Florianopolis Travel Guide
Introduction to Florianopolis
While there are many places up and down Brazil’s coast where surfing is practiced and enjoyed by the local populace, no place has landed on the global radar quite like Florianopolis has.
Possessing over 40 major beaches, many of which have exposure to the open Atlantic, surfers are not crowded on to a limited number of breaks, as there are plenty for the taking around the island.
Those that are less athletic will enjoy this diversity as well, as it provides a variety of service levels (urban to wild) and scenic backdrops that make this place a beach bum’s dream come true.
Sprinkle in a few cultural and historic attractions to add a little variety to your holiday, and you have the makings of an unmissable waypoint in your Brazilian travel itinerary.
Cultural Attractions in Florianopolis
While many of the attractions surrounding Florianopolis have to do with its abundant beaches, there are number of cultural attractions that will keep those interested in art and history busy during their time in this popular Brazilian destination.
The first place that you should see is the Fortaleza de Sao Jose da Ponta Grossa, which was one of the most formidable fortifications defending this part of the country centuries ago.
Standing atop a hill overlooking Baia Norte, It had faced attack once in its history during the Spanish invasion of Brazil in 1777, and though it fell to the invaders, the fort continued to be used by the Portuguese after its reacquisition shortly thereafter.
Falling into ruin after being decommissioned in 1938, restorations began in the 1970’s, and today, its cannon and stone ramparts hail back to an era when gigantic galleons where the biggest military threat to nation-states everywhere.
Those looking for some background on the human history of the area will do well to spend a bit of time walking around the hallways of Museu Historico Santa Catarina.
Painted in a light-hearted shade of pink, this former palatial residence (which used to play host to governors, nobles, and royalty) contains not only exhibits about the history of the communities that make up the Florianopolis area, but it is also filled with countless works of art, period furniture, stained glass windows, and even full suits of bronze knight’s armor.
Long before the Portuguese or the Spanish had ever set foot on the island of Santa Catarina, indigenous people had made their home here for thousands of years prior.
The rock carvings that these civilizations had made can be viewed in the open air Museu de Arqueologia Costao do Santinho. Situated on a scenic promontory overlooking the open South Atlantic, there are many examples of this ancient art that are easily visible along a lengthy nature trail.
Though there are reliefs where one can get further background details on these rock carvings, they are all in Portuguese, so be sure to brush up on your language skills or download a language translation app on your smartphone before heading over to this museum.
Other Attractions in Florianopolis
When the time comes to hit the beach, the first place where you will probably roll out your towel will be on the sands of Praia dos Ingleses.
Named for a British sailing ship that ran aground on the shallow shoals located just offshore, this urban beach caters to all crowds, as one end of the beach is calm, making it suitable for families and those looking to swim in the ocean without having to battle the surf, while the other end of the beach routinely gets battered by swells from the ocean, making it an excellent place for seasoned surfers to carve them up all day long.
Located in a populated area, services such as restaurants and convenience stores are located close by, making this place a convenient one to spend a sunny day in Florianopolis.
However, this means that you will be sharing this popular beach with plenty of other sunbathers, which will be disappointing to those looking for a more peaceful experience.
Those seeking a mostly deserted beach will want to put in the effort that it takes to hike to Lagoinha do Leste. Depending on which trail head you use, it can take anywhere between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours to reach this gem in Florianopolis’ crown.
Along the way, you’ll hike through Atlantic rainforest, and have views of the coastline and a freshwater lagoon before coming up on one of the more beautiful vistas that you will see in all of Brazil: a wave swept beach, hemmed in by mountains.
With a number of granite outcrops jutting out here, you’ll have the opportunity to take one of the most epic selfies that you have ever shot of yourself or your friends; just be sure to watch your balance!
If you don’t have the stamina for a hike, but you would like to take in a historic part of Santa Catarina island, then making your way to Santo Antonio de Lisboa will prove to be a worthwhile use of one of the days that you have during your visit to Florianopolis.
A center of Azorean immigration during the 19th century, this portion of the island has a character all its own, with plenty of colonial homes, churches, shops, and other photogenic buildings located along cobblestoned streets.
Strong fishing traditions endure here, supplying the many restaurants in this town with fresh seafood. With many alfresco options offering inspired waterfront views, make plans to have dinner here before you move on to your next destination in Brazil.