The popular coastal town of Sitges referred to as the Saint-Tropez of Spain is located about 35 km southwest of Barcelona. This former fishing village has grown in popularity because of its natural beauty and also because of its world-renowned Film Festival and Carnival. The climate in Sitges is also another key factor in drawing the crowds. The mild and temperate micro-climate of Sitges ensures that the town enjoys almost 300 days of sun. The number of cultural events combined with a rich history and numerous beaches makes Sitges a must-visit destination.
Platja de Sant Sebastia
Any description of Sitges would be incomplete without a mention of the beaches. You’re spoiled for choices of beaches in Sitges with about 17 beaches in and around the vicinity of the town. There are seven beaches near the popular sea promenade between La Punta and the Terramar Hotel. Platja de Sant Sebastia lies on the other side of the church and is a popular beach with the locals as it is more family oriented with an array of services.
Church of Saint Bartholomew and Saint Tecla
The town’s most prominently featured spot is called La Punta. The Church of Saint Bartholomew occupies a prime spot on the Baluard headland overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Baroque-styled church which has featured on many a postcard was built in the 17th century. 2 Gothic sepulchers from an older church that stood on the same site are found within the church. The sepulchers date back to 1317 and 1322. The church is still actively in use so visitors are advised to be respectful especially if the mass is being conducted.
Jardins de Terramar
For some quiet time, you could head out to the gardens at Terramar. The gardens were designed by Miquel Utrillo in the early 20th century. There are plenty of shady trees to sit under in the garden which has a wide range of Mediterranean vegetation. It’s a good place to take the kids if you want some open space. If you’re in the area towards the end of July don’t miss the Sitges de Música Jardines Terramar.
For the rum-guzzling aficionados a visit to Casa Bacardi should definitely be on your itinerary. The history of the Bacardi brand is showcased in this permanent exhibition. The founder of the popular Bacardi brand, Fecundo Bacardi was born in Sitges but later immigrated to Cuba. At the Casa you can learn about the heritage of Bacardi in the environs of a modernist building. You can also sample some of the rum in the lounge bar or sign up for a course at the bartender school. There are daily tours in English.
This 14th -century Gothic hospital was transformed into a museum in the early 20th century to house Charles Deering’s collection. However, Deering returned to American in 1921 and took his collection back with him. The Barcelona Provincial Corporation bought the building in 1969 for the collection of Dr. Jesús Pérez-Rosales. Currently, the museum has a collection of objects and art that reflect the history of Sitges as well as the doctor’s vast collection. Even if you’re not interested in art, the view of the sea from the museum is quite incredible.
The sea promenade or Passeig Maritim is a great place for a leisurely stroll. You’ll find old and young taking a stroll along this beautiful promenade throughout the year. The wide and spacious promenade is also popular with people biking, running, strolling or even skating. It is one of the prime real-estate in Spain which is quite evident from the extravagant mansions that line the sea-front.
Parc del Garraf
About 20 km away from Sitges you’ll find the Parc del Garraf. This natural park is spread over an extensive 12,820 hectares. It’s a great place for nature lovers wanting to hike or ride a bike. The Garraf Park is famed for its limestone hills which time has transformed into caves, limestone pavements, and sinkholes. You cannot miss the park offices which are located in the iconic La Pleta. The brick and stone chimney built over the water well stands out prominently in the region. A few iconic buildings stand out in the area like the Plana Novella, a pre-modernist country estate which is now a part of the Buddhist monastery. Another notable building is the Campdásens.
Sakya Tashi Ling
The Sakya Tashi Ling monastery is located in the tranquil environs of the Garraf Natural Park. It belongs to the Sakyapa Buddhist School from Tibet – an ancient order that follows the spiritual leader Sakya Trizin. Inside the monastery, you can visit the museum, soak in some of the Buddhist traditions or even choose to sign up for a retreat.
San Sebastiá Cemetery
Located on the eastern side of Sitges, you can make a quick stopover to this interesting cemetery on your way to the beaches. Besides providing a great view of the town below, you can also marvel at some great sculptures and funerary art by modernist artists in the cemetery.
Located near Balmins beach and Hotel Melia, Port d’Aiguadolc is a bustling hub of activity. People flock to this popular part of Sitges to enjoy the entertainment and the gastronomic delights that are on offer. The marina is lined with restaurants and bars with outdoor terraces. There are also plenty of shops in the vicinity, but these are more focused on everything related to boats. A popular nightclub Pacha Sweet is also at the marina of Port d’Aiguadolc.
Port Aventura Salou
If you’re traveling with kids then you could plan a day trip to PortAventura Salou. About a 45 minute drive away from Sitges, PortAventura is touted as the best amusement park in Spain. The park features six different thematic areas such as the Far West and China where you can immerse yourself in a day of thrills and fun. It also has four hotels and a camp if you decide to extend your visit.
The defunct car racing track of Terramar is a poignant reminder of a time when the adrenaline of racing had taken over the area. The track is located a short distance from the beach and can easily be mistaken for a mountain biking track. The 2-kilometer track with 60-degree banking was constructed way back in 1922 and opened for racing in 1923. Autodromo Terramar was completed in a record 300 days but never really took off as expected. The gate receipts from the opening race were seized by the builders as they had not been paid. This resulted in the winning drivers receiving no prize money and the track was banned from hosting international races. 1950 was the last time the track heard the roar of the engines.
Just So You Know:
- There are a number of tourist routes like the Americanos Route or the Artist Route that you can be a part of to truly experience Sitges.
- Sitges is one of the top destinations for the LGBT community because of its openness to the community.
- The best streets for shopping are Carrer Major, Carrer Jesus, Carrer Sant Francesc and Carrel Parellades.
- There are three nudist beaches in Sitges.
Get Some Culture:
- Museu Romantic – The museum which was once home to the Llopis family was built in 1793. The museum will take you back to the era of romanticism and its influences on Catalonia. It also has one of the best doll collections in Europe and a wine cellar where the renowned Malvasia was developed.
- La Fundacio Stampfli – This is a museum of contemporary showcasing works from 21 countries. 130 artworks which have been donated by more than sixty artists are on display here.
Grab A Bite:
- El Chiringuito – If you’re looking for some great tapas this is the place to visit. Located on the promenade between Fragata beach and Ribera this heritage site is hard to miss.
- Sitges Gastronomic Route – A cooking class that allows you to shop in the local market for seasonal ingredients that you will use to prepare traditional dishes. The best part of this whole exercise is that you can feast on what you and others have prepared when it’s ready.