Florianopolis is one of the biggest cities in Southern Brazil. While the area is known as a touristic hotspot due to the many great beaches, the city itself is nothing special. Yet, there’s enough to see for a day as you can read in our city review!
You might ask why Europeans on their first trip to Brazil would decide to visit Florianopolis? Well, we had booked two nights at the incredible Ponta dos Ganchos resort and Florianopolis is the next airport.
I didn’t really know what to expect of the city. Yet, thinking back I was quite positively surprised by some areas of the city. Nevertheless, Florianopolis is no city I’d go out of my way to visit. You can pretty much see everything of interest in a couple of hours.
Florianopolis has 400.00 inhabitans and is actually located on a peninsula. Some parts of the city are located on the mainland (which can be accessed via a bridge), while the interesting parts to see are on Ilha de Santa Catarina.
While the beaches of the peninsula (which is way bigger than Florianopolis itself) are the real highlight, the old town of Floripa, as the city is often called, is worth seeing as well.
The most remarkable area in the city is the one around Praça XV de Novembro in the immediate city center. That’s where you can find the Catedral Metropolitana and the Palacio Cruz e Sousa, the two most remarkable buildings of the city.
Yet, the Cathedral of Florianopolis isn’t nearly as spectacular as most “normal” churches in Europe, so it’s not really a place you need to have a closer look at.
The city center itself is a quite nice area with little streets, pedestrian zones, lots of colorful buildings and the beautiful Igreja Sao Francisco as the centerpiece.
I’d recommend spending one or two hours just stumbling through the streets of Florianopolis, have a coffee or just dive into the local life by buying something at one of the street markets.
One of the few other highlights in Florianopolis itself is the Parque de la Luz. It’s indeed a quite nice, yet small, park close to the city center. Be aware that you need to walk a little uphill to get to the park.
However, that’s basically why you can enjoy such a nice view of the Ponte Hercilio Luz, once the landmark of the city. Today, the bridge is not used anymore and is in a really bad conditon.
Enjoying the view is quite nice nevertheless. If you are interested in culture, you might also walk down the hill and enter the Museu de Armas Major Lara Ribas and the Forte Santana do Estreito.
However, this sounds more amazing than it is. The fort is pretty much gone with just a few cannons reminding visitors of the past.
While in theory not really sightseeing, I’d say that walking along the promenade and enjoying the skyline is one of the highlights of Florianopolis. On the Southern side, where you can find the Centro Sul, there’s not really much to see.
Yet, you can enjoy interesting views of the suburbs from a bridge. The Northern promenade of Florianopolis is much more interesting. Even though there’s a big street, the pathway right next to the water with small beaches and amazing views of the sea and the mainland in the far background is absolutely enjoyable.
As we stayed at the Sofitel Florianopolis (now Novotel Florianopolis), we headed to the promenade several times. If you are following the path for one or another kilometer, you can also enjoy spectacular views of the skyline of Florianopolis. If you want to see more pictures of this path, I’d recommend checking out my running guide!
Florianopolis definitely is no destination for everyone. The city definitely has its charme with its nice old town, the colorful buildings and the great promenade. Yet, real highlights are very rare with the Palacio Cruz e Sousa being the only building I’d say is a real landmark.
So, if you are in the area or plan holidays on Ilha de Santa Catarina, I’d recommend to give Florianopolis a shot and check the city out for a day or two. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way just to visit Floripa.