For many travellers, the epitome of a vacation is hours upon hours soaking up the sun and sights at the beach. Over the past several years, Sitges has secured a spot on the list of many in-the-know LGBT travellers. It’s proximity to Barcelona makes it a great city/beach destination, as the frequent daily train service allows visitors to choose between a resort town and cosmopolitan city.

Sitges PridePeter Scholz/ShutterstockThe resort’s population swells from 30,000 locals to over 250,000 during peak season of May to September, yet Sitges has retained its small town appeal with narrow cobbled streets, beautiful Spanish architecture and unspoiled scenic views. Although these architectural highlights and museums are of significance, most gays and lesbians come to Sitges for beach holidays, with the main boulevard Mont Roig packed with cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops selling local fare and beach gear.

During the 1960s Sitges became a centre for the counterculture in Spain, and by the 1990s it had already gained a reputation of being the gay hotspot it remains today.

The laissez-faire European attitude means that most everything goes, including your clothes if you choose to hit up one of the nudist beaches just off the main drag. The main Gay Beach is La Playa De La Bossa Rodona, directly below the Picnic Restaurant and opposite the Hotel Calipolis. This is the easiest one to reach, right in the centre of town, which means it’s always the busiest as well. It’s advised to get there early in the morning to secure your perfect beach spot.

For the more adventurous, Playa De Las Balmins is a gay friendly clothing optional beach about a 10-minute walk from town The Platja Sant Sebastia and Platja d’Aiguadolc are also nearby and quite popular for those seeking an all-over tan.

SitgesBarracuda Designs/ShutterstockFurther outside of town, Playa del Muerto is another nude beach located near the Terramar Hotel and L’Atlantida disco, about an hour’s walk, 20-minute bike ride, or 10-minute taxi fare.

For those that do make the trek, there’s a beach bar serving a wide range of snacks and drinks. The second beach, Playa Del Muerto, is exclusively gay with a small bar, however there’s not much sand here. If you do end up staying later than expected, L’Atlantida hosts some of the best gay beach parties in the area at their beautiful outdoor nightclub with stunning views of the sea.

When the sun goes down Trailer lights up. This was the first gay disco in Spain, opened 30 years ago, and remains as popular today as it did then, especially with their infamous foam parties. Parrots Pub has also been around about the same length of time and can be a nice stop on your way to or from the beach.

Summer time also means party time. Corpus Christi takes place the first week of June, and is one of the prettiest events to happen here. Intricate templates are drawn on the road and residents gather up Carnation flower petals that are then placed on the patterns on the road, creating a floral mosaic that has to be seen to be believed. Sitges Pride takes place the first week of July with local and international stage acts, DJ’s, pool parties, drag shows, and the famous Decadance Party in the Park. Parc Terramar transforms into a huge dance floor complete with a performance stage and a wraparound bar in the centre all surrounded by trees. Fiesta Mayor happens toward the end of August with colourful floats, live music and spectacular fireworks over the sea, all in celebration of the patron Sant Bartolomeu.

The weather may not be as warm in the off season, but the events are just as hot. Sitges Carnival, in February, is by far the most popular event of the year, attracting around 300,000 revellers to the streets over the week. The Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia is the number one fantasy film festival in the world, happening in October. Thousands of film fans flock here to catch exclusive and world premiere screenings, many of which are attended by Hollywood heavyweights as well.

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SydneyTourism Australia5 More Hot Spots
• Puerto Vallarta: Playa de los Muertos is located near the Blue Chairs gay resort and is most popular with tourists. More recently the green chairs at the nearby Ritmos Beach Café, and the section by Lido Beach Club have gained popularity. As well, the Beach House/El Dorado area tends to be less busy.
• Mykonos: This clothing optional paradise appeals to most everyone. There are three main gay beaches: Elia with nearby Watermania theme park; Paradise with a mixed younger set; and the most popular, Super Paradise, where anything goes.
• Rio de Janeiro: Ipanema is in the southern region of the city adjacent to the Copacabana Beach, and Posto 10 is where the gays tend to congregate. Farme is the most well-known gay beach and Coqueirão is the other gay-friendly mixed hangout near Posto 9.
• Sydney: The Eastern suburbs starting at Bondi Beach and stretching to Cronulla Beach are the most popular, and the Bondi to Bronte stretch along the coastline is also a popular trail. You can leave your swimsuit behind at Birdie Beach and Lady Jane Beach.
• Tel Aviv: With a 20-kilometre stretch of shoreline, Hilton Beach is the unofficial gay beach area, while a bit outside of the city Ga’ash is where those seeking full body tans head. The adjacent promenade is always busy with a slew of drinking, dining and shopping options.