The 12 best things to do in Sitges

March 13, 2024
September 4, 2023

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Sitges is a charming town with cobble-lined streets tucked away from the busy city of Barcelona on the Mediterranean coast. It has been a getaway for the Spanish for hundreds of years. Locals in Sitges gave them the nickname ‘domingueros’, which translates to ‘Sunday people’.

Sitges is full of history, festivals, cultural landmarks, scenic beaches, and lots of great food. This cosy town has always been popular, but has grown even more so in recent years.

It’s very LGBTQI friendly and holds a popular Sitges Pride event every year during summer. Its large and supportive gay community makes it one of the most open cities to live and travel to in the world.

How to get to Sitges

Sitges is located approximately 35 kilometres south of Barcelona. You can hire a car or take a taxi to get there in about 45 minutes from Barcelona.

But the best way to get to Sitges is by train. It's more sustainable than driving and you don't have to think about parking.

You can take the R2 SUD line in the direction of Vilanova i la Geltrú or Sant Vicenç de Calders from one of three main train stations in Barcelona. The train ride takes only 40 minutes from the centre of Barcelona, making it an ideal day trip if you are pushed for time.

How long to stay in Sitges

Sitges is a relatively small town and it can be done in one day if you plan your trip. But we recommend a longer stay if you can as you will enjoy the town much more.

When to visit Sitges

We visited Sitges in May. It wasn’t quite warm enough to swim on most days, but it was very pleasant to walk around the town and explore. If you want to hit the beaches, it’s better to time your trip in the summer months from June to September.

These are the peak months though, so expect to pay higher prices and book your preferred accommodation early. If you want to avoid the crowds, either April to May or October to November would be a good choice.

Sitges is known for its festivals and events. Most of them are during summer, but other popular events are held during the year, like the Sitges Carnival in February. Check out the list of events below to help plan your trip.

What to do in Sitges

On our last trip to Spain, we stayed in Sitges as our base to explore Barcelona and its surroundings. We were charmed by the laid-back vibe of Sitges and its beauty, and wanted to share our best things to do in Sitges with you.

1. Explore the old town on foot

Our favourite activity here is the simplest one, walking. Once you reach the old town of Sitges, driving is problematic as the roads are very narrow. If you come from the train station, you don’t have to walk far before finding yourself in the city centre and its maze of cobblestone streets.

Head towards the water and once at the esplanade, you won’t miss all the attractions. We loved walking around town in the early mornings and late afternoon, with cooler air and fewer people.

There is a main road that leads to the church with many cafes, restaurants, and some boutiques. Make sure to stop by and have a coffee with a pastry to feel more like a local.

A composite image of a building and its archway in Sitges
A composite image of the buildings and streets of Sitges
A photo of some historic buildings along the coastline in Sitges

2. Take a coastal walk along the sea

Enjoy a relaxing stroll along Passeig Maritim, the pedestrian boardwalk that connects all of the beaches located in Sitges.

You can also walk all the way from Sitges to another coastal town, Vilanova i la Geltrú. The track offers stunning sea views along the way which make it a perfect day out in nature. It's a 7 - 8 km long hike that will take you approximately three hours.

Both Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú have train stations. You can therefore start and finish in either of the cities and then just jump on the train that takes you to Barcelona.

A composite image of part of the coastal walk in Sitges

3. Admire the Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla

This Baroque-style church from the 17th century is the town's most iconic landmark. You can visit the inside of the church, but every time we were nearby it was closed.

You can contact the office on this number to find out their opening hours and celebration times. A guided tour to the bell towers can also be organised.

A composite image of the view of the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla from along the coastal path in Sitges
A landscape photo of the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla in Sitges

4. Wonder around the Palau de Maricel

Maricel Palace was built between 1913 and 1918 in ‘Noucentista’ architectural style. It has a very interesting history and remarkable design. It was built by the American art collector Charles Deering as his residence and a place to store his art collections.

You can see inside the palace at certain times. They also offer guided tours at some of these times. Check out this website for more information.

A composite image of the sky and front entrance of Maricel Palace in Sitges
A composite image of a balcony and room at Maricel Palace in Sitges

Note the guided tours run throughout the day in three different languages: English, Catalan and Spanish. If you speak only one of these languages, you may only have one opportunity to enjoy the guided tour when visiting the palace.

If you take the guided tour like we did, you will learn all the interesting information about the history of the palace, how it was built, and why it was abandoned by Charles Deering.

