The Mediterranean coast around Barcelona is bestowed with many beautiful seaside towns and villages. A standout among these is Sitges. Just half an hour from Barcelona by train, this charming town combines stunning beaches, storybook whitewashed architecture, intriguing history, an influential art scene, exuberant festivals and some of the best seafood you will ever taste. What more could you want? In this brief guide we explain all you need to know about visiting Sitges, including things to do, places to stay, working remotely, and how to get there.
This site contains links to travel services we recommend, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you. We were hosted in Sitges with assistance from Turisme Sitges and Barcelona Turisme, who arranged our visit and introduced us to the town’s highlights. Our opinions are our own, and we always give honest travel recommendations.
In this article:
Visiting Sitges: a quick history
Sitges has developed a reputation a top seaside resort town and holiday destination, but there is much more to the place than just this.
With roots stretching back to the 4th century BC when it was an Iberian settlement, Sitges has a fascinating history marked by trade, migration and art. Most famously, the town played a pivotal role in the modernist art movement, especially through the involvement of legendary Barcelona-born artist Santiago Rusiñol.
For many centuries, Sitges grew and thrived as a fishing village. We discovered that this heritage is still very much alive, as you will find some of the very best seafood in the Mediterranean here!
The town burgeoned in the 18th century when trade began to flourish with the USA. People of Sitges returned rich from across the Atlantic and built fabulous houses and buildings, and you can still clearly see the mark of this period in the town’s beautiful streetscapes today.
It was in the late 19th century when Santiago Rusiñol set up his studio in Sitges. A community of artists and intellectuals gathered about him in the town, and it became the centrepoint of Catalan modernism.
Tourism in Sitges
Tourism in the town really began flourishing in the 20th century, as word spread about its magnificence and heritage, and people started visiting Sitges from all corners of the world. Grand hotels opened by the dozen, and there are now more than 4,500 hotel beds in the town, many of which are four-star.
In modern times, Sitges has also become a place of celebration and festivities. From the acclaimed Sitges Film Festival to hosting the oldest Carnival in Catalonia, the town knows how to throw a party, and it’s an extra-special time to visit when there’s something on.
An idyllic haven for remote working
Our visit to Sitges came during a workation in Barcelona. The beauty of this region that keeps bringing us back is the opportunity to stay and work in stunning settings like Sitges.
The flexibility of remote working after the pandemic combined with the magnificent setting of the Mediterranean seafront is increasingly attracting people to work remotely in Sitges, from travel enthusiasts to busy C-level executives. The town’s hotels and accommodation providers are catering more to remote workers’ needs, which we explore in a bit more detail later in this guide.
How to get to Sitges from Barcelona
Sitges is so easy to reach from Barcelona. It is just 40 kilometres away, and there is no need to hire a car as you can take the train directly.
The Barcelona to Sitges train takes about 30 minutes, but honestly, it is such a beautiful ride, you will wish it would last longer! The railway clings to the Mediterranean seafront, passing along jaw-dropping cliffs and offering glorious views of the azure sea and rocky coastline.
The train to Sitges goes from the Barcelona-Sants station, which is well connected with others areas of the city via the extensive metro system. You can get unlimited access to public transport in the city for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours with a Hola Barcelona Travel Card.
Visiting Sitges on a guided tour from Barcelona
One option for visiting Sitges if you only have a short amount of time is to take a day trip from Barcelona on a guided tour. There are several options for this, but one we recommend is a combined tour to Monserrat, Bodega Jean Leon and Sitges.
In one action-packed day, this enables you to see three of the very best things about the surroundings of Barcelona – the mountains, the wine regions and the seaside! The tour culminates in Sitges, where you will have a guided tour of the picturesque old town as well as some free time to explore.
Things to do in Sitges
There is an endless choice of things to do in Sitges to make the most of your time on a short break or workation. Whether you’re into history, gastronomy or beach-going, here are some ideas for activities in Sitges.
Wander the charming old town
The steep, cobbled streets and whitewashed architecture of Sitges old town are a huge part of what makes its character. It’s one of those places that feels like you are in a storybook or stepping back in time to a different age.
The old town is very compact, and so it’s easy to explore on foot. A standout landmark is the Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, which looms over the seafront. Behind it, a maze of alleyways weave their way through modernistic buildings with brilliant white facades, deep blue window-frames and green plants hanging from balconies.
Explore the museums and galleries of Sitges
The footprint of history is still very clear to see in Sitges, and the best way you can dig deeper into it is to explore the town’s captivating museums.
We were riveted by the displays at the Cau Ferrat Museum, which was once the residence and personal art studio of Santiago Rusiñol at the heart of the old town. Inside, you can not only see many of Rusiñol’s most prized works, but also an array of paintings from his personal collection of ancient art.
Rooms of his residence have been immaculately restored and maintained so you can see them in full glory. The fountain room is a particular highlight, decorated with beautiful ceramics and archaeological artefacts.
Next door to Cau Ferrat is the Maricel Museum, where you can walk through the artistic history of the region. The impressive exhibitions feature paintings, murals, sculptures, spanning many periods from the Renaissance through to modernism. Take a glimpse inside in this video:
You can discover more about the town’s many museums and galleries on the Museus de Sitges website.
Stroll along the seafront at sunset
The seafront boulevard of Sitges, Passeig Maritim, is where you will find some of the town’s most scenic views. It’s lovely to walk along at any time of day, but at sunset it is particularly special as an orange glow descends over the shore.
Climb the stairway that leads up to the Church of Sant Bartomeu for a gorgeous vista along the boulevard from the viewpoint of El Baluard de Sitges. Or, if you are an early riser, head here at daybreak to see the sun rise over the sea beyond Barcelona. It’s a truly beautiful stretch for a scenic morning run!
