By Roy Heale
Just thirty-five kilometers south of Barcelona is the port town of Sitges, which has become recognised throughout Europe as the perfect gay resort for summer relaxation and fun. During the months of July and August the tourist visitors are almost exclusively gay and the town switches into hetero-friendly mode.
This historic seaport dates back to the tenth century when a small castle was built over the ruins of an old Iberian settlement. During the following years, houses were built near the castle and Sitges was born.
In the middle ages, Sitges used to be the only port town on the coast from Barcelona to Tarragon. The town’s main industries were its vineyards and the commercial activities with other ports. Now tourism and construction are the major employers in Sitges and the charm of this small town on the coast is irresistible. Nestled on the hillside between the mountains and the ocean it’s easy to understand how the gay community fell in love with the cobbled streets, historic buildings, beautiful beaches and of course the bars and restaurants.
Sitges boasts on average 300 days of sunshine each year, which makes for the longest summer weather anywhere in Spain. The local resident population is approximately twenty thousand, many of whom are artists, sculptors and painters or employed in the service industry and they tend to welcome the gay community as potential customers. Santiago Rusiñol the famous Spanish artist moved to Sitges in 1891 and turned it into a meeting point for artists and intellectuals, giving it the bohemian air that persists today.
With almost thirty gay bars and clubs, plus twenty gay or gay-friendly restaurants, many retail stores, gay-owned accommodations, a couple of saunas and more, the local gay map would rival that of a major city. The main street is known as “Sin Street” and leads from the beach into the centre of town. The Parrots Bar has two patios—one on each side of this street—and every day starting around 4PM it’s the place to sit with a cocktail and people watch.
Although seafood is extremely popular and local Catalan cuisine can be found in every restaurant, there is a complete selection of international menus to satisfy every diner’s tastes. Many places are located on the boulevard beside the ocean with relaxing views of the boardwalk and Mediterranean Sea.
There is a very large gay beach centrally located which is always busy and at the height of the summer season the locale for making new friends and acquaintances. Although the locals recommend staying out of the sun from 1PM to 4PM, it doesn’t seem to stop the gay tourists.
With a train service from Barcelona that runs every thirty minutes at a cost of less than ten dollars it is easy to spend a day or an extended holiday in this gay seaside paradise. However, it’s important to make your hotel reservations far in advance for a vacation at any time of the year to avoid disappointment.
Enjoy this Spanish gay resort and pack plenty of suntan lotion to look your best in the bars at nighttime.