San Telmo Market is a local gem for shopping and sightseeing. While this slice of old Buenos Aires life has changed over the years, it's still very dear to San Telmo, the neighborhood where the market is located.
The market's main entrance can be found on Carlos Calvo Street, but you can also enter at Bolívar, Defensa and Estados Unidos Streets.
The exterior of San Telmo Market — Photo courtesy of Public Domain
Known as the Mercado de San Telmo in Spanish, it was built in 1897 with a wrought iron interior by Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo. San Telmo was once a wealthy area, and the market was meant to be a convenient place for residents to do their regular shopping. (Those who have been to Europe will see the market's strong resemblance to European markets built around the same time.)
In 2000, the market was declared a National Historical Monument. Locals in the neighborhood typically do not do their regular shopping there anymore, in most cases preferring the convenience of supermarkets or the lower prices at smaller local fruit and veg shops.
But many of them are still proud of its history and, like visitors from abroad, they make their way there occasionally (particularly when entertaining out-of-town guests) to stroll past the interesting stands, enjoy the ambience and maybe buy an item or two.
Inside San Telmo Market, you can find all kinds of wares, such as food and antiques. You will see numerous stands piled high with colorful fruits and vegetables, with local produce in addition to more exotic offerings like cilantro and mangos, as well as cheese sellers, butchers, fishmongers, spice sellers and others.
There are also many stands selling unique local antiques and used clothing. One neat idea for a souvenir could be a Buenos Aires antique, like a sign, game, magazine, record or glass bottle. But, of course, take a look and see if anything calls to you.
Otherwise, one of the market's most popular features is the trendy Coffee Town in the center of the market, with its variety of coffees. The multilingual staff offer up good international food and drinks at the tiny stand. You can also get coffee to go there.
If you intend to shop at San Telmo Market and not just look around, then make sure to bring some cash, as credit cards will almost certainly not be accepted by stall owners.