Sitges somehow sits just as comfortably with its title of the Saint Tropez of Spain, as it does with being fondly called the Gay Capital of Europe. Its natural landscape is truly captivating, the architecture elegant and stylish, and its atmosphere is one of bohemian luxury. Originally a fishing village, Sitges is a precious gem which has attracted its fair share of the rich and famous. It is definitely a good place for Barcelona football fans to come and try to spot some of their favourite players.
Superb Beaches & Charming Winding Streets
The town is like a sultry snake which slithers in a beautiful formation around Sitges Bay and slides gradually up the mountains. Its winding streets are utterly charming, with whitewashed houses and ochre buildings set against an azure sky. Its famous beaches are meticulously raked and depending on which of the 17 superb beaches you choose, you can sunbathe in your birthday suit, or not – the choice is yours.
Shoppers & Foodies Paradise
My most recent trip to Sitges reminded me of how it could be a rather dangerous place for those who like to shop til they drop. There are so many cute boutiques, well known Spanish shops and the feeling of style permeates the air, as you wander through the streets. Discover this wonderful town in our Sitges Travel Guide.
Sitges Special Ambience
During the 1950s and 60s, when some other Spanish towns succumbed to a different type of tourism, Sitges carried on with its own version of flamboyant, yet elegant tourism. The town prefers its well-heeled visitors from Barcelona, Great Britain, America, Sweden and other places, and chooses not to deal with package holiday companies. It has truly preserved its own special ambience.
The calendar in Sitges is packed with festivals and events, so that the town is positively brimming over with culture, fun and an artistic atmosphere. The pedestrianised streets in the heart of the town are vibrant and colourful, with temptations…of the flesh (food and drink) and the shop til you drop variety!
Or why not forget about the shops, monuments and art, and just do as we did – sit on the promenade and join in with the people watching, and listen to the sea, which on the last night we were there was even more beautiful because of the full moon.
Sitges For Foodies
From a foodie’s perspective, as one may expect from a seaside town there’s plenty of seafood on offer, but there’s also other interesting food choices as well. On this trip we had food in a place that was recommended to us by a nice French guy, Simon, who works in one of the bars on the promenade, called the Lux Lounge. The restaurant is called Factor Vi (vi is the Catalan for wine) and the owner is a sommelier. The food is imaginative and is good value for its quality, with a choice of a three course menu for €25 or a la carte. Please note that Lux Lounge also do some food, which looks very good but we wanted to go for a full dining experience.
(For those who are animal lovers, I had to include the photos in this section of the two dogs who were people watching! Apologies to those who aren’t animal lovers!)
Sitges For Families???
Would a family with young children really want to go to Sitges, the Gay Capital of Europe and a town that really knows how to party, on holiday? The answer is yes. I know of quite a number of families who feel far happier and more comfortable in Sitges, than numerous other resorts that I could mention.
Paul Johnson, who runs and owns one of the world’s top travel blogs – A Luxury Travel Blog – which was voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” by The Daily Telegraph and “best for luxury” made a comment, that you can see at the end of this page.
“I’ve been to Sitges quite a few times – in fact, we were went there for our joint hen and stag do! I’ve been back since for family holidays with our young children. It’s amazing how a place can hold an appeal to such a wide range of people. Very cosmopolitan!”
William Cook in a feature for The Guardian Newspaper, expresses doubts before going to Sitges, but had this to say once he had been:
“We went for a week and had a great time. It was easy to get there – only 16 miles from Barcelona airport. It was remarkably attractive – lots of historic buildings, from Renaissance to art nouveau. The beach was damn near perfect – a broad sweep of vanilla sand, sheltered by a ring of green rolling hills (the Garraf massif) – and yet somehow Sitges hadn’t been overwhelmed by tourism. It still felt like a working town.
The gay bars are confined to a few streets but their presence energised the community; they made Sitges come alive in a way that felt friendly and upbeat. There were no sunburnt lads in “Ingerlund” shirts, no broken glass or vomit in the streets. We felt invigorated yet relaxed, free from the stag-night atmosphere of so many Anglo-Iberian resorts.”
That last trip was on the weekend of the 15th March 2014, when the high was around 22º, and the last time we visited before then, was on the 27th October and the weather in Sitges was around 24º, with an expected high of 27º and low of 17º.
Things To Do
Sitges Art Galleries & Route
Organised by the local tourist authority, the Artist Route is a wonderful opportunity to meet four artists who will explain their experience, motivations and methodologies. The artists are Blanca de Nicolas, Núria Corretgé, Carme Nicolas and Manuel Blesa.
