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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
December 2009 Email this to a friend


By Staff reports

Sauna Sitges, Sitges

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Sitges article click DailyXtraTravel

The coastal village of Sitges is a beach getaway for residents of nearby Barcelona and a favorite vacation spot for gay people from all across Europe. With at least three dozen gay restaurants and clubs, scores of shops, and plenty of gay beaches, it's no wonder why gay people flock to its cobblestone streets.
While you can get by with English or Spanish, you'll hear many other languages in this cosmopolitan community. French is very common, as is Catalan, the local language, in which most street signs are written (we use Catalan street names). The offerings in the restaurants are equally diverse, with dishes from around the world.
Gays are an important part of the local culture, so there are few tensions. Same sex couples can hold hands on the beach or walking between the numerous cafes and never get a second glance.

The euro is the local currency. ATMs give a better exchange rate than currency exchange offices. Credit cards do not require a PIN in Spain, (unlike elsewhere in Europe), but you'll be asked to show your passport.

In Spain, battles like same-sex marriage have been won since 2005, when the Socialists returned to power. Church leaders object, but polls show two thirds of the population doesn't mind. Gay nightlife thrives, but it often remains discreet at home in that Mediterranean way, behind closed doors. Men of any sexual orientation can show public affection for one another here, even as news reports say that effeminate boys are sometimes harassed in school. Blatantly sexual gay parades raise few eyebrows, and cops don't go out of their way looking for men having sex in woods, on beaches, or the back rooms of bars. It's another world, to be sure.

Sitges's popularity makes reservations a must in summer. Book as far in advance as possible. Check out complete listings under "accommodations" at left.

El Xalet (Illa de Cuba, 35; 938-110-070) grand edifice, spacious rooms, beautiful courtyard garden bar and restaurant, breakfast poolside.
Hotel Liberty (Illa de Cuba 45; 938- 110-872) near station, short walk to beach and bars, generous breakfast, shady tropical garden, open year-round, also apartments.
Parrots Hotel (Joan Tarrida 16; 938-941- 350) modern gay hotel, two minutes from beach, at center of gay nightlife.
Hotel Romantic (Isidre 33; 938-948- 375) old-world atmosphere, 19th-century villas, terraces overlook gardens.
Hotel Renaixenca (Isla de Cuba 7; 938- 948-375) gay-friendly lodging, old-world luxury, open year- round.
Life Journey Spain (Sitges; 634-212-933) large house, panoramic view, pool, yoga, Qi-Gong, tango, wellness workshops, private parties.
Los Globos Hotel (Sra. de Montserrat; 938- 949-374) gay-friendly option, overlooking the water.
OUTLET4SPAIN (Francesc Guma 20; 938-102-711) holiday rental apartments in Sitges, Barcelona and Gran Canaria.
R.A.S. Hotel/Apartment Reservations (Sitges; 607-149-451) multilingual staff, locations in Sitges and Spain, excellent rates, diverse selections.

Near Sitges
Two beautiful local guesthouses are in the countryside beyond the downtown bustle.
La Masia Casanova (938-188-058) former farmhouse, luxurious suites, private baths, clothing-optional pool, sauna, hot tub.
Hotel Sumidors (Garraf National Park, Sant Pere de Ribes; 938-962-061) 400-year-old Catalan house, pool, solarium, aromatic sauna, open all year.

Bars & Clubs
Most nightlife here begins after late dining hours, so bars open at 10 or 10:30pm. Many have happy hours to coax folks out before midnight. After 3am, the bars close and the discos take over.

Early bars
There are some early exceptions to a late-night gay club scene, including some cafe-bars. A few stay open all day, even during what once was called "siesta." Look for these around Calle Mont-roig, a busy pedestrian street lined with tables that fill with the after-beach crowds. It's gayest around Placa de la Industria.
Bar Amura (Sant Pere 3) French-run bar, open year- round, dark room, opens 6:30pm.
Cine Cafe (Jesus 55) Anglo-American bar and grill, English breakfast from 10am, screens English- language movies.
Dark (Bonaire 14) brand new bar, sleek decor, big video screens, stylish crowd, open daily 5pm to 3am.
El Horno (Joan Tarrida 6) draws locals and tourists, denim and leather crowd, popular dark room, open daily 5:30pm to 2:30am.
La Locacola (Bonaire 35) tranquil music, lovely aperitifs, great for conversation, a bit Dutch, a lot French, opens 7pm.
Los Vikingos (Mont-roig 7) family restaurant inside, terrace tables fill with gay men afternoons and early evenings, as do those of the Mont Roig Cafe (Mont Roig,11-13) next door.
Parrot's Pub (Placa de la Industria) afternoon cocktails, snacks, terrace tables, summer only, 11am to 3am.

