Held on Sundays, the San Telmo feria is the city’s biggest and best outdoor market, drawing a reported 12,000 visitors every week, making it the biggest street market in the country, if not the continent. Running all along one of San Telmo’s main streets, Defensa, the market sells everything from leather goods to antiques, and second hand clothes to artisan wares. Make sure to check out the permanent covered market on Bolivar and Carlos Calvo for some unique local fare that can’t be found anywhere else. If you have space and aren’t worried about weight, bring home a traditional glass sifon, commonly used to served soda water in restaurants.
Parque Centenario is a neighbourhood park that was built for the centenary of Argentina’s revolution in 1910, and is a circular park smack bang in the middle of the city. Its layout lends itself to a market, and at weekends the road around the park is rammed with stalls selling cheap electrical goods, household items, and random treasures unearthed from someone’s basement. There are a number of very good second hand clothes stalls, and at the Diaz Velez entrance you can adopt a pet, as many people bring stray animals to the park to find them a good home. Relax for a while in the park and look at the circus performers practicing on their day off.
This market is a good spot to go to if you want to kill a few birds with one stone, as it is located right beside the famous Recoleta cemetery, the Recoleta Cultural Centre and the Buenos Aires Design centre. This market is the haunt of craftsmen who sell their handmade goods here, and is one of the best for jewellery in the city, as well as ceramics and textiles. Stick around for the quirky performers, and bring some mate to enjoy with friends on the grass overlooking the park below.
On the threshold between San Telmo and La Boca, Parque Lezama is more low key than the San Telmo feria but has its devout followers nonetheless. Smaller and more accessible than its San Telmo neighbour, this market also benefits from a beautiful setting in the charmingly landscaped Parque Lezama, if you can manage to forget about the traffic on the road below. Bring a rug and lie underneath one of the many trees before perusing the stalls at your leisure.
One of the more touristy weekend markets, Plaza Serrano is in the heart of Palermo Soho surrounded by bars and restaurant, meaning it is often pretty full at weekends. The goods on offer are pretty similar to those available in San Telmo, minus the antiques and second-hand goods, but their price tags are significantly higher. Good for souvenirs and browsing, but save yourself for San Telmo if you want to save on pennies too.
Although fairly self-contained at the side of the park itself, the market at Parque Rivadavia in the residential Caballito neighbourhood spills out onto the avenue in front, where sellers tack their magazines, DVDs and books to the railings, or sell knock-off sporting goods and plants on the sidewalk. Anyone who is a fan of bookshop trawling will feel right at home in this market: Argentine’s never throw anything out, so you can find some real gems in here, from 1950s magazines to limited edition books. If you know what you look for, you can find some real prizes here. Be sure to bargain if you plan on buying a few things, as you can get the sellers down considerably.
Parque Rivadavia, Av Rivadavia 4800, C1424CEQ CABA, Argentina, +54 11 6624 7326