Buenos Aires is arguably South America’s most fashionable city. Locals love to shop the day away and many tourists come from abroad every year just to bring home high quality leather products, jewelry, and wine. Whether it’s Palermo for boutiques, San Telmo with its quirky vintage vibe, or Recoleta for upscale shopping, this city has something for every budget and style.
Best for Antiques: San Telmo
You'll find antique stores down most of historic San Telmo’s cobblestone streets, but on weekends there is a bustling market that sets up in the main plaza. The Feria de San Telmo began as a 270-stall, antiques market in 1971 and has morphed into street bazaar that draws over 12,000 people every Sunday from around 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The heart of the fear is centered around Plaza Dorrego, but the unofficial market spreads down Defensa Street and off onto a few side streets. There is often live music and other entertainment, making this the place to spend a leisurely afternoon. If you can only make it to one antique store, head to Gil Antiguedades, an emporium that calls Karl Lagerfeld and Carolina Herrera clients. It’s filled to the brim with quality 17th- and 18th-century gems collected by discerning shop owner María Inés Gil.
Best for Small Boutiques: Palermo
Palermo is one of the capital’s trendiest districts, with boutique shops alongside hip restaurants (most of the vegetarian restaurants in this meat loving city are found here) and nightclubs. It’s one of the city’s top places to see and be seen and more shopkeepers will speak English here than in other parts of the city. The majority of the exclusive fashion boutiques are located in the bohemian Palermo Soho subdivision. The always-fun Las Oriero is owned by Argentine actor and singer Natalia Oreiro, who effortlessly mixes edgy and feminine fashion in her shop. A leopard-print carpet lines the boutique which is filled with everything from crystal-handled evening bags to comfy sweaters to trendy raincoats.
Best for Second Hand Bargains: Parque Centenario
Located in the chill neighborhood of Caballito, the circular-shaped Parque Centenario gets packed on Saturdays and Sundays for its extensive arts, crafts, antiques, and used clothes market. While it mostly is filled with bargain hunting locals, it’s an off-the-beaten track alternative for tourists. There is also a daily used book fair. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in winter and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in summer.
Best Upscale: Recoleta
For decades this region has been home to some of Argentina’s most glamorous names and now countless boutiques filled with the latest collections of European designers adorn this district’s streets. The highest concentration of upscale shops to be found on the prestigious Avenida Alvear (the seven-block street that the jaw-droppingly fabulous Alvear Palace Hotel is on). Recoleta has stunning French-inspired architecture that helped give Buenos Aires its reputation as the Paris of the South.
Best Mall: Galerías Pacífico
Galerías Pacífico is one of Buenos Aires most opulent shopping centers. Even if you don’t feel like shopping for anything in particular it is worth a visit just to see its dome, painted with murals by Argentine artists Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Demetrio Urruchúa, and Juan Carlos Castagnino. At the intersection of the streets of Florida and Córdoba, this building was constructed in 1889 to house Au Bon Marché department store. Instead, it ended up being used as the site of the Museo de Bellas Artes until 1940 before being converted into a shopping center in 1990. It has been declared a national historic monument because of its architectural importance.
There are multiple leather goods stores, plenty of international designers, and a decent food court for fueling up. Personal shoppers can be arranged with pre-booking. All shopped out? Take a break to visit Centro Cultural Borges, a venue in the mall that is a renowned tango school as well as a gallery for art exhibitions and workshops.
Best for Wine: Vinoteca Soil
If you want to take some bottles of Argentine wine home for yourself or for gifts, head straight to Vinoteca Soil. The friendly and very hands-on owners are both highly-regarded sommeliers who have all the education but never make the wine shopping experience pretentious. There isn't a bad, or even mediocre, bottle in the shop, so rest assured that you'll leave with a great bottle or two. They often host tastings or events, but if none are happening when you are in town, you can always arrange a private tasting session.
Best for Perfume: Fueguia 1833
With boutiques in New York, Zurich, Tokyo, Moscow, and Milan, Buenos Aires is the proud home of this original flagship perfume laboratory in Recoleta on Alvear (basically the Fifth Avenue of the city). Crazy-skilled and very poetic perfumer Julian Bedel uses inspiration from the scents of the Argentine countryside and from the works of Jorge Luis Borges. His collections are easily organized into sections of florals, woodsy scents, grasses, musks or citrus, making it less overwhelming to find your favorite scent among the many offered.
Best for Books: El Ateneo
To give you an idea that this is not just any old bookstore, National Geographic named El Ateneo the “World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore” in 2019. On Santa Fe Street, the building was designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol as a theater called Teatro Gran Splendid in 1919. The building features ceiling frescoes painted by the Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi. Over a million people walk through the doors annually to spend a day searching the shelves for new finds or to drink coffee at the cafe (located where the stage used to be) while admiring their surroundings.