Living in Barcelona makes you forget the beautiful places there are to discover in Cataluña. When it comes to standard of living, Barcelona offers almost everything you could possibly ask for: Beaches, an incredible Bar Scene, awesome food, loads of cultural events, some of the best partys…
I could go on with that forever. So isn’t that a positive thing? It definitely is if you are lucky enough to live in Barcelona. The city has so much to offer that it kind of trapped and kept me busy for the last 6 months. What I want to say is that I didn’t feel the need to leave the city to explore the rest of the country.
But as my stay here is coming to an end I decided not to leave without visiting at least one place I frequently got told to go to: Sitges.
And damn I should have listened to that earlier!
So in this post I’m going to give you some insights about that mediterranean pearl and why it almost makes me regret how I spent most of my time for the last 6 months.
Sitges? Never heard of it!
That’s what my mother said when I told her to come with me to visit Sitges and to be serious, it’s probably not one of the most well known cities in Spain. But that doesn’t make it less attractive. I’m convinced that places with less fame among tourists often tend to be the real treasures.
I heard of Sitges from my Catalan friends and colleagues – another sign for me to consider going there as local tips are always worth trying.
It’s a small and historical beachfront city just half an hour train ride away from Barcelona. You can see the city’s history in a lot of its well preserved buildings and narrow alleys.
One of the town’s highlights is the carnival when a lot of people gather for a huge party. I was lucky to be around during this time and it was a really unique experience to see how carnival is celebrated in Spain. For me it was really interesting to see coming from Constance, one of Germany’s carnival strongholds.
How to get there?
Sitges is about 42 km south of Barcelona and there are various options on how to get there:
Train: If you don’t own a car, I’d say the most convenient way to get to Sitges is by taking the train. Take the R2 Sud from either Estacio de França, Passeig de Gracia or Saints. One way ticket price is 4,10€, if you buy a return ticket it costs you 7,20€.
The trains start running at 6:47 and leave about every 20 minutes. Last train leaves at 22:25 to take you back from Sitges to Barcelona.
If you want to check the schedules you can do it here.
Bus: Buses to Sitges leave from Barcelona’s Plaza de Universitat or Plaza España and takes them about 45-55 minutes to get there. Prices are 4€ a ticket. The bus company is called MonBus and runs twice an hour Mon-Fri, once every hour on Saturdays and 9 times a day on Sundays and holidays. If you want to check the schedule you can do it here.
If you missed the last train, there are also night buses traveling from Sitges to Barcelona called N30, N31 and N32. The night buses run four times per hour from 00:55 until 04:50 so there’s always an option for you to get back to Barcelona late night.
Life is a beach
The city of Sitges is mostly famous for its beautiful beaches. There are 17 beaches, many of them small and hidden but a real relief from the main ones once you find them. Even though Sitges attracts a lot of foreigners as well as expats due to its excellent international schools, the main visitors are day trippers from Barcelona.
You might think: Doesn’t Barcelona has a beach as well? Well it does but it’s not really a big pleasure lying towel to towel on a overcrowded as well as overrated beach. It’s nice to have a beach at your doorstep but if you’re looking for a more decent and relaxing bathing experience, Sitges is the way to go.
I spent my 6 months in Barcelona during autumn, winter and spring so I couldn’t really appreciate the beach lifestyle. During my visit to Sitges in late February this year the weather was already quite nice but nowhere near to sunbathing levels.
The advantage of visiting this place off season (at least I thought it was off season until I realized I went there during carnival) is that you’ll get a much more calm and laid back impression of the town. People are warmhearted, the promenade is not overcrowded and you can enjoy the feeling of this mediterranean town.
From what I heard I guess the city might get a little busier during summer but nevertheless you cannot compare it with the masses of people and the sticky hot Barcelona.
I was lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view) to be in Sitges during carnival. A lot of friends and colleagues told me about the carnival of Sitges beforehand but I never really had the intention of going there as I grew up with “Fasnacht” (German carnival) and therefore didn’t feel the need to participate here in Spain.