La Fundació Stämpfli: Contemporary Art
This art museum houses contemporary art from 21 countries, which includes pieces from the 1960s up to the present day. The Stämpfli Foundation is backed by the Generalitat de Catalunya and Sitges Council. At the time of writing the collection had 80 works by 55 different artists. To visit their website and see more about the collection go to Stampfli Foundation Sitges
Art Galleries Sitges
For centuries art has been an integral part of life in Sitges. Below is a list of the art galleries in Sitges:
Àgora 3, Carrer Nou, 18, Phone: 93 894 65 97
Centres d’Art de Sitges, Carrer Sant Pau, 30, Phone: 93 894 65 97
Els Quatre Gats, Carrer Sant Pau, 13,
Fernando Suarez Gallery, Pl Ajuntament, 1, Phone: 93 894 59 56
Foz, Carrer Sant Bartomeu, 15, Phone: 93 894 25 92
Hotel del Arte, Avinguda del Port d’Aiguadolç, 8, Phone: 93 811 45 45
L’Escala d’Art, Carrer Parellades, 54,
Pau d’Arara, Carrer Major, 9, Phone: 93 894 28 44
Queens Gallery, Passeig de la Ribera, 28,
Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas Statue Sitges
In the photo just above you can see the Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas statue in Sitges, which is right by the sea on the promenade – I love it, it’s so full of character. To the right of the artists, you can see there’s an easel, upon which there’s a canvas with some writing. I have roughly translated the Catalan for you (native speakers be merciful with me please..), as I believe that this quote really captures the spirit of Sitges:
Well my friends … I saw a land where there was more sunshine than in other places, where the sky was bluer, and the sea was bluer as well … the landscapes gave me inspiration. I came to see the ocean and found a sea of people I found honest, cheerful but serious on the inside. Come, like butterflies, into the light and fall into the fire of friendship..
Sitges Beaches – Platja is the local word for beach (Catalan)
Those who haven’t previously visited the relatively small but perfectly formed resort of Sitges, will most likely be surprised to discover holidaymakers have a choice of 17 beaches to visit here. Granted these aren’t all in the actual town itself, but they are all within easy access and fall under the domain of the town. Each one has it’s own appeal and peculiarities, as well as a wide ranging difference in services. There are also beaches that are more aimed at families, nudist beaches and one large gay beach.
Aiguadolç Beach Sitges
To the east of Port d’Aiguadolç is the Marina Aiguadolç beach. 145M long by 20m wide. Popular with both those wearing swimwear and those who choose not to, this beach is a 15 minute walk from the one preceding it so offers relative seclusion.
The most westerly of the Sitges beaches, this is a small cove that offers some peace and quiet for those who want to relax in the sun away from the crowds. This is a beach used by all groups and is located right in front of the Hotel Terramar. It is artificial and was created in the 1920’s for the use of the hotels guests. Flanked by breakwaters to offer storm protection, the beach is 160m by 50m and has lifeguards on duty.
Platja Balmins sits on the west side of Port d’Aiguadolç and this is mainly nudist beach, made up of 3 smaller coves between the town centre and the port. It is 240m long and 20m wide and has lifeguards in attendance as well as other service. There is also a foot bath and showers which are operated by a card. These cards have to be ordered at the beach bar and a symbolic bond paid. Every card comes with 400 seconds of ‘shower’ time and the water starts to flow when the card is placed under the reader. Cards can be recharged and returned at the beach bar. Along with Aiguadolç this is the town’s other main nudist beach, but you can wear your bikini or your trunks if you feel more comfortable.
This large beach benefits from 4 artificial islands which have been created just off the coast to protect the sand. At 290m in length, it is one of the longest Sitges beaches and has a lifeguard, play area, other services and the customary access ramp. Popular with all types, it’s position at the edge of town means it can be less crowded than the more central beaches.
As well as being one of the busiest beaches in Sitges, it is also the one which is mainly gay. Set right in the centre of the row of beaches that run along in front of the town and gets extremely busy during the peak months. It is worth remembering that Sitges is famous for being gay friendly and if any gay couple don’t want to limit their beach time purely to Bassa Rodona, they will feel perfectly comfortable on any of the town’s beaches. The beach is easily accessible from Sitges promenade, and if you stand facing the sea with the church to your left, it is the third beach along from there, not that you really need directions.
Estanyol Beach Sitges
A long and very busy beach which is very popular with all groups of sun seekers. You step straight onto the sands of Platja Estanyol as it runs along in front of the El Vinyet residential area. Measuring 365 in length, it’s a lovely beach that has all services in place including an access ramp for disabled visitors.
A small, urban beach beneath the church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, Fragata is a haven for young holidaymakers. It is also considered to be somewhat of a sporty beach, as it has not only Club Nàutic but sporting competitions are held here and there is also football and volleyball frequently played here. There is also pedalo hire available with the little ones will love.
