Here's our gay guide to Europe's gayest town.
Sitges is a picturesque coastal town on the Costa Brava. It’s just a half-hour train ride away from Barcelona and it has some of the best gay beaches in Spain. Long a haven for artists, it’s now known as the gay vacation capital of Europe – along with Mykonos, of course.
Wandering around the old town, you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and a lot of gay bars (about 24!). One of the most heartening things about Sitges’ gay scene is how open it is. The bars aren’t hidden away down a back street. They take up much of the town’s center.
You’ll see same-sex couples holding hands wherever you look. You’ll also see many gay shops selling all-important items like Andrew Christian briefs and novelty Lady Gaga vests.
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Sitges’ reputation as a gay town is well established in Spain and beyond. The locals are very welcoming and it has perhaps one of the best gay beaches in Spain.
For gay travelers, PDA (public displays of affection) can be a minefield when on vacation. The sad truth is that there are few places in the world where gay people feel comfortable showing PDA. In Sitges, you’ll feel as comfortable as it’s possible to be.
Sitges Gay Beach
During the day you’ll be greeted by the Mediterranean sun and you’ll want to make the most of it. You’ll find excellent beaches all along the coastline and it won’t be hard to find the rainbow flag. Sitges’ gay beach is located right by the main hub of the town with the popular Hotel Calipolis in the background.
What can you expect from the gay beach? Well, you can sunbathe, go for a swim, and check out the guys. The gay beach makes for a pleasant prelude to your evening on the town. As Sitges is small you’ll start recognising the same faces. You’ll inevitably develop a holiday crush or two and there’s a good chance you’ll meet your potential love interest in the bars later on.
What To Do In Sitges
You can visit the Museu del Cau Ferrat. It was built in the 1890s by the early Modernist artist, Santiago Rusinol. Located on the seafront, it houses some very striking works of art and ephemera, including the many ancient relics he collected.
As you wander the town center you’ll see quaint antique shops, delis, and, as already mentioned, gay novelty clothing. Guess you can never have enough “I Love Sitges” rainbow vests.
Sitges isn’t exactly packed with cultural attractions. Barcelona is just up the road if that’s what you’re looking for. People go to Sitges to get away from the big city and enjoy the sun. It’s a place for well-heeled Europeans and Americans to relax and party.
Luxury hotels in Sitges and Barcelona
There are many world-class luxury hotels to choose from in Barcelona. Sitges is much smaller but it has some excellent luxury hotels, too. They tend to be smaller, boutique properties. One of our favorite hotels in Sitges is MIM Sitges Boutique And Spa. It has a charming rooftop bar and pool. There are 77 rooms and an upscale spa. You’ll struggle to find a more stylish hotel in Sitges than MIM.
Another popular choice in Sitges is the larger Hotel Calipolis. You can’t miss it: it’s the big hotel overlooking the gay beach. At the Bar Del Mar you’ll find arguably the best terrace in Sitges with its splendid views of the promenade and the sea, as well as an excellent tapas menu.
If you want to go for serious luxury then Barcelona is the place to be. Soho House Barcelona is an impeccably chic luxury hotel. The Soho House brand is very exclusive. It was founded in London in 1995 as a social club for people in the arts, later expanding to incorporate luxury hotels. Soho House Barcelona is an ideal luxury choice if you’re looking for something a little more stylish than the big chain hotels.
Where to eat in Sitges
Fragata is a very popular restaurant in the heart of Sitges serving classic Mediterranean food. It’s usually busy so advanced booking is recommended. This restaurant can be expensive but it’s worth it if you want something a bit more upmarket.
La Salseta is also a popular restaurant serving classic Catalan food. You can go for slightly more exotic delicacies here like octopus and pork feet. If that’s too much then go for the paella.
El Bixto is a great choice if you’re looking for something laid back. The patatas bravas and Russian salad are divine. When you’ve finished eating the gay scene is just around the corner.
Sitges’ Gay Scene
So, how gay is Sitges? You could argue that it’s the gay capital of Europe, particularly in peak season (May – September). Most of the tourists flooding into Sitges at this time are gay. Straight people start to look like a minority demographic.
If you’re worried about the gay scene’s encroaching ageism, fear not. You’ll see a wide variety of age groups and you don’t have to have a six-pack!
When you’re ready for a drink you need to head to Parrots Pub on Placa Industira. This bar is something of a Sitges institution. It also has a hotel and restaurant located on an adjacent street.
Across the street from Parrots Pub is Central Bar. Both of these bars have large terraces, so you’ll be looking directly at the punters across the road as you drink: all the chairs are strategically turned to face the adjacent terrace. The sexy bartenders weave their way through both terraces, taking drink orders in their skimpy pants.
As the night progresses you may find yourself bar hopping. Just up the road from Parrots Pub is El Horno, a popular gay bar that opens onto Joan Tarrida Street (a very gay street). XXL is directly opposite along with some other late-night establishments.
One thing is for sure: a night on the town in Sitges is loads of fun. If you don’t like staying out too late you can enjoy a civilized meal, watch the world (well, the gays) go by, and then return to your hotel. Everything is within walking distance in Sitges.
Upon waking up with the inevitable hangover you should haul yourself to the beach, take a refreshing swim in the sea, and before long you’ll be ready to party again.
As you can imagine, Sitges Pride is pretty awesome. It’s guaranteed to be the busiest time of the year. Ask any scene queen: it’s the place to be. There’ll be foam parties, pool parties, live shows, boat parties, and after parties – and all the bars will be packed.
If you don’t like big crowds and parties, fear not – Sitges will still be buzzing for the rest of summer. It’s one of the most fun and inclusive places in Europe, and amen to that. If you’re a first timer we can guarantee you’ll want to go back every year.