San Telmo on a Sunday

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A mime browses the San Telmo art fair on a Sunday.

Known for its bohemian charm, and slightly run down historic appeal, San Telmo is the neighborhood of Arts and Antiques, Tango and timelessness. San Telmo is energy-filled, quaint and funky on any day of the week, but on Sundays it truly comes to life. Centered around the Antiques Fair in Plaza Dorrego, and stretching down the cobblestone Calle Defensa, a Sunday visit to San Telmo is a highlight for visitors to Buenos Aires.

Artisans, musicians, street performers, and elderly antiques vendors come from near and far to share their treasures and their talents with the public. Start at the antiques market, which overflows in the Plaza Dorrego. From jewelry and dresses, to army helmets and tango records, you could spend hours sorting through the plethora of ancient goods. Even if antiques aren’t your thing, exploring the market is like having a key to your grandmother’s attic, or a window into Argentina’s past. If you aren’t satisfied with what is on offer in the Plaza, stroll down Defensa and there are dozens of well-established and stylish Antique stores to cater to your desires.

Calle Defensa, San Telmo’s main drag, becomes a pedestrian peatonal for most of the day on Sunday. You can take a long and mellow stroll down this classic street, and enjoy all that it has to offer in peace. Musicians and artists set up all along the avenue, from full scale Tango orchestras to solitary singers and everything in between. The traditional bevy of street artists are their to entertain, human statues painted in gold, clowns on stilts, and the most entertaining, the man caught in the storm, complete with blowing jacket and inverted umbrella.

The San Telmo art fair on Sunday afternoon.Arts and crafts from local artisans are for sale up and down the strip and are fun to peruse. If you need a mate gourd, new silver earrings, or wooden crayons, then this is the place to be. Dozens of artists set up on Humberto Primo, running west of Plaza Dorrego, selling every manner of Tango art, paintings, pictures, sculptures, etc. And in a warehouse space, off the corner of the plaza, you can find inexpensive and handmade clothes, great for updating your wardrobe with typical Argentine fashions.

If hours of exploring in the sun have peaked your appetite then head off the main drag to one of San Telmo’s modern and tasty restaurants. Origin, on Peru and Humberto Primo, or Territorio, on Bolivar and Estados Unidos, serve up healthy and delicious meals, featuring a menu of the day that will satisfy even the most discerning taste buds. Or try an Argentine Picada, an assortment of meats, cheeses and olives, at one of the outdoor tables along Calle Chile. If you want a sandwich on the go, then grab a choripan at the stall on Carlos Calvo, one block west of Defensa. A true locals scene it can be highly entertaining to sit with the dozen men who seem to spend the better part of everyday here and enjoy your salty snack sitting under the awning.

San Telmo is full of art galleries, bookstores and traditional local cafes. Wander away from the tourists and check out what the rest of the neighborhood has to offer. A good selection of English language books can be found at Walrus Books (on Av. Estados Unidos 617), and local fashions can be found in any number of quirky boutiques. Grab a map of the area and check out some of its sites of interest, like the National Historical Museum, 1600 Defensa, or the baroque Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Belen, 340 Humberto Primo.

Tango in San Telmo - an evening Milonga.

As the day winds to an end the vendors pack up their goods and the street performers remove their make up. But don’t leave just yet. As the plaza clears out, the restaurants set up and tables fill the square. A perfect spot to enjoy an evening aperitif, try Gancia an Argentine favorite, and relax for a few hours in the waning hours of daylight. At night, the plaza hosts an outdoor Milonga, an open tango dance party. Locals come down to enjoy the warm night air and show off their tango skills, and everyone mingles in this friendly community. The open air Milonga in Plaza Dorrego is a great way to enjoy tango and folkloric dances without paying the outrageous fees of an overly theatrical tango show for tourists. Grab a place to sit amongst the locals to admire the flare of Argentine culture and the unique and endearing charm of San Telmo on a Sunday.