Ribera Beach Siges
This large beach is the most central of them all, and therefore gets incredibly busy. This beach appeals to all groups and has all the standard services as well as a vast number of sun loungers for those who simply want to relax in the sun.
Another beach in front of the residential area of El Vinyet this very long but very narrow. Frequented by all groups it has plenty of sun loungers for hire but once these are in place there is little room for anything else so large families tend to head to one of the other beaches.
This beach is named after the area of town where it is located, which boasts a great seafaring tradition. This is very much a family beach where many of the locals come to soak up the sun. It has all the standard services including lifeguards and also has the same shower system as Platja Balmains where you get a card from the beach bar or chiringuito, which gives you 400 seconds of shower time.
This tiny beach is actually within the Port of Cala Ginesta and is only accessible by entering the port itself. A very pretty spot that doesn’t get very busy, it is worth noting the fauna that exists along the coastal cliffs above it.
This naturist beach on the Costas del Garraf is more of a cove as it is surrounded by rocks. It is a pretty place were naturists can enjoy the sun as nature intended. There is a bar restaurants here and other services including showers and a defibrillator.
Located in the neighbouring town which gives it its name, this beach is characterised by the array of colourful bathhouses on the beach with are all inhabited. All services are here from lifeguards to first aid and there is also a ramp for easy access.
Playa de la Botigues
The largest of all the beaches in and around Sitges, this stretches for 1415m, making it by far the biggest. There is everything here you would expect from a top notch beach in a quality resort from sun loungers to lifeguards and bars to showers. There are also several ramps here for wheelchair access.
The second main nudist beach in Sitges, this one is notoriously difficult to access if you haven’t been here before but well worth the effort once you get here. It lies below the railway line and to the south of the L’Atlantida disco. There is a good choice of facilities here including sun loungers, parasols, a bar and defibrillator.
This is the beach where gay nudists head to have fun in the sun of Sitges. It is actually two beaches joined together; Home Mort and Platja de Roses. Once again it is very difficult to access, and like Desenrocada is underneath the railway line, that runs south of the disco L’Atlantido. There is a beach bar here, loungers and the customary defibrillator.
Esglesia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla – Sitges Church of Saint Barthomolew and Saint Thecla
Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 20, Sitges
An iconic feature in Sitges, the church is home to 2 Gothic sepulchres, which date back to 1317 and 1322, and belonged to an older church that previously stood on the same site. This symbol of Sitges was built in the 17th century. Apart from admiring the church itself, you can wander up the steps and have magnificent views over the sea, to the promenade and the front line bars, restaurants and buildings.
Monesterio Buddista El Parc Natural Garraf – Buddhist Monastery Garraf Natural Park
Parque Natural del Garraf, Phone: 937 432 010, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://www.monjesbudistas.org
The monastery opens its doors to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and special holidays from 09.30 to 18.00. They run a variety of group retreats and activities during the week, except for Mondays.
El Cementerio de Sant Sebastià de Sitges – Saint Sebastian Cemetery Sitges
Municipal Cemetery of Sant Sebastià, Passeig Balmins s/n, 08870 Sitges
Cemeteries are not often places that we would consider to be full of light, colour and somehow happiness. Sitges Cemetery is just superb. Located opposite to the Sant Sebastià beach, the cemetery of the same name is modernist, with funerary art that belongs to the late 19th century. It includes pantheons belonging to painters and sculptors, as well as some people who emigrated to America in search of their fortune.
Spirits Route Sitges
You can do an intimate tour to the cemetery from the town. Check it out at the tourist office.
Ermita Vinyet – Vinyet Hermitage
Website: Vinyet Hermitage Sitges
There is a story behind the Nuestra Sra. Del Vinyet Chapel. It is said that there was a slave who was digging in a vineyard, who found an image of the Virgin Mary. He wanted to bring it as an offering to the vineyard owner, but it kept returning to the earth, where he had found it. So he told the owner, who then went and he saw the image surrounded by a rays of light.
Also known as the Sanctuary of Mare de Déu del Vinyet, the chapel was restored in the 18th century, but is thought to date back to the 13th century. You can see a stone on the side door which has the year 1552 engraved on it. In the Vinyet neighbourhood there are also a number of beautiful houses.
Sitges Gastronomic Route
This is an entertaining cooking class where you get to choose ingredients at the market, learn about the area’s traditional dishes and make them ..and then eat them! Dishes will vary according to seasonal ingredients.
Plaça Ajuntament 11, Phone: 938 948 151
Facundo Bacardi, the founder of Bacardi, was born in Sitges. This exhibition is about the history of the drink, as well as how it is linked to Sitges.
