The city are divided into neighborhoods and sections including:
The city was once called Carvoeiros. It gradually became the largest urban settlement of the island, and has the main harbor of the island at Alto to Peixinho for commercial exchanges, the only on the island owned by ENAPOR. 2 to 3 ferry-boats arrive and leave the port each day. Recently, the port went under expansion. Since August 2007, smaller catamarans sails around the port. Also at the port is the island's only desalination (or desal) plant supplying water to the city, constructed before 2006 and opened in early December 2007. Numerous streams in the southern part, each no longer than 300 to 400 meters long, dominate the vicinity as the area covers to the eastern municipal boundary. Once featuring three streams, today's urban area stretches through five and six dry streams.
The city are served by small minibuses that starts at the ferry port and heads to the northwest and north of the island with the exception of the westernmost area of Tarrafal de Monte Trigo.
In the 1960s, the Estrada da Corda opened, and links Porto Novo and Ribeira through the valley and ridges and the eastern crater with curves dominating much of the length. Most of the roads are treacherous. Since 2009, the Porto Novo-Janela Road, forming a part of what became the Ribeira Grande-Paul-Porto Novo Road or the East Island (Estrada Litoral) Road, runs through the island's easternmost point completed bypassing the difficult Estrada da Corda, first constructed in 2004 and completed five years later, one dangerous dirt track links the middle interior villages. In around 2012, about a 7 kilometer stretch of the Porto Novo-Norte/Topo da Coroa was widened to four lanes up to the newly opened pozzolano brick plant.
Urban sprawl spread slowly in town, mainly into a square shape in around 2004, and is slightly less than a square shape as of 2016.
After Espargos surpassed the town's population in the 2000s, it was the fourth most populated place. Assomada's population surpassed Porto Novo's, and made it the fifth most populated place.
As it is located in an desertlike and arid landscape, its annual rainfall is 191 millimeters, making it the driest on the island. The wettest month is September measuring 86 mm and the driest months are without any precipitation between April and July. Temperatures range from 20 to 27 °C (68–81 °F), the highest in the island, as it is in a low-lying area.
The town's main festival is the festival of Saint John the Baptist, celebrated each year on June 24. It is a parish holiday and the festival features traditional colá music.
Panoramic views include the island of São Vicente in the southeast and the surrounding mountains of the island in the west and the north.
Clubs play in the Santo Antão South Zone, which covers the whole municipality. The football (soccer) clubs only based in the town are:
All clubs play at Estádio Municipal do Porto Novo located on the main road with the west of the island 1 km from the center. Prior to 2009, clubs played at the small stadium named Amílcar Cabral which was southwest of the city some 200 meters south of the main road. Basketball, volleyball and recently futsal clubs also play in the city.