Don’t know what to see in Sitges?
Sitges is a cool little seaside town just 30 minutes South of Barcelona. It’s a quick ride on the motorway, supereasy if you take the Garraf tunnels, and a bit trickier if you decide to go for the winding roads along the coast (also slowlier, as you are likely to end up behind some slow-moving truck – but anyway, enjoy the views over the Mediterranean and stay happy!
If you won’t drive, you can also take the Rodalies train departing from Sants or Plaça Catalunya that leaves you at the heart of Sitges (pretty packed in the Summer, though). Or even more fan: take the taxi boat that takes you there in less than 1.5 hours of smooth sailing. You’ll then be able to enjoy this village that enjoys over 300 days a year of sunshine thanks to its unique microclimate, and which architecture will remind you a bit of Montecarlo and Cannes.
By the way, some might tell you it’s pronounced “Stitches”, but that’s not true and locals won’t understand you. It’s more like “see chess”. Not at all.
Here is what you need to do in Sitges:
Church of St. Tecla and old town
The waterfront of Sitges is presided by a hill crowned by the Church of Saint Tecla, patron saint of Sitges. The building itself isn’t anything special: a small baroque church that is only open for mass, but the views from there over the sea are worth it. Walking to the left of it you’ll get to the local town hall (inspired in the ancient fortress of Sitges that once rose there), and Carrer d’En Bosc – the oldest street of Sitges, that ends where the last piece of the town walls stand. Instead to the right of the church you’ll get to the picturesque Racó de la Calma – a whitewashed street that was the meeting point of the modernists in the late 1800’s.
There are 3 museums in Sitges. The Museu Romàntic de Can Llopis is a classic mansion from the 1800 that allows you to see how wealthy families lived in those times and that also houses a beautiful collection of vintage dolls. The Cau Ferrat was the home of the modernist artist Santiago Rusiñol: some of his furniture along with his extraordinary collections of wrought iron pieces, antique glass and ceramics can still be seen there exactly the way he left them. Next to Cau Ferrat stands the Mar i Cel Palace, divided in two sections: the seaside part of the building (Mar i Cel de Mar) houses now an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures, and is now connected with Cau Ferrat in a single visit. Instead, the part of the building across the street (Mar i Cel de Terra or Palau Maricel) was the mansion where the millionaire Charles Deering lived in the 1800’s and features magnificently decorated rooms and a lovely arched patio with views over the sea. It is the setting chosen by the local institutions to celebrate special ceremonies and events, and it can only be visited on guided tours on restricted times.
Bacardi Rum House
Are you familiar with the Bacardi rum brand? You might not be aware that the founder of the company was actually from Sitges. Mr. Facundo Bacardí was a hard-working immigrant that ended up in Cuba, like many other Sitges men did, and eventually would found this internationally renowned rum company that is still nowadays family-owned. It is his heirs who decided to open a museum in Don Facundo’s honor in his home town, Sitges. Here you can learn everything about the history of the company, the process of rum making and how to make a good mojito. And of course you can taste cocktails in their exclusive terrace.
Sant Sebastià Beach
Thanks to the unique microclimate of the area, the village of Sitges enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year: great to enjoy its over 11 miles of beach, splitted in 28 beaches – some long sand beaches, some small coves between rocky cliffs. But the most famous of all is Sant Sebastià, the beach past the Racó de la Calma and right before the marina. Being small and quaint, it is the preferred by the locals, who use it all year long: tourists would rather bathe in any of the longer beaches between the Church of St. Tecla and the Terramar hotel at the very other end of the village.
I could have chosen shopping in the Carrer Major, or walking around traditional whitewashed streets such as Carretes, or finding the beautifully decorated tiles awarded to the streets with best flower carpets in Corpus Christi, or looking for modernist villas in the Eixample quarter or Vinyet as my 5th favorite thing to do in Sitges. But I chose the cemetery that stands in the other end of Platja de Sant Sebastià, half way to the emblematic Melià Hotel and overlooking the sea and the Balmins beach for its unusual charm, its delicate modernist mausoleums and tombs and the names of local families buried there that still nowadays have a name among the Catalan high society.
AND BONUS! Here is where to eat in Sitges:
Restaurants in Sitges
There are so many options for a great lunch or dinner in Sitges! Here are a few recommendations: for exceptional views over the beach, we love PicNic (ask to get a table with views, not all of them have them). For a tapa before lunch and for being historically the first beach bar in Spain, El Xiringuito (now La Guingueta) is great but not cheap. For well and slowly prepared traditional fish recipes from Sitges, we love the authenticity and off the beaten path feel of La Nansa. From the many waterfront restaurants, we chose La Fragata and their non-touristy paella. For easy family-friendly meals, La Santa Maria. And for what they claim to be the best burgers in Spain, Big Al’s.
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: what’s your favorite thing to do in Sitges?