34 Best Things to Do in Florianopolis and Santa Catarina Island (Brazil)

hercilio luz bridge

Surrounded by protected areas and blessed with a favorable climate, Florianopolis is the most popular tourist destination in the South of Brazil.

The city and its surroundings attract many visitors, especially lovers of ecotourism and wildlife.

Moist Atlantic and mangrove forests exist side by side with majestic sand dunes and miles of pristine golden beaches.

Island’s crystal clear lakes are home to rare species of animals, many of which are endemic and can be found only here.

The city itself is picturesquely situated on both sides of the narrow Canal de Santa Catarina, which separates the continent from Ilha de Santa Catarina.

The city occupies the entire island and only a small part of it lies on the opposite continental coast.

Florianopolis has a mostly modern look and architecture but with a number of old neighborhoods and historical colonial-style buildings incorporated in the city’s environment.

If you’ve chosen the southern Brazilian city for your next vacation, the following list will help you see the best of Florianopolis without missing anything:

1. Start your journey from the Municipal Public Market of Florianopolis

municipal public market of florianopolis
Municipal Public Market of Florianopolis by Gustavo Brazzalle/Flickr

If you want to feel the spirit of Florianopolis, the Municipal Public Market is one of the first and most recommended places to visit in the city.

Part of the market is housed in a beautiful historical building, which dates from 1899.

Here you can find a wide variety of fresh seafood (this place is well-known for its delicious shrimp!), exotic tropical fruits, clothes at reasonable prices as well as traditional local delicacies (sweets, barbeque etc.).

The market is located in a well-maintained and lively stone-paved square, in the downtown of the city (i.e. on the island of Santa Catarina).

You should definitely stop by here if you are hungry or if you need a refreshing drink.

2. Enjoy the view from Morro da Cruz Viewpoint

view from morro da cruz viewpoint
View from Morro da Cruz Viewpoint by Francisco Anzola/Flickr

Every big city (well, at least most of them) has a place that reveals breathtaking panoramic views.

In Florianopolis, this spot is known as Morro da Cruz Viewpoint and is located on the top of a hill with the same name – Morro da Cruz.

It is located in the eastern part of the city and offers the opportunity to enjoy Florianopolis from a height of 185 meters above sea level.

Although the panorama is beautiful at any time, it is still more impressive during the day because you can enjoy an amazing view far beyond the city’s limits.

You can get here by bus from the city center as well as by taxi.

3. Go to Manguezal do Rio Tavares

rio tavares
Rio Tavares by ALRoos/Wikipedia

Manguezal do Rio Tavares is an ecologically clean area located about 5 kilometers south of Florianopolis.

The location is easily accessible from the city center, not only because of the proximity but also because of the well-organized public transport.

Manguezal do Rio Tavares is quite a large mangrove forest.

Practically, the best way to explore this part of Santa Catarina Island is by boat, and of course, with an experienced local guide with you.

This is a protected area, which is not surprising, especially given the large number of rare and endemic species that live here.

In the mangrove oasis you will find various land and aquatic animals, birds, reptiles, insects etc.

Caimans are among the most impressive representatives of local fauna. These are large animals which can reach up to 2.5 meters in length!

4. Do not miss Catedral Metropolitana de Florianopolis

catedral metropolitana de florianopolis
Catedral Metropolitana de Florianopolis by Antônio João/Wikimedia

Situated in the city center, Catedral Metropolitana de Florianopolis is one of the biggest tourist attractions.

Completed in 1773, the building is well-known for its beautiful and elegant architecture.

Like the cathedrals in Europe, Catedral Metropolitana de Florianopolis is richly decorated too.

Be sure to go inside and enjoy the unique stained glass windows and wonderful sculptures.

The interior is completed in white and other predominantly light shades and colors.

One of the main differences from most of the major European cathedrals is that it is very bright inside.

5. Tour around the museums of Florianopolis

palácio cruz e sousa
Palácio Cruz e Sousa by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

A tour of the Florianopolis museums is something every visitor should do.

Visit as many of them as possible because this is the best way to get to know the city, its history, culture, people and lifestyle.

If you have a limited number of days in the city, then take a closer look at Palácio Cruz e Sousa and Mini Floripa Museum, which are two of the city’s most recommended attractions.

Palácio Cruz e Sousa is located in the center of Florianopolis. Here, in this beautiful 18th century building, is housed the Historical Museum of Santa Catarina.

