A Day Trip From Barcelona to Sitges Town
Sitges is a small town along the coast located 30km south of Barcelona that can easily be reached by road, by train or by bus and is a very popular day trip destination, especially during the summer months when hundreds of Barcelonians descend on the beaches and the 2.5km long promenade to enjoy the sun and the sea breeze. What makes it a unique destination is the variety of things to do in Sitges which cater to art and culture lovers, shopping fanatics, foodies, beach bums, party animals and people from all walks of life and communities thanks to its open-mindedness and welcoming history.
Although statistics are not available, there are over 7,000 beds for a town of merely 30,000 inhabitants so it is possible then over a million people visit every year with a strong summer seasonality.
This popularity is the reason why so many people from Barcelona have holiday homes in Sitges town. Through the years, the town has become a playground for the wealthy with the real estate values often topping the Spanish ranking in price per square meter. And with good reason as it is a quaint and pretty town with lots of history and a bohemian flair that is present in the strong LGBT community and the 52 festivals that are celebrated every year. There will be a celebration or another every weekend from the very famous Carnival in February to the Gay Week festivals, the flower carpets put during Corpus Christi or the winemaking celebration in August. Sitges is a constant party and there are always many reasons to enjoy a day in the sun.
The largest party is enjoyed during the Festa Major at the end of August during the day of the Patron Saint, Sant Bartolomeu and the entire town turns into a party with processions, fireworks, firecrackers and music and dancing everywhere.
Although the oldest remains that have been found in Sitges date back to the Neanderthal period, Sitges town truly started to flourish in the 18th century when the free trade agreement with the US was signed and lots of local businessmen emigrated to the new world and started successful businesses. They received the name of Americanos. One such entrepreneur was Facundo Bacardí who later founded Bacardi rum. These businessmen returned to Sitges town after making their fortunes and injected the local economy with money and investment propelling Sitges to new beginnings and prosperous times. The architecture and house design of the new world can still be seen today in the many mansions that fill the town center and which are reminiscent of the colonies in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
It was these Americanos and the may artists during the Modernism which decided to set their studios in Sitges town which brought a tourism boom at the beginning of the 20th century with the opening of the first hotels (still open today), Spain’s first car-racing circuit and first pizzeria. In the 60s and 70, still, during Franco’s regime, Sitges town in Spain was one of the most important centers for LGBT tourism. Artists, journalists, intellectuals, and bohemians started to fill the town with a wave of art and progress.
For me, Sitges is my hometown, the place where I grew up and a center for openness and diversity.
How to keep busy in Sitges
The town is full of pretty cobblestoned streets and the tiny hole in the wall stores selling handmade jewelry, clothing or art. There are modernist buildings from contemporaries of Gaudi and Medieval churches and canons that have withstood the passing of time.
But perhaps the most important reason to visit is the beach. Sitges town is packed in the summer and its 4km of beaches stretching the entire length of the city and beyond are filled to the brim with day visitors and holidaymakers from all over the world. Make sure to enjoy a paella late, around 3-4pm like locals do, after a day at the beach. Pick any of the restaurants along the promenade.
For a more culturally oriented visit, you can head to the three main museums: Museu del Cau Ferrat, Palau Maricel I Museu Maricel all of which are within a few steps of each other. They organize guided tours in the mornings almost every day which is well worth it. The tours will offer insights into the town’s history and the phenomenon of the Americanos as well as explain a bit more about the Catalunya of the time. Make sure to take a look at the church, perched on top of the cliff and with fantastic views over the beach. The church in Sitges town is one of the most coveted wedding destinations in Spain because of these dramatic locations.
If you want to be among the rich, take a walk along the promenade towards the Terramar (the end of the promenade near the Golf Club). The residential area around the hotel is lined with the most amazing mansions belonging to the richest people in Spain. Or head to the marina which has some of the most expensive yachts.
Typical foods to try and where to enjoy them
Although there is no such thing as a typical meal from Sitges, a visit must not end without trying one of the paellas enjoyed in the sun and some fresh seafood from the fishermen of Vilanova i la Geltru, the next town south which is well known for its amazing prawns.
One of Vilanova’s most famous dishes is Xato, a salad with salted codfish, tuna, olives, curly lettuce, anchovies and a xato sauce that is made with almonds, tomato and specific type of pepper you only get in Catalunya. Xato will be often available in restaurants in Sitges.
If you are after a more casual setting, try the Basque tapas bars that you can find in several of the narrow streets and for a more romantic setting, I always recommend Al Fresco to everyone. While in Spain, you can also visit the beautiful places in Asturias.
How to get to Sitges
Where to stay
Tours/Activities available in Sitges
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The enchanting Sitges town is an ideal day trip from Barcelona. Its culture, beaches, food, and architecture make for a memorable experience. Have you been to Sitges?
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