A Nomad's Guide to Florianopolis

On Santa Catarina Island, Florianopolis is more than a Brazilian Ibiza. Look beyond its 60 beaches promising sun, sand, and waves to experience these activities.


Photo © Getty Images/DircinhaSW

Located in the south of Brazil, Florianopolis (or Floripa as it's more commonly known) is the capital and second largest city of the state of Santa Catarina.

Part of Florianopolis city is located on mainland Brazil, but once you hop on a bus and cross the bridge to the island you'll be on Brazil's "Island of Magic".

Colonial architecture, local folklore, and traditional fishing villages that are resisting modernity make this an incredible destination to discover. Here are some of the best things to do on the island. 

Top things to see and do in Florianopolis

During summer (December to February) there are lots of festivals happening, such as Florianopolis’s Gay Pride Parade which occurs during Carnival season, samba parades, and massive street parties.

Closer to the mainland, go deep sea diving at Dolphin Bay, or take a sailing trip around Anhatomirim Island (Ilha de Anhatomirim).

On Santa Catarina Island, go scuba diving in the marine biological reserve of Arvoredo.

From June till October, the east coast of Santa Catarina Island is visited by whales that come to nurse their calves. 

For a cultural fix, head to the south coast where villages and towns have resisted modernity and preserved their architecture, traditions, and customs. Stroll through local markets for handicrafts and souvenirs or take a lesson in dancing samba or learning the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira.

Food in Florianopolis

Food is a huge part of Brazilian life and Florianopolis is well known for its seafood. Don't miss tasting a moqueca (fish stew), sequência de camarão (seafood platter) or the local oysters. If you're craving something sweet, seek out the popular dessert cuscuz de tapioca (tapioca pudding made with either milk or cream). 

On the mainland, the suburb of Coqueiros is a gastronomic hub where you will find the best food, from delicious pastries to international cuisine. Most restaurants and cafes close around 11pm, but nightclubs and bars will stay open til sunrise. On Sundays from 3 til 8pm in Parque de Coqueiros there is a food and craft fair with up to 60 local vendors.

The best beaches to stay at in Florianopolis

Depending on what type of traveler you are, Florianopolis has a beach to suit your needs.

Budget travelers

For budget-conscious travelers, Barra da Lagoa is the most cost-effective place to stay. This small fishing village is set on the mouth of a tidewater channel that leads to a lagoon on the island.

There are many cheap, cozy hostels in the neighborhood, as well as nice markets to explore. Nearby you can check out Praia da Barra da Lagoa (the beach) and swim in the natural pools. If you're looking for nightlife, Barra da Lagoa is where Florianoplois earns it's title of "the Brazilian Ibiza".

For a more family-friendy place to stay, search for accommodation in Canasvieiras on the northern part of Santa Catarina Island, close to the beaches Jurere and Cachoeira do Bom Jesus.


If you're looking for peace and quiet while relaxing on the beach, search for accommodation in Moçambique and Cachoeira do Bom Jesus. The clear, green water and minimal waves make this a more tranquil place to stay on the island.

For even more isolation, venture out to in the rustic villages of Matadeiro, Praia Galheta and Lagoinha do Leste. 

Surf and watersports

If it's surf you're looking for, go to Praia do Santinho and Campeche for great wave breaks. Praia do Santinho is one of Brazil’s most popular and cleanest beaches. Other available activities include sandboarding, scuba diving, windsurfing, kite surfing and rock climbing.

Campeche Island, 1,250 m southeast off the coast of Florianópolis, Brazil. Photo credit: Getty Images/C. Quandt Photography

Nightlife in Florianopolis

Happy hour begins in Florianopolis as the sun goes down. Jurere Beach is the most lively place to be at this time. If you want to kick on and party with the locals, Lagoa da Conceicao comes alive at night with food trucks, bars, breweries, and nightclubs. 

Getting around Florianopolis

If you get there via a 90-minute flight from Rio and arrive in the bustling city on Brazil's mainland, don't be discouraged by Florianopolis’s airport and heavy traffic. Traffic jams are common in Florianopolis, especially in summer when there are more people in town. The island is small but very busy. 

The city doesn't have a subway, but local buses are the best method of transport. The PasseRápidoTurista (Fast Pass Tourist) allows visitors to get around by bus while only paying one rate. 

The next-best budget option is to travel by minibus, or "amarelinhos". These are more comfortable and have air conditioning, but they are a little more expensive than local buses.

The best way to get around the island is to rent a car. Some towns don't have public transport, and taxis charge high rates when you travel further distances. If you're spending lots of time on the island, perhaps paying extra to rent a car will be worth the costs.

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  • Mike UK said

    Not sure that Florianopolis is the best place at this time of year. Weather is unpridictable. Try Buzios, it is closer and better weather, now!

  • Marc said

    Florianopolis - 18 degrees for the next week, winter , not a good tip

  • Luiz Santolli said

    Your tips about Florianopolis are fantastic! No wonder it is called the “Brazilian Ibiza”, right? It is so beautiful. Actually, Brazil is full of amazing cities and you can also save money when you travel around by bus. For example, travelling from Florianopolis to Sao Paulo takes you around US$55! There is more information in this site https://brazilbustravel.com/from-florianopolis-sc. =)


    Don't forget... They have a new airport that just opened a year ago!!!

  • Scott said

    Looking for church of the Nazarene

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