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Even in Brazil, a country famous for its many natural wonders, Florianopolis has a special status. Geographically is it one of the only three capital cities located on an island (Santa Catarina), which is a good starting point for beach lovers. Historically it is considered a kind of tropical Bavaria, due to the many German settlers that established in this part of the country. As the capital of Santa Catarina state, this historical city is extremely popular among young couples and large families, as the best familiar place for summer vacations.

 

Also among surfers, as the best option in Brasil to practice the sport. And also among thousands of Argentineans, who year after year elect it as their main summer destination. For decades, the city best known icon has been famous Hercilio Luz Bridge, which links the island to the continent. With many colonial buildings, 400 years old historic forts, baroque churches and a active nightlife, Florianopolis is one of those places that once you met, it is impossible not to fall in love with.


 


Florianopolis is also popular among people tired from everyday stress on large and noisy towns, looking for a return to the simple things in life, people who long ago forgot what is like to feel the sea breeze on the face, or the sound of waves during a night sleep. These people will find a large number of small hotels and inns just by the sea or the lagoon, where, they can forget about traffic or cold weather at home, and just relax and have the best time of their lives. When coming here, many enjoy also the so called Ecological and Trekking Tours, in which you are taken to some even more scenic places on the island.

 

If you feel like make some shopping, go the best place in town, the Beira Mar Shopping located right in front of the sea, at Beira Mar Ave (above). Visit also the neoclassic styled Customhouse Museum, built in 1875, with popular handcrafts exhibitions. Cruz e Sousa Palace, located at XV de Novembro Square (the downtown heart) was built in the XVIII century, and served as residence of Santa Catarina Governor. Also worth visiting are Victor Meirelles Museum, Major Lara Ribas Fire Arms Museum (North Beira Mar Ave), Santa Catarina Art Museum, and interesting Cidade das Abelhas (Bee’s Town) located at Virgilio Varzea Road. At right, Historic Old Market.

 

This picture shows the modern part of Florianopolis, located along Beira Mar Avenue, where are located the large apartments buildings and best malls in town. But you will probably want to start your visit knowing a little about the historic city. Begin with the City Cathedral. Its construction started in 1753 and took 200 years to finish. Visit Public Market. It dates from 1898, has 140 booths trading everything including souvenirs and hand made crafts. About 10,000 people come here everyday for daily shopping. Visit also Victor Meirelles Museum (at Saldanha Marinho St), the famous Brazilian artist. And don’t forget some walking at the best downtown shopping area, along famous Felipe Schmidt Street.

 

This is one of the many beaches in the area. People use to say that in Santa Catarina Island you don’t need to go twice to the same beach during the year, so many are your options. Start you island tour by Lagoa da Conceicao (Conceicao Lagoon), a paradisiacal place just 14 miles north of downtown. You can get there by car or one of by bus, but, if you don’t have a friend to drive you there, we would advice you to rent a car. Not due to the long distances, but mainly because doing so you will be able to stop at any of the many viewing points along the coast or on the island hills to take your time and really enjoy the most of it. Around Lagoa da Conceicao there is a large number of beaches, white sand dunes as well as many restaurants and bars, which made this one of the main touristic attraction on the island.

 

Florianopolis nickname is Surfer’s Paradise. Actually not only surfers, but also people who enjoy windsurfing, sailing, hand gliding, paragliding, canoeing, kite surfing and jet sky. Considering that, during most of the year, the water’s temperature is around 80 F, is is no surprise that water sports are so popular here. Most of the people use to choose the beach they are heading to, according to what they want to do. In general terms, east beaches use to be better for surfing, and west beaches use to be preferred by those who enjoy a more quiet place.

 

One of the must points for young people is, again, Lagoa da Conceicao. Around the lagoon area, the most lively places use to be next to Canto da Lagoa, Centrinho, Canto dos Aracas and along Rendeiras Avenue, all of them with dozens of restaurants, pizza bars, cafes, night clubs, dance halls and music. Ponta da Areia is also the place for Hawaiian styled Luaus on hot summer nights. At left, Nossa Senhora ra da Lapa Church, located at Ribeirao da Ilha, 20 miles from downtown. Ponta da Areia is another beautiful location. On summer nights music concerts are held frequently, and at this time of the year Florianopolis gets really crowded.

 

In terms of beaches, Santa Catarina Island is divided in three parts, each one with its own characteristics. At the eastern side the best beaches are Joaquina beach (best for surfing), Galheta Beach (nudist beach), Barra da Lagoa (former a fishermen beach) and Praia de Mocambique (also great for surfing). Going north you will find the forgotten Sambaqui Beach, Jurere Beach and Daniela Beach (all familiar beaches), Praia dos Ingleses (Englishmen Beach, very popular among tourists), Canavieiras Beach (usually crowded with tourist from Argentina), Cachoeira do Bom Jesus Beach, Ponta das Canas, Lagoinhas and Brava. Beach (the last one being the summer hot point). At left old fort built by the portuguese at north Santa Catarina Island.

At left, Historic Portuguese Fortifications, located north of the island.

 

If you decide to go south, following the Airport Road, you will find Campeche Beach (again great for surfing), Morro das Pedras (Stone Mountain) Beach, Armacao Beach, Pantano do Sul Beach, Ribeirao da Ilha Beach (a traditional Portuguese location) and Praia dos Naufragados. Those are just the most popular ones, but many people prefer to forget all directions and routes and just explore the island by themselves, which is surely much more exciting.

 

At left, historic Hercilio Dias Bridge, the first one built to link Florinapolis island to main land. it is now closed to traffic.

 

Florianopolis is the capital of Santa Catarina State. It started in 1675, thanks to Portuguese explorer Francisco Dias Velho, who choose this place to establish the village of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, still as a part of Laguna county. Until 1926, when Hercilio Luz Bridge was built (819 meters long, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world), the only way to get to the island was by boat. Now you can easily go there. Florianopolis is connected by daily flights to all parts of the country. From Rio it is less then 90 minutes flight. Surfer or not, we are sure you won’t regret including Florianopolis on your next trip to Brazil.

 

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