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Situated on the island of Santa Catarina and serving as the state capital, Florianopolis is a major tourist destination not because of the town itself, but for the beautiful beaches and islands that surround it. Besides having 42 beaches, at the edges of the city there are mountains, mangroves, and sand dunes. The city is a popular base for island excursions that have a more remote, tranquil setting.

While the northern part of the island is more modern and geared towards tourism, the western and southern sides still reflect the 18th century colonial times. Because of this, central Florianopolis has some great architectural and historical highlights. You can stroll through the narrow streets and original neighborhoods to see the old quays, a covered market built in 1898 and sitting on the waterfront. At the Praca 15 de Novembro there are local artisans selling their handicrafts and the Catedral Metropolitana, which is worth a visit. Nearby is the magnificent Palacio Cruz e Souza, which was once the governor's residence. Inside it houses the Museu Historico de Santa Catarina, which displays a bland of baroque and neoclassical art, décor, and furniture.

There are many beautiful beaches on the east coast of the island. Lagoa da Conceicao is a lagoon situated 6 miles from the mainland. Traveling along the Estrada Geral da Lagoa, there is an excellent hilltop view of the lagoon, dunes, and the ocean. A few miles down the coast is the Praia da Joaquina, which is famous because of the national surfing championships that are held here every summer. The dunes are also particularly good for sand boarding.
More Florianopolis Beaches Information

The Cariho American Indians originally inhabited the island when the Portuguese arrived in the 17th century. In 1726 the town was officially founded and the Indians were either killed or enslaved. Since the, Desterro eventually grew into the capital of the island, known today as Florianopolis. Today the port has little activity as it did during colonial times, but the city remains as a thriving commercial and tourist center.

Bus terminals can be found where the two bridges link to the mainland and can take you to most parts of the city and to the south of the island. The buses running to the northern and eastern beach resorts depart from the corner of Rua Jose da Coasta Moelmann and Ave. Mauro Ramous. Minibuses are also available that can take you to most of the beaches. The airport is located 12 km south of the city and is served by taxis and buses.

Florianopolis Palace is the only luxury hotel in the city centre, and has excellent facilities. The more popular hotels are near the beach, such as the Joaquina Beach Hotel, which offers comfortable and affordable rooms and a café for breakfast and lunch on the ground floor. The beach is 100 km away, which is the closest you can get to this beach, and Mole beach is just five minutes away. Costa Norte Hotel offers luxury accommodations in a quaint building with surrounding gardens. It was named the #1 hotel in the area.

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