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Brazil: South Brazil's mountains and beaches

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The prosperous southern state of Santa Catarina has over 500km of undulating coastline with pretty crescent-shaped beaches. Ilha de Santa Catarina (the gateway is the city of Florianópolis) is popular with families and surfers. The cliffs and bays along the coast shelter a few highly regarded top-end beach properties.

On the mainland, the coastline adjoining the little resort of Praia do Rosa - considered one of the top most beautiful 30 bays in the world - is particularly exquisite and easily explored on foot and by hire car, stopping off at a variety of beaches to admire the sand dunes or take to the surf. Many are backed by tranquil lagoons safe for swimming.

Beyond the beaches, the coastal ranges here and in the more southerly state of Rio Grande do Sul are a sharply rucked carpet of bottle-green mountains, gorges, waterfalls and cloud forests fringed by huge ferns, vivid flowers and palms. The Serra Verde Railway descends through swirling mists which lift to reveal eye-popping panoramas. There are walking trails in the Serra Geral, and mountain ranges gashed by steep canyons. The state was settled by Germans and Italians - vineyards and hydrangeas cover the sunny slopes and the landscape has a distinctly Alpine feel.

Our holidays to South Brazil's mountains and beaches

Serra Geral

Self-drive Southern Brazil and Buenos Aires

Private journey

16 days from £3,043pp

Explore and Relax Argentina to Brazil: Estancias and Beach

Explore and Relax Argentina to Brazil: Estancias and beaches

Private journey

13 days from £4,343pp

Things to do in South Brazil's mountains and beaches

Oysters

Brazilian coastal walk with oyster tasting

White water rafting

White-water rafting in Brazil


Windsurfing

Take a windsurfing course

Brazil wales

Whale watching in southern Brazil

Our insider tips for South Brazil's mountains and beaches

David

David Nichols

Explore the coastline and mountainous hinterland in a hire car. Good paved and unpaved roads link them through undulating verdant countryside dotted with cattle farms.  Most of the really stunning beaches have at least a  little bar, open in season, many have small villages laced with small shops and upmarket summer homes. It's fun and safe, and the local people are very friendly and welcoming, with a smattering of English.

Sophie Barber

Sophie Barber

Explore the dramatic canyons and precipitous canyons at Aparados da Serra National Park on the border with Rio Grande do Sul. Giant fill faces, vertiginous canyons of dizzying depth, boulder-strewn rivers and foaming waterfalls  can be viewed from your hire car or explored on foot, with or without a guide. Fringed by plantations of rice and banana, the cooler plateaux's rims are carpeted with monkey-puzzle trees.

Annerys Hockley

Annerys Hockley

Hike virtually alone in the Serra Geral canyons through wild, rugged landscapes. There are no marked trails: you walk with a knowledgeable local guide. Views are utterly stunning as range after range of purple plateaux and fathomless ravines themselves. A Latin American must-do for enthusiastic walkers and recreational strollers alike.

Paul

Paul Winrow-Giffin

Walk down the shady marked trail called the Pista dos Naufragados in the south of the island, through mata Atlantica forest to a broad pearl-white beach where you can swim and have views of colonial forts and Florianopolis's pretty shoreline.  Return by boat or on foot.

What our experts say

Santa Catarina Island, and its gateway the pleasant modern city of Florianopolis, has over 40 beaches, with yet more sandy bays on the coast going south towards the border with Argentina and Uruguay. With developed (but not high rise) resorts through to to isolated sands accessible only by rough track, boat or cliff path, you are bound to be able to find one that suits you. I recommend hiring a car to explore this coastline, there's so much to enjoy. My favourite beaches are at Garopaba, an Azorean fishing port cum family-friendly holiday town, and the fan of silky sand at Praia do Rosa, an established surf centre with a super-cool atmosphere in season.

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

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