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 Best things to do in San Telmo Buenos Aires

If you are visiting Buenos Aires, the San Telmo neighborhood is likely already on your list. With its antique fairs and local food, this old corner of the city is a must-see. But with so much to do, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. So we take to the streets to show you the best things to do in San Telmo, Buenos Aires (with insider tips!).

San Telmo Market

San Telmo’s indoor market first opened in 1897, and being one of the last antique markets in the city, is well-known among vintage lovers. You can find jewelry worn by the porteña aristocracy, tableware that belonged to someone’s Italian immigrant grandmother, unique prints and magazines, 60’s clothing, tango vinyls and, of course, food.   

Located in Defensa 963, it’s open Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm. To fully experience the vibrant movement of the corridors, we recommend visiting on the weekend. But if you prefer to take your time and avoid crowds, the best time to go is during the week around midday. Holiday season visitors, beware: the Market is closed only on Christmas and New Year’s Day, so be sure to avoid scheduling your visit on those days. 

To really immerse yourself in the uniqueness of San Telmo’s market, we recommend our San Telmo Food Tour, which includes four different food stands and restaurants that offer some of the best local bites in the neighborhood, complete with the local guide’s stories and history. You’ll also have the chance to choose your favorite stalls inside, but here are some of our top picks:

  • Papelera contemporánea. Entering through Defensa Street, this shop is dedicated to immortalizing Argentine landmarks and traditions in the form of adorable notebooks, stickers, postcards and posters. If you want to take home a unique souvenir to remember your trip that is also aesthetically pleasing, this is the place to go. It’s motto? “Made in Argentina”. 
  • Mundo Beat. Vintage fans will find their perfect match at Mundo Beat. In the depths of San Telmo’s Market corridors, the store 142 offers original gems from the ’60s and ’70s. Coffee and tea sets, tableware, vinyls, and the trademark Argentinian cookie boxes are just some of the items on offer. And take a few minutes to chat with Beto, the owner, a true authority on collectibles! 
  • Filomena. One of the first things you’ll notice about Filomena is its storefront full of old cameras. But you can also find a very well-stocked selection of vintage tin signs, such as posters for Fernet Branca, the iconic Argentine alcoholic beverage, not for the faint of heart, or Diego Maradona pennants to take home. 
  • Beba Cocina. Last but not least, finish your tour by enjoying lovely wines and creative small plates like fried buñuelos of chard or spinach at Beba Cocina, at Carlos Calvo 455. And, of course, try the empanadas, recognized as one of the five best in the country. You won’t regret it!  

Defensa Street Fair

So you are out of the market now, but you are not done flea shopping! Then head to Defensa Street to enjoy one of the most famous fairs in Buenos Aires. It opens every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. You’ll find vendor-made necklaces, lucky charms, leather goods, and handcrafted decorations, all while enjoying local street music.

Keep in mind that the earlier you go, the better, and that most booths only take cash or wire transfers, but only from Argentinian accounts, so don’t rely on your international credit card. We also recommend wearing comfortable shoes and, if you are visiting during the summer, a hat and sunglasses. 

Defensa Street is included in the Furia Sightseeing Tour, which also covers the iconic Recoleta cemetery, chic Puerto Madero, and the colorful La Boca neighborhood. Enjoy a bit of San Telmo’s street food and finish your tour of Buenos Aires essentials at El Obelisco.

Plaza Dorrego Flea Market

If you continue along Defensa Street, you’ll end up in Plaza Dorrego, where the artisan fair turns into an antique fair. The afternoon sun shines on the glassware, antique mirrors and pottery of the stalls. There are also old radios, second-hand clothes and unique art. All vendors are very friendly and will help you with any questions you may have about what is the best gift to take home.

As you look around, you’ll also notice older mansions and architecture, such as the historic Casa Ezeiza or the Galleria Solar de French, known for its decorative ceiling umbrellas. And when you are done shopping, you can relax in one of the many cafes while enjoying a traditional cortado and watching the tango dancers. If their performance left you wanting more and you are looking for more places to see some tango, we recommend this tango exploration tour in San Telmo for the full experience.   