Walking along the boulevard through the daytime you will find lots of welcoming shops, cafés and restaurants to stop for some refreshments in the sunshine.
Relax on the beach
Sitges did not gain its reputation as a beach resort by accident. This part of the Barcelona coastline features an oustanding selection of beaches, from sheltered coves to long, sandy hotspots.
Platja de Sant Sebastià, just to the east of the old town, is a lovely small beach that is popular with families. To the other side of the Church of Sant Bartomeu, Passeig Maritim is lined with a series of golden beaches – Platjas de la Fragata, Ribera and Estanyol.
For somewhere a little quieter, you can walk all the way west along the promenade until you reach Platja de Terramar. About 15 minutes’ walk from the town centre, it has calm, warm waters and a beach bar.
Across to the eastern side of Sitges, nestled next to the port, Platja d’Aiguadolç is another small, secluded and intimate beach. This is also one of the best spots in the area for surfing if you want to catch some waves.
If you are looking for something more active on your visit to Sitges, then the Mediterranean seafront provides a world of opportunity for watersports.
Paddleboarding is a popular activity that anyone can try whatever your level of experience. It’s a lot of fun and also gives you a different perspective of Sitges and the surrounding coastline from the water. Beautiful!
Depending on how experienced and daring you are, you can try many other aquatic sports at Sitges, such as kayaking, windsurfing and jet ski.
A little further along the coast, just next to Sitges, you can also try a an open kayaking or paddleboarding tour in Vilanova i la Geltrú.
Eat incredible Mediterranean seafood
Barcelona is known around the world for its outstanding culinary scene. But some of the best food in the region can actually be discovered just a little along the coastline in Sitges. In particular, this really is a place to come if you love seafood.
I had the joy of experiencing this with a superb meal at Restaurante Fragata, overlooking the Sitges seafront. From a ceviche of shrimps and scallops to a sumptuous tuna tartar, this really was the height of gastronomy of our visit.
Seafood in Sitges is freshly caught and prepared to the highest of standards. I do not exaggerate when I say you won’t find better seafood any in the world.
Enjoy wine from the Penedès region
Sitges stands on the threshold of Penedès, one of the most important wine regions in Europe. The region is most famous for producing 95% of the world’s cava, but there are also many more varieties made here.
Before arriving at Sitges I took a tour of the village of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, which is at the heart of the region. Just 30 kilometres inland in the lush hilly countryside, it is easy to reach from Sitges to visit and explore.
But you don’t need to leave the town to sample the delicious wines of Penedès. They are readily available in the town’s restaurants, and in fact, I found that a glass of sparkling Penedès wine is the perfect complement for that wonderful seafood! There are also several wine shops in the town where you can taste wines from the region.
Visit Sitges at festival time
February is an exciting time for visiting Sitges, as it means you can experience the flamboyant Sitges Carnival. Considered to be one of the world’s greatest celebrations of Carnival, more than a quarter of a million people arrive in Sitges for a seven-day party! It is a maelstrom of parades, loud costumes, singing, dancing and generally having a great time.
Carnival is a celebration of openness and diversity, and is a particularly special moment for the gay community in Sitges. The town is known as one of the gay capitals of Europe.
If you can’t make it to Sitges in February, don’t worry, as celebrations happen all year round! There are many more festivals you can experience around the calendar, icluding:
- Sitges Vintage Car Rally, March: showcasing classic cars from the early 20th century, beginning in Barcelona and ending in Sitges
- Sant Jordi Festival, 23 April: a major celebration day across the region, themed on books and flowers
- Sitges Festa Major, August: a huge summer street festival with parades on the Passeig Maritim seafront
- Sitges Wine Harvest Festival, October: including gourmet food displays and wine competitions
- Sitges Film Festival, October: one of the world’s leading international film festivals
Working remotely in Sitges
Whether you are a digital nomad looking for your next destination, or, like us, travel enthusiasts who like to explore regularly by taking workations, Sitges is a beautiful location to move your desk. The town has also developed excellent infrastructure and facilities as it has grown as a remote working destination.
The year-round climate of hot summers and mild winters make Sitges a pleasant place to work at any time. With a laidback atmosphere and a fresh sea air, spending some time working here is guaranteed to refresh you and help you refocus, whether for a few days, a few months or longer.
Sitges is also very well connected, just 30 minutes from Barcelona Airport and also a short train journey into Barcelona centre. Internet in the town is strong and reliable. And with a growing community of remote workers, digital nomads and expats here, it is easy to find community and meet likeminded people.
As we have seen so far in this guide, in Sitges there is a world of culture, history, gastronomy and festivity right on your doorstep. So you will never be short of things to do in your leisure time.
Accommodation for remote working is plentiful, whether you need a short or mid-term rental or simply a relaxing hotel with working facilities. Let’s take a closer look.
Where to stay in Sitges
Sitges makes for a great day trip if you are just on a short break in Barcelona. But we would also recommend spending a bit longer to soak up its culture, whether on a break or a workation.
The town is known for its touch of luxury. It features dozens of top-class hotels, from five-star beauties by the beach to resort complexes with outstanding work and leisure facilities. Browse for hotels in Sitges to find what’s available for your trip.
Another luxurious option in Sitges is to rent a villa. On my visit I had a tour of one of the fabulous rental properties hosted by Utopia Villas, complete with a private swimming pool and glorious views over the coastline from its terrace area. A place like this makes for an unforgettable getaway or reinvigorating workation setting.
Visiting Sitges: map of highlights
You can see some of the locations in Sitges we have mentioned in this article on the map below:
More resources for visiting Sitges
Want to make the most of a short visit to Barcelona? See our Barcelona 3 day itinerary.
Have you spent time visiting Sitges before? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
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