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Just 25 miles southwest of Barcelona, in the lee of the Garraf mountains, Sitges has been a popular coastal resort since the late 19th century, when artists from the Modernisme school came here to live and work. The result is a lively spot with lots of culture and a strong LGBTQ tradition centred on Platja de la Bassa Rodona. Sitges’ seafront promenade is lined with grand mansions built by emigrants who made their fortunes in the Americas and boasts three miles of beaches, including the family-friendly Platja de Sant Sebastià. From the historic town centre, baroque churches and pretty white-and-blue fishermen’s houses look out across the sea; it’s also dotted with museums and modernist art galleries like the Maricel, a 14th-century former hospital. After dark, the bars and clubs of the Carrer Sant Bonaventura and the Carrer Primer de Maig come alive with the town’s legendary nightlife.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) is extremely accessible, a mere 25-minute drive or taxi ride from Sitges. There’s an hourly bus service that takes 45 minutes, or you can change at El Prat de Llobregat and hop on the train. Sitges is small and pedestrian friendly (you can cross it by foot in 15 minutes), and parking is difficult in the centre of town. If you want to forgo a car altogether, there’s a local bus service that connects with the suburban neighbourhoods, while the train station is central and can take you to other nearby towns, like Vilanova i la Geltrú and Sant Pere de Ribes. There are also plenty of taxis, which can get you to the harder-to-reach (and often quieter) beaches like Platja de les Anquines. Bikes and scooters are also available to hire. Be aware that bicycles must not be chained to lamp posts or railings anywhere in the town, or they will be removed.
The Mediterranean coastal climate and the shelter of the El Garraf range make Sitges pleasantly warm year round. Summer is an extremely busy time, especially for the LGTBQ community, with a constant calendar of outdoor events and concerts carrying through from Pride in June to the Fiesta Mayor in August, as well as the three-month Sitgestiu Cultural, which has daily events organised by the Museus de Sitges. February to May is considered the low season, but there’s still plenty going on, including the colourful Carnival in February. Unlike many seaside towns, life is just as active in Sitges during the winter months; in October, Sitges plays host to an international horror film festival that includes an annual zombie walk through the centre of town.
In the early 20th century, a Catalan artist turned his home into a temple to Modernisme. Its interior, with vibrant blue walls, bright mosaics, and forged ironwork, rivals anything you’ll see in Barcelona. The artist’s circle used to gather here, and the place thrums with history and beauty — it includes his own collection of artworks, including a couple of El Grecos.
Covering 30,000 acres, and lying eastwards from Sitges to Barcelona, these limestone hills and sandstone cliffs are filled with hiking trails. The landscape ranges from shrub to woodland — pine, oak, palm, olive, and fig trees — and there are ghost villages and a Buddhist monastery to visit along the way.
The town’s chief cinema isn’t some boxy charmless multiplex — it’s a feast for the eyes, with a frescoed facade, a double gallery, and luxuriant, 19th-century interior décor. Besides screening films, it’s used as a theatre for many live events, and is complemented by the more modern Societat Recreativa El Retiro cinema, which shares the limelight during Sitges’s famous horror and fantasy festival.