A guide to shopping in Argentina
Argentina is a shopper’s paradise – if you know where to go. Here we look at three products the country is really famous for, and where to get them.
The ubiquitous beef must come from somewhere, and the hides from all those cows definitely don’t go to waste. Leather goods are available throughout the country, from high street chain stores and boutique artisanal 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. 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 a lot of traditional gaucho sheaths, boots and saddles; as well as the best tango shoes in the world.
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.
This is an extremely unpleasant statistic for most Argentines (although exporters aren’t complaining) but it is a convenient state of affairs for those 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.
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.
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.