Do not miss the Mini Floripa Museum as well. It is located in the north of the island, not far from Jurere Internacional. The place is very entertaining and presents Florianopolis in an easy to understand way.

6. Enjoy Ponta das Canas Beach

ponta das canas beach
Ponta das Canas Beach by Helder Ribeiro/Flickr

Ponta das Canas is a beach located on the north coast of Santa Catarina Island, not far from the popular Jurere Internacional.

It is considered one of the most elite beaches in the vicinity of Florianopolis.

Ponta das Canas Beach is well-known for its fine white sands with delicate golden shades.

Because of its smooth and mirrored clear waters, it is an excellent choice for lovers of swimming and bathing.

When you feel tired, you can find a number of great bars and restaurants nearby to enjoy a delicious lunch and refreshing drink.

7. Visit Praia do Santinho

praia do santinho
Praia do Santinho by atramos/Flickr

Praia do Santinho is a wonderful beach located in the northeast of Santa Catarina Island.

It is approximately two kilometers long and offers superb golden sand and pristine waters.

This is an attractive place for lovers of kite and windsurfing.

It attracts people not only from Florianopolis but also tourists from other parts of the world.

The constant sea breeze makes summer heat much more easily bearable, making Praia do Santinho an attractive destination for tourists from the warmer parts of Brazil.

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8. Go to Dunas da Joaquina

dunas da joaquina
Dunas da Joaquina by Karine Kerr/Flickr

Dunas da Joaquina looks like a place from another world.

It’s a land of incredible and rare natural beauty which stretches along the central part of the east coast of Santa Catarina Island.

It is part of Parque Municipal Natural das Dunas da Lagoa da Conceição – a protected area on the eastern shore of the island, less than half an hour drive from the downtown of Florianopolis.

This place was declared a protected area in September, 1988.

This place is very important for the local tourist industry, especially when it comes to ecotourism.

But what is more important is the variety of species of plants and animals living here.

9. Try some surfing

surfing at praia brava
Surfing at Praia Brava by Eduardo Marquetti/Flickr

If you are trying to find some really good place to surf in Florianopolis, the best place to think about is Praia Mole.

Located on the eastern central coast of the island, it is a fantastic golden sandy beach which offers great waves in most of the year.

And while Praia Mole is a paradise for experienced surfers, there are plenty of other options to consider if you are not so skilled.

Praia Brava, for example, is one of the “easier” spots to surf. It is located on the northernmost tip of the island, not far from Ingleses do Rio Vermelho.

Another pretty good option is the fantastic Santinho Beach, which stretches to the southeast of Ingleses do Rio Vermelho. It is also a great spot for swimming and sunbathing while enjoying the outstanding natural beauty.

10. Visit Forte São José da Ponta Grossa

forte são josé da ponta grossa
Forte São José da Ponta Grossa by Marinelson Almeida/Flickr

Apart from natural parks and fantastic golden beaches, the biggest tourist attraction of Florianopolis and Santa Catarina Island is Forte São José da Ponta Grossa.

The fortification is located by the sea, in the northwestern part of the lush green island.

You will find it on the outskirts of the resort neighbourhood of Jurere Internacional.

Completed in the 18th century, the architecture of the protective structure has significant renaissance influence, and is an important part of the military heritage of the country.

11. Paragliding over the island

paragliding over floripa
Paragliding over Floripa by Paraglider Sport Floripa/Facebook

If you’ve ever wanted to try paragliding, Floripa is a very good place to do it, because here you will have the opportunity to experience an incredible adventure at very affordable and reasonable prices.

Lagoa Da Conceição is the place where you can organize this incredible adventure and rise like a bird over the emerald greenery of the island’s rain forests.

You shouldn’t be afraid even if you have no experience, because you will fly with an experienced instructor. This is the best and safest way to relax yourself while hovering like a bird over one of the most beautiful islands in South America.

12. Visit Jurere Internacional

jurere internacional
Jurere Internacional by bgcarvalho/Flickr

Located less than half an hour drive from the downtown of Florianopolis, Jurere Internacional is a favorite spot of wealthy and famous people in Brazil.

It is often called the Brazilian Miami Beach because of its chic villas and sophisticated hotel complexes. Not to mention the excellent shopping opportunities.

Situated on the north coast of Santa Catarina Island, the small tourist neighborhood combines golden beaches and azure sea with lush tropical vegetation.

Jurere is also the summer party capital of Brazil. Who hasn’t heard of the wild local parties gathering young people from all over the world?