Caseros Boulevard

This gastronomic hotspot in Caseros 400 was once the aristocratic residence of English railroad managers. Now the whole block is alive with chic cafes, restaurants from vegan to Mediterranean to homemade options, and trendy bars. 

You will have your pick of places to eat from once you are there (we guarantee they are all great!), but no matter your choice, we strongly recommend finishing up with a drink at Bar Napoles, located in Av. Caseros 449. Open Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 12 am, or 1 am on weekends, this restaurant combines the best of Italian immigrant cuisine with local culture, and their vermouth with sparkling water is a must. It used to be the private place of an antique collector, so everything is filled with treasures from the past! 

Parque Lezama and National History Museum

Just across Caseros Boulevard is Parque Lezama, a testimony to the history of Buenos Aires – some historians believe that the first foundation of the city was laid here! Relax under the trees and admire the sculptures, old cannons and fountains of this park frozen in time.

And while you are there, enjoy a visit to the National History Museum, located in Defensa 1600. It’s open from 11 am to 7 pm from Wednesday to Sunday and it’s free to enter. We encourage you to go and learn more about Argentinian identity, our indigenous tribes, the Revolución de Mayo and our national heroes. Its colonial mansion setting will make you feel like you are part of history, while two grenadier guards keep watch over the blades of one of our founding fathers, José de San Martín. 

Frequently Asked Questions about San Telmo

You have your visit to San Telmo planned, but you probably still have some questions. So here are some of the most frequently asked questions people have for us, and our honest take on each. 

Is San Telmo safe for tourists? 

If you visit during the day, you only have to watch out for overpriced or fake products or services that some vendor might try to sell you. Try to do what the locals do, avoid suspiciously cheap deals, follow our recommended tours and shops, and you’ll be safe. You also have to be on the lookout for the occasional pickpocket, so try not to carry your phone, camera and money in your hand, and choose a pair of pants or jacket with zippered pockets instead.  

If you go at night, though, while there’s a fair amount of entertainment and life, the most residential and empty streets can be rougher than during the day, especially on the way to Avenida Paseo Colón. Stay on the most touristy streets, move in large groups, and make sure you know where you are going to avoid wandering. 

What are the best places to eat in San Telmo?

San Telmo offers a wide variety of restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy. Argentinian cuisine is part of our history and San Telmo is the ideal place to get to know the roots of our past. From street food to more sophisticated options, there’s something for everyone. To really experience the true colors of our food, book our tour to enjoy delicious wine, dishes and company! 

Are there any nightclubs in San Telmo?

If you want to immerse yourself in the nightlife of the neighborhood (following our safety recommendations!) there are many places you can visit, from nightclubs to bars.

  1. Club 947. Located at Chacabuco 947. Lively atmosphere, good music and a variety of drinks. You can make a reservation and pay in advance, which is usually the best choice, or buy your tickets at the door for a higher price.   
  2. La Warhol. This LGBTQ+ friendly party is the perfect place to meet new people, dress up and listen to everything from the latest hits to 80’s disco music. This party takes place every Friday and is also located at Chacabuco 947, so be sure to check the date to know which party you are attending. 
  3. Persiana Club Cultural. Stand-up comedy, live music, poetry readings and amateur theater are some of the activities you can find at the Persiana Club, in Chacabuco 667. Depending on the activity, you may need to buy a ticket, which you can do at the door. Enjoy the underground culture of San Telmo with a drink in your hand and surrounded by bohemians!
  4. La Poesía. Buenos Aires has its fair share of bares notables, or historic cafes. One of them is La Poesía, in Chile 502. It’s usually open from 8 am to 2 am, but it’s better enjoyed at night, when you can share a Spanish omelet and a glass of wine or their signature vermouth under the dim lights. Fun fact: this used to be the go-to bar of some very famous Argentinian writers like Juan Gelman, Francisco Paco Urondo, Olga Orozco and Alejandra Pizarnik.