Santa Catarina’s capital, Florianopolis (affectionally dubbed Floripa by locals), is one of South America’s hippest destinations. The island is also one of the most visited places in Brazil featuring over 40 stunning beaches, lagoons, waterfalls and breath taking vistas.
The sprawling urban centre of Florianopolis is the transport hub for the rest of the island. An industrial zone occupies the mainland, while the colonial centre sits across the bay on the island. The north shore has pretty beaches and warm, tranquil waters while the Atlantic rolls over the east coast making Floripa one of the world’s most famous surf spots.
Here are the Top 10 Things to Do in Floripa Brazil:
1) Master Suite at the Majestic Palace Hotel
If you’re looking for a posh pad to call home sweet home in Floripa The Majestic Palace Hotel combines sophistication and comfort at the best address in the city. Many of the luxury hotel’s 259 room’s feature jaw dropping views of the North Bay best enjoyed at sunrise while sipping an espresso on petite balcony.
The hotel’s fancy Master Suite features romantic bedroom jacuzzi, plush king bed and a sprawling living room. Tan fans can enjoy beautiful views of the city skyline while soaking in the hotel’s refreshing outdoor pool or two bubbling hot tubs. The Majestic Palace regularly plays home to the who’s who of visiting Brazilian celebrities and recently hosted our favourite Beatle, Paul McCartney!
2) Sushi with a View at Black Sheep
Floripa’s finest sushi restaurant is conveniently located on the top floor of the Majestic Palace Hotel. A handsome security guard watches over a special VIP elevator in the lobby each evening as the city’s rich kids line up for awesome omakase before sliding over to The Roof, one of the city’s most exclusive nightclubs.
The dinning room at Black Sheep is pretty meets posh featuring dangling crystal chandeliers, bamboo inspired wood panels and walls covered in lush greenery. One immediately swoons for the restaurant’s jaw dropping panorama which at night inspires as the twinkle of lights glow across the island metropolis. Sit perched on a luxurious bench with chopsticks in hand while devouring an 8 course omakase featuring some of the finest fresh sashimi served in Southern Brazil.
3) Cathedral Metropolitana
In 1673 Francisco Dias Velho Monteiro constructed the first church of the island of Florianopolis. It was a small chapel made of limestone, with a high altar. As it was highly frequented by the population, the governor of the city asked the King of Portugal to build a new church. This new cathedral opened its doors in 1903 as Cathedral Metropolitana and since 1908 has been the seat of the archdiocese of Florianopolis.
4) Florianopolis Public Market
In the past, Floripa’s Public Market only consisted of some tents separated into two parts, one for the local dealers and one for dealers from the countryside or outside of Brazil. Sold here were foodstuffs, freshly prepared meals, and so called drogas do sertão, which means ‘hinterland drugs’ – these were products, such as spices like cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa, that did not exist in Europe and that were very interesting and lucrative for the European traders.
In 1838 the government was allowed to buy a marketplace, which changed location and buildings a few times until 1851, when the first public market opened. Today, there is one market, located in two buildings that were built about 50 years ago. This is now a market of not only food, but also clothes, crockery and handicrafts. The perfect place to people watch on the weekend!
5) Lunching at Traditional Comida a Quilo
If you’re looking to tap into Brazil’s unique food culture be sure to skip breakfast and save your stomach for an epic lunch. Locals tend to dine from noon to 3pm at Comida a Quilo restaurants (which translates to “food by the kilogram”).
The popular buffet restaurant concept features fresh salads, cheese, antipasto, soups n’ stews, hot locally inspired entrees and a grilling station where you select your favourite cut of beef and watch it sizzle as a steak. Once you’ve packed your plate to the brim a cashier weighs your plate which you pay for by the kilogram.
My first Comida a Quilo lunch was in Floripa moments after landing at the airport. I was starved and groggy after a 20 hour travel day. Pictured below is my first (of many plates during that midday feast) featuring Brazil’s national dish Feijoada, a smokey pork and bean stew.
6) Praia Mole
One of Floripa’s most famous beaches is Praia Mole, located a stones throw from the Lagoon of Conceição. The icing sugar soft sandy beach is flanked by picturesque rolling green hills.
Praia Mole is mostly known for its top notch surfing status as it’s one of the locations for the ASP World Tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals, which classifies 50 competitors, among professionals and amateurs. It is the only location in South America that hosts the prestigious surfing event, so plan your trip so you can oogle at all of those sexy surfers!
Once you arrive at the beach hang a left and walk towards the jagged rock formations and you’ll find a wee cottage perched over the shore which plays home to one of the region’s most infamous gay clubs. During the summer this corner of the beach packs with speedo-clad muscle gays who enjoy epic dance parties soaked in suds until the wee hours of the morning.
7) Forte Santana and the Hercilio Luz Bridge
Floripa’s postcard perfect view is an homage to “old meets new,” as ancient Fort Santana overlooks the architectural marvel, Hercilio Luz Bridge. Fort Santana was built in 1761, on a dominant position in the high narrow between the island and mainland. The white washed building which once defended the town has now been converted into a museum featuring historical maps of the region, vintage photographs of the fort and a few canons which sit perched on a grassy terrace.
The Hercílio Luz Bridge earned its name from Governor Hercílio Luz, under whom the bridge was built as the first fixed connection between the island and mainland. The awe inspiring structure opened in 1926, and still to this day, it is the longest suspension bridge in Brazil, and the second biggest in all of South America!
8) Morro das Pedras Lookout
Praia da Armacao is one of Floripa’s most famous beaches, first appearing in the history books during the 18th century as a whaling station. The brutality of the whaling industry thankfully ended in 1910. Today an eco-toursim industry has developed around respecting and admiring the great whales that still migrate here. If you’re looking to enjoy the beach and all it’s beauty from above drive to the Morro das Padras Lookout located a stones throw from the beautiful old mansion retreat Vila Fatima, also known as the Convent of the Jesuits.
If you’re feeling peckish head south to the colourful town of Ribeirao da Ilha. The wee village on the water is packed full of colourful shops and restaurants which source their fantastic seafood offerings from local fisherman. One of the island’s most famous restaurants is located on a cute little beach, stretching out it’s dinning room over a long covered dock which offers hungry guests stunning views of Cambirela Mountain.
Prepare to wait your turn at Ostradamus as you’ll find there are line ups out the door every day of the week. You can join local families who chit chat in the nautical inspired lobby or hop across the street to a petite cafe which serves up sweet pastries and coffee to the hungry guests waiting for their table to be called into the cobblestone street.
Once seated you’ll be tended by a crew of sailor costume adorned waiters. The restaurant has an impressive sparkling wine selection (many of which are produced in the region) which pair perfectly with the kitchen’s celebration of the sea.
10) Ostraxperience by Floripaxperience
Floripaxperience offers an educational edible Ostraxperience where guests have the opportunity to meet a local oyster fisherman, learn about the production and harvest of these tasty sea creatures and then crack open their own oyster to slurp on the half shell. Don’t forget to pack your bottle of sparkling wine as now is the time!
My visit to Floripa was a press trip coordinated by Visit Brasil. Flights, accommodation, restaurant visits and activities featured in this destination guide were complimentary.