Each Sunday in Buenos Aires, the San Telmo feria spans a nearly mile-long stretch of Calle Defensa, beginning at the iconic Plaza de Mayo and culminating in an antiques flea market at Plaza Dorrego. Vendors pack the cobbled streets of Defensa and crowds of tourists and Argentines browse through the goods, picking up items here and there as they munch on empanadas and choripan.
I took my second trip to the feria this past weekend and was once again impressed by the range and quality of items for sale. While most items are catered to tourists, the feria offers much more than mass-produced Argentine flags and Che Guevara t-shirts. Many vendors are local artisans selling exquisitely handcrafted goods that make excellent souvenirs or gifts for friends and family.
Popular feria items include leather goods: wallets, purses, and even leather jackets; silver jewelry with rodocrosita, Argentina’s national stone; and mate gourds, bombillas, and accessories. Lots of merchants sell photos of iconic scenes of Buenos Aires: the colorful houses of Caminito in La Boca or tango dancers in San Telmo, and artists sell watercolor and acrylic paintings of Argentina.
If you get hungry while wandering through the feria, food vendors offer a variety of snacks, ranging from parrilla-style cuts of meat to chocolate-covered churros. Men and women stroll through the market with carts of coffee, sold by the cup, and merchants sell orange juice that they squeeze fresh when you order it. Cafés and restaurants also line Defensa, and many have outdoor seating, which provides a great opportunity for people watching.
The feria is easily accessible by bus or subway and is the perfect activity for a Sunday afternoon. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything, the stroll down Defensa is a great opportunity to explore Buenos Aires.