13. Go to Rio Vermelho State Park

moçambique beach and rio vermelho state park
Moçambique Beach and Rio Vermelho State Park by Fabricio Sena/Flickr

Rio Vermelho State Park (or as it is better known here – Parque Florestal do Rio Vermelho) is an ecologically clean area, covered by dense and moist Atlantic broadleaf forests.

It stretches along the east coast of Santa Catarina Island.

Established in 2007, the park covers an area of 1532 ha.

Because of its location in the central part of the east shore, the park is easily accessible by car from the downtown of Florianopolis.

This place is deeply recommended to visit because of its impressive biodiversity.

In addition, the wonderful Moçambique Beach is part of the park. This is a nearly 12 km long pristine stretch of golden sands and is considered one of the best in the South of Brazil.

14. Visit Praia dos Ingleses

praia dos ingleses
Praia dos Ingleses by atramos/Flickr

Praia dos Ingleses is one of the most popular beaches on Santa Catarina Island.

It is located on the northeast coast, about half an hour drive to the north from the city center.

The beach is approximately 5 kilometers long and is covered with fine golden sand.

The sea is clean and warm, and the sea water temperature varies between 18 degrees in August and 25 in February.

To the south, Praia dos Ingleses offers smooth and clear waters as the beach remains relatively sheltered through a forested peninsula.

The northern half, where the waves are much bigger, is very attractive for watersports and windsurfing.

15. State Park Of Serra do Tabuleiro

state park of serra do tabuleiro
State Park of Serra do Tabuleiro by Sanjayfm/Wikipedia

Founded in 1975, State Park Of Serra do Tabuleiro is a place of unique natural beauty.

It covers an area of ​​84 130 hectares and is home to a huge variety of plant and animal species, many of which can be found only here.

The park is one of the best examples of Atlantic rainforest and covers the mountain ranges off the coast of Santa Catarina.

It is easily accessible from Florianopolis as it is located less than 100 kilometers from the downtown of the city.

In addition to being extremely important for science, the park is also of great importance for the development of ecotourism in the region. Many people from the nearby cities and from abroad visit and explore the wonderful forest trails.

16. Sandboarding at Dunas Ingleses

sandboarding at dunas ingleses
Sandboarding at Dunas Ingleses by Adrenailha Florianópolis/Flickr

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying some sandboarding, a trip to Florianopolis is an ideal opportunity to try it for two reasons.

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Firstly, the weather here is fantastic for most of the year, and secondly, there is a great choice of sand dunes to try this exciting and entertaining sport.

The most attractive for sandboarding lovers is a spot located in the north of the island.

It is known as Dunas Ingleses and you will find it on the outskirts of the neighborhood of Ingleses do Rio Vermelho. It extends more than 7 kilometers north-south and reaches Praia do Moçambique.

As it comes to renting a board, you don’t need to worry about it. A number of sandboard clubs are scattered around the island of Santa Catarina.

If you want to rent a boar this is the place for you as well as if you need a lesson about how to use it.

17. Kitesurfing in the area of Florianopolis

kitesurfing at praia da joaquina
Kitesurfing at Praia da Joaquina by Marco Nunes/Flickr

Florianopolis and Santa Catarina Island are considered to be the best kitesurfing destination in the South of Brazil.

As the winds are almost permanent here, the conditions are quite attractive for water sports enthusiasts.

The peak season for wind and kitesurfing is the spring in the southern hemisphere.

The winds are particularly intense in October and November.

Although the kitesurfing conditions are generally very good along the entire eastern coast, you will find the best spots in the central parts of the island.

18. Enjoy some luxury shopping

lamborghini gallardo in jurere internacional
Lamborghini Gallardo in Jurere Internacional by Bruno RS/Flickr

Florianopolis is a particularly popular shopping destination.

The reason is that the city combines a wide variety of boutiques and shopping centers, where you can find both more expensive and goods at affordable prices.

An attractive center for shopping lovers is Jurere Internacional, which is home to some of the most expensive boutiques in the area.

Here you can find clothes and shoes from famous brands, various jewelry and accessories, both from Brazilian and international manufacturers.

19. Visit the Hercílio Luz Bridge

hercílio luz bridge
Hercílio Luz Bridge by Daniel Volpato/Flickr

Built between 1922 and 1926, the Hercílio Luz Bridge is one of the emblems of Florianopolis.

With its total length of 819.5 meters, it was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world of its time.

Today it is the most recognizable structure in the city, and its role as the most important infrastructure project hasn’t changed over the last century.

