Sitges • Spain

A sea-side town just outside Barcelona, a perfect retreat of sand, sea and sun. Known for its liberalism and its easy lifestyle, it is not one would expect from a coastal resort town in Spain.

I stayed in Sitges on several occasions, a quick city break and beach holiday and was pleasantly surprised, often when visiting the coast of Spain you’ll run into developed tourist resorts with high rises but Sitges seems to have held off and kept the charm of its small-town, this certainly is a fantastic holiday spot.

Its close proximity to Barcelona and easy connections from the airport makes this a destination a perfect get-away. Only 40 kilometres southwest of Barcelona, access is easy and cheap, should the weather change its a great way to explore Barcelona.

There are several beaches to choose from, some in the town centre or main beach but others are much more characteristic within walking distance. the town centre beaches are divided into family, adult and gay beaches but all are clothing mandatory.

Nudist beaches can be found nearby and fill up quickly by afternoon, best times are to be early and escape the cooking midday sun, or rent a beach umbrella and spend the whole day chilling it the warm air, listening to the waves or simply floating in saltwater to cool off from the heat.

Other nudist beaches nearby are accessible by taxi, or if you feel energetic, a long 45-minute walk, up over some hills and down to a pebbled beach with clearer water, but be warned, this is a gay beach with cruising areas, though not a comfortable as the one found closer to the town centre, though small it is a sandy beach with lovely warm seawater to cool off in.

Sitges is well known for its gay tourists and attractions, not to say it doesn’t offer anything for anyone else, this is a perfect holiday spot, fun, open and free-minded. I don’t usually return to places but Sitges is increasingly gaining a lot of points in my book, simply because of the chilled atmosphere, perfect weather, beach and fine dining.

I stayed at the Galleon Hotel on my first occasion, a comfortable and basic hotel that offers clean accommodation at excellent value. On a return visit, I was lucky enough to be upgraded to Hotel Platjador, another three-star establishment on a beachfront location, superior rooms and chic design and stylish roof-top patio/bar. I also stayed at the one-star El Cid hotel and was very pleased with the room and service, though it has no in-room TV or air conditioning it is very basic, however, the rooms are clean with comfy beds.

If you are seeking something more adventurous this destination is not the place for you, this is where you come to unwind and taste some of the finer things it has to offer, I’ve already become a fan and have returned (almost) every year to chill out by the sea.

Sitges hosts many traditional events and festivals throughout the year, in the third week of September, the town celebrates a time when dragons and giants once occupied this land, a celebration of fire, dragons and giants for the festival of Santa Tecla.

Celebrations include loud fireworks throughout the streets, bands and acrobatics, traditional dances and music, with a finale of fireworks on the seafront when all the street lights are turned off and the displays shoot up into the clear dark skies above the sea.