São Sebastião is a coastal city and a municipality on the North Coast of São Paulo. The city is known for its historical heritage and for the Maresias beach, part of the international surf circuit and regarded as "the Ipanema of São Paulo".
São Sebastião is a long and noncontiguous coastal area, offering an incredible number of beaches, the majority with a somewhat rustic aspect. In the beginning of the 90s, its tropical climate and savage feel attracted wealthy Paulistas who, suffering with the infrastructure problems of the Baixada Santista, looked for calmer beaches and less congested roads. Nowadays, the reality of the chaotic traffic affects São Sebastião, but the municipality resists growth through laws, such as one that forbids the construction of tall buildings.
Intercity buses between São Paulo and São Sebastião are provided by Litorânea  and can be taken from the Tietê intercity bus terminal. Note that there are two types of buses: one takes 3 and a half hours and another takes 5 hours and 25 minutes, and they cost about the same. There are also less frequent buses to Maresias and to the ferry boat to Ilhabela. Check the website for detailed information.
Normandy runs a bus from Paraty to São Sebastião twice daily.
Coming from São Paulo, there are three routes of access.
Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to São José dos Campos, then take SP-099 (Tamoios) to Caraguatatuba, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) south to São Sebastião.
Take SP-150 (Anchieta) or SP-160 (Imigrantes). At Cubatão, follow the signs to go to Bertioga, north via BR-101 (Rio-Santos). São Sebastião is past Bertioga.
Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to Mogi das Cruzes, then take SP-098 (Mogi-Bertioga) to Bertioga, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) north to São Sebastião. This path is somewhat more complicated as you need to find your way through Mogi das Cruzes.
The "city" of São Sebastião is more properly described as a compact downtown and various discontinuous or semi-continuous coastal suburbs, distributed along 100 km of coast.
Downtown is small enough to walk around. A map can be obtained at the tourist information office located on Av. Dr. Altono Arantes (not far from the ferry terminal). The ferry terminal is located at the end of Av. Antonio Januário de Nascimento; look for the signs 'Balsa'.
To get around the beaches, you may take bus 51 operated by Ecobus , which departs every 20-30 minutes (more on weekends). This bus goes from the intercity bus terminal (Rodoviária) downtown (from inside, not the bus stop outside) to the Boracéia beach, at the division with Bertioga. Getting around by car using BR-101 should be straightforward.
Casa Esperança, Av. Dr. Altino Arantes, 150. Mo-Fr 9AM-6PM. The best-preserved colonial structure in town, it is a beautiful residence built in the 18th century complete with its original ceiling paintings. Now it is used as a shopping center and art gallery.Free. edit
Casa das Janelas, Rua Antônio Cândido, 113 (Largo da Casa de Câmara e Cadeia). Colonial-era house typical of the 18th century. Inside visitation is not currently permitted.edit
Convento dos Carmelitas (Carmelite Convent), Guaecá Beach (12 km from downtown). By appointment. Constructed in the 17th century as the headquarters of a farm run by Carmelite monks, it is now on private property within the residential complexes of Balneário de Guaecá and Portal do Carmo.edit
Convento de Nossa Senhora do Amparo (Convent of Our Lady of Amparo), Rua Martins do Val, no number (seaside). 9AM-7PM daily. Completed in 1668, this church is the oldest building in the city.Free. edit
Council House and Jail (Casa de Câmara e Cadeia), Praça Brig. Rafael Tobias de Aguiar, no number. Inside visitation by appointment only. Built the late 1600 when the outpost was upgraded to vila status. It currently serves as the Military Police station.edit
Fazenda Santana (Santana Farm), Pontal da Cruz. Built in 1743, it contains the family residence, a chapel, and a sugar cane mill.edit
Igreja Matriz, Praça Major João Fernandes, 22, ☎ 12 3892-1110. This church, built towards the end of the 17th century, marks the history of the local coast-dwelling people, serving as an important symbol of the religiosity and the development of the municipality of São Sebastião.Free. edit
Historical Center. Seven blocks designated as a National Historical Heritage site, with 300-year-old colonial manors built around the Igreja Matriz.edit
Boracéia. The first beach you'll encounter as you come in from the west on the Rio-Santos Highway. A calm beach with preserved flora, and with an indigenous tribe established in the area.edit
Juréia. A small, almost deserted beach with few residences and a lot of greenery.edit
Barra do Una. With its light-colored sand and calm waters, this beach attracts families and groups of young couples.edit
Juquehy. This beach has beach-side mansions and the best infrastructure, attracting families and groups of young people.edit
Barra do Sahy. Boat rides to the nearby island or sunbathing in the soft, white sand. Children have parties in the small beach park.edit
Baleia. With large condominiums amidst the vegetation, this beach is wider and has harder sand. Surfers converge at the end down to the right.edit
Camburi. The most touristy beaches in town, Camburi and the neighboring Camburizinho have choppy blue-green waters that make surfers swoon. Young people from São Paulo come in search of action, battling for space on the soft sand.edit
Boiçucanga. This beach has perhaps the best sunset in town, and has active businesses as well. Brava Beach is near the division with Maresias, frequented by adventurous types who go to see its emerald-green water first-hand.edit
Maresias. The most well-known beach of the North Paulista Coast, Maresias attracts surfers in search of the perfect wave, upper class people who keep impeccable beachside mansions, and partiers from around the world looking for exciting nightlife. There are plenty of hotel options, and plenty of chances to bump into someone famous. edit
Guaecá. This beach has just some houses and soft sands, and is popular with foreigners, families, gays, and nature-lovers. You can see the south part of Ilhabela from this beach.edit
Centro. This beach has infrastructure, historical spots, and exciting nightlife. The ferry to Ilhabela departs from here.edit
Costa Norte. The beaches of the north coast towards Caraguatatuba have calm, level water and are frequented by fishermen.edit
São Sebastião is reasonably safe. In 2011, the robbery rate was around 1.85%, comparable to cities like Long Beach or San Diego, and three times lower than São Paulo's most popular beach town, Guarujá.
Camburi and Camburizinho are beach communities which, though technically part of São Sebastião, are around 40 mins drive south along the BR101. Camburi is considered by Paulistas as one of the best beaches on their coastline. There are also quite a few small restaurants and bars along the road going through Camburi. Camburizinho beach is right next door or there are lots of beaches all along this stretch of coastline.
Ilhabela, accessible only from São Sebastião by ferry, is an archipelago with nature still mostly intact.