In Barcelona, everything seems to shut down on Sundays. I found this out the hard way when I was there in late August 2007, as my last full day fell on a Sunday and I was hoping to get in some more shopping and museum-going. But everything turned out just fine because it meant that we could spend the whole day at the beach.
Barcelona has its own beaches but they’re not that great, especially when compared to how fantastic the rest of the city is and how fantastic Mediterranean beaches tend to be. So while the Barcelona beaches are worth checking out while you’re there, it’s best to plan a day trip out of the city for a true beach-y experience. We decided to try Sitges, a small resort town about 20 miles south of Barcelona, and we loved it.
Getting to Sitges from Barcelona is inexpensive and easy. You can take the bus, but we opted for the train, as there’s regular service and it only takes around 30 minutes. As soon as we exited the train, we were greeted with an attractive old town. But we weren’t there to stroll through the winding narrow streets. We had come for the sand and the calm blue sea.
Luckily, the culture follows you right to the beach. Whether we were lying on our lounge chairs or playing in the water, we had an excellent view of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla (pictured above), a church from the 17th Century that’s the emblem of Sitges. We also enjoyed seeing the elaborate sand sculptures (see below) that people were creating both for the fun of it and in hope of collecting some donations for their work.
Sitges is known for being a gay-friendly destination. When we were there, we saw a mixed crowd: gay couples, straight couples, groups of friends and families with children. It has a lively, anything-goes vibe and I believe anyone would feel comfortable there.
Another thing that Sitges is known for is its happening nightlife. Spaniards like to party late and they especially like to party late in Sitges. But as daytrippers, we didn’t get to experience that. Although there tons of restaurants, we didn’t get to experience those either as we had eaten before we took the train to maximize our beach time. We did, however, manage to have some ice cream at the ubiquitous yet stellar chain Farggi.
I’d love the chance to stay overnight in Sitges so I could go to the bars and also have time to go the museums, especially the Cau Ferrat. But as there are plenty of both in Barcelona, Sitges is an excellent choice even if you just want to concentrate on its beaches.