5 Favorite Things To Do In San Telmo

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Vivi in VISIT BUENOS AIRES

San Telmo has a special old charm, that for me defines the romantic, alluring spirit of Buenos Aires.  The neo-classical facades of antique buildings are crumbling, only becoming even more magical and beautiful.  The most vividly abstract and surreal graffiti art decorates cement walls like commissioned murals.  It is ugly and beautiful and I love it.  San Telmo is my favorite neighborhood of this city.  Here are a few highlights not to miss.

5. Plaza Dorrego by Day

Plaza Dorrego is a central square in San Telmo.  It is bordered by landmark restaurants on all sides, popular for tourists and locals alike.  During the day the plaza is filled with umbrella covered tables, where you can sit and sip a coffee while watching a live spontaneous tango show.  The place is full of fearless pigeons and tourists, live music and muy buena onda.

Plaza Dorrego is located on the corner of Defensa and Humberto Primo.

4. Plaza Dorrego by Night

Plaza Dorrego is great during the day and even better at night.  Impromptu tango shows continue, and hippy artisans sell their handcrafted jewelry and paraphernalia on blankets spread across the ground.  Each restaurant hosts a live band playing jazz, or even Beatles covers, where you can listen while enjoying some dinner or a Quilmes chopp.   When the weather is nice, arrive a little earlier so you’ll be lucky enough to get a seat outside in the plaza.  The service is slow and the people watching is phenomenal.  Usually there is some sort of band performing for donations.

Plaza Dorrego is located on the corner of Defensa and Humberto Primo.

3. Bar Gibraltar

I can sometimes be found spending my Saturday evenings with friends and boyfriend at British Pub and Expat Hotspot – Gibraltar.  This bar is straight out of old time England, with its mahogany finishing, draft beers and full English breakfast offered until 5pm.  The bar is big, with seating in the front, standing room by the bar, smoking section and pool room and an outdoor patio.  This is a great place to have a 15 peso beer and chat with plenty of English speaking expats.

Gibraltar  – Perú 895

2. Amazing Antique Shops

While I have yet to visit an art museum in Argentina, (so much for that Art History degree) I get my fix by visiting San Telmo’s gorgeous antique stores.  These boutique shops are filled with sparkling antiquities that could outshine the queen’s jewels.  And what’s better?  Everything is for sale!  Some shops specialize in marble statues, other in gorgeous antique furniture – serious museum-quality goods leftover from another time.  Your imagination will run wild in the sites of such splendor.  I’m always amazed by the art deco crystal chandeliers that seem to be running in unending supply.  Walk down Defensa street and enter into to this amazing gallery stores of treasures from another age.  This is where you can really see the glory of Argentina’s prosperous past.

1. Defensa Street Fair

Sundays are dead in Buenos Aires, with the exception of the always busy San Telmo Street Fair.  This is the king of all street fairs, it is really an unbelievable site.  Wonderful artisans, artists and antique dealers line both sides of the road with booths showing their lovely handcrafts.  Treasure hunters will rejoice in the truly unique loot to be found.  The fair starts early in the morning and runs until dark.  You’re even likely to see a Brazilian drum troupe marching down the street.  Plaza Dorrego is the very heart of the fair, and the whole square is filled with booths with lovely antique treasures.

And if you’re hungry after a long day in San Telmo, check out these restaurant recommendations.

Photo Credit – Clare McInerney


  1. I’ve been to BsAs and only once was I in ST and for dinner. I MUST spend the day there on my next trip. 🙂

  2. Have been in San Telmo for two weeks now and can concur. Will be scouring your site to see what to do for the next 5 weeks!


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