Affectionately dubbed “Floripa”, Florianopolis is the capital of Santa Catarina State in southern Brazil, a pleasant, bustling city which straddles the island of Santa Catarina. At its heart, pretty colonial houses and alleys are surrounded by high-rise towers. Yet head into the island and you discover a rugged landscape of old-growth forest, Portuguese fortresses and miles upon miles of beaches (over 40 in total) which make it an ideal holiday destination. The surrounding Santa Catarina coastline is equally impressive and dotted with resorts from small boutique pousadas to deluxe island retreats. Better still, visit between July and October and you can enjoy some of the finest whale-watching in South America as southern right whales come to breed along the tranquil bays. Heading north-west, the towering plateau of the Serra Geral mountains is shrouded in monkey puzzle trees and offers wonderful walking and riding.