Buenos Aires has some kick-ass markets, partly because Argentines are a crafty bunch whose artisan wares are second to none, but also because people never throw things out, making it a haven for bagging a sweet haul of vintage goodies. They have everything, from clothes to furniture to ancient relics. Although there are some fantastic indoor, covered markets, the best places to pick up some local bounty are the street markets, or ferias. Here is a rundown of the five best outdoor markets in the city.
Feria de San Telmo
An obvious choice, but no list would be complete without the inclusion of the daddy of Buenos Aires’ street fairs, the weekly San Telmo feria. One of the biggest street markets in South America, the San Telmo fair runs the entire length of Defensa and is one of the main attractions for visitors to the city. Even though it is a great place to pick up some holiday souvenirs – mate gourds, leather belts, Patagonian knives etc. – where the San Telmo fair really shines is in the sale of antiques. Argentines are hoarders and the Defensa feria boasts the best of their booty, without having to trawl through stranger’s attics and basements. Homewares abound in San Telmo – pick up a beautiful glass soda dispenser, a early 20th century telephone, vintage street signs or head inside to the covered market on Defensa and Estados Unidos for mint-condition light fittings and turn your home into a retro paradise.
Sundays from 12 – 6pm
Catedral, Linea D
Feria de Libros, Parque Rivadavia
Bookworms of the world, unite! And get yourselves down to Parque Rivadavia at the weekend, where literary treats galore await you. Recently acknowledged as one of the literary capitals of the world for having the highest number of bookshops per capita, the porteños love of the written word stops here. Not quite in the park itself, collectible runs of newspaper supplements and stacks of magazines from the 50’s onwards line the sidewalk towards the park from Acoyte Subte station, ending in stands and kiosks overflowing with second hand books in a compact section on the edge of Caballito’s urban oasis. Beauty magazines from the 60’s sit alongside 80’s football magazines, and historical events from the reign of the Peron to the Malvinas war are all covered in this melange of cut-price word wonderland. Personally I love to shop for retro magazines to make collages with, but to each their own.
Acoyte, Linea A
Feria de Parque Centenario
Parque Centenario is a super barrio park, and the vibe of the feria held on Saturdays and Sundays reflects this. You won’t find the overpriced mementos that the market in Palermo’s Plaza Serrano has to offer, but rather a well-worn selection of utilitarian goods such as computer cables, underwear and socks and cleaning and hygiene products, all at discounted rate. But what the Parque Centenario feria is really worth visiting for is its selection of second hand clothes. Forget the Feria Americana, Centenario is where it’s at. Embellished blouses from the 70’s can be found amongst stacks of leather and denim jackets and loud 90’s shell-suit tops. Be prepared to search though, because the number of clothing stands is vast and spread out around the periphery of the park. Top tip – the stand run by the transgenders near the Marie Curie Hospital has the best finds, and if you want to strike a bargain, bring some old clothes and trade them for stock the vendors are selling.
Feria de Mataderos
About 45 minutes from the centre of Buenos Aires on the bus is the Feria de Mataderos and where the real Argentina comes alive. Rooted in displaying the best that Argentina has to offer, the Mataderos fair is renowned for its famed gaucho culture. While you wander around and check out the life performances of folklore dances and music and gauchos wowing the crowds with their equestrian skills, enjoy the real star of the feria, the food. Delicious Argentine cuisine is available in abundance. Try some fried empanadas native to Salta, warm your belly with some hearty locro, perfect for winter, and pick up some artisan cheeses and meats to make the perfect picada on your terraza. Check the website for seasonal opening times.
Sundays from 11am onwards
Feria Plaza Francia
Also known as the Recoleta market, the Plaza Francia feria is the discerning shoppers choice for a slightly more upscale market. While most markets will advertise themselves as showcasing the best Argentine handicrafts and artisan good, this one really delivers. Although you will still find hippies selling macrame and hand-painted leather cuttings of Bob Marley’s face, the Recoleta fair does genuinely have some unique, high quality, handmade jewellery, pottery, ceramics and leather goods. Keep an eye out for the great range of sterling silver rings, earrings and necklaces and also the deconstructivist ceramic vases. Conveniently located next to the Recoleta Cultural Centre and the Recoleta Cemetery, a trip to Plaza Francia makes for a great day out.
Weekends, 11am – 8pm
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