One of Brazil's most attractive and economically thriving cities, Florianopolis—or "Floripa" as it is fondly known—is the capital of the southern state of Santa Catarina, 480 mi/770 km southwest of Rio de Janeiro. It's divided into two parts—the mainland portion is mostly industrial, but the area situated on the island of Santa Catarina features attractive colonial buildings, 400-year-old forts and baroque churches.

Floripa's main attraction, however, is the dozens of fantastic beaches, ranging from calm coves to wild, windswept beaches on the island's east coast, which offer some the best surfing in Brazil. For a break from saltwater, the island is also home to the Lagoa da Conceicao, a tree-fringed lagoon where Floripanos practice water sports.

Florianopolis is also known for its lively nightlife and party scene, which comes to a head during Carnival.

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