Late bars
Azul (Bonaventura 10) intimate men's music bar, welcoming vibe, Spanish, German and English spoken.
B-Side (Gaudenci 7) video bar, many languages, underwear and naked parties, strippers.
Bear's (Bonair 17, upstairs) cruisy men-only video bar, darkrooms, sling, St Andrew's cross, naked parties.
Blondies (Port Alegre 10) near Platya de Sant Sebastia, cafe and terrace bar, popular with Brits.
Bourbon's (Bonaventura 13) drink discounts all night, Carnival events, sexy darkroom, open weekends off-season.
Casa Blanca Bears (Pau Barrabeitg 5) bear bar with darkroom and drag shows.
Comodin Bar (Taco 4) mature crowd, drag shows every summer night and weekends in winter.
El Candil (Carreta 9) big dance floor, videos, cruisy darkrooms, hot young guys, big summer Sunday shows at 8pm.
El Piano (Bonaventura, 37) cabaret piano bar, talented diverse European performers, easy conversation, recently expanded.
Man Bar (Bonaventura 19) industrial decor, darkroom action, summer theme events.
Marypili (Joan Tarrida 14) a cafe-bar for women.
Mediterraneo (Bonaventura 6) open Carnival and summer, late-night dance crowd, vaulted glass ceiling, bougainvillea- and ivy-covered walls.
Orek's (Bonaire 13) energetic international music bar, dancing, summer strippers, cruisy darkroom, open year-round,
Perfil Bar (Espalter 7) small and intimate local spot.
Prinz (Nou 4) favorite of local guys, drag shows, nude strippers, live sex shows.
Privilege (Bonaire 24) young and beautiful dance crowd, table dancers, male strippers.
Queenz (Bonaire 17, downstairs) fun and diverse crowd at center of gay Sitges, open daily in Summer with Thursday Lady Diamond shows. Open in winter, weekends only.
Seven (Nou 7) edge of downtown, popular gay hangout, expats and tourists, particularly British crowd.
XXL(Joan Tarrida 7) dancing downstairs, serious darkroom action upstairs.

Dance Clubs & Afterhours
When the bars close, everyone heads for late-night discos to dance until dawn.
Organic Club (Bonaire 15) Europop, techno, house, and Spanish music, shirtless guys, summer only from 2:30am.
Trailer Disco (Angel Vidal 36) loud, hard, cutting-edge sound, strippers, darkroom, shampoo parties, summer only from 1am.
Ricky's (Sant Pau 25) mostly straight but gay- friendly, especially off-season months.
Club Atlantida (Passeig Maretim) summer Tuesdays, gay beach party midnight to dawn. Free bus at beach by Calipolis Hotel.
Le Male (Centro Commercial, Oasis 28) after- hours dancing, darkroom frolic, and summer sex parties.