A composite image of the rooftop at Maricel Palace in Sitges
A photo of the ceiling in a room at Maricel Palace in Sitges

5. Admire the artwork at the public museums of Sitges

Cau Ferrat Museum, also known as ‘Temple of Modernisme’, contains collections of ancient and modern works of art that the famous Spanish artist Santiago Rusenol collected during his lifetime. What we know as the museum today was the artist's home and workshop that he founded in 1893.

You will find works by Rusenol, Casas Picasso, Regoyos, and R. Pichot among other artists from that time. Rusenol's passion to organise events for artists, musicians and writers made Cau Ferrat into the museum that we know today.

You will be amazed by the exterior and the interior of this historical building.

A composite image of a room inside Cau Ferrat Museum in Sitges

The exhibitions of Maricel Museum contain works from the tenth century to realism. Most of it comes from a private collection of Dr. Jesus Perez-Rosales.

You can combine the entrance tickets for both the Cau Ferrat Museum and Maricel Museum for better value. The entrance to both museums is the same and we recommend spending at least a couple of hours at them both.

A composite image of artwork in a room at Maricel Museum in Sitges

6. Relax at Biblioteca Santiago Rusenol

The influence of Santiago Rusenol in Sitges is also evidenced by this library named after him. It’s just a short stroll away from the church and art galleries.

With the sponsorship of Charles Deering, the library was designed by architect Miquel Utrillo as a residence for him and his family. Miquel Utrillo is the very same architect that designed Maricel Palace. Both were built at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Sitges library has fascinating interior design in the twentieth-century style of ‘estilo novecentista’. A highlight is a beautiful central courtyard with a fountain in the middle. If you love photography and design, you will appreciate its aesthetics.

A composite image of the courtyard at Santiago Rusenol Library in Sitges
A photo of the dome above the courtyard at Santiago Rusenol Library in Sitges

As digital nomads, we found the library a perfect place to research the local area and work in peace. It has reliable wi-fi and quiet rooms.

It’s open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am - 2 pm, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:30 pm to 8 pm. It’s closed on the weekends.

7. Spend a day at one of Sitges' many beautiful beaches

Sitges' beaches are some of the best in the region. You can choose from 17 different sand beaches along its coastline!

From picturesque urban beaches like Sant Sebastià or La Fragata, to more secluded and intimate nudist and gay beaches like Playa del Muerto or Playa de los Malmins. Sitges has it all.

The water here is much cleaner than the urban beaches of Barcelona. You will find a more tranquil vibe here with picturesque mountains and colourful houses in the background.

A photo of the main beach in front of the town of Sitges

There are also numerous beach bars and beach clubs to enjoy if you're looking for more of a party atmosphere. Hola Club Sitges, Vivero, Xiringuito, and Little Beach House Barcelona are some of the popular options available.

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8. Satisfy all your gastronomical needs

There are a lot of great restaurants in Sitges! We also found it easy to find vegetarian and vegan food in Sitges.

Our favourite place was Tanto Gusto. Located next to the main beach, it’s a small cafe with the best coffee and tapas including vegetarian empanadas. They also have a great vegan lasagna that was reasonably priced for the area.

There are also three plant-based Indian restaurants in Sitges: Cinnamon, Spice Garden, and Dosa Nova. All three restaurants seem to have a really good rating online but unfortunately we didn't try them as we were looking for local food.

Sitges also has Veggie Garden, which is a vegan chain restaurant in Spain.

For the most part though, we were lucky enough to have a well-equipped kitchen at our rental accommodation. So it was cheap and easy to cook local food every day.

Mercadona is a very popular Spanish supermarket with tons of vegan options. You can get anything from vegan chorizo to vegan croquetas.

Ametller Origen is a fancier supermarket with a huge amount of vegan and vegetarian food. They had tortilla de patatas, vegan nuggets, croquettes, ‘ham’, gazpacho, and more.

Both Mercadona and Ametller are located to the right of the train station on the main road when you exit, so you won't miss them!

9. Enjoy Sitges Carnival and other cultural events in Sitges

Sitges Carnival is one of the best and wildest carnivals in Europe and even the world. For one week in the middle of winter, Sitges turns into a one-week festival where everyone is welcome to experience parades, events and 24/7 parties all over town.  

