Mother Nature has been good to Florianópolis. You can usually find this Southern Brazilian island city French-kissing the tropical sun, while being gently caressed and tickled by a refreshing Atlantic breeze. This is a city that knows how to enjoy itself.
With a population of roughly one million people, the ‘Magic Island’ is famed for its high quality of living (Veja Magazine named it ‘best place to live in Brazil’) and friendly locals (Conde Nast Traveler named it ‘friendliest city in the world’ in 2013). Much like Vancouver and Melbourne, Florianópolis is a place to which people flock, either as tourists or permanent residents, for the excellent lifestyle that the city affords.
Long-beloved by Brazilians and Argentinians, Florianópolis is still relatively unknown to tourists from the rest of the world. With its 42 beaches, top-notch surfing conditions, luscious scenery, superb climate, quaint traditional architecture and thrilling nightlife Florianópolis is a prime destination just dying to be discovered by intrepid outsiders.
So without further ado, have a look through our recommendations for what to get up to during your stay in Brazil’s ‘hidden gem’ and store your favorites in your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Capitalize on the Excellent Surfing Conditions Florianópolis is one of the surf capitals of Brazil. The Santa Catarina Pro, one of the world’s premier surfing events, takes place here annually. There is a variety of beaches that offer surf opportunities to beginners, intermediate and advanced level surfers. Barra da Lagoa has gentle waves and is suitable for beginners. For the more advanced, Praia Mole and Praia Mozambique offer something altogether more dynamic. The shallow waters and year-round high winds at Lagoa de Conceição make it a world-class windsurfing location.
Don your Hiking Boots and Go Meet a Monkey There are lots of excellent hiking trails to be found on the southern tip of Santa Catarina Island, just south of Florianópolis city. The subtropical Mata Atlantica (Atlantic forest) is made up of diverse, dense and luscious vegetation, and is home to some very cheeky monkeys and many exotic birds.
Explore the Bustling and Beautiful Lagoa de Conceicao This vibrant village in central Florianópolis is located on the edge of the large lagoon that shares its name. Chill out and sip a caipirinha or two amongst the local artists, trendsetters and cool kids. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to enjoy here. Lagoa de Conceicao is a favorite place for people from all over the island to gather and enjoy good food, drinks, music and dancing.
Fly Like an Eagle Enjoy the beautiful local landscape from the sky on a paragliding trip. Zona de Voo organizes paragliding flights from a hill overlooking Praia Mole.
Explore the Island’s Many Beautiful Beaches Florianópolis has 42 beaches! It is a veritable selection box of beaches and sandcastle connoisseurs will not be disappointed. Many of the local beaches have delightfully secluded coves and are great for swimming or surfing. The northern beach resorts get very busy during the summer, whilst the eastern beaches are amongst the best for surfing. Isolated and unspoiled beaches, like Lagoinha do Leste and Naufragados, can be found in the south of the island and can only be reached by trail. Every Sunday hundreds of locals flock to one of the most popular beaches on the island, Praia Mole, where there is a great atmosphere as people kick-back and enjoy cold beers and munch on local cuisine.
Probe the Depths on a Diving Trip Some cool shipwrecks, pretty coral, friendly sea turtles and cute (but not cuddly) seahorses make this a very enjoyable diving location. Parcel Dive Centre is a good local diving school.
Have a White Water Rafting Adventure TDA Rafting offers rafting trips on the Cubatão River. Routes with varying levels of rapids mean that beginners and experienced rafters can be catered for. This is a great way to explore the beautiful southern part of the island.
Spend a Day Sandboarding and Horseback Riding on the Beach Enjoy a relaxing (although possibly not for your backside) two-hour horse ride along the wide Praia Moçambique beach and then get your adrenaline pumping with some sandboarding on the dunes of Praia Joaquina. Cons: The following day, your muscles will ache. Pros: The memories made will make this totally worth it!
