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.