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The coastal town of Sitges, Spain, is one of the top getaways from Barcelona. While Barcelona has Barcelonetta — the main beach — the area is always incredibly busy and was also purpose-built for the 1992 Olympics, meaning it’s not a natural beach. If you want to truly unwind and relax on soft, golden sands, head to Sitges. Just a 45-minute train ride south of Barcelona, it’s possible to go for just a day trip, or is a great place to stay for a few nights. The town is also one of the top LGBT travel destinations in Europe and home to international film festivals, wild parties, cool galleries, and delicious tapas. Here are the top things to do in Sitges:

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1. Hit the Beach

There are 17 beaches in Sitges, all of which are wonderful. Think golden sand, palm trees and not too many people, and you’ve got your perfect Spanish beach experience. You could easily spend several days relaxing here and eating at some of the many beach-side seafood restaurants. If you’re keen to explore more of the beaches in the Barcelona area, check out the Best Beaches in Barcelona.

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2. Eat Tapas

No trip to Spain is complete without eating the country’s most famous culinary offering, tapas, or the Catalonian version, which is called pintxos. Catalonian pintxos are essentially the same as normal tapas dishes, but the tapas is placed on a piece of bread and held together with a pick-stick. Order several from the menu and be sure to ask for a side of patatas bravas, a plate of pimentos padron, or a traditional Spanish tortilla. The best places in town to eat tapas are El Cable and Nem.

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3. Party at Carnaval

Carnaval is a raucous, booze-fueled event that takes place usually in February or March (the dates change yearly). You’ll see attendees wearing everything from sparkles through to masquerades and bright colors, and there are several gay parades and fun events spread throughout the week-long party. Carnaval is an incredibly fun experience and one of the best things to do in Sitges, Spain. Find out more about some of the best events at Carnaval and whet your appetite. If you’re looking for more LBGT-friendly ideas, check out How to Have the Best Gaycation in Barcelona.

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4. Get Your Film Fix

Sitges is home to a world-famous International Film Festival that runs annually in October. You’ll see some of the best upcoming films on display, from horror films through to art films and documentaries. Screenings sell out in advance, so it’s better to book ahead of time, although you can sometimes strike lucky and get tickets on the door.

5. Explore the Museu del Cau Ferrat

Explore the stunning seaside mansion that’s home to the Museu del Cau Ferrat. The house, which was built in 1890 by Catalan artist Santiago Rusiñol, showcases art from the Modernisme movement, for which Rusiñol was part of, alongside works by Picasso and several other Spanish and Catalan artists. It’s also home to ancient and modern antiques, and you could easily spend a day soaking it all in. The museum is a great place to go if you’re looking to escape the fierce afternoon sun.

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6. Explore the Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla

The Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla is a picturesque, traditional church with a beautiful sea view. You can explore the church, or sit outside it and soak up the scenery.

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7. Walk Off Lunch on the Passeig Maritim

The Passeig Maritim is a wide, pedestrianized boulevard running along the sea. The area is a great place to take a slow walk after lunch, and you can stop at one of the many cafes along the way for a post-lunch coffee, an ice-cold beer or an ice cream. The trees here provide much-needed shade, so are perfect to hide from the afternoon sun.

8. Hit the Town

Sitges is known for its wild nightlife, and whether you visit one of its many LGBT-friendly bars, swanky cocktail joints or nightclubs playing top hits, you’re guaranteed to have a good time! Some of our top picks include El Piano, which has fun cabaret nights, El Gin Tub, which is an underground cocktail bar serving incredible drinks and house-infused gins, and Beso Bar, or ‘kiss bar’ in English, where a lot of kissing goes down on the dance floor…

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