In late August, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in the amazing Spanish town of Sitges. It’s a small seaside community dating back to the middle ages located about an hour by train just south of Barcelona. Accessing it couldn’t be easier with direct trains going many times per day. The train ride alone is stunning as you travel down the coast with the sea to your side and sunlight glinting over the azure blue seas.
As much as I loved Barcelona, I really wanted to make a point to see Sitges as well. Sight unseen and with little knowledge I booked a bed at one of the few hostels in town and boarded the train.
The main beach
Sitges has long been a haven for LGBT travelers and continues to be one of the premier spots in Europe for gay tourists to visit. It’s known as one of the most gay-friendly places in the world. This is due to the temperate Mediterranean climate, easy access, friendly locals, and open culture. That aside, it is simply stunning and it’s completely open to non-LGBT travelers as well. Plenty of “family” and actual families head here over the summer for a slower pace of life and to take in the Spanish sun. Just be aware… it’s home to the largest convention of “bears” and their admirers in early September so that may be eye opening for some.
Live a little : )
Beyond a vibrant LGBT scene Sitges offers everything you want from a beach holiday destination. Amazing clean beaches with warm water, practically perfect weather with rarely a cloud in sight, and amazing food. So, in typical fashion, here are a few ways to spend your time in Sitges.
Walk the seafront and see the main church
Not far from the main beach sits the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla. A beautiful building sitting on the hillside with expansive views of the sea. Opened in 1672 it’s still well used and, in fact, I was able to witness a wedding while I was there. An impressive structure on it’s own but made even better by the views.
Bride and groom posing for photos on the waterfront
The church (and city) come alive at night. With the Spanish sun not setting until around 9pm there is plenty of time to stroll the waterfront before your traditionally late Spanish dinner.
Chill on the beach
There are 17 beaches in Sitges and one for every type of traveler. Family beaches, gay beaches, nude beaches, your pick. Many seem to blend these elements together and, as usual, the Europeans approach it with a casual nonchalance. Topless sunbathing is the norm – a far cry from the prudish approach in America.
You have a choice of just throwing a towel on the sand or renting a beach chair and umbrella at very reasonable rated ( lower then the French Riviera). I have to say the waiter service on the hired chairs is quite nice and the beers come cheap and icy cold.
If you prefer a more active approach, there is plenty of opportunity for swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle board, or even rent one of the pedal powered slide-boats. The sea is your oyster.
Explore the town
If you’ve had too much sun or just fancy a stroll, there are plenty of non-sand activities to do in town. The central town is connected to the beachfront and lined with shops and stands selling everything imaginable.
It’s fun just wandering through the narrow pathways of the old town and seeing what’s on offer.
See and Be Seen
I’d lie if Sitges isn’t home to people flaunting what they have. It has a little of the South Beach Miami vibe with plenty of outdoor places to sit and sip a drink and watch to world go by. A perfect way to spend an afternoon if you’ve had a bit too much sun.
The main plaza
Parrots bar occupies two sides of the main plaza area and tables are a hot commodity. Everyone facing inwards to scope out the scene and se who is walking by.
I am in love with Spanish culture, and Spanish food is a critical element of that. Food is meant to be paired with drinks and tapas are meant to be shared with friends. Where can you go wrong there.
My midday snack of prawn cocktail, patatas bravas, and a cold beer.
Snacks tend to be best served like above as a few tapas and something cold as a refresher. For dinner, meals get a bit more formal (while still being super casual). Don’t want to wear a shirt to dinner – totally cool.
I went on a hunt for the best paella in town and was not let down.
A paella marinara with seafood served straight from the hot pan
Do not visit Spain without eating paella at least once a day. I swear, I am addicted. It also goes down quite well with a fresh mojito.
As with most beach communities, Sitges is a great place to adapt to a slower pace of life. Stay out late, sleep in, lounge on the beach, and reflect on the day while watching the perfect sunset over the town.
I loved the time I spent in Sitges and can’t wait to visit again to do it all over.
If you are planning a visit to Barcelona don’t skip Sitges. Any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.
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