This small, cosmopolitan resort town offers romance and charm, but also bars and nightlife to rival some of the world’s major cities.
We’ve only been on this clunky old train for 40 minutes, but Barcelona’s busy streets feel light years away. Flashes of blue sea and jagged cliffs tease me from beyond the window. Soon the train doors open. I can smell the salty air and hear the seagulls: I’m officially on holiday.
In the summer months, Sitges packs a very big experience into a small, tidy package. The town centre itself has just a handful of streets, but they form a maze you could lose yourself in for hours, full of beautiful old buildings, museums, shops, places to eat and drink. There’s so much to soak up – the clinking and chatter of alfresco dining, the relentless lash of the sea, the thumping bass ebbing from gay bars and parties. Castells, or human towers as they’re otherwise known, appear to be the only thing capable of bringing a hush to the bustling laneways. These acrobatic feats can reach heights of more than six or seven people, and seem to spring up out of nowhere – suddenly limbre young people are scrambling up the strong backs of their elders, and all you can do is cross your fingers and hope nobody falls. Once they reach the summit, the crowd breathes a sigh of relief, but saves its applause until everyone is safe on the ground.
Getting lost in Sitges’ streets is part of the fun – so is being found again. A stroll along the seafront is the perfect way to get your bearings. This glorious stretch of coastline is lined with palm trees, charming tapas bars and restaurants. There’s also a nude beach too, tucked away towards the Sitges Port, which is worth checking out.
Nearby El Vivero is an ideal spot for lunch or afternoon drinks. Built high up on a cliff, the food and cocktails are sublime, as are the views. Recline on a sunlounger and gaze out to sea as the sun sets over this gorgeous town.
When it comes to nightlife, Sitges has certainly earned a reputation. If clubs are your main priority, you’d better visit during party season, which is from June to August. In 2015, Gay Pride Sitges is from June 18 to 22, with the main parade taking place 5pm on Sunday June 21. Expect huge crowds and a full scale beach party atmosphere right across town.
Carrer de Joan Tarrida is the heart of gay Sitges – in the summer months this street is heaving with partygoers, but even in the off season most of the clubs are open and their patrons often spill out onto the streets for a chat and some fresh air. If you’re into bears and burly men, you’ll feel right at home in Sitges! Check out Bears Bar, XXL and El Horno. If you’re in search of sleaze there’s Dark Sitges, which has strip shows, and Bukkake requires little explanation. Let’s just say, it’s not for the shy and retiring. If you feel like dancing, try Union, Queenz and Privilege.
Where to stay?
Sealand Sitges Apartments
Located in a charming residential street, just a few blocks back from the seafront, Sealand Sitges Apartments are the perfect choice for travellers who want to live like a local. Comprised of 13 individual apartments, sleeping from 4 to 8 people, these units have everything you need to feel right at home – a fully equipped laundry and kitchen with coffee maker, juicer and a dishwasher (you are on holidays after all!), air conditioning, balcony, comfortable beds and linen, fast speed internet and plenty of space. Fluffy towels, sweet smelling toiletries and a spa bath add a touch of class to the experience.
The apartments are freshly renovated, bright and peaceful. The living and dining room has enough space to host a dinner party. The sofa also folds out into a bed too, to accommodate extra guests. External shutters on the windows help to keep the apartments cool and dark, which comes in handy if you want to sleep late after a big party the night before.
The location is ideal – close enough to everything to be convenient, far enough away to be relaxing. The supermarket is only a short stroll away, as is the ocean and the bustling heart of Sitges. The main gay nightspots are just around the corner. It was so handy to be able to swing by the apartment for a quick shower and to change clothes before heading back out again.
The apartments are family owned and operated, which adds to their charm. Marta and her mother gave us a very warm welcome, but also plenty of privacy.
“Sitges has changed a lot over the years,” says Marta. “I think it is becoming more and more gay as the years pass – it feels like there are always more parties happening each year.”
2 bedroom apartments start from €110 per night in low season. Visit sealandsitgesapartments.com
Sitges Royal Rooms
This grand house is moments from Sitges railway station and a short walk down to the commercial centre of town and the seafront. The home is divided in half – one side is the owners’ private residence, the other contains seven rooms for guests, each with their own unique, distinctive style. Some will love the historic feel of the place, and others may find it stuffy and daunting.
The house itself feels eclectic, almost akin to staying in a museum, and is filled with fascinating statues, ornaments and antiques. Guests who appreciate decor harking back to the glamour of the Romantic period will appreciate the details – expect chandeliers, heavy drapes, grand staircases, large solid doors, giant ceramic pots, bold bedheads, marble floors and carved wooden furniture.
Even the room names evoke a bygone era, such as Otello, Macbeth and Carmen. Lovers of an extremely firm mattress will appreciate this detail also. Each room has an ensuite, a small fridge, satellite TV, air-conditioning and wifi. Giant wooden shutters on the windows keep the sun and the noise out. There’s also free parking, if you’re driving.
The home’s finest asset, in my opinion, is its sumptuous garden, complete with lush foliage, stone statues, columns and a central fountain. Here, a tasty breakfast is served each morning, weather permitting. There are fresh pastries, fruit, meat, cheese and espresso coffee on offer, and the great service is a friendly, uplifting start to the day.
Rooms start at €85 per night for 2 people in low season. Visit www.sitgesroyalrooms.com
Published on SameSame.com.au. Photos from Flickr Creative Commons – photographers – CalaFellvalo, John H and José Giménez.