Bars of San Telmo

Bars of San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina (A)

With its cobbled streets, colonial era buildings and vibrant music and art scene, San Telmo is a great place to soak up the eclectic nature of Buenos Aires’ nightlife. The area boasts dozens of bars and cafes, with some of the city’s oldest lying next to the more modern. Indeed, San Telmo contains many of Buenos Aires 'Bar Notables', a title given by the city government to cafes and bars of historic significance.
How it works: The full article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the sights featured in this article. The app's navigation functions guide you from one sight to the next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Bars of San Telmo
Guide Location: Argentina » Buenos Aires
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: Paul Costello
Author Bio: My name is Paul Costello, I am 33 years old and I have lived in the city of Buenos Aires for almost a year. I moved here from the north of England after falling in love with the city’s architecture, vibrant nightlife and passionate people. I am a journalist by trade and have worked for the BBC as well as newspapers in the UK.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • La Poesia
  • La Puerta Roja
  • Gibraltar
  • El Federal
  • Bar Plaza Dorrego
  • Bar Britanico
La Poesia

1) La Poesia

La Poesia was originally opened in 1982 and served as a meeting place for the city’s writers, artists and musicians until its closure six years later. It was then reopened in its present form, as a literary themed café-bar, in 2008. Situated within a beautiful building dating from the 1800s, the bar boasts a traditional tiled floor with a wooden bar and its tables have brass plaques honouring the names of the literary figures who gathered there in the 1980s. The atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant and a mixture of locals and tourists now gather there to chat while sipping from its selection of wine, beers and coffee. La Poesia, which has bar notable status from the city government, is open from 8am to 2am Sunday to Thursday and 8am to 4am Friday to Saturday.
La Puerta Roja

2) La Puerta Roja

Entrance to this bar is not advertised in any traditional form but as its name suggests its location is signalled by its large red door. Indeed, to gain access one must press the door’s buzzer to notify staff who will then grant entry via a flight of stairs. La Puerta Roja is not only a popular spot for backpackers, who flock there from San Telmo’s many hostels, but it is also popular with local twenty-somethings who come to relax after work on weekdays. The bar has a modern, youthful vibe and offers a wide variety of spirits, beers and even real ale. Regular pool competitions are hosted there and North American sports channels are shown on its TV. The bar, which is open from 6pm until 5am daily, offers a reasonably priced menu featuring among other things burgers, curries and pizzas.

3) Gibraltar

Gibraltar offers a corner of England amongst the hustle and bustle of San Telmo’s narrow streets. The pub is decked out in dark wood and brass furnishings, the beer is served in pint glasses and the walls are adorned with old maps and paintings. It is packed out by both travellers and locals, especially at the weekend, and many come to take advantage of the generous beer prices during the daily happy hour from 6pm to 10pm. The pub has a pool room at the back, which is extremely popular with local players, and also an outside patio area. Its menu offers food ranging from Thai curries to burgers and for those who prefer something a little stronger to beer there is also a wide selection of whiskeys on offer. The bar opens from 6pm until 4am daily.
El Federal

4) El Federal

As one of the city’s oldest bars El Federal offers visitors the chance to wallow in the nostalgic feel of a time gone by. It began life as a grocery store in 1864 before becoming a convenience store with a bar attached. At the beginning of the 20th Century it was transformed into a brothel but was then converted back into a grocery store selling alcohol in the 1930s. It remained this way until the 1970s when the bar took over as the main attraction. Its original wooden tables and chairs remain to this day and it is decorated with old bottles and other antiques. It has been declared both a bar notable and special site of cultural interest by the city government. Its distinctive and historic vibe has meant it has also served as the background for various films, television programmes and commercials. Opening times are 7.30am to 1.30am Sunday to Thursday and until to 3am on Friday and Saturdays.
Bar Plaza Dorrego

