Buenos Aires

Whether you're looking for a unique handicraft, the latest boutique-vineyard malbec, a one-off pair of rhodochrosite earrings, or jeans no one's got back home, you're bound to leave Buenos Aires with your suitcases full. Argentina’s designers inject their wares with creativity, and innovative items can be found everywhere from elite boutiques to neighborhood street fairs.

If you love the hustle and bustle, elbow your way through the city's outdoor ferias. The array of open-air markets testifies to the fact that locals enjoy stall-trawling as much as visitors do. Crafts—whether traditional or contemporary—often take center stage, with artisans proudly selling their own creations; however, the selection can also include art, antiques, curios, clothing, jewelry, and assorted household goods.

At the other end of the spectrum, this city certainly isn’t lacking in high-end couture. During Fashion Weeks (www.bafweek.com.ar) in February and August, Buenos Aires turns the spotlight on both its world-class designers and its talented up-and-comers. But at any time of year you can swank it up at Patio Bullrich or at posh Recoleta boutiques where the security is as tight as an airport.

Clothing bargains are harder to find than they once were, but that doesn’t mean visitors should pay through the nose. Although haggling isn’t commonplace, do ask for a discount if paying in cash, especially if you decide to snap up leather wrist cuffs for all your cousins at a sidewalk stall. Also look out for the tax refund sticker in many shop windows.

Argentina is cow central, and leather goods—from boots to jackets to polo saddles—are an excellent value. Buenos Aires' well-established antiques trade is also thriving, but modern houseware shops are putting up some fierce competition. On the wine front, many local vintages still aren't exported, so this may be your only chance to try wines from regions other than Mendoza.

It’s not just about retail therapy, either. Part of the Buenos Aires experience can be wandering around and stepping, unexpectedly, into a restored mansion selling silk frocks and vertigo-inducing heels, then taking a break at a bistro or juice bar. People-watching is the name of the game. Known for their good looks, Argentineans like to watch and be watched from the café sidelines.

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  • 1. Abasto Shopping

    Almagro | Shopping Centers/Malls

    The soaring art deco architecture of what was once the city's central market is as much a reason to come here as the 250 shops spread over its...Read More

  • 2. Alto Palermo

    Palermo | Shopping Centers/Malls

    A prime location, choice shops, and an aggressive marketing campaign have turned Alto Palermo into a popular destination. Giggly teenage hordes...Read More

  • 3. Falabella

    Microcentro | Department Store

    There's no love lost between Argentina and its neighbors, but when this Chilean department store opened, the affordable prices soon had locals...Read More

  • 4. Galería Bond Street

    Barrio Norte | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This is a preferred address for skaters, clubbers, and alternative-minded teens. The stores downstairs sell club wear, punky T-shirts, and band...Read More

  • 5. Galería Quinta Avenida

    Recoleta | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Vintage vultures should swing by Galería Quinta Avenida, which has a host of dusty boutiques ideal for a few hours of rack-roaming. There's...Read More

  • 6. Galerías Pacífico

    Microcentro | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Upscale shops line the three levels of this beautiful building, designed during the city's turn-of-the-20th-century golden age. Stores are organized...Read More

  • 7. Paseo Alcorta

    Palermo | Shopping Centers/Malls

    If you're a serious shopper with only enough time to visit a single mall, make it this one. Resident fashionistas favor Paseo Alcorta for its...Read More

  • 8. Patio Bullrich

    Recoleta | Shopping Centers/Malls

    The city's most upscale mall was once the headquarters for the Bullrich family's meat-auction house, and stone cow heads mounted on pillars...Read More

  • 9. Recoleta Mall

    Recoleta | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This modern glass-and-steel construction may be smaller than most of its Buenos Aires counterparts, but it's not lacking in stores. Most classic...Read More

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