Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by Christian Heide
Needing a little rest from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis? Then you can take a day trip or short break to Sitges from Barcelona. The small coastal town 36 km to the south has been a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and artists for over 100 years. Discover the charming place on your own – or let our Barcelona specialists Christian and Michael seduce you on a private tour.
The most photographed motif is probably the city’s largest church: St. Bartholomew and Thecla. It sits enthroned on a rock at the edge of the old town and overlooks the bay with the natural sandy beach and the original fishing port. An unforgettable sight by day and by night!
Discover the old town of Sitges on a private tour
But let’s just stroll from the train station – where you arrive after a quick ride on the commuter train from Barcelona – across the manageable city center. The railway line to Barcelona has existed since 1888 and on the way towards the old town you will discover the first special feature. Magnificent houses in the style of Modernism, the Catalan Art Nouveau. They were built by the so-called Americanos. These were people who had come to prosperity, even wealth, in the colonies of Spain, especially in Cuba. They had magnificently decorated houses built in their Spanish homeland. Many are now used as hotels, some as restaurants where you can dine under palm trees. By the way, the best-known name is Bacardí – yes, the one with the rum. Fun fact: A sculpture of the logo adorns the beach promenade today.
On the way to the sea, we first come through lively shopping streets, or rather alleys. Sitges was first a seaside resort for bohemians and the wealthy Catalan bourgeoisie from Barcelona. “That’s why the place was spared long rows of hotel strongholds,” according to tour guide Christian, “which can otherwise be found on many beaches in Spain.” And so you have the choice between boutiques in every price category, jewellers, galleries and souvenir shops. In addition to numerous cafes and restaurants, Sitges offers a fairly rich nightlife during the summer season.
Passing this lively ensemble, we have reached the town hall square (inconspicuous but with delicious pastries: the Pastisseria Sabaté) and step around the corner in front of the city church: the panoramic view from this elevated point over the Mediterranean Sea and the gently rolling bay is overwhelming. From here, where fishermen used to land, the beach promenade, lined with palm trees, stretches out over three kilometers to the south. You cannot find more of a Mediterranean feeling!
Great food: from Chiringuito to Fine Dining
You can eat well in Sitges, so to speak, on every corner and there is something for every budget. In the inner city area of the promenade, which we reach from the church via a flight of steps, is a more than 100-year-old chiringuito, where traditional regional dishes, especially fish, are served. A popular classic is the Santa Maria restaurant in the hotel of the same name, where you can see the promenade from the terrace. But there are also many lovingly run restaurants and tapas bars to be found in the streets of the old town.
Sun and beaches in Sitges
We continue our private city tour along the long promenade. The footpath is wider than the street. You look at the small stretches of beach where you can rent loungers and parasols, but there is also space for a blanket you have brought with you. Here the sandy beach slopes gently everywhere and there are groynes behind which children can splash around without worrying.
Those who prefer to walk further will see beautiful houses, because along the Passeig Maritím, as the promenade outside the old town is called in Catalan, magnificent villas have been built in ever-changing styles for 100 years. In between, hotels blend discreetly into this chic residential area. Arriving at the end of the promenade, two large hotels offer restaurant and bar areas with sea views. And if you don’t want to walk back, just take the tourist shuttle in the form of a small train.
Sitges: a Catalan gem welcomes the world
The audience in Sitges is colorful and international: In addition to the so-called old money in the elegant beach houses, you will meet artists and life artists, families on beach holidays and many queer tourists from all over the world. Because Sitges has been a destination for gay men for as long as it has flourished as a seaside resort. Today, queer people party all summer long in the streets around Plaça Industria. If you want to see everyone strolling past, sit on the terraces of the Parrot.
By the way, Sitges is worth a visit practically all year round, not only in summertime. There has long been a Pride in Sitges organised by the LGBTIQ+ community as well as other recurring events for the queer scene. The year begins very colorfully with the carnival weekend and its parade. A flower festival with a big corso and a fantasy film festival in October, which has been in existence for over 55 years, also have a large fan base. On the Catalan national holiday on September 11, Sardana dances take place in the streets.
Cultural life with sea view
Those who have more than one day should not miss the local museums, advise the two private city guides. In the Museo Romantic you can admire a fully furnished house from the early 19th century. There is a special palace directly behind the church: A good 100 years ago, an American millionaire had his dream of medieval Spain carved in stone there, employing the best craftsmen of his time. From the terrace, decorated with beautiful tiles, there is a magnificent view. Directly opposite is the Museo de Maricel: Ancient statues in front of windows that open to the abyss over the sea are spectacular. Incidentally, during the summer months there are concerts ranging from opera to jazz in both the palace and the museum. Prefer contemporary art? On the other side of the church, the Fondació Stämpfli has its quarters in an iron market hall from the late 19th century.
How to reach Sitges from Barcelona by public transport
Easiest from Barcelona with the Cercanías line C2-Sud from Estació de França, Plaça Catalunya or Barcelona Sants central station in 35-45 minutes depending on the departure station.
Since the last train leaves Sitges for Barcelona at 10:23 p.m., which is the best time for dinner, there is a practical, fast and inexpensive alternative. A night bus runs every 30 to 60 minutes from around 11:30 p.m. until 4 a.m. in the morning.