Sitges - the hotspot on Catalonia's Coast
Sitges is a world known town merely 35 minutes away by train from the vibrant city Barcelona. This seaside town is a utopia for those seeking more than just fun in the sun as it has great tapas bars and a serene Mediterranean feel. Known for holiday goers from all parts of Europe, mainly from France, the UK and Germany, this town is action packed with an abundance of things to enjoy.
Since the late 19th century when renowned Spanish painter Santiago Rusiñol spent his summers in Sitges, he brought a trend of arts and crafts with him that is still notable to this day. Since the 1960´s this coastal town has been known as the 'miniature Ibiza' (in addition to being the Saint-Tropez of Spain), since the first Pacha club was inaugurated in the town centre. The nightlife in Sitges old town is very buzzing, with groups of people from all ages and backgrounds coming together in a very tolerant manner. The locals themselves reflect the lively energy and active lifestyle of this seaside town, as culturally the folks enjoy a very social way of life.
The illustrated tiled street signs will grasp your attention as they reminisce on the old town's past. Some of the most beautiful streets are situated around the 17th-century seaside church Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla. La Davallada street is graced with colourful plants and flowers cherishing the atmosphere and traditional local bearings. In the mornings, you can spot holiday-goers grab a seat at the famous bar-cafeteria Granja de Sitges for a full-bodied breakfast. Located on the C/Major nº35, it is easily reachable from the pedestrianised walkway near the church of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla. There is a little backdoor exit that leads to a small patio, perfect for catching the first rays of sunlight.
The seaside boulevard has just been revamped in late 2018, allowing more space for strolling by the beach in search of a beach bar (chiringuito in Spanish). From the strip you can see the fascinating Modernist houses that were built by wealthy Spaniards returning from the colonies in Mexico, Cuba, Philippines etc. with fortunes to spend at the time. There are beautiful contrasts of colours on building rooftops and remarkable stone columns in addition to balconies serenaded with plant pots. The "Americanos" or "Indianos" houses as they are called historically still stand proudly on the beach promenade alongside modern houses and apartment blocks.
For a stay in Sitges we recommend Destino Sitges, a holiday apartment rental in a quiet area of the town opposite the train station. This boutique boho apartment complex with both Moroccan and Andalusian influence houses Casa Esmeralada, the only property in the building with a swimming pool. In all of the properties, the indoor living space is neatly juxtaposed with that of the outdoor, meaning you'll likely keep your sliding door open and unwind in comfort in your terrace or balcony. The seven holiday apartments are a result of sheer hard work from French owners Laetita Hochard and Laurent Vernet Vitali, who both relocated from Marseille to embark on a new journey in northern Spain.
Culture is at the forefront of everything in town. The Palau Maricel is an eclectic art museum showcasing works across 10 centuries in a former seaside residence. This beautiful Modernista building has stunning architecture and pieces of art. We recommend visiting the Cau Ferrat (Santiago Rusiñol’s house-cum-studio). This was the home and study of the artist and writer, he is one of the most important figures of the Modernisme movement in Catalonia. Cau Ferrat is one of the three museums in Sitges located on the shores of Sant Sebastià beach. VisitSitges.com can keep you in the loop of current events in the town.
You may be in awe to find out that the most famous rum drink, Bacardi, owes its success to Sitges native Facundo Bacardí Massó and his wife Amalia Moreau. Well famed drinks Daiquiri and Cuba Libre were both invented using Bacardi Rum, and it was Facundo's son that started the first international expansion with a bottling factory in Barcelona city in the early 1900's. You can visit the museum Casa Bacardi, it tells about the history of the brand and the process. The museum also hosts a bartender school, a terrace and a lounge bar for Bacardi’s products tasting.
If you want to treat yourself for a meal at a hotel, we recommend the charming Casa Vilella Hotel. The kitchen staff combines its high professional level with the deepest tradition and creativity of the Mediterranean cuisine. This is a place to enjoy and try dishes elaborated with seasonal products of the highest quality, with fish being the star in the menu. Expect to find monkfish with sizzled garlic and clams, or the delicious roasted octopus with chickpeas cream, caramelised onion, crunchy crumbs of “Vera” smoked pepper, green curry & coconut sauce. The seasonal menu offers the possibility to enjoy a special soirée with the best personalised attention.
Within close proximity to the hotel is Restaurante La Zorra, perhaps one of our favourite paella dishes on this side of the coast in Catalonia. Located on a small cliff on the sea and adjoining two small coves next to the San Sebastián beach is Vivero Beach Club Restaurant. The venue opens up into three spaces, a mirador, a terrace and a glass stained restaurant. All of the spaces give you views of the blue sea. Red Velvet Restaurante on Passeig de la Ribera nº8 is superbly famed among the expat community because they are one of the few places that serve a Sunday roast with roasted meat, potato, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. Breakfast is also the Red Velvet´s strongest selling point, so expect a well-rounded selection of strong breakfast options ranging from food bowls to eggs with beans and toasts. If coffee is your thing, we recommend getting your shot of caffeine at Vita Brevis. They also serve delicious cakes, biscuits and even wine from the bottle. For fresh fish of the day caught from the nearby town Vilanova i la Geltru, we love to eat at Miramar Sitges.
You can have a bit of a Nordic experience with the town’s new interior design store Studio Nordic (Carrer de Sant Pau nº4). This is a tempting place if you love to decorate your home with hand-picked items (Afroart, Bloomingville, Madam Stoltz etc.) that gives your home that extra personality. Havgaard Disseny Nòrdic (Carrer de Sant Gaudenci nº22) is a place of art and craftsmanship of high quality with a Nordic style. The jewelries are designed by Danish designer Poul Havgaard. He makes exclusive design jewelry for men and women. In the collection there are belt buckles, rings, bracelets and necklaces. In La Casona Sitges (Carrer de les Parellades nº65) you will find the latest trends in home decor, with a wide range of original and modern gift items for the house. It is the perfect store for those who want to give a new touch to their home or who are looking for a gift. Expect to find unique vases, silverware, lamps and rugs on display.
A tourist resort since the 1800s, Sitges offers much more than just a beach holiday. This little coastal town surrounded by the hills of the Garraf National Park has a lot to offer throughout the whole year, as the town host the world renowned Sitges International Film Festival, attracting the likes of major celebrities from Quentin Tarantino and Cameron Diaz to Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. On the 23rd of September there is the Day of the Patroness, otherwise known as Santa Tecla. This festival is a great opportunity to learn about Catalan culture. You can admire the art of traditional dances, watch the famous human towers otherwise known as castellers and watch fire-spitting characters in the parades. Whatever floats your boat, Sitges has something for you to enjoy.