San Telmo Neighborhood Guide for Your Trip to Buenos Aires

San Telmo neighborhood can be overwhelming to travelers, but this guide has everything you need to plan a fun trip to the area.

Buenos Aires is a top destination in the region because of neighborhoods like this one. It has everything you would want from a neighborhood.

In this guide, I will share a short history of where to stay, what to eat, and what to do.

So, if you’re heading to the Paris of South America, keep reading…

San Telmo History

San Telmo Neighborhood

San Telmo is a historic neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It dates back to the 17th century and is the city’s oldest neighborhood.

“San Telmo was home to the aristocrats,” says Diego, an art historian who lives in the area. “The locals here were affluent landowners and elites, and they enjoyed lavish lifestyles.”

Diego, who proudly tells me he was named after Maradona, says that those aristocrats were showing off their wealth and social status.

Later, things changed, and Sal Telmo became a melting pot. African slaves, European immigrants, and many others frequented here.

“We are all Porteños these days,” says Diego, referencing a Spanish nickname for the locals of Buenos Aires.

Diego says the term is not offensive and simply describes someone from a port city. He also knows notes that even some citizens of Spanish cities are called the same.

Throughout its history, says Diego, San Telmo experienced a paradox of its own. It had periods of super prosperity, decline, and revitalization.

San Telmo Neighborhood

Today, the San Telmo neighborhood is once again booming. Without a doubt, it’s one of the coolest neighborhoods to hang out.

Visiting San Telmo is a way to experience the history and culture of Buenos Aires. Its charming cobblestone streets are lined with colonial architecture, traditional eateries, and a warm, modern vibe.

Hotels like Soho Point, Patios, and Anselmo are more luxurious places that have nice amenities.

“This is a competitive area,” explains Isabela, a local. “Hotel prices, therefore, are higher here than many parts of Buenos Aires,” she adds.

If you want something more in your budget, I would say consider Airbnb. For about half the price of the hotels, you will get a nice apartment stay.

Of course, you should check websites like to compare rates, too.

Where to Eat in San Telmo

Where to Eat in San Telmo

San Telmo neighborhood, and all of Buenos Aires, are full of great places to eat. You will find a ton of traditional, modern, and global spots.

If you visit a traditional restaurant, try staples like empanadas, which are savory pastries filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.

Also, try asado (grilled meats), choripán (sausage sandwich), and milanesa (breaded and fried meat cutlets).

Meanwhile, modern restaurants serve some of these traditional dishes with a twist. Sometimes, though, they serve generic stuff.

Of course, there are a ton of global spots, too. You will find Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, you name it.

The following are more specifics, though.

Start Food Trip at Desnivel

Start Food Trip at Desnivel

If you’re fresh off the boat, so to speak, and you’re hungry like I was, start at Desnivel. This is a modern, clean restaurant.

Personally, I think the unique thing about this place is its creamy chicken dishes. There are so many to try.

For those of you who are super hungry, try the “Pollo Desnivel Deshuesado con Crema de Verdeo, Jamón y Papas Esp.” It has ham, though, just so you know.

This dish is creamy boneless chicken with green onions and Spanish potatoes. Anyway, this will cost you about 10,000 Argenian Pesos.

In early 2024, when I had this, it was about $13.

Desnivel is on Calle Defensa 855.

Eat Stakes at Parrilla La Brigada

Eat Stakes at Parrilla La Brigada

Everywhere in Argentina, you will see the word “parrilla” included in restaurant names. Parrilla is a popular dining style in this country.

Across Argentina, parilla is grilling various meats, such as beef, chorizo, and chicken, over an open flame.

So, the term also describes restaurants specializing in this cuisine. The patrons enjoy grilled meats served with sides like chimichurri sauce and salad.

My favorite in this neighborhood is Parrilla La Brigada. This is as traditional as it gets. What you order depends on your hunger levels.

The tripe (chinchulín) are great for when you aren’t so hungry, as they are lighter. Yet, the famous distinctive texture and flavor of tripe is present.

On the other hand, sirloin stakes (bife de chorizo) are for the hungry. These are some of the juiciest you will ever have.