In 2024 the Carnival will start on Thursday, 8th of February. The two main parades are ​​Rua de la Disbauxa (Debauchery Parade) on Sunday night and the Rua de l’Extermini (Extermination Parade) on Tuesday night.

A similar big event in the Sitges event calendar is the Sitges Pride party in June each year. Attracting up to 60,000 people from around the world, it’s a week-long celebration with parties and festivities.

If you’re a fan of fireworks, you can’t miss the La Fiesta Mayor de Sitges. It’s an annual festival held in August every year in honour of Sant Bartomeu, the patron saint of Sitges. It runs for two weeks with the highlight being a massive fireworks display that attracts up to 200,000 people to watch the spectacle.

A composite image of some buskers on the streets of Sitges

Cinephiles should attend the Sitges Film Festival. It's been running since 1968 with a focus on horror and fantasy films. They boast an impressive list of attendees of A-list directors, producers and actors over the years, including Quentin Tarantino, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, George A. Romero, Takashi Miike, Wim Wenders, David Cronenberg, Darren Aronofsky, Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, and Susan Sarandon.

One of the best parts of the Sitges Film Festival is the Zombie Walk. Up to 1,000 people get dressed up and apply make up to resemble zombies. They then parade down the main street of Sitges before partying all night!

These are the highlights, but there are events all year round. Refer to this website for the latest information on what’s happening in Sitges.

10. Discover the link to Barcardi rum

If you're a rum drinker, you're undoubtedly familiar with the Bacardi brand. You might also be aware that it was founded in Cuba (bonus points if you knew this was in 1862).

What is less well-known is that the founder Facundo Bacardi was born and raised in Sitges. After following his older brothers to Cuba and working in retail, he eventually founded a distillery to produce rum.

Bacardi used to have a museum located in the old market building of Sitges to celebrate their products and this history. Unfortunately this was closed in 2021. Be warned - most articles online don't mention it's now closed!

However, you can still pay your respects to Facundo Bacardi at a monument in his honour located just off Passeig de la Ribera in front of the beach. It features the distinctive Bacardi logo perched between an enclosing circle with a pair of outstretched hands below. It was designed to look through the circle to see the hands holding up the future that lays out to sea.

11. Experience the nightlife of Sitges

The nightlife of Sitges also beckons you as the sun goes down. There are numerous LGBTQI-friendly bars, nightclubs and scenic rooftop lounges to experience.

The famous Carrer del Pecat (‘Street of Sin’) is a must-visit spot for those looking to experience it. This street is home to many LGBT-friendly bars, cocktail joints, and nightclubs that stay open until the early morning.

However, if you prefer a tamer night out, you can head to Carrer Santa Bonaventura instead. Whether you are a wild party animal or just looking for a fun night out, Sitges has plenty of options to offer.

12. Extend your visit to nearby attractions

If you have the time, there are a few places near Sitges worth visiting.

Bodegas Güell is a popular architectural complex including a winery situated near Sitges. It was designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. If you're a fan of Guadi, it may be worth a visit to admire his architectural work.

Unfortunately the building is not open to the public, so it can only be admired from the outside. We managed to glimpse it through the train window when approaching Sitges from Barcelona.

There are several interesting museums in the town of Vilanova i la Geltrú. The most famous one is the Railway Museum of Catalonia. Situated in a former train station, you can see historical locomotives and associated paraphernalia.

The historic town square (Placa de la Vila) is also worth visiting. It has a beautiful Town Hall and a tourist information point. It's a great place to watch local people go about their day and soak up the atmosphere of the town.

A photo of the central plaza in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain
A photo of the side of a building in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain

Another place of interest for history fans is Castell de la Geltru. It houses several items of interest from the 12th century.

A photo of Castell de la Geltru in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain

It's also worth mentioning that we had the best vegan paella that we had on our trip to Spain in Vilanova i la Geltrú at Bar Txoko. It’s a small and very authentic place.

Another option is Ecoconscient, a vegan cafe on the edge of town about 15 minutes walk from the train station. You can eat in or take away to enjoy a meal in town or at the beach. If pizza is more your style, check out La Naturale for many delicious options including vegan ones.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, discover the breathtaking hiking trails of Garraf Park. There are nearly 13,000 hectares of limestone hills to explore with caves, potholes, and abandoned villages along the way. The Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist Monastery built in 1905 is also located within the park.

Sustainable travel guide for Barcelona

If you're seeing Sitges, check out our ultimate guide for the vibrant city of Barcelona.

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