Just 35km south of Spain’s trendiest city, Barcelona, sits the perfectly formed resort of Sitges. More ‘fashion parade’ than ‘bucket and spade” it’s one of the few Spanish resorts that escaped the tourist boom of the 60’s and 70’s unscathed. As a result, there’s not a concrete tower block in sight and much of the original architecture remains. As you stroll through Sitges, your eyes are graced with a selection of winding streets, quaint restaurants, beautiful buildings and golden beaches – not to mention some top European tottie!The popularity of Sitges never stops growing, with its own microclimate of over 300 sunny days per year and summer temperatures in the range of 26 to 32 degrees; it’s easy to see why. There are few destinations of this calibre and you’re sure to want to visit again and again. While its sophisticated charm used to appeal to an older crowd, recent years have seen gays of all ages taking advantage of its unique offerings.
What Sitges offers is second to none and there are few places in the world where you will find everything you need concentrated in one small area. Bars, restaurants, shops, a sauna and beaches are all within a five minute radius so it really is a chocolate box of gay delights. That’s not to say it’s in your face; what’s great about Sitges is its relaxed attitude to sexuality. Diversity is the norm here and the resort has somehow managed to achieve the kind of harmony that’s usually reserved for Disney films. The varied gay scene is mingled in with everyone else and the only ‘ghetto’ that exists is the über straight Calle Marqués de Montroig or, as the locals call it, “Sin street” (probably something to do with the lap dancing). Even here, there are two gay bars and you can walk hand in hand without anyone raising so much as an eyebrow. This extraordinary culture has allowed Sitges to become one big, yet tasteful, cruising ground and whether you’re sipping coffee on a terrace or strolling half naked across the beach, you’re bound to catch the eye of a tanned admirer.
If that’s not got you salivating, why not try one of the 80 restaurants in town. The standard of food is very high (particularly the seafood) so you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes. Outdoor lunching is de rigueur here and it’s easy to find a seat with plenty of opportunity for people-watching. Al Fresco Café or Granja Elsa are good places to start and they offer some superb specials. In the evening, restaurants serve Catalan and regional Spanish dishes as well as international cuisines for the less adventurous (the words ‘live a little’ spring to mind because you’re missing a treat). The restaurant at Hotel El Xalet shows Sitges at its best and the beautiful waiters at The Beach House make it a must. Also worth a visit is Monroe’s, tres tres chic, new in 2009 and proving to be a bit of a smash hit. If you do want to make the night special, make sure you reserve a table; at the height of summer the streets of Sitges can become busy with people looking for the best table.
For a small town Sitges is surprisingly well endowed when it comes to bars, with venues to suit all tastes, ranging from cruisey bars with backrooms and video to traditional music bars.
Generally speaking, Sitges’ bars don’t really come to life until 11pm or so, although one or two (El Horno, for example) open their doors from about 5pm onwards to cater for the crowds coming off the beaches. People generally go to the smaller bars first where it is easier to have a conversation. The bigger bars, such as Mediterraneo tend to get busier around 1.30ish. At night Sitges comes into its own. There are over 20 venues to choose from.
Head towards the super camp Bar 7 to start your evening on the right foot followed by a bit of live cabaret at El Piano or drag at Comodine. Bourbon’s is a good place to follow with its hightech lighting and an interesting darkroom. If you’re feeling mucho macho, Casablanca’s bear bar might be more your cup of tea. The bars in Sitges tend to stay open from 10 to 3am, after which many of the larger clubs open and get going.
You can find a pocket sized gay map of Sitges in most of the gay friendly bars and restaurants. The Parrots Pub (Plaza Industria, C/2 de Mayo) serves a lurid range of cocktails and is always popular with the gay crowd as they off the beach in the early evening. We can recommend the foam party at Trailer €15 (every Sunday/Wednesday evening) Arrive 3am, foam starts at 3.30. Don’t forget your baby oil so you are well greased up.
Partying the night away can be done with ease and El Candil’s crowd are very pleasing to the eye. If you fancy a spot of clubbing after the bars close, Organic is a bustling venue and Trailer offers a Sunday night foam party, for which it’s famous. You can turn up the sleazeometer by visiting man bar or XXL and if you feel like partying in your Calvin’s, Le Male Bar can cater to your desires.
And what better to way to recover from a night out than spending the day on the beach? Typical of the resort’s relaxed, accepting attitude, the main gay beach can be found slap bang in the middle of the resort. But if you want some slap banging of another kind, there’s also a far cruiser beach just up the road. In total, you’ll find 17 sandy and wellkept beaches stretching along Sitges’ 4 kilometres of coastline, most of which offer sun loungers, showers and refreshments.
The aforementioned gay beach is known as ‘La Platja de la Bossa Rodona’ and finding it is simple – head towards the sea, look for gay men. If tan lines aren’t your thing then the gay nudist beach is well worth a visit, although it’s a good 45 minute walk from the town centre.
Our rep can tell you how to get there but it’s worth noting that the train line you follow is not disused, so keep off the tracks! The beach has a place to buy refreshments and snacks (although they can be expensive) and you can also rent sun loungers.
The beaches and nightlife are only a small part of what’s on offer and you can make of your trip whatever you want.
Sitges has a great artistic history and the town boasts three museums housing a variety of collections, primarily focussing on Catalan Modernisme. The Museo Cau Ferrat includes work by Rusinol, El Greco and some early Picassos.
The shopping in Sitges is also very good and while they clearly recognise the value of the pink pound, the quality leaves some British shopping much to be desired.
Whenever you visit Spain, there always seems to be a festival of some kind under way. If you’re visiting Sitges at the end of August, the spectacle of the main festival is something truly special as fireworks bounce across the sea to the rhythm of Spanish music.
The Roman ruins at Tarragona or the Universal Studios’ theme park at Port Aventura provide two very different attractions that give just a taster of the outings that the surrounding area of Catalonia can provide. With Barcelona only a short distance away it would be a crime not to pay a visit.
Sitges has something to suit even the pickiest traveller’s taste and you’re guaranteed to leave with a smile. We have packages to suit your needs too, as well as accommodation only deals so contact us today to arrange your trip.
Where to Stay?
Sitges has an extensive, top-quality hotel infrastructure which, together with Tourist Apartments, Guest Houses (Pensio) and Campsites offers a wide range of choice for even the most discerning of visitors.
If you’re planning a trip to Sitges it’s vital that you book your accommodation as far ahead as possible, particularly if you’re looking for a hotel room in high season (June, July and August) and at Carnival time (Feb/March).
If you don’t, you may have problems finding somewhere to stay. Apartment rental seems to be increasing in popularity and has several distinct advantages over staying in a hotel, not the least of which is that an apartment shared amongst a group of friends can work out a lot cheaper than hotel accommodation.
Pride Dates and Events.
SITGES CARNIVAL – 6th to the 13th of February 2013 – parades taking place on Sunday the 10th and Tuesday the 12th of February.
Sitges Carnival has to be Sitges’ wildest party. Even though it is on in February it is still the hottest party in town! On the most popular days you will find thousands upon thousands of partygoers dancing on the major streets across the town. So if fancy few days away or week in February then Sitges is the place to go!
SITGES GAY PRIDE – 13th – 17th June 2013 – The 2013 Sitges Pride festivities will kick off on Thursday the 13th of June with the Party on the Promenade. A unique series of concerts, cabaret events, dance acts and more will take place on the main stage. Its early days, but the line-up already looks promising! All of the events on the paseo are free of charge. The main parade will take place on Saturday 15th June 2013; this is Sitges 4th gay pride parade with over 80,000 people visiting in 2012 is set to be a pride not to be missed!