San Telmo might not be off the beaten track, but it deserves to be here all the same. On Sundays it is very popular to wander through the streets passing the stalls full of antiques, jewellery, trinkets and souvenirs, ending into the square for the free Tango shows. Vendors come from all over the city to sell their assortment of antiques and it really is a must do when you’re in BA, despite the crowds. I fell in love this part of the city, as one of the oldest barrios in the city there is so much culture and history with churches and museums; beautiful graffiti on street walls and well just shed loads of character wherever you look. Every place has a story.
There is always a lot to see and do in ‘The Republic of San Telmo,’ but the colorful Sunday street fair is the bohemian neighborhood’s biggest attraction. The Feria de San Telmo began as a 270-stall antiques market in 1971, and has grown into a huge come-as-you-are street bazaar that draws over 12,000 people every week. We came again during the week and the streets still had their charm and is was glorious to wander around the cobbles in peace and quiet, but the Sunday’s are really where it’s at. The entire outdoor market stretches down 13 blocks of the cobblestone Defensa Street and off onto a few side lanes. From 9 a.m. until 6 p.m, Defensa Street is completely pedestrian and packed with entertainers jockeying for attention and an international array of street vendors who display their goods on the pavement. The offerings include antiquities from Argentina’s glory days, original art, funky clothing, homemade snacks, and pretty much whatever else someone can think to slap with a price tag.
Scanning the antiques in Plaza Dorrego can give you a glimpse into Argentina’s heady past, although long gone are the days where one can find bargained-priced historic treasures. As the sellers start to pack away in the late afternoon, be sure to grab yourself a seat and enjoy the well deserved drink and bite to eat after all that forensic foraging, and while away a few hours until the brilliant open air tango shows. Performed right in the heart of the square in the midst of the cafes and restaurants, and free for all. The intensity of the performance was magnetic, as passing children and families stop to take it in as they wander by.
A charming wander through the neighbourhood browsing the treasures of times gone passed is a must for any visitor, and well worth the crowds on Sundays.
Tips and tricks
Arrive just after lunch to start your wandering, which will mean you can have some hours of browsing before hanging around for the tango show.
Katy Hulands is a travel and lifestyle blogger and social media consultant for the hospitality sector. She started the Unwrapped Series to uncover those special places (and things) that deserve the spotlight.