Berlin, the capital of Germany, is a city that has endured wars, revolution and totalitarianism. The city cannot compete with Paris, London or even Munich in the shopping stakes, but what Berlin lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in spirit. Its young and energetic population is not afraid to stand out and be different, giving the city a bold and colourful edge.
With an excellent mix of international brand names as well as local designers and second hand shops, shopping in Berlin is as exciting as the city itself. Berlin is a city rich in history, and yet it is changing at a breathtaking pace. The Berlin you see today will not be the same tomorrow; all the more reason to snap up a piece of it today.
Main shopping areas
The area around Kurfurstendamm (Ku’damm) continues to be the centre for international boutiques such as Prada, Cartier and Versace as it was when the city was divided. Although today some of Berlin’s best shopping is in the smaller back streets of the Ku’damm itself.
Mitte and Hackescher Markt in the old east have given rise to a much more youthful scene and have an impressive diversity of designer houses and studio boutiques.
There are many ways to get around on your shopping trip to Berlin. It’s a good city for walking or cycling and there is well-developed subway system to take you to almost everywhere you want to go. The centre of Berlin is full of 19th century architecture that can be easily explored on foot. A great way to explore the former East Berlin is to travel by the tram. Called theStraßenbahn, these modern electric trams rumbles and bends its way around town making it one of the best ways to see the city.
The Velotaxi is another novel way of getting around Berlin. These modern day rickshaws ply the popular routes such as Ku’damm and Unter Den Linden and are able to wind their way around traffic jams, making sure you arrive in speed and style.
Most shops are open till 8pm on weekdays and 4pm on Saturdays. Shops in residential areas do begin to shut at about 6pm, according to old tradition. Opening hours start from 10.00am but again, smaller shops tend to open later. Few shops are open on Sundays.
Since January 2002, the Euro has been the currency for Germany. The country is still largely a cash-based society and paying in cash when in Berlin is most widely accepted practice. Credit cards are accepted in the bigger shops but bear in mind that not all shops accept credit cards as very few Germans have them. ATM cash machines and banks to exchange travellers cheques are commonplace.
There is no better way to soak in the atmosphere of Berlin than visiting the city’s oldest weekend flea market. The Trödel-und Kunstmarkt has retained its unique charm and has become increasingly popular over the years.
Known to locals as a fairly tourist-oriented market, prices here are higher but as many of the vendors are professional collectors, you may be able to find a nice memento to take home. The range of goods on offer includes the occasional genuine antique to books, boys, crockery, clothes, East German ‘Ostalgie’ etc. Even if you don’t find anything, this flea market is just a great way to meet the citizens of the city on a weekend morning.
Trödel- Und Kunstmarkt
Straße des 17. Juni / Salzufer
Germany is home to some of the world’s most famous and favourite cars – Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW and of course Mercedes-Benz. Known to be one of the most innovative brands in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz was overwhelmingly voted as the ‘most trustworthy automobile brand’ by European consumers in 2002.
Karl Benz patented the first automobile (the three-wheeled Patent-Motorwagen) on January 29, 1886 and later in