tome. Minibuses leave several times a day to the north and south of the island from the Mercado market, the cost of the trip will be about 3 USD. A taxi ride around the city will cost about 9 USD.
In the Mercado market area, you can rent a scooter for 21 USD. You can rent a car at the airport and major hotels in the city. Well, you can easily walk around the city center in just a couple of hours.
The neighboring island of Principe can be reached by plane from Sao Tome International Airport.
Cuisine and restaurants
The main food of the islanders – fish – is often served with breadfruit and baked bananas. For a truly exotic experience, try flying fish, as well as shellfish and snails. For dessert, you will be served a full range of tropical fruits.
If you get tired of the exotic, then in the restaurants of the capital’s hotels you will be offered European cuisine at European prices.
12 kilometers south of the city is one of the best beaches – Praia de Sete Ondes (which means “Seven Waves” beach). Near the beach there is a natural attraction – Boca de Inferno (Mouth of Hell). The bubbling waves pouring into the underwater cave create a complete illusion of the hoarse breath of an otherworldly creature. This spectacle is most impressive during high tide and full moon.
Popular hotels in Sao Tome
Entertainment and attractions in Sao Tome
The Santo Antonio quarter is ideal for walking, where magnificent examples of Portuguese architecture are concentrated in shady streets.
San Sebastian – the oldest fort – occupies the tip of the peninsula, one and a half kilometers from the city center. It was built by the Portuguese in 1575 and currently houses the National Museum.
Behind the fort is the Nossa Senhora de Baluarte chapel, built in 1522. The oldest European-built building in the southern hemisphere, the chapel is an excellent example of Portuguese late Gothic architecture. In the evening, beautifully illuminated, located at the very end of a narrow cape, it is simply a fantastic sight.
The residence of Agustinho Netto, the former governor of the island, built and decorated in the traditional colonial style, still retains the aura of a real colonial estate. The National Cathedral of Sao Tome, located near the presidential palace, impresses with its size and exquisite architecture.
A sign hangs at the entrance to the cathedral: “You don’t need a cell phone to talk to God. Please turn it off.”
Mercado Central City Market is the center of local life. Just dive into it.
You will meet stunning landscapes in their beauty if you go north from Sao Tome. Here, majestic baobabs reign among the hills and rock masses.
If you climb up to a height of 2 kilometers to the extinct volcano Pico de São Tomé, the highest point of the island, you will see dizzying views of the surroundings. The natural world of São Tomé can also be explored at the Bom Sucesso Botanical Garden, which displays hundreds of orchids, rare birds and sea turtles.
To the east of the city are cocoa plantations. You can take a trip to the working plantation Roca Sao Joao, see the preserved buildings of the colonial times, have a great lunch at a local restaurant (whose chef is also the owner of the plantation). Obo National Park, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, is located in the southwestern part of the island. Rare birds and sea turtles nest here.