Many restaurants close from 2 to 5pm, or open at 8pm in true Iberian fashion. Dinner is often a late affair, beginning 9 or 10pm.
Alma Restaurant (Taco 16) French cuisine, duck specialties.
Beach House (Sant Pau 34) eclectic Australian-Asian menu.
Cafe Sitges (Sant Pau 32) breakfast, pastries, coffee 11am-3pm; pizza, paninis, baguettes 6-10pm; terrace garden wine.
Cafe Hidalgo (Sant Pau 12) dinner menu with Galician and northern Spanish cuisine.
Cine Cafe (Jesus 55) homemade burgers and ribs, salads, juicy grilled meat, movie memorabilia, open 10am to midnight.
El Arte del Cafe (Sant Pere 29) full English breakfast, coffee of all kinds, weekend crepes and vegetarian menu.
El Celler Vell (Bonaventura 21) Catalan food, warm and rustic environment.
El Jardin (Bonaire 26) French and international dinner menu, beautiful garden patio setting.
El Trull Restaurant (Mossen Felix Clara 3) worth the trip, impeccably prepared food, romantic old-world setting.
L'Aixeta (Pg de Villafranca 4) Catalan tapas restaurant and bar, breakfast served from 10am.
La Borda (Bonaventura 5) traditional Catalan restaurant.
Ma Maison Restaurant (Bonaire 28) French with international twist, garden tables, Saturday cabaret.
Margarita (Pg de la Ribera 8) terrace bar and restaurant at beach, lunch, dinner and English breakfast.
Monroe's (Sant Pau 36) location now closed, but after vacation time off Pablo & Ben will consider future projects.
O Vesuvio (Carreta 10) Neapolitan Italian specialties.
Parrots Restaurant (Joan Tarrida 18) terrace seating, Swiss and Mediterranean cuisine.
Pizza del Pecado (Parellades 76) not gay, but good, quick, inexpensive slices of 25 different pies.
SoCa (Goudenci 9) Mexi-Cali tacos, hamburgers, seafood and fresh salads.

Sauna Sitges (Espalter 11) hot steamy fun from 4pm, frequent special events like foam parties.
Parrots Sauna (Joan Tarrida 16) small gay men's sauna below the Parrots Hotel.

Tattoo Sacred (Parellades 39) body enhancements with ink or piercings.

Clothing boutiques are everywhere in Sitges.
Boyzone (Bonaventura 18) exuberant men's fashions.
Dive Outlet (Joan Tarrida 3) men's fashions at clearance prices.
ES4U (Sant Pere 5) men's underwear and beach attire.
Jazz Boutique (Bonaire 20) men's off- the-rack apparel.
Franc (Parellades 26) men's clothes, moderate prices.
Les Garcons Fashionwear (Gaudenci 12) men's clothing.
Ovlas (Francesc 22) men's fashions, sexy styles.
Testimoni (Sant Josep 6) swimwear, edgy fashions.

Many galleries sell paintings, mostly local scenes harking back to Sitges' fishing village past.
Blanca de Nicolas (Paseo de Vilanova 43) studies of male form, drawings, and paintings, classically posed nudes.

Getting here
Barcelona International is the closest airport. Renfe trains or shuttle buses take you to Barcelona Sants Station, where a local train will get you to Sitges in around 20 minutes, for about $5. Driving here can be more trouble than it's worth, as parking in Sitges is expensive and sometimes hard to find.

Getting around
Walking is the best way to get around. Many streets in the center are closed to traffic. Taxis around town cost no more than $15.

Gay and nude beaches
The downtown gay beach is between the Red Cross hut and Picnic Restaurant on the boardwalk. A more exclusively gay nudist beach, Playa del Muerto, is a 45-minute hike south, past the last hotel and the golf course, up the hillside path beyond the L'Atlantida parking lot to the pebble beach on the other side. You can cut 30 minutes off the journey if you take a taxi to L'Atlantida parking lot.
Another nude but mixed beach to the northeast, Playa dels Balmins is along the coastal path, up the hill and beyond the cemetery. You'll know when you've arrived.

Cruising spots
There's active cruising all day among the rocks behind the Playa del Muerto gay beach, and among the trees across the train tracks above the beach. Be wary on the tracks, as trains tear out of the tunnel with little warning.
The city's beachfront esplanade gets cruisiest after families go home. Some young guys leaning on the walls or seated on the benches are self-employed.

Upcoming events

Sitges Carnival
February 11 - 17, 2010
Unbridled festivities from Dijous Gras, Thursday before Lent, to the Burial of the Sardine effigy on Ash Wednesday. Thousands of costumed revelers, dozens of floats in Debauchery parade Thursday, followed by Sunday Extermination parade of drag queens in black. Huge crowds, many parties in the clubs.

The Sixth International Bear Meeting
April 29 - May 20, 2010
Dinners, bar parties, beach picnics, pool parties, paintball

Sitges Gay Pride
July 9 - 11, 2010
The first Pride event for Sitges will include a Saturday street parade from 6pm.

Note: article last updated December 2009

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