Visiting Sao Francisco do Sul

Sérgio lives in São Francisco do Sul,
in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
He will tell us more about the city,
it’s historical and natural attractions.

Image by Otavio Noguera at Flickr, CC-BY

Hi Sérgio, thanks for helping us learn more about
São Francisco do Sul.

My pleasure.

OK… for those of our readers
who are not familiar with Santa Catarina…
Where is São Francisco do Sul?

It’s in the northeast of Santa Catarina state…
The Atlantic coast… in the south of Brazil…
Close to Joinville, the largest city in our state.
São Francisco do Sul is actually on the island…
with the same name.

I see… So, how long does it take
to get from Joinville to São Francisco do Sul?

Oh… it’s only 40 km…
It takes about 50 minutes…
Maximum 1 hour by car.

Yes, it’s not that far… for sure…
I also heard that São Francisco do Sul
has one of the largest ports in Brazil.

Yes, that’s true.
My father works there…
and the company I work for also uses the port.

But when I look at the pictures…
I have an impression of a peaceful and quiet beach town.
I read that São Francisco do Sul…
has a long history.

Yes, São Francisco do Sul is the oldest town in Santa Catarina,
founded in the 16th century.

Image by Otavio Noguera at Flickr, CC-BY

French came here first…
and later so did Spanish and Portuguese.

French first came here in 1504,
Spanish came in the 16th and the 17th century…
and Portuguese before 1650,
when they finally founded a village.
The town was founded by
the Portuguese/Brazilian explorers…
called “bandeirantes”.

How long does it take to walk around the city center?

Well, I think 30 minutes will be enough.
It’s a small part of the urban area
and there is not much commercial activity
happening here.

Igreja Matriz. Image by Sergio Nascimento

What are the most interesting places
in the historical center?

OK, the most interesting places…
The Catholic church… Igreja Matriz
It’s in front of the major’s office
The city plaza is next to the church.
The Morro do Hospício Echologic Park
there are ruins of an old church in the park…
The church was built in 1681…
right on the top of the hill…
it was as a part of the original settlement…
It was called Capela São José,
or Saint Joseph Chapel.
And if you go up the hill
you can enjoy some excellent views of
the historical center
and the Babitonga Bay.


Yes, leaving the park…
you can get to Babitonga Street,
you can see the bay and small islands around,
with the colonial houses behind you.
Then, you can go to the National Sea Museum,
the only sea museum in South America,
to see the old ships.

Image by Sergio Nascimento

Are there any places in the city to meet the locals
and experience the local life?

I think you can experience the local lifestyles…
in any part of the city.
But I recommend the historical center,
the Barão Street…
our commercial center,
and there are a lot of sightseeing places…
to see history and nature.

I guess the town is not that big.

Yes, it is small…
you can easily walk all places in 2 or 3 days.
For those who just have one day to stay here…
I recommend the historical center…
and the beaches…
UbatubaEnseadaMolhe PrainhaPraia Grande beach
they are just right next to each other.

Image by Otavio Noguera at Flickr, CC-BY

Does the city get a lot of visitors from other regions of Brazil?

Not too many.
But you can see visitors in the historical center.
Some are coming on a cruise ship.
The beaches attract visitors too…
people from the nearby cities in Paraná state
and people from other states.
Every summer, the beaches are full of people.
In high season…
December 27 to January 10…
the population of the island
doubles or even triples.

What is the best time to visit the city?

I think it’s the summer.
You can enjoy the city,
meet local people…
and swim in the sea.

Is there any local food visitors should try?

Well, not really.
You can find fish, shellfish, and other seafood…
but unlike other regions…
we don’t have any special local cuisine.
Just some restaurants,
ice cream shops… travel shops…
like any other small tourist town.

What makes the city different
from other cities in Santa Catarina and Brazil?

Let’s see…
São Francisco do Sul is an island…
like Florianópolis, the state’s capital.
Florianópolis is a much larger city,
you can find a variety of places, cultural events,
hotels and dance clubs there.
But São Francisco do Sul is a small island city…
it suits those looking for a more relaxing place.

Luis Fernando Oliveira at Flickr, CC-BY

Yes, it surely is a place to relax.

Like Floripa… Florianópolis…
São Francisco do Sul has its archipelago of smaller islands,
in the middle of the Babitonga Bay.
São Francisco do Sul is a more of a historical place…
where you can find good landscapes…
nice beaches with small, medium and big waves…
this gives you a unique perspective
on the Brazilian colonial and imperial history.
You can see well-preserved colonial houses
and the 350 years of a city that still remains small.

Do you recommend a boat trip
from the city to nearby beaches?

There is a cruise boat from Joinville,
the Barco Príncipe de Joinville
or Prince Boat of Joinville.
it goes to the historical center from Joinville
and passes by the Babitonga Bay Islands.
You can also cross the bay…
going from the historical center to Vila da Gloria,
a small village in the continental part of the city
Just like Floripa, São Francisco do Sul
also includes some places inland…
not on the island.

Yes, and the island isn’t very big, is it?

No, it’s not.
One important thing to keep in mind is that…
the historical center…
the port and the main part of the town
are only about 10 km from the most visited beaches.
If you have the time,
try to visit every part of the island.
Praia GrandePraia do Ervino and Praia do Forte
are also good places to visit.

Paulas Beach. Image by Sergio Nascimento

What are some good beaches
around the São Francisco do Sul island?

Good beaches… We have so many of them…
Paulas Beach, where I live.
It’s next to the port and the historical center…
But it’s not recommended for swimming.
It’s better for fishing.

Enseada Beach. Image by Sergio Nascimento

I see.

Next is… Enseada Beach…
It’s the most visited beach on the island.
I don’t think I took any of these pictures in summer.
The most recent picture in the whole album
is the one with sunglasses.
I took it last Sunday.
OK… What else?
Prainha Beach is one of the favorite places for surfers.
Praia Grande Beach…
This one is the longest beach…
It’s in the east of São Francisco do Sul island.
22 km of restless waves and the open sea.
There are some dunes along the beach.

Praia Grande Beach. Image by Sergio Nascimento

Yes, the whole São Francisco do Sul island…
looks like a very beautiful place.
Thanks again, Sérgio…

You are welcome.

Head image: Otavio Noguera at Flickr, CC-BY