After decades of operation, the bridge was closed to the public in 2001 and reopened in 2019 after a complete restoration.

20. Explore Santo Antônio de Lisboa

santo antônio de lisboa
Santo Antônio de Lisboa by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

Santo Antônio de Lisboa is a small coastal village with beautiful architecture.

Located about ten kilometers north of Florianopolis, the settlement is known for its large number of migrants from the Azores.

Founded in the 18th century, Santo Antônio de Lisboa is one of the must-see tourist destinations on the island of Santa Catarina.

You can easily explore the entire village by taking a light and relaxing afternoon stroll.

21. Go to Lagoa do Peri

kayak at lagoa do peri
Kayak at Lagoa do Peri by Adrenailha Florianópolis/Flickr

In the vicinity of Florianopolis, just south of the small town of Campeche, you will find the beautiful freshwater lake Lagoa do Peri.

It covers an area of 5.2 square kilometers and is located just 3 meters above sea level.

The sandy beaches along the eastern shore of Lagoa do Peri are a very attractive place to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature.

Many tourists find very tempting the idea of swimming and bathing into the clear and smooth waters of the lake.

The area is ecologically clean and very well preserved. It is covered by dense Atlantic rainforests and is an attractive place for recreation.

22. Walk along Beira-Mar Avenue

beira-mar avenue
Beira-Mar Avenue by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

A long and relaxing walk along the popular Beira-Mar Avenue is an important part of your trip to Florianopolis.

The coastal boulevard is definitely the most famous in the city and is a favourite place for locals and visitors.

The boulevard stretches along the north shore of the eastern part of the city.

It is complemented with well-maintained walkways, cycling paths and randomly scattered green areas.

23. Go to Parque do Manguezal do Itacorubi

parque do manguezal do itacorubi
Parque do Manguezal do Itacorubi by Mangaré/Facebook

Following Beira-Mar Avenue (the boulevard we just mentioned above) to the east, you will reach one of the largest green areas in the city.

Known as the lungs of Florianopolis, Parque do Manguezal do Itacorubi is a mostly flooded area, covered with mangrove vegetation.

With a total territory of almost 2 square kilometers, it is considered the second largest urban mangrove forest in the world (the largest one is in Recife, Pernambuco).

Because of the clean and fresh air, Parque do Manguezal do Itacorubi is one of the most pleasant places to visit and walk around in Florianopolis.

Inside the mangrove forest there are beautiful wooden tourist trails, which offer a convenient way to explore the park.

24. Go to Mole Beach

Mole Beach (or Praia Mole in Portuguese) is located about 18 km to the east from the downtown of Florianopolis and about 6 km from the outskirts of the city.

It is located on the east coast of Santa Catarina Island.

Due to its proximity to Florianopolis, during the summer months (from December till March) it is a favorite recreational spot for locals.

The beach with a total length of about 1,2 km is covered with golden sands.

25. Explore the Old Historic Center of Florianopolis

old historic center of florianopolis
Old Historic Center of Florianopolis by Fernando Dall’Acqua/Flickr

One of the places you shouldn’t miss to visit in Florianopolis is the Old Historic Center of the city, which is dominated by beautiful old buildings.

While enjoying a relaxing stroll, be sure to check out the small gift shops where you will find a variety of great souvenir ideas for family and friends.

Some of the streets are pedestrian-only, so you will be able to enjoy the charming neighbourhood undisturbed.

26. Explore the shore to the south and go to Dunas do Siriú

dunas do siriú
Dunas do Siriú by Juliano Kessler/Wikimedia

If you want to visit one of the largest landmarks on the southern coast of Santa Catarina, you should head to the town of Garopaba, which is located less than 80 kilometers south of the downtown of Florianopolis.

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The place is known as Dunas do Siriú. It comes to a vast area, approximately 4 km long and 1 km wide, covered by giant sandy dunes.

With their majesty, they resemble a true African desert.

Stretching along the Atlantic coast, the dunes are quite high and steep in places, so they are an attractive place for sandboard lovers.

27. Day trip to Blumenau

oktoberfest in blumenau
Oktoberfest in Blumenau by digitearte/Flickr

Blumenau is a very beautiful city with a population of 352,000 people (as of 2018), located in the interior of the state of Santa Catarina.

It takes approximately 2 hours drive to get there from Florianopolis, but the trip is really worth it.

Since it is home to a large number of German settlers, the city is known for its unique German architecture, traditions, food and drinks.

Here you can taste the unique local craft beer, which is considered one of the best in the Americas.

