Florianopolis, or Floripa as the locals call it (and now us because it is much easier to type), is a medium sized city in Santa Caterina state in the south of Brazil. Situated on an island jutting out into the Atlantic, this city of around half a million people is home to beaches, sand dunes, lagoons and some incredible seafood, and is one of the safest cities in Brazil. It is also really pretty and there is absolutely tons to do. Here is how we did it:
Floripa is accessible by two means, road or air. The airport is getting busier all the time but flights at the time of writing can be quite steep. That said, you can get there from Rio if you so wish for about £60 if you fly. The other way is by coach, the way we chose. The buses come direct from all the major cities in the South of Brazil as well as some into Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, taking anything up to a day. Although this sounds horrific, it’s not actually that bad. The buses are comfortable, with the seats reclining a lot more than your standard coach. They also tend to be quite empty, so you will normally be able to grab a row to yourself and stretch out. Some of the bus companies provide free refreshments too. We thought we’d struck lucky when we got some free Coke, but we met a Mexican who said on his bus to Floripa he got a Margarita! You don’t normally need to book the buses more than a day or two in advance, which you can do at the bus station to avoid booking fees online. However in high season, some coaches will book up. It’s wise to check the availability on BusBud before you get there, especially if there is a particular bus you need to take. If you are new to BusBud, sign up using this link and get $5 off your first ride.
One thing to note about Floripa is that it sprawls. It feels bigger than a city of half a million. That’s because the main settlements are spread out with quite big, fairly empty gaps in between. Therefore it is not a walkable city, so you have two options: buses or taxis (or Uber). The buses are easy if you are near one of the main terminals in the city: there are six of them and most buses go between the terminals, and if you have to change bus you still only pay once. If you need to go somewhere a bit more remote, well good luck to you. My advice would be to ask your accommodation, because the bus stops have no maps, numbers, names or timetables on them to indicate which bus goes from them, or even in which direction you are facing. Taxis are fairly reasonable, but you can’t pay cash with Uber so make sure you set PayPal up on the app to avoid the persky foreign transaction fee.
There are loads of options in Floripa, from posh hotels to grubby hostels to our usual choice, Airbnb. (Sign up using this link to get a sweet discount off your first stay, or just set up a different email address to mug Airbnb off a bit). There are three main bits to stay in, I’d recommend splitting your stay between at least two of them:
- Lagoa – Really touristy but super nice, this is where nearly all the hostels are. It’s also where the main bar scene is, and it’s an easy bus ride (even by Floripa’s standards) to the beaches.
- Centro – Not very touristy and dare I say it a little “edgy,” but really well connected by public transport and great for shopping, especially at the public market.
- Santo Antonio de Lisboa – An old fishing village slightly swallowed up by the spreading city. Very peaceful and full of little bars and restaurants as well as lovely little beaches.
There is absolutely shedloads to do in Floripa, most of them involving beaches or drinking, which is ok with us. If you Trip Advisor the top things to do there nearly all of them are various beaches, which gives you a good hint of what the city is about. Try your hand at surfing on some of the best surf beaches in South America, do some sandboarding in Joaquina, go and visit the beautiful Campeche Island (it is quite expensive to get here, mind), explore the fish market in the Centro and buy some of the freshest and best oysters in the world, or simply do a little bar crawl down in Lagoa da Conceicao. We won’t judge.
Food and Drink
Like the rest of Brazil, you can get our two favourite Brazilian foodstuffs here – per kilo restaurants and acai bowls (seriously, you HAVE to try one). It also has the distinction of being something of a seafood Mecca. The public market in Centro is amazing for fresh fish and seafood, and famous for its oysters, which are colossal. There is a brilliant little oyster kiosk in Santo Antonio de Lisboa opposite the church where the cheapest and best oysters in the city can be found. For a cheap lunch in Lagoa, try Tren de Minas, which was the best per kilo restaurant we went to in Brazil.