Buenos Aires Travel Planet

Buenos Aires visitor’s guide

Walking tour - San Telmo

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Walking tour - San Telmo / La Boca, Buenos Aires

San Telmo is considered the Historic Quarter of Buenos Aires, with narrow cobblestone, and decades-old buildings. An indoor market has been open here everyday since the late 1800s, where you can sift through piles of antiques and old collectables, buy fresh fruit and veggies, or even visit the butcher. Tango is everywhere here, as are old cafes and restaurants, each holding a piece of this barrio’s history within its four walls. While the entire neighborhood is worth simply wandering around, this tour will take you by the most important sights.

Start: Pasaje San Lorenzo

End: Parque Lezama

Time: 2 hours (more if here on a Sunday)

Tip: Come on a Sunday for the crafts fair along Defensa and an antique market in Plaza Dorrego.

Start at Pasaje San Lorenzo, a street just off of Defensa, just north of Avenida Defensa. Here, you will see the narrowest home for miles around, measuring just 2 meters wide, called Casa Mínima. It was allegedly a liberation gift to a former slave from his former owners.

From there, head down Defensa, the main artery of San Telmo. If you are here on a Sunday, this entire street will be flooded with people and vendors, selling everything from jewelry to art to food. On your right, you will pass by Desnivel, arguably one of the best steak joints in the city. Sit down for lunch before you truly begin your tour, or get one of their amazing sandwiches to go.

Strolling further down Defensa, turn right on Carlos Calvo to reach the covered Mercado San Telmo, which is filled with antique and food booths. If you are there on the weekend, be sure to find the stall with apple cake, right next to the produce section. At just AR$3 per slice, it’s the perfect snack on the go. For more information about the mercado San Telmo and Buenos Aires, see this Buenos Aires travel Guide.

Head back to Defensa, and continue down the street. Just a block away, you will come upon Plaza Dorrego, the barrio’s main square. On Sundays, this plaza is filled with antique booths, selling pieces of Buenos Aires’ past. Even if you’re not looking to buy, just browsing through the old memorabilia is fun, and the vendors have a lot to tell about their wares. If you are there during the week, there are sure to be tango dancers giving live performances, and you can sit in the plaza, sip on some clericó, and enjoy the show.

Continuing down Defensa, just past the plaza, you can turn left onto Humberto Primo, where you will find the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Belén, a beautiful church, sitting right next to the Museo Penitenciario. When you’re done visiting these two sights, head back to Defensa and continue down the road.

Just before you cross Avenida San Juan, one of the larger streets in San Telmo, you will find the Pasaje de la Defensa on your right. This old mansion is a look into the past life of the neighborhood, which once was home to some very wealthy porteños.

Crossing Av. San Juan, you can stop into two museums that are perfect for modern art and cinema buffs - the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducros Hicken.

Back on Defensa, continue south to Avenida Brasil, then turn right to go see the majestic Russian Orthodox church, or Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa. The church sits alongside Parque Lezama, a huge green park, where locals come to relax. Cut across the park or go back and head farther down Defensa to reach the Museo Histórico Nacional, a large museum recounting the history of Argentina. Spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine in the park, just as the locals do.

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