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Arriving

By Plane -- TAM (tel. 048/4002-5700; www.tam.com.br) and Gol (tel. 0300/115-2121; www.voegol.com.br) both have daily flights to Florianópolis from all major cities in Brazil. All flights arrive at Aeroporto Hercílio Luz (tel. 048/3331-4000). Taxis from the airport to the northern beaches (Praia dos Ingleses) cost R$60 to R$70; to the southern part of the island (Campeche) or Lagoa de Conceição, R$50; and to downtown, R$25.

By Bus -- Long-distance buses arrive at the Rodoviaria Rita Maria, Av. Paulo Fontes s/n (tel. 048/3212-3100). Auto Viação 1001 (tel. 021/4004-5001; www.autoviacao1001.com.br) offers daily departures to São Paulo for R$75 to R$115; the trip takes about 10 hours.

Visitor Information

The state tourism board has an English-language website at www.santacatarinaturismo.com.br. The main tourist information center is in downtown Florianópolis, Praça XV de Novembro s/n, Centro (tel. 048/3244-5822), open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

City/Island Layout

The city of Florianópolis straddles the narrow part of the straight about halfway down the island and is connected to the mainland by two bridges. The oft-photographed, scenic Hercílio Luz suspension bridge is closed for renovations as of this writing. The historic downtown sits just a hop and a skip from the small but efficient Rita Maria bus station, the departure and arrival point for all long-distance buses. If you want to do a bit of shopping, just follow the elevated walkway across the main road for a short walk to the Praça XV, one of the city's main squares. The Rua Felipe Schmit and the Rua Cons. Mafra and its cross streets around the Praça XV are closed to traffic and packed with stores. A bustling indoor market is located at Av. Paulo Fontees s/n, almost on the corner of the Praça Fernando Machado.

The island itself is long and thin (approx. 70km/43 miles from north to south) and features a number of distinct regions. The most urbanized beaches are those near the northern tip of the island; Praia dos Ingleses, Canasvieiras, and Jurerê are popular and busy beach destinations in the summer. Farther south, facing the open Atlantic on the east side of the island, are the much less developed beaches of Praia Mole and Joaquina, and the clothing-optional Galheta beach. All are popular with locals on the weekends. The Lagoa da Conceição forms the center of the island. This large lagoon is the year-round nightlife and dining hub, attracting both locals and visitors. The southern part of the island is divided into two regions, the beaches (on the east side, facing the ocean) and Riberão da Ilha (on the west side, opposite the mainland). The ocean-facing beaches such as Campeche and Armação are mostly undeveloped, and even in the peak of the tourist season (Dec-Feb) it's easy to find a near-deserted stretch of sand. Farther south toward the tip of the island, the beaches of Lagoinha do Leste and Naufragados are only accessible by a short hike. Facing toward the mainland, Riberão da Ilha features Portuguese (actually Açorean [fishermen from the Azores]) settlements that have been beautifully preserved.

Access to the various parts is by well-paved state highways. From downtown Florianópolis there are three main roads: The SC-401 goes north to the beaches of Ingleses and Canasvieiras. The SC-404 cuts across the center of the island to the restaurant and nightlife area of Lagoa. The SC-405 dips south toward Ribeirão da Ilha. A fourth highway, the SC-406, runs along the eastern side of the island, connecting to the SC-405 in the south and the SC-401 near the northern beaches.

Getting Around

By Bus -- Local bus service on the island is slow and infrequent. In Florianópolis a vehicle is strongly recommended.

By Taxi -- Taxis are easily found in the city or at the airport, and hard to find elsewhere. To call a cab from anywhere on the island dial tel. 197 or call 048/3240-6009. Taxi fares add up; a one-way ride from Campeche to the bus station costs R$50. After two or three rides it's better to rent a car.

Getting Around in Florianópolis: Rent a Car -- To make the most of your visit you really need a car, allowing you to explore the more remote beaches and towns at your own pace. Floripa's roads are in great shape, speed limits and regulations are strictly obeyed, the island is easy to navigate, and you can safely park almost anywhere. Just remove all valuables from the vehicle when parking. See car-rental information in "Fast Facts".

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.