Plus, this restaurant has a huge selection of wines, although mostly from Mendoza.

You will find Parrilla La Brigada on Calle Estados Unidos 465.

Milk Sweets with Cow Statues

Milk Sweets with Cow Statues

I think you’re starting to see a trend with cows, right? White the cow is not as holy as in India, the Argentine people truly love their moozers.

For a delicious dessert after a steak, try “dulce de leche” sweet. This is a sweet, caramel-like spread or sauce that is popular in Argentina.

Dulce de leche is made by slowly cooking sweetened milk until it thickens and develops a yummy caramel flavor.

As you can imagine, it can be a filling for pastries, spread on toast or crackers, or enjoyed on its own as a dessert.

To have some, head over to one of La Casa del Dulce de Leche. There are two of them on Calle Defensa.

If you’re closer to Independencia, then visit the one on Defensa 733. I warn you, though, there isn’t a dine-in at this one.

And if you’re closer to Avenida San Juan, then visit the one on Defensa 1047.

Chocolate at La Vaca Lechera

Chocolate at La Vaca Lechera

If you are not into dulce de leche, then what about some delicious Argentine chocolate? Yes, Argentina makes chocolates!

Argentina produces chocolate through notable brands like Havanna and Bon o Bon. Chocolate is enjoyed widely as a treat and gift in Argentina.

Anyway, Argentine chocolate is typically creamy and comes in various forms. You will find traditional bars, filled chocolates, and more.

La Vaca Lechera de San Telmo is a great spot to get some. The address is Calle Defensa 861.

Grab a Drink at Bierlife

Grab a Drink at Bierlife

San Telmo neighborhood has demographic percentages that vary throughout the year. However, it has a distinctly eclectic vibe.

For example, it consists of young professionals and artists, expatriates, and tourists on any given day.

As a result, there are several cervecería, which are places to grab a beer during lunch or after work. One of those is Bieflife.

Bierlife has the vibe of the typical neighborhood joint. It is on Calle Humberto Primo 670, up north… towards Constitución.

Shop at Plaza Dorrego

Shop at Plaza Dorrego

Shopping in San Telmo is definitely a unique experience. Visitors have a lot to choose from, including a variety of boutiques.

You will also find a ton of antique shops. Shop for everything from vintage clothing and handmade crafts to traditional Argentine souvenirs.

The neighborhood’s cobblestone streets add to the charm of the shopping experience, too. You will zigzag between kept-up old buildings.

Of course, the best place to shop is Plaza Dorrego. This is at the corner of Defensa and Humberto Primo.

If you can, go there on a Sunday when the artisan market is in full gear.

Talke Selfies with Graffiti

Talke Selfies with Graffiti

Like a lot of historic areas, the Sal Telmo neighborhood is full of graffiti. The affinity for graffiti is attributed to its artistic culture.

San Telmo has long been a hub for creatives, including street artists. Very rarely will you be able to go far without seeing one.

Plus, graffiti adds to its eclectic atmosphere, which attracts tourists. So, the locals welcome it for its reputation.

In my opinion, the best place to grab a selfie with graffiti in San Telmo is on Calle Bolivar. There is a wall between the streets Estados Unidos and Carlos Calvo.

What to Avoid in San Telmo

Although San Telmo is pretty safe because of its central location and foot traffic, you still need to be careful.

First of all, avoid displaying valuables openly at all times. Unfortunately, the big tourism to San Telmo has attracted bad folks, too.

Likewise, avoid wandering into poorly lit or secluded areas at night to minimize the risk of petty crime. The later at night, the more this is the case.

Also, be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas, such as the Feria de San Telmo market. The Porteños are super slick.

Of course, my advice is to stick to well-known bars and avoid excessive drinking to make sure a safe experience.

Final Thoughts

Buenos Aires has a lot of great areas to consider, but the San Telmo neighborhood is probably one of the best.

This historic small area has so much to do and see, and you will enjoy your trip if you’re staying here.

No matter where you are staying, though, you should definitely enjoy San Telmo’s eateries and fun spots and connect with the locals.

Enjoy Buenos Aires!

AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.

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