Interested in something unique to do in Buenos Aires? Read on…
“Feria” is the word they use down here to refer to an open air market. Most sell various arts and crafts as well as clothing, food and antiques. There are several of them in varying shapes and sizes all over the city (and country). Some are every day, some are only on certain days of the week. Probably the most common one for tourists to check out is the Feria de San Telmo which is every Sunday and stretches from the center of the San Telmo neighborhood all the way to Plaza de Mayo across streets that are closed weekly for the occasion. It’s usually pretty full of tourists, but we enjoy the San Telmo market… despite being quite crowded, it somehow manages to maintain a laid back vibe; this is much assisted by the fact that the vendors are super chill and I’ve never seen anything even remotely resembling an aggressive sales pitch–on the contrary, they are usually just hanging out and enjoying the day. San Telmo is roughly a 10 minute cab ride away for us, or a 30-45 minute walk. This is obviously far too convenient, so in our continued desire to get off the beaten path and find more stuff to do here in BA, yesterday we decided to go to the exact opposite side of the city of Buenos Aires to check out a different Feria: Feria de Mataderos (Fair warning: I’ve encountered very few Argentine websites that don’t begin with an annoying animated intro that includes music that plays automatically–this site is no exception)
Why we went:
We were looking to do something a bit more adventurous than normal and see a different side of the city (literally), and this delivered. There are several ways that you can get there by bus as detailed on their website, but we decided to splurge and take a cab. The cab took nearly 30 minutes (I told you it was far), but still only cost about ~US$10. It was pretty cool driving through so many different parts of the city that we hadn’t seen before. It definitely changes as you get further out–still quite pretty, but the lower buildings and wider streets give it a more tranquil feel (at least as viewed through a car window, it’s entirely possible that some of these neighborhoods are somewhat unsafe).
Jen had heard at school that Feria de Mataderos was more traditional/authentic, far less touristy and would include lots of gaucho (~cowboy) type stuff, good food and maybe even some live shows.
Did it deliver?
The quick answer is Yes.
There was a main stage area where they did dancing shows and other stuff that seemed exciting which was kind of cool.
And of course lots and lots of booths selling all kinds of stuff
Much of the stuff on sale was similar to the stuff you’d find at other ferias in the city, but this stuff seemed higher quality and more authentic on average (and was cheaper).
It also felt far more neighborhood-ie if that makes any sense. While I’m sure we weren’t the only tourists there, it felt like the majority of the people there were from the neighborhood and turned out every Sunday which gave it a cool vibe.
Also, unlike San Telmo and many of the other ferias in the city, at Feria de Mataderos, there is lots of food!
You’re probably wondering where we found that Choripan…
Aside from lots and lots of meat (the above is only one of the multiple meat venues), there were also several booths with traditional foods from all over the country such as humitas and tamales, locro, empanadas and more.
This being Argentina and all, there were also tons of sweets–lots of fried pastries and some very fat women sitting behind freshly baked cakes that looked quite tasty (we wanted to get a picture of this, but were afraid of the aforementioned very fat women–we figured we could outrun them, but they seemed to have lots of friends). Also, there were some candy type things:
We had also heard that there would be animals. We had heard right.
In addition to our Llama friend, there were lots and lots of miniature ponies.
Aside from the animals wandering around, one of the highlights of this market is said to be the Gaucho shows on horseback. Apparently the Gauchos perform various cowboy skills and other feats of strength/prowess while on horseback. We did see the gauchos and the horses, but I think they must just have been warming up because not much was happening. That said, plenty of people were waiting around expectantly, so I’m sure the shows do happen.
We had a great time and while the Feria de Mataderos is unlikely to rock your world, it is sure to be an enjoyable Sunday afternoon and will allow you to get a much more authentic glimpse into Argentine culture and tradition as well as allowing you to see a different side of the city. A perfect 3-4 hour outing off the beaten path.
Quick tip: Be sure that you have a way to get home arranged before you go–we found it to be quite difficult to flag down a taxi as this is quite far away from the city center and cabs are a bit rare (also, apparently the neighborhood is a bit iffy safety-wise if you stray too far away from the market). Either know the right bus to get you home or bring a phone and call for a cab to pick you up (which we keep hearing we should be doing all the time anyway, but we continue to tempt fate with flagging down cabs on the street).