Cau Ferrat Museum (closed temporarily for renovations)
Originally the home and study of Santiago Rusiñol, writer, artist and one of the most influential figures in the Catatan Modernisme Movement, Cau Ferrat was a bohemeian hangout for arty types at the end of the 19th century. This remarkable structure was in fact originally two fisherman’s houses, which Rusiñol converted into one building.
He manifested his intention to turn it into much more than only a home and it is a true temple of art, which was an intimate space that Santiago Rusiñol had tailored for his own needs. He bought 2 El Greco paintings in Paris, which can be seen in the Cau Ferrat today, along with numerous other treasures, including one of the best wrought iron collections in Europe.
Maricel de Mar Museum (closed temporarily for renovations)
Palau Maricel, C. Fonollar, s/n. 08870 Sitges. Phone: 93 894 03 64
Miguel Utrillo transformed this 14th century Gothic hospital, to house Charles Deering’s (American billionaire) collection, in the early 20th century. The museum’s belvedere gives a wonderful contrast, through the glass, of the blue sea with the bright white sculptures.
In 1921, however, Deering returned to America taking his collection with him, which included works of El Greco. In 1969 the building was bought by the Barcelona Provincial Corporation, to house the collection of Dr Jesús Pérez-Rosales, who was a very enthusiastic collector.
Today the museum is home to objects and art which are connected with the history and life of Sitges, as well as the Doctor’s vast collection. Gothic mosaics enrich the building, where you can see baroque sculpture, Romanesque murals, Renaissance altar pieces and carvings and many more items.
Calle Sant Gaudenci, 1, Phone: 938 942 969
Feel what life was like in Catalonia during the era of romanticism. The museum was the home of the Llopis family for many generations. Originally constructed in 1793, the exterior of the building is rather sober, making a delightful contrast with its romantic, busy interior. A trip to the Museu Romantic can be a rather evocative one.
For those who appreciate wine, the wine cellar was where the famous Malvasia was developed by Llopis. Also on the second floor, visitors can see what is considered to be Europe’s greatest doll collection – Lola Anglada’s Dolls.
Click here for Sitges Museums Opening Hours
AquaLeon Water Park and Zoo
Opens 21st June until 7th September
Half a hour drive away from Sitges, you’ll find the AquaLeon Water Park and Zoo. If you haven’t rented a car, you can get there by a bus, which you can find at the Sitges tourist office.
Here is more information about AquaLeon Water Park and Zoo
PortAventura Theme Park
The PortAventura Theme Park is another great place to take your kids, and they’ll be thanking you for years to come. The park can be easily found in Salou, which is a short drive away from Sitges, around 45 minutes. Looking for the biggest theme park in southern Europe? Well, this is it, but it doesn’t stop there. In the park you’ll find a Caribbean styled water park, as well as the famous Furius Baco ride, which reaches speeds upwards of 135 km an hour. These are just a few aspects of PortAventura, click here to know more PortAventura Theme Park Salou.
There are a selection of tourist routes in Sitges, here are some of the pick of the crop – if you want more details on them, just click on the title of the route and that will bring you to the tourism website:
On this tour you can admire the colonial homes which were built by locals who had made their fortunes in America. The architecture is from the latter part of the 19th century. The Sitgeans who returned after being successful had a positive influence on the town. The prosperity and how this architecture beautified the town, gave it a push into its elegant, prosperous future. You can hear anecdotal stories about these characters while seeing the Americano architecture.
Organised by the local tourist authority, the Artist Route is a wonderful opportunity to meet four artists who will explain their experience, motivations and methodologies. The artists are Blanca de Nicolas, Núria Corretgé, Carme Nicolas and Manuel Blesa. If you wish to go on the Artist Route please use the link below, and on that page there is a downloadable document.
Taste Malvasia, the traditional sweet wine, during this tour. On the grounds of the Juan Bautista Hospital, is the winery of this famous wine from Sitges, and being there you will feel closer to the roots of the production of Malvasia.
Discover old fishermen’s homes, the ramparts, the canon and more in this tour around the old quarter of Sitges. In1972 Sitges’ old quarter was declared an artistic historic complex. This route also includes a visit to the Maricel Museum.
You can do an intimate tour to the cemetery from the town. If you wish to know more about this please click the link below.
Visit the Terramar Racetrack, which really is one of the world’s most exciting racetracks. When it was inaugurated in November 1923, it was the third racetrack in Europe.
Starting off at Sitges train station, this route takes in the Americanos modernista style homes and visits the Cau Ferrat Museum.
For further information on this guided tour, contact the official tourist office.