You’ve arrived in Buenos Aires! You’ve checked the Obelisco and Evita’s tomb off your list of sights to see. You’ve seen your fill of plazas, San Martin, Italia, de Mayo, and the list goes on. Maybe you’ve started craving something a little more like home, perhaps a cross-cultural activity experienced from the Argentine perspective? Well, if you’ve had enough sightseeing and museum visiting, have no fear, Buenos Aires has another “cultural” activity that will undoubtedly suit all tastes and budgets—shopping.
That’s right, Buenos Aires hasn’t just been compared to Paris because of its impressive architecture, tree-lined boulevards and charming cafes—the city of porteños also has a shopping scene that rivals that of any large metropolis worldwide.
Whether you’re simply looking for a break from sightseeing or trolling for a unique memento for family and friends back home, experienced and novice shoppers alike can find their heart’s desire in the plethora of stores lining the streets of the capital city.
While Argentina is known globally for its high quality wine and leather products, one must give its unique fashion boutiques, weekend markets and antique shops their due. For the most part, visitors will find prices to be lower than at home. Don’t be fooled, however, the better quality and more unique an item is, the higher the number on the attached price tag.
If you’re serious about really putting in some bargain shopping time, Buenos Aires will not leave you in want. Head over to Florida and Lavalle Street downtown for packed pedestrian streets filled with clothing, sports and department stores. One could spend an entire day walking up and down Callao, Santa Fe and Cordoba streets; large sidewalks allow you to maneuver easily between the clothing stores and other varied shopping havens for the weary sightseer.
Avenida de Corrientes is famous for its bookstores (see our free Buenos Aires bookstore guide for more on this). For pricier leather, wine and designer stores take a leisurely stroll through the more exclusive Recoleta neighborhood. San Telmo, in addition to being the home of the most well known Sunday market, is the place for antique shops and funky fashion boutiques. Palermo is also rich in fashionable boutiques catering to the crowd willing to dish out a few more pesos for upscale designs in everything from sofas to high heels.
Looking more for your typical souvenir shops? Most newspaper stands in the center of the city sell postcards. Also, head over to La Boca neighborhood during the day, Valle Iberlucea and its offshoots won’t disappoint in their availability of touristy trinkets.
Most stores are open from 10am to 10pm, although some of the stores in the bustling neighborhoods of Palermo, Barrio Norte and San Telmo (especially on market Sundays) stay open later. Be aware that some smaller stores in less trafficked areas may close for a siesta mid-afternoon, but don’t worry, most reopen by at least 4pm. A break mid-day will give you a chance to rest your feet and sample the local fare at the ubiquitous cafes interspersed throughout the shopping areas.
Word to the wise while shopping and eating along the way: keep a close watch on your purses, wallets and bags since, like in any big city, pick pocketing is not uncommon.
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