5) Bar Plaza Dorrego

Located next to the picturesque square which gives the bar its name, Bar Plaza Dorrego is another of the city’s historic drinking venues. Tango is played in the background as traditionally dressed waiters serve across a black and white checkerboard stone floor. There is an ‘L’ shaped wooden bar decorated by an antique cash register. Drinks are served with baskets of monkey nuts, which can be cracked open while reading the numerous names and messages which have been carved into the bar’s wooden tables and wall panels by previous visitors. Outside seating is provided and the plaza itself is normally packed with tourists socialising at the many bars which surround it. Various celebrities, including Robert De Niro, Eric Clapton and Robert Duval, are said to have drank at the bar since its opening in 1968. However, for locals the most famous former patrons are Argentine literary giants Luis Borges and Ernesto Sabato, who met there for coffee in the 1970s. Bar Plaza Dorrego is a bar notable and is open between 8am and 3am daily.
Bar Britanico

6) Bar Britanico

More than 20,000 people signed a petition to save this bedrock of San Telmo culture from closure in 2006 after the three Spanish men who had rented the bar for almost 50 years had their tenancy ended following a legal battle. The protests failed and the bar, which had served customers amidst its traditional furnishings and old world charm since opening in 1929, was shut. Thankfully for residents, who described the closure as like having the heart ripped out of the neighbourhood, the bar was reopened under the same name but different ownership after eight months of being vacant. The new owners have attempted to keep a similar ambiance while modernising basic facilities. Bar Britanico, which has bar notable status and is located next to Parque Lezama, is normally open 24 hours a day.

Walking Tours in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Creating your own self-guided walk in Buenos Aires is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Buenos Aires Introduction Walking Tour

Buenos Aires Introduction Walking Tour

Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina. The city was first founded as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre in 1536 by the Spanish. But this settlement was quickly abandoned in 1542, and the city was refounded in 1580. Buenos Aires boomed as a port city focused on trade.

Argentina gained independence from Spanish rule during the May Revolution of 1810. Today, the May...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Recoleta Neighborhood Walking Tour

Recoleta Neighborhood Walking Tour

One of Buenos Aires’ most beautiful neighborhoods, Recoleta is the city’s heart of art and elegance, grace and modernism, culture and leisure. Here you will find lots of things to do, like visiting museums, galleries and cultural centers; relaxing in one of the beautiful parks and plazas; or sampling the delicious local food.

This walking tour along Recoleta begins at the Ateneo Grand...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
May Avenue Walking Tour

May Avenue Walking Tour

May Avenue (Avenida de Mayo) is one of the grandest and most important avenues in Buenos Aires, leading from Plaza de Mayo with the Pink House at one end, to Argentina’s National Congress building at the other. Named in honor of the May Revolution of 1810 which lead to the country’s independence from Spain, it is difficult not to compare this grand thoroughfare to other major boulevards around...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Palermo Area Walking Tour

Palermo Area Walking Tour

Situated just back from one of the main thoroughfares, Santa Fe Avenue (Avenida Santa Fe), Palermo is a relaxed and culturally delightful area full of restaurants, cafes, and wall murals. The tree-lined streets are shady and many of the older Spanish-style houses were converted into small shops without compromising their original character. It’s an excellent place in which to sample the city’s...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Popular Palermo Restaurants, Buenos Aires

Popular Palermo Restaurants, Buenos Aires

Although many visitors tend to think that Argentina is a meat and potatoes country, the rich cultural heritage from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other European countries provide a veritable smorgasboard of dining options. Palermo is the barrio in Buenos Aires often referred to as 'The Restaurant...
Buenos Aires: 16 Shopping Ideas for Travelers

Buenos Aires: 16 Shopping Ideas for Travelers

Other than a cool place to be and a dream destination for many adventure-minded folk, Buenos Aires is a great culture hub where one can experience first-hand all that Argentina has to offer - great football, terrific wine, killer steaks, and much much more. This guide is to help you steer yourself...
Top 6 Bars in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Top 6 Bars in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

With its cobbled streets, colonial era buildings and vibrant music and art scene, San Telmo is a great place to soak up the eclectic nature of Buenos Aires’ nightlife. The area boasts dozens of bars and cafes, with some of the city’s oldest lying next to the more modern. Indeed, San Telmo...
Top 12 Cafes in Palermo, Buenos Aires

Top 12 Cafes in Palermo, Buenos Aires

The word "Palermo", believe it or not, may refer not just to Sicily, Italy, but also to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Indeed, this neighborhood (barrio) is largest in the city and is trendy and bohemian, renowned for its boutique shopping, cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Oftentimes,...