Weekdays, San Telmo is a quiet barrio of deserted cobblestone streets that grace the edges of the city´s oldest buildings. But on Sundays, almost every tourist in town descends onto San Telmo for its famed antique fair. In its 35th year (founded in 1970 by Jose Maria Pena, director of the Museo de la Ciudad) the fair consists of hundreds of stalls setup around the Plaza Dorrego. Unlike the cross-town crafts fair taking place every weekend in Recoleta, La Feria de la Plaza Dorrego is as if the Antique Roadshow had made a stop every Sunday in Argentina. Of course, as with any such endeavor, there´s a large amount of dusty rubbage displayed for sale alongside often high quality finds. For those who like to explore flea markets and antique stores then there can be nothing better than Sundays in San Telmo.

Among the offerings are old walking sticks, gaucho knives, stylishly old telephones, record players, old tango records, assorted bottles of varying colors and shapes, silverware, dishes, and jewelry. Seemingly no jewelry in South America is less than 18k gold. And platinum is quite common and silver is just dirt cheap.

If the make-shift booths don´t fill your need for antiques and you still have money (or a lot of it), then San Telmo also has the best antique stores on the continent. You can imagine that so many of so many of these antiques came from the homes of formerly wealthy families, the porteño elite who, for one reason or another, had to sell off their family heirlooms.

The popularity of the fair has made San Telmo not just a source of antiques. Lining the side streets off the Plaza are artisan booths. Also, further down the street, in Parque Lezama are even more artisan displays.

Since San telmo on Sundays is practically the only area of Buenos Aires where you are as likely to hear English as much as Spanish, the touts are out in full force, practicing their own halting English to lure travelers into a restaurant or, worse yet, an over-baked tango show that will relieve you of the money in your wallet faster than any pickpocket. But there´s tango for free on the street. Better yet, you´ll probably come across a few young, professional musicians skillfully performing tango music on the streets.


While these Sundays in San Telmo have a rather carnival feel, rather like parts of the French Quarter in New Orleans, it´s still a pleasant area to stroll around. After you tire of the antiques, walk past the mostly bad mime performers (including an older woman in a tango outfit who seems more mentally ill than artistically inclined) and find the uncrowded streets of San Telmo.

A good place to stop for a meal, not far from Plaza Dorrego, is Ni tan Santo, ni tan Telmo. As its name implies, this little place at Bolivar 1112 is not so San Telmo” and occupies a nicely renovated casa. It lacks the tacky tourist trappings of several other establishments and the prices are as reasonable as any restaurant favored by the locals. It´s going on our list as a great spot to stop by for a drink, have a bite to eat, and listen to live music whenever we´re in San Telmo.