Shopping for souvenirs in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina is a shopper’s paradise – If you know what to look out for and where to find it. This blog gives you the inside scoop on three quintessentially Argentinean gifts. Because nobody wants to be given a knock-off Maradona football shirt or a made-in-China mate gourd…
Wine has been produced in Argentina since the 1500s, but the country has only entered the premium market in the past few decades. Argentina is now the largest exporter of wines in the New World and home to some seriously high-end wines. Most first-time visitors are under the impression that wine is only produced in the regions surrounding Mendoza, but in actual fact there are wine farms as far north as Salta, which is closer to Bolivia than to Mendoza, and as far south as Patagonia. Different regions specialize in different varietals, so look out for:
- Malbec and Chardonnay from Mendoza
- Syrah from San Juan
- Torrontés from La Rioja
- Cabernet Sauvignon and Torrontés from Cafayate
- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Rio Negro
Having said that, Mendoza is still responsible for 60% of the country’s production, and it is an excellent place to taste and buy wines – either at the wineries themselves or at any one of a growing number of boutique wine bars in Mendoza. I lived in Mendoza for two years and I can certainly vouch for it is as a destination.
If you don’t get to Mendoza, or if you want to try wines from other regions, there are a number of wine shops in Buenos Aires. Lo de Joaquin Alberdi and Winery both have excellent selections and will ship your purchases back home if needs be. Or if you’re after something a little more under the radar why not try one of these excellent Buenos Aires wine bars and tasting rooms which all sell by the bottle?
Those scrumptious Argentine steaks you’ve been dreaming of since you were yay high must come from somewhere, and we can gladly report that the poor cows’ hides definitely don’t go to waste. Leather goods are available throughout the country, from high street chain-stores and boutique artisan producers alike.
Whether you’re after a jacket, a pair of boots, a purse, or a wallet, you’ll be able to find a store which specializes in what you’re after. For an overview of the best leather boutiques in Buenos Aires, check out this extremely thorough blog written by someone who knows a lot more about the topic than I do. If you’re after good quality stuff which isn’t at boutique prices, then look no further than Prüne which has outlets throughout the country and is extremely popular among locals.
As well as conventional fashion items, the leather industry in Argentina also produces traditional gaucho sheaths, boots and saddles as well as the best tango shoes in the world…Not surprising, considering the city is the birthplace of tango…
In 1909 Argentina was the eighth richest country in the world, it now lies seventy-third on this list. You need only look at the opulent architecture of buildings such as the Teatro Colón and the Museum of Decorative Arts to see how the mighty have fallen.
While this is an extremely unpleasant statistic for most Argentines, it’s particularly convenient for foreigners on the lookout for antiques. As with everything in Argentina, the heart of the industry is in Buenos Aires and its epicentre is in the neighborhood of San Telmo. There is a plethora of antique shops, each one specialising in something different – cameras, books, chandeliers, sculpture…you name it, there’ll be a shop selling it – and all of them happy to ship your purchases home.
On Sundays San Telmo really comes alive with its antiques market. The market is centred around Plaza Dorrego, and is a very vibrant experience featuring tango on the streets and throngs of tourists and locals. If you’re hunting for bargains and you know what you’re looking for, I’d suggest venturing a bit away from the plaza itself.
Hopefully we’ve persuaded you otherwise, but if you’ve still got your heart set on some football memorabilia can you at least make it official merch? Check out the Boca Juniors Shop – they’ve even got a funky leather range! It’s only available online, but we’re sure your hotel will accept deliveries…
Want to see Argentina for yourself? Check out our Buenos Aires itineraries here…