Florianópolis has a plethora of exciting resorts, luxurious hotels and fun and friendly hostels to choose from. Here are three of the best:
High-end Costa Norte Ponta Das Canas Hotel Florianópolis is a luxury hotel directly on the beach. It has bright, airy sea-view rooms and a restaurant serving delectable fresh seafood.
Medium Hotel Boutique Quinta das Videiras is cozy, classy and ornate; this boutique hotel in Lagoa da Conceição, only two blocks from the main boulevard and all its attractions, is a lovely place to stay (if you can get a room – it’s small and very much in demand). It also has a nice spa and a decent restaurant.
Budget Islander Hostel Brazil is a clean and friendly hostel that has a selection of dorm rooms as well as comfortable private rooms to choose from. There is a common area as well as a bar, which are both great for meeting fellow travelers. Good WiFi throughout.
Florianópolis has excellent seafood, the area being especially famous for its oysters, shrimp, crab and octopus. The fishing villages of Santo Antônio de Lisboa, Ribeirão da Ilha and Sambaqui are highly recommended for lovers of piscatorial cuisine. These quaint, traditional Azorean villages are perfect places to stroll in the sun amidst the sea breeze and sample the myriad culinary delights that this area of Brazil has to offer.
There are a lot of cheap food options to take advantage of in Florianópolis. There are many ‘per kilo’ buffets where you’ll make up a plate of food and then weigh it and pay accordingly. These places have an array of tasty foods, salads and fruit to choose from and tend to be very cheap.
Ostradamus is a fine dining restaurant in Florianópolis that is deservedly famous for its sensational oysters.
Pier54 is located in a beautiful spot right next to the water. Its seafood dishes are exquisite and its wine and cocktails will keep your taste buds thoroughly entertained late into the evening.
The Municipal Market in central Florianópolis is a great place to stock up on fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.
Drinks and Nightlife
Florianópolis’ nightlife is exhilarating. The city was named ‘party destination of the year’ by the New York Times in 2009. The city is chock-a-block with great restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs and the beautiful weather means that the streets are vibrant and buzzing late into the night. During the summer the action is concentrated in and around the beaches, while in winter the party moves indoors to the clubs, bars and restaurants of Lagoa da Conceição.
Confraria das Artes is a super-hip nightclub that attracts the rich and famous of Brazil. P12 at Parador International is a very cool nightclub that attracts a lot of big name DJs.
Fields is an incredibly popular venue that specializes in Sertaneja, the most popular music genre in Southern Brazil. (Warning: This place can get pretty hot, sticky and raucous!)
Bar Deraiz is a great place to work up a sweat dancing to local Samba and Forro bands, with Sunday nights dedicated to Samba and Tuesday nights playing Forro.
Caipirinha, a cocktail made from the Brazilian liquor cachaça, is the favorite local drink and there is a huge array of excellent local beers that are well worth a try.
Tips and Culture
Florianópolis is served by Hercílio Luz International Airport for both domestic and international flights.
Florianópolis is connected to the other main Brazilian cities by a modern motorway network.
From the city center, dozens of buses go to all the beaches on the island.
Hiring a car is a good way to explore all the beaches and interesting spots. However, during the high season traffic can be very busy and it can sometimes take up to two hours to get to a beach from the city center.
The city is one of the safest anywhere in Brazil.
Florianópolis during Carnival is wild, wild, wild! Beginning shortly after the January surfing championships and going through late February, the area becomes a massive outdoor party with food, drinks, pumping music, colorful parades and lots and lots of dancing. We highly recommend that you visit Florianópolis during Carnival time! Make sure to book your accommodation well in advance, as, predictably, it gets very busy.
The Magic Island is a world-class holiday destination. So while you are relaxing with a cocktail on one of its numerous sun-soaked beaches, or skimming across the turquoise Lagoa de Conceição with the Atlantic wind in your sails, why not share your dream Florianópolis experiences on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?