Florianopolis Destination Guide
Affluent South Americans have been flocking to the great holidaying destination of Florianopolis for a long time now. Floripa, as the natives call it, offer tourists a fantastic mix of beaches, pristine weather, a raging nightlife and welcoming locals, all set in unmatched natural beauty. In fact, the local media have for the past couple of years called Florianopolis a city with the highest standard of living in Brazil, as it is an extremely well organised and safe town.
A heady mix of aromas, colours and landscapes welcome you to Florianopolis!
Our Florianopolis Destination Guide contains all the information you need to know to make the most of your Florianopolis holiday. Explore the rich array of tourist attractions and natural beauty by booking yourself on to one of the adrenaline-fuelled activities or tours in Florianopolis and some of the best hotels in Florianopolis. For some handy tips to help you out during your holiday in Brazil check out our Brazil Country Guide. Looking for exciting things to see and do in Brazil? Check out our Brazil destination guide.
Things to see & do in Florianopolis
Outstanding natural beauty in the form of lagoons, unending beaches, white dunes, Atlantic rainforest covered mountains and a collection of small offshore islands wait to be explored. Holiday makers can simply relax or indulge in adventure sports such as hiking or surfing. Ecotourism options such as whale watching among many others are also available.
Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Florianopolis:
Florianopolis has 42 beaches and hosts the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour (WCT), where 50 professional and amateurs compete. This event takes place only in Santa Caterina in the whole of South America. Floripa is undoubtedly the surfer's Shangri La.
The beaches in the north throng with tourists in summer and have some of the best Florianopolis hotels, restaurants and other amenities. But the best surf in Florianopolis is found towards the east, which makes it extremely popular with the youngsters. The southern beaches are also beautiful and good for surfing. Lagoinha do Leste and Naufragados, both in the south, are quiet and untouched beaches, only accessible by foot. The main attraction of the island is the Lagoa da Conceição, a beautiful lagoon offering first class cuisine, entertainment and sports. Being shallow with high winds, it is one of the finest locations for windsurfing. Those looking for a quieter time can head to the Peri lagoon, which also offers relaxing nature walks.
Apart from being an old fashioned and charming fishing village, Barra da Lagoa is the famous ‘Bunny Slope' of surfing. Home to Jacqueline Silva, the world champion, it is only 2 km from Praia Mole where the WCT Surfing Championships are regularly held. The topography of the beach also makes it a perfect place for novices who want to learn surfing. This fishing village is a cove towards the east of the island stretching 15 km into the Mozambique beach. ‘Save the Turtles' or ‘Projecto Tamar' finds its southern headquarters here. During June, July and August, the colder months, penguins are found in the canal which connects Lagoa de Conceicao to the open sea.
Another beach in the east, Joaquina became a hotspot with surfers from all around the world in the 1970s. Competitions and prizes evolved around this beach over the years, attracting Catarinese surfing celebrities. Today Joaquina, especially in spring and summer, offers incredible facilities for tourists from Brazil and the rest of the world.
A great way to spend the day at sea and also experience the brilliance of the coastline is to take a boat ride from any number of points on the island. One can visit islands around Florianopolis where many centuries ago forts were built to protect the ports and the main bay. Soaking in the untouched scenery, watching dolphins and pampering yourself with some traditional seafood can be a great way to spend your holiday in Florianopolis.
If you haven't partied in Brazil then you haven't partied at all! Florianopolis is no exception to this. Although the nightlife is vibrant and the best among the world all year round, it is during the summer season that things come to a head. The beautiful people of Florianopolis and their zest for life come alive when the sun goes down. The challenge is to wake up in time for the other activities the next morning.
In the north, in Jurere International, bars and clubs are makeshift, as they appear only in summer; but in Lagoa da Conceição the nightlife can be enjoyed all year round. These clubs and bars in Florianopolis offer a great opportunity to tourists to mix with the locals. A great way to start the evening would be to go to Morro da Lagoa da Conceição, which is east of Florianopolis, and then trail the Rodovia Admar Gonzaga until you have a fabulous view of the town.
One of the topmost beaches in Brazil, the Jurere Internacional beach offers beach clubs that throww incredible parties in the summer. They are definetely worth a visit. The Praia dos Ingleses, one of the favorites among the Argentines after Canasvieras, is a good option in summer. While retaining its Açorian pasts, Praia dos Ingleses changes its hues in winter when locals fish mullet and celebrate festivals, allowing tourists to enjoy the local flavour of the region. A visit to the dunes which separate the Ingleses Beach and the Santinho Beach should definitely be part of your itinerary. You can try your hand at sand surfing here, a Florianopolis invention, by renting boards and sliding down the dunes.
If surfing is not really your cup of tea then try out diving, gliding, mountain biking or even paragliding in Florianopolis. Carry your trekking boots to Lagoa do Peri, Costa da Lagoa,and Naufragados, and witness the untamed sea and marine life or hike three hours to Lagoinha do Leste, which has been conserved as a sanctuary. If you still aren't satisfied visit the Lagoa da Conceição beach, a windsurfer's paradise.
Apart from beaches, the town of Florianopolis itself is charming. A number of churches ranging from the Portuguese styled Church of Our Lady of the Lagoa da Conceição where one can see a bell gifted by emperor Dom Peter II, to the Our Lady of the Rosary of San Francisco de Paula built in 1830 in an Açorian style can be found here. Other churches include the Metropolitan Cathedral which houses the sculptures of Joao and Maria, Ours the Lady of the Necessities in Santo Antonio de Lisboa and the Church of the Order Third of San Francisco in the city centre. Another church, Senhora da Lapa do Ribeirão has been converted into a museum.
A walk through Schmidt Street, with its shops selling local wares and numerous coffee shops, can be a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. The Public Market, steeped in history, and the older quarters of the city vividly reflect their Açorian past. The Municipal Market on Largo da Alfândega is no longer used but is still attention grabbing.
A number of museums like the Ethnological Museum, the Museum Cruz and Souza and Plaza of the Square XV are worth a visit for their exhibits portraying local history.
A 36 km drive from Florianopolis will take you to Ribeirão da Ilha, an Azorean district with its quaint plaza in Frequesia which has the Igreja Nossa.
And of course the island has a number of forts like Santa Cruz, Santana, Fortaleza of Our Lady da Conceição, Santo Antonio and Anhatomirim.
The Armação Beach has an interesting past in the Sant'Anna Church, which was constructed by the Armação fishing company. Harpooners and the crewmen confessed at this church before heading out to sea. The ceremony wasn't complete until the priest blessed each boat individually. Armação is also the home to some significant archaeological sites of the state of Santa Catarina. These days, boats leave the harbour taking tourists to one of Florianopolis' most frequented islands, Ilha do Campeche.
The Campeche Beach itself is 5 km of grand white sand and choppy waters. The superiority of the waves makes it comparable to Jeffrey's Bay. Apart from surfing, Ilha do Campeche offers Caribbean scenery: transparent blue waters, which make it ideal for snorkelling. You can rent masks in the island, but no fins are allowed, since it is a nature reserve.
Praia do Matadeiro, or simply the Matadeiro Beach, is another great destination just 20 km south of Florianopolis. Those looking for some nature and serenity will find this beach ideal.