Florida street or Calle Florida in Buenos Aires
A walk down Florida Street is quite an experience. It is one of the busiest streets in the city center and one of the most visited places by tourists. Over the years I have formed a love-hate relationship with this famous street –for many reasons. The whole street, that stretches over 1 kilometer, has been officially declared a pedestrian street in 1971 and has recently been renovated.
Florida street start from the intersection of Perú street and Avenida de Mayo, all the way to Plaza San Martin.
Early history of florida street
The history of this famous street can be traced back to when the city was founded in 1580. Back in the day it was merely a path leading from the river into the city and was called Calle San José. It changed names many times and was called “Calle del Correo” or Post Office street because of the post office that was situated close to Perú street. Then it was called “Empedrado” or Cobbled Street and was also the first paved street in the city.
In 1821 it was named Florida Street in honor of the battle that was fought in 1814 during the Argentine War of Independence. It was changed yet again in 1837 but finally changed back to Florida street in 1857.
Florida street a major tourist attraction in Buenos Aires
Florida street is lined with Shopping centers, Department Stores, Book shops and Corporate Headquarters.
[ale_alert style=”green”] Harrods opened a branch in Buenos Aires and interesting to note this was the only overseas branch they opened. It closed down in 1998 and the building is still vacant. [/ale_alert]
The hustle and bustle in this street is incredible and has a vibe like none other. Walking down from Plaza San Martin you will encounter the expensive leather shops. Smartly dressed men will lure you in with words from all languages. They are very quick to spot a foreigner. Magazine-and flower stands are everywhere and don`t forget the tango people who desperately want to sell you a tango show. There are also many shops for women where you can find lingerie here.
Walking on you will pass the beautiful Galerías Pacífico and here you will find many brand names. A lovely shopping center to explore but be warned as the goods are pricey.
Undoubtedly you will pass many coffee shops and restaurants. One of the places I like to go to is the bookshops. Here you can escape the masses. Grab a book, a coffee and relax. They don`t kick you out and I like that a lot.
There are some places in Calle Florida where you can pick-up bargains, especially if you are looking for souvenirs. You have to know the street to be able to find these places. Like I mentioned before, closer to Plaza San Martin are the more expensive shops. You won`t find cheap souvenirs here.
A couple of blocks from the Catedral Metro or Subte you will start hearing the arbolitos shout “Cambio”. I have written before about them and they are the guys that are exchanging money illegally. You can read more about them here. Recently when I visited the city I returned early to my hostel room. My window was facing Florida Street. After a couple of minutes I knew something was wrong. Nobody was shouting “Cambio”!
I looked out of the window and then started to giggle. A policeman was walking around where they normally stand. I could see them because the one guy was always standing in front of our hostel entrance. They were all quiet until about 6:30 when they started to scream as if in one voice…. “Cambio,cambio…dolares, euros, reales.” Yes, I thought to myself….this is the Florida Street that I love and hate.
Best time to walk in Florida street
The best time is late in the evening or early in the morning when the street is quiet. During the day you will find many street performers but in the evenings you could see a free tango show, musicians or people performing. The street is always very entertaining but a word of caution: People are often getting robbed here. Please be careful and take care of your personal belongings.
Where: Calle Florida, Buenos Aires
When: October 2013