If you visit the city in October, you should not miss the local Oktoberfest, which is the second largest event after the carnival in Rio.

28. Explore Ilha do Campeche

ilha do campeche
Ilha do Campeche by Jackson Rapkiewicz/Flickr

Ilha do Campeche is undoubtedly the most exotic place to find not only in the vicinity of Florianopolis but in the entire South Region of Brazil.

The island, which is only about a kilometer and a half in length, is very popular.

Located less than 2 kilometers off the coast of Santa Catarina, Ilha do Campeche is known as the place to find the most beautiful beach in the state. Its superb stretch of snow-white sand, nearly half a kilometer long, is irresistible.

You will find it on the west coast of the island, where the sea is crystal clear and smooth.

The turquoise color of the water attracts lovers of swimming, diving and snorkeling as well as many photographers from around the world.

29. Go to Lagoa da Conceição

lagoa da conceição
Lagoa da Conceição by Papa Pic/Flickr

Lagoa da Conceição is a small village located one and a half kilometers outside of the downtown of Florianopolis.

It is very popular with tourists, especially during the summer season. If you are into the long walks, you should definitely come here.

The settlement is known also for its Hipsters Market which takes place every weekend.

This is one of the best places to buy souvenirs as it offers a large selection of artworks and handmade items.

Lagoa da Conceição is located on the shore of a lagoon with the same name.

Here you can enjoy a long walk in nature, a boat ride in the lagoon itself and even some windsurfing under the appropriate weather conditions.

30. Don’t miss to visit Praia Brava

praia brava
Praia Brava by Papa Pic/Flickr

Located in the northernmost parts of Santa Catarina Island, Praia Brava is a beach you should definitely visit.

You will find it not far from the popular resort of Jurere Internacional, between the small tourist town of Lagoinha and the larger settlement of Ingleses do Rio Vermelho.

Praia Brava offers 1.5 kilometers of golden sand, clean environment and refreshing ocean breeze.

It combines very good conditions to surf with very good restaurants, cafes and bars to visit after a long day under the sun.

31. Visit Itapema

the city of itapema
The City of Itapema by Larissa Fraga/Wikimedia

Itapema is located about an hour drive to the north of Florianopolis and enjoys great popularity.

The city is a well-known tourist center which attracts visitors for its wide and long sandy beach and sunny weather.

The silhouette of Itapema is dominated by high-rise buildings along the coast. To the north, west and south the city is surrounded by forested hills.

Modern and dynamic, the coastal tourist center is an attractive place to visit because of the great variety of things to do.

Besides beaches and numerous bars and restaurants, the city is known as the world capital of so-called ultralight aviation.

32. Go to Itajai

the city of itajai
The City of Itajai by Chan360/Flickr

Less than an hour and a half drive to the north of Florianopolis lies the beautiful coastal city of Itajai.

With a population of 200,565 (as of 2013), it is a lively and colorful but not overcrowded tourist center.

It is famous for its beautiful golden beaches, bars, nightclubs and, of course, for its delicious seafood.

Local culture is a complex combination of Portuguese and German traditions, which finds expression in architecture, lifestyle and cuisine.

33. Enjoy the beaches of Bombinhas

view to village of bombinhas
View to Village of Bombinhas by Chan360/Flickr

The coastline north of Florianopolis is famous for its beautiful beaches, and some of the best are to be found in the small tourist village of Bombinhas.

Located about an hour drive north of Florianopolis, this place is a paradise for sun and sea lovers.

With its golden sands and clear turquoise waters, Bombinhas attracts visitors from all over the world.

Since the Arvoredo Marine Biological Reserve lies off the shore of the town, this place is a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts.

The biological reserve is popular for its rich variety of species of marine creatures. Here you can see turtles, dolphins, sharks, hundreds of species of small and large colorful fish, as well as fantastic coral reefs.

34. Visit Trilha do Poção Córrego Grande

trilha do poção córrego grande
Trilha do Poção Córrego Grande by TheTurducken/Flickr

One of the places you should definitely visit while in Florianopolis is Trilha do Poção Córrego Grande.

Located in an eco-friendly forested area, the waterfall is considered one of the most beautiful in the state of Santa Catarina.

It is easily accessible because it is located on the outskirts of the downtown of Florianopolis.

It is advisable to visit this place in dry and sunny weather, since after rainfalls the walking paths are muddy and slippery.

If you are lucky enough, you can see exotic species of animals (especially birds) while walking here.