A small seaside town in the outskirts of Barcelona, Sitges is not the most obvious contender for an international gay mecca. It can come as a surprise then that it is one of the most popular gay destinations in Spain, a country that also boasts great LGBT culture in places like Madrid, Gran Canaria, and Barcelona itself.
Gay Sitges emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the city began to attract an artistic and intellectual crowd. Spain’s first gay disco opened here in the 20’s, and Sitges later became a progressive and liberal enclave within a country under fascist rule. Since then, it has maintained its reputation as a gay-friendly town, with hordes of gay guys descending onto its beaches every summer as well as during the Carnival festivities in late February/early March.
Of course, Sitges is not exclusively gay, and not exclusively a party town. It is popular with the usual crowd of European tourists looking for sun on Spain’s coastlines, including many families. It is also a cultural and artistic center in its own right with galleries, museums, beautiful modernist architecture, and a popular film festival.
However, there are few places on earth – let alone in Europe – where you are likely to see such huge crowds of gay guys enjoying sea, sunshine, and non-stop parties together. This blend, combined with the convenience of one of the coolest cities in the world just next door, is what makes gay Sitges unique – and a must-see destination for any self-respecting gay traveler.
Sitges is arguably one of the most gay-friendly places in the world. Every hotel in the city caters to gay visitors, particularly the ones in and around the gayborhood. Popular options include Parrot Hotel, which is attached to a busy gay bar and one of the two gay saunas in the city, and Hotel Calipolis and Hotel Melia for beachfront views. Of course, if you want to actually get some sleep at night, you may want to look for something a bit further away from the nightlife.
As a whole, Spain is a very tolerant country of homosexuality. In fact, a 2013 study found it to have the highest rate of homosexual acceptance (88%) of all countries polled. Despite having only recently emerged from a troubled history of fascism, the country developed progressive gender and sexuality laws very quickly, and is now amongst the best in the world for LGBT rights.
As well as being situated in liberal Catalonia, Sitges is a longstanding hub of gay culture. Gay visitors are openly welcomed here, and make up a significant part of the regular tourist trade.
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