But due to a lot of coincidence I ended up visiting Sitges during carnival. It takes place from Thursday until Wednesday during February-March. I’ve been there on a Saturday so I missed out on some of the main events as the most important days are Sunday and Tuesday.
During this period, the city turns into madness. Disguised people everywhere you look, the whole city is living the spirit of carnival. There is a lot of different activity going on like parades, cart races, live music…
If you’re looking for a rather relaxing and quiet visit to Sitges try to avoid carnival period. But if you’re ready for some action and would like to be part of one of the city’s highlights make sure to check it out.
Food – the sea is calling
If you put some effort in it, Sitges has some great food to offer. Like all around the world, if you just sit down in the next best beachfront restaurant you’ll probably end up with mediocre and inappropriate expensive food. But take a little time strolling through the city and have an open eye for some authentic food joints and I’m sure you’ll find a nice place. Another option is to ask someone local about their favorite places which mostly will get you to some awesome places.
I took a walk through the city and especially focused on smaller side streets and back alleys away from the main touristy spots what brought me to a real gem.
The place is called Anfora and located in a small side alley a few blocks up the beachfront promenade. It didn’t look fancy from the outside and neither did the road where it is located but what caught my eye was an offer for a Seafood Menu for 25€ including one bottle of white wine (for 2 persons). In coastal cities you can almost never go wrong with some fresh seafood so I was curious about it and went in.
What happened next was really impressive: We (me and my mum) received a seafood degustation with huge prawns, mussels, sardines, tuna pate… It was an incredible and unexpected feast for a price of 12€ each and the service was incredible. I’m not just talking about good service, I’m talking about clean preheated plates each course, warm water with lemon to clean your fingers and they were always attentive to keep your wine glass filled up.
I would have never imagined to have such an amazing food experience in a place where I’ve never been before and where most restaurants seem more like the typical tourist traps rather than good and authentic seafood places.
If you go to Sitges, definitely check by this awesome eatery! That showed me once again that it is always worth to spend a little time looking for a nice and local place to eat instead of just taking a seat at the next best restaurant.
What to see?
Apart from its beaches and the famous carnival, Sitges has to offer some cultural and historical places you should definitely check out when going there.
One of my favorite things to do in the small town was to wander around the small alleys and steep backstreets while looking at the beautiful houses and balustrades. Surprisingly, a lot of houses are coloured white and blue like you might know it from greek islands which made me almost feel like I was walking through a small town on Crete.
I really liked the design of the signs on which they put the street names. Each is a small painting in honor of the name or the history of the street.
Another highlight of visiting Sitges is definitely the “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu” a baroque church build in the 17th century and one of Sitges’ most famous landmarks. It’s located on top of a small hill and separates the two main promenades of the town. From up here you’ll have a beautiful view over the coastline.
If you are into museums, the 3 main ones are “museo romantic”, “museo cau ferrat” and ” museo maricel”. Even though I didn’t have the time to visit them I think they are definitely worth it if you can spare some time and would like to get some more info about art and history of Sitges.
For everyone who’s looking for a short vacation from Barcelona, Sitges is the place to go. People are really friendly there and if you need some relaxed beach time you should definitely consider going.
Even though only half an hour away from Barcelona, Sitges has a completely different flair than the big metropole. It’s a small historical town with a lot of culture and beautiful beaches. If you’re on holiday, you could even consider living in Sitges while visiting Barcelona as a day trip from here. This might be a much calmer base for your stay as Barcelona can get quite busy and sticky in summer.
Sitges has a lots of events happening all year round so make sure either to avoid these dates if you’re not into crowds of people or go for it when you love a little bit of action and life happening on the streets.
Either way, I’m convinced that you’re going to love this place.
I hope you enjoyed reading and will come back for my future articles 🙂
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With love, Niko
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