[…] The next day, as we wondered the cobblestone streets of the tango district, I saw a tango nightclub that was painted exotic colors and I bought 2 tickets for a show and dinner. This dinner had courses the size of free samples at our hometown grocery. And once the show began, I kept wondering where the rest of the band was. Were they out back smoking? The whole cast included 6 people. About half way through the show, the spotlight turned on us at and the MC began asking us questions in Spanish. I turned red and my wife and I felt very embarrassed as the crowd around us laughed at a joke we did not get. […]

[…] So there I was, on the corner of Salta and Venezuela, in the depths of Monserrat, bordering Congreso and San Telmo, as recommended by a New York salsa dancer friend of a friend visiting Buenos Aires. It was a rainy, windy, sloppy night and I wasn’t sure what was to come. The neighborhood was daunting and the restaurant where the class was being held looked so dark inside the first set of double glass doors that I wondered if anything was going on at all. But I am bold, especially when it comes to finding a new heart’s desire, so I let the wind push me in and there I was. […]

[…] Buenos Aires is a treasure trove of antiques and they are easy to come by in San Telmo with shops lining its main avenues and a Sunday antique fair that draws crowds. Beyond San Telmo, there’s a little known world of collectibles sequestered in warehouses and stored in country stores on route to El Tigre river. There are chandeliers, armoires, and coffee tables from many periods just waiting for the knowledgeable collector to whisk them away. […]

[…] works of art and European craftsmanship at Argentine prices. The Feria de Antiguedades, held Sundays in the plaza, draws the biggest crowds and as it closes up its booths for the day, the mid-day fair is replaced […]

[…] tango you see on the streets in tourist areas like Recoleta, San Telmo, Calle Florida, and La Boca is also stage tango, although the dancers are usually much less […]

[…] original window dressings that help make this historic neighborhood special. The artistic spirit of San Telmo draws tourists and locals alike and it’s the small details that add to afternoon […]

[…] Telmo Antique Fair – On Sundays, San Telmo fills up with tourists and locals and vendors galore. The fair has grown in recent years […]

[…] your last real night out so you decide to go big and stay up in San Telmo for the morning Feria de Antiguedades. Your new friends from Guevara keep you company as your beers become morning coffee in the […]

[…] Visitors can also stop by the Museo Histórico Nacional on Parque Lezama or the San Pedro Telmo, one of the neighborhoods most famous churches. San Telmo is a great place to explore a little of the history of Buenos Aires, and is especially full of life on the weekends, Sunday in particular. […]

[…] are also tango dancers and other street performers. Agrentina’s Travel Guide has a great review of it […]

[…] really cool district we went to is called San Telmo, the most ancient neighbourhood in the city. There is a massive pedestrian only street strictly […]

Pepe on May 11, 09

I am flying in in a few weeks with my wife and our infant child, Paco- who will be sitting on my lap during the plane trip. We can’t wait to buy antiques and tango. and EAT. EAT A LOT

martha malo on May 25, 09

hi…i havent gone never to san telme..but my boyfriend is there..i miss him.
i send me alot of photo from argentina…i guess is very beautiful and exitingº

[…] I love these seltzer water bottles. I don’t know the proper name for them but I think the glass is quite pretty. My antiques-dealer friend Chris tells me that you can’t give them away in America but you could buy all of them that you want on Sundays at the San Telmo Street Market. […]

[…] quite pretty. You’ll find hundreds of seltzer water bottles just like this at the San Telmo Street Market on Sundays. Plus a lot […]

[…] Telmo Antique Fair – On Sundays, San Telmo fills up with tourists and locals and vendors galore. The fair has grown in recent years […]

Essential Travel on July 1, 10

Buenos Aires is truly magical – spent some time there last year and remember a host of lazy afternoons spent at El Federal – a MUST if you’re ever in San Telmo!

[…] to explore a little of the history of Buenos Aires, and is especially full of life on the weekends, Sunday in particular. […]

[…] For more information check out San Telmo on a Sunday. […]

[…] you ever have had the pleasure of visiting one of the Recoleta or San Telmo markets, or the misfortune to find yourself victim to every peddler and his wife on the Florida […]

[…] down to Argentina to visit us in B.A. for a week-ish, and we’ve got a cozy little place in San Telmo lined up for the week I’m there, but who knows the quality of the internet connection, so I […]

[…] an absurd idea, but having found my feet and thrown my anxieties in the bin (they´ll be on sale in San Telmo market next weekend), I can’t help but feel I now belong in this magnificent city. Even when I smugly […]

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