Things to do in Sitges, Spain: beaches, art, Catalan culture

What are the things to do in Sitges, Spain?

What makes Sitges stand out in a country peppered with hidden gems? It’s the town’s perfect blend of traditional Spanish charm with a modern, cosmopolitan vibe. Sitges, Spain, has been known successively as “a mini Ibiza” and “Spain’s Saint-Tropez”. It is a picturesque coastal town located just a train hop away from Barcelona, where every turn greets you with a burst of color and undeniable charm. With its sun-drenched beaches, vibrant festivals, and rich history and artistic culture, Sitges is a great seaside escape. Every year, it hosts the Sitges Film Festival, a film festival focusing on fantasy and horror movies, as well as Carnival, the Christian festivities before Lent that includes Quinquagesima and Mardi Gras.

It’s also the perfect day trip option from Barcelona for people who like lively streets, good food and chilling on the beach.

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After 10 years and 70+ destinations, I can help you plan your European trip: book a call with me. It includes a full itinerary with unique destinations, transportation, accommodation and activities.

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Enjoy the Spectacular Beaches

The coastline of Sitges is nothing short of spectacular, with more than a dozen beaches to choose from. Platja de Sitges, just a stone’s throw away from the city center, is lively and bustling, while Cala Morisca provides a more tranquil escape. My personal favorite is Ginesta Harbour Beach, as it is more secluded, with wild, untouched nature and crystal-clear waters.

Visit the Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla

The Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla was built in the 17th century on top of an older and even older Roman temple. It’s noted for its gothic style and for being asymmetric, one tower being higher than the other. Within, you’ll find several significant altarpieces, including the remnants of the centerpiece from a 1499 Renaissance altarpiece. This piece depicts Sitges’ patron saints, Saint Bartomeu & Saint Tecla, and was crafted by the Neapolitan artist Nicolás de Credença.

Should you find yourself in Sitges on the first Wednesday of the month, you can book a guided tour of the Parish Church. The Church is in the old town, an area that is very nice to wander around.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

Beyond its beaches, Sitges offers a plethora of outdoor activities. From hiking in the nearby Parc Natural del Garraf to sailing along the Mediterranean coast, adventurers will find plenty of ways to connect with nature and get their adrenaline fix. Surfing, paddle boarding and kayaking are some examples of the activities you can book.

Participate in the Festivals and Events of Sitges

If there’s one thing Sitges knows how to do, it’s throw a party. The town is famous for its Carnival, a spectacle of color, costumes, and revelry that draws visitors from across the globe. But that’s not all; with a calendar always full of events like the Sitges Film Festival, the Festa Major held in celebration of the town’s patron saint, Saint Bartomeu, or LGBT events like Sitges Pride and Bears Week, there’s never a dull moment.

Visit the Cau Ferrat Museum

The Cau Ferrat Museum, originally the home and studio of famous Spanish artist Santiago Rusiñol, is a cornerstone of Sitges’ cultural heritage. Founded in 1893, this museum houses an eclectic mix of Rusiñol’s own works alongside pieces by El Greco, Picasso, and other modernist art pieces. I recommend checking out the intricate wrought iron collection Rusiñol passionately collected, as well as The girl with the carnations, a beautiful painting of his. To make the most of your visit, it’s better to join a guided tour for deeper insights into the stories behind the art and the fascinating life of Rusiñol himself.

Explore the Gastronomy of Sitges

Sitges’ culinary scene is a good mix of traditional Catalan cuisine and innovative gastronomy. You’re likely to find anything you’d want there: from seaside paella to tapas hopping in the town center, to cute and delicious family restaurants. I highly recommend La Cocina Sitges and their “wild fish of the day” dish, I had the most fantastic tuna there.

Visit the Maricel Museum

The Maricel Museum offers a comprehensive journey through art history, from the 10th century to realism and figuration in the early 20th century. It features notable collections, including those of Dr. Jesus Perez Rosales and the Vila de Sitges, an art collection of around fifty pieces created by artists from Sitges or those who had strong connections to the town during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Visit the Maricel Palace

The Palau de Maricel is a key attraction in Sitges, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich architectural and cultural history. The palace, built in the 20th century, combines various architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, in a very Noucentista style. Visitors can explore its rooms and interior courtyards, experiencing the explosion of colors inside. I don’t use the expression explosion of colors often (too cheesy) but it’s hard to describe this palace differently. It’s well worth it. Make sure to book your visit in advance for a guided visit, it only happens once a week so it’s very easy to miss.

Photo by chan lee on Unsplash

What to see around Sitges

Around Sitges, you’ll find other sites worth visiting, including:

  • Montserrat, a prime hiking spot due to its beautiful mountains and old village at the very top, and home to a stunning monastery, the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey.
  • Tarragona, hosting impressive Roman ruins, including the big Tarragona Amphitheatre.

Plan Your Trip

The best time to visit Sitges? Anytime! However, if you’re keen on attending specific festivals or events, planning ahead is key. You’ll mostly have to check dates since the city is very easy to access via a 45-minute train from Passeig De Gracia – Barcelona train station.

My Traveller Tips to Sitges

  • Bring lots of sunblock. I got the nastiest sunburn of my life in Sitges, it lasted a whole week despite treating it obsessively.
  • Book your guided visits in advance.
  • Make sure you get the events and festivals’ dates right, to enjoy Sitges to its fullest extent.

Final Thoughts

Sitges has a rich history and artistic heritage showcased through the Cau Ferrat and Maricel museums. Its culinary scene offers traditional Catalan dishes with innovative culinary trends, with outdoor activities available in the Parc Natural del Garraf and the Mediterranean Sea. The town’s shopping, nightlife, and inclusive atmosphere make it a destination for all. I thought it was a great spot for a day away from Barcelona, a great way to experience rural Catalan culture.

Photo by chan lee on Unsplash


What’s the best way to get to Sitges from Barcelona?

Sitges is easily accessible from Barcelona by train, with frequent services running from Barcelona Passeig De Gracia station. The journey takes about 45 minutes, making it a convenient option for visitors.

Are there any beaches in Sitges suitable for families?

Yes, Sitges boasts several family-friendly beaches, including Platja de Sant Sebastià and Platja de la Fragata, known for their calm waters and close proximity to amenities.

Can you recommend a few must-try dishes in Sitges?

Absolutely! Don’t leave without trying ‘xató’, a traditional Catalan salad, ‘arròs negre’ (black rice), and ‘mel i mató’, a sweet cheese dessert drizzled with honey.

What are some of the top festivals in Sitges besides Carnival?

Besides Carnival, Sitges is renowned for its International Film Festival, celebrated in October, and the Festa Major in August, dedicated to the town’s patron saints with fireworks, processions, and music, and its various LGBT events like Sitges Pride and Bears Week.

Is Sitges a good destination for LGBTQ+ travelers?

Sitges is one of Europe’s most LGBTQ+-friendly destinations, known for its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, vibrant nightlife, and the annual Sitges Gay Pride in June.

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