Like its hidden lagoons and rolling beaches, Florianópolis is like a jewel amongst all the gems in Brazil's roster of must-see cities. Blessed by lush beaches, sparkling lagoons, green Amazonian trails and delectable Brazilian cuisine, Florianópolis is the destination of choice for Brazilian nationals and global adventure-seekers.
With such gorgeous beaches, it's hard not to have a decadent nightlife -- that's exactly what you'll find in Florianópolis.
If you love the great outdoors, the Sao Joaquim National Park provides you with 50,000 acres of green beauty.
Coming in January? It's the perfect time to take in the rush of color, music, food and parades -- not to mention the copious amounts of libations that flow during Carnival.
The shining star of Florianópolis and the place to be for massive parties during the winter, Conceição Lagoon is also a great place for windsurfing.
For all those wave seekers, the Santa Catarina Pro is a major surfing event that happens annually in Florianópolis. Meanwhile, for those who want the thrills but aren't surfing pros, the island is covered with white sand dunes, making it perfect for sandboarding.
One of Brazil's most laid-back and beautiful beachfront communities, Santo Antônio de Lisboa was settled by natives of the Azores over 200 years ago, giving it a strong European feel. Full of cobbled streets, multi-colored houses and pedestrianized squares, the neighborhood is a joy to explore. Naturally, you can spend all day at the beach, but the many churches and elegant spaces like Getúlio Vargas Square are just as beguiling.
Situated around a kilometer off the coast of Florianopolis, the Ilha do Campeche is a very special place to visit. Why? Well, aside from the secluded bays and scenic location, the island is dotted with petroglyphs (stone carvings) which date back thousands of years. Roam the interior's jungle trails to see these mysterious artworks, and meet the island's monkeys and tropical birds. You'll need to pay a small fee, which helps to keep the island in such great shape, but you'll know that it's more than worth it when you see the results.
On the east coast of Santa Catarina Island, you'll find Barra da Lagoa - and once you're there, you won't want to leave. This idyllic little seaside village has everything you could want from a Brazilian neighborhood. Naturally, there's a dazzling white sandy beach, but there are also family-run fish restaurants where locals catch, prepare, and serve some of the freshest seafood around. When you visit, head down to the Fortaleza area on the seafront for the best eateries and bars - the perfect way to round off a day of sunbathing and swimming.
Connecting the two parts of Florianopolis in style, Hercilio Luz Bridge is an essential part of the city's infrastructure, but it's much more than a public utility. For one thing, it's a beautiful example of a suspension bridge and the longest of its kind in Brazil, with a span of 340 meters. Featuring an unusual truss design, the bridge was built using American know-how in the 1900s and includes pedestrian and cycling paths, allowing visitors to stroll across and take in views of the city.
Undoubtedly Florianopolis' commercial heart, the city's Public Market is the place to head for flowers, handicrafts and - most importantly - delicious Brazilian food. As stall holders bark out their prices and locals haggle, fill your basket with freshly picked fruit and seafood plucked from the Atlantic hours before, as well as locally made shoes, ceramics, or handbags. Housed in an attractive yellow and white 19th-century building, the Public Market is also one of the best places in town to down a beer or two in the tropical sunshine. Saude!
When to visit depends on what kind of temperatures you consider "warm". Brazilian summer lasts from December to March, with temperatures of 77ºF or higher. "Winter" lasts from June to September, when temperatures drop to 62ºF.
Travelers will arrive at Hercílio Luz International Airport, which is 7.45 miles away from the city center. Take the 186-(TICEN/Airport) direct bus service for R$2.90 or the executive service 6120-(Airport/TICEN) for R$4.50.
There are no trains coming into or leaving Florianópolis from other major cities.
Depending on where you're coming in from (north or south), take Route BR-101 and then use BR-282 to get to Florianópolis.
Florianópolis's main bus station is called Terminal Rita Maria. Buses come in from various other cities in Brazil and Santa Catarina. Fares are variable but, for example, a trip from Foz do Iguaçu costs R$115 to R$150.
Staying in style is easy at Majestic Palace. For modest but comfortable nights, check into the Pousada da Lagoinha guesthouse. Budget travelers will appreciate Floriparadise Hostel.
Centro - The main "downtown" area of Florianópolis. Here, there are plenty of restaurants, bistros and shops to visit. Centro is also the spot to see Santa Catarina's historical mansions, houses and palaces.
Trindade - This is where the city's university, Universidad Federale de Santa Catarina Campus, is located. As such, there's plenty of nightlife around as well as second-hand bookstores and vintage shops.
Saco dos Limões - This unique district in Florianópolis is also the oldest in Florianópolis. Its proximity to the coastline means plenty of beaches and water activities to engage in.
Buses are frequent and routes are plenty. Single adult fares are R$2.90, or R$4.50 for executive "yellow" buses.
Hail a taxi from anywhere around the island. Flat rates are R$4.60 and it's R$4 per mile after that.
Car rentals are a great way to travel to and from the beaches. Prices start at R$120/day for basic rentals with air conditioning.
There are several shopping spots such as Floripa Shopping and Iguatemi Florianópolis that feature 150-200 global brands and 7-8 movie screens for entertainment.
A quart of milk is R$3.08 and a dozen eggs is R$6.13.
There are many budget spots, but go ahead and book one of the five tables at the exclusive Bistro Isadora Duncan; enjoy succulent filet mignon and fresh seafood dishes for R$100 per person.