When Buenos Aires shakes off its winter coat, there's no time like the present to explore the neighborhood of San Telmo's lively outdoor fair. Officially, the Feria de San Pedro Telmo centers on the Plaza Dorrego as an antiques fair. On Sundays, in the square and its surrounding side streets, you will see lots of stalls full of antique wares, including colorful siphon bottles, mate sets, books and magazines, perfume bottles, jewelry, coins, dolls, fans, music boxes, china, paintings and hats.
Feria de San Pedro Telmo got its start in 1970. The fair has since expanded in space and scope to include many blocks down Defensa St. and other types of vendors, as well. (During the fair, Defensa St. is reserved for pedestrians only, though cars can still cross Independencia.) From these stalls you will see vendors selling any number of things like jewelry, clothing, shoes, posters, home decor and food.
Colorful siphon bottles for sale at the San Telmo's Sunday Fair Offers Unique Crafts, Antiques — Photo courtesy of Joao Vicente
In addition to the more official vendors, you’ll see some unofficial ones, as well, such as the empanada seller trying to make some extra pesos by arriving with a simple basket full of homemade meat turnovers and quietly offering them for sale to the crowds.
In addition to whatever catches your fancy, consider looking for items that evoke Buenos Aires, such as a mate set, tango poster, leather clothing or signs with traditional lettering styles.
After checking out the nearby Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada, you might want to start your exploration of the fair at the corner of Hipolito Yrigoyen and Defensa. Walk down Defensa, including a stop at Plaza Dorrego, until you hit Avenida San Juan. Probably nothing will happen, but just as a precaution where large crowds are concerned, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your wallet.
The fair runs on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can’t make it there on a Sunday for the fair, Defensa is still a fascinating street at any time. If you look up, you’ll see some pretty 19th- and 20th-century buildings, and if you look back down again, there are lots of interesting shops and antiques dealers.
You can also explore Plaza Dorrego better; stop and relax over lunch or maybe an afternoon cup of coffee. You’ll likely see a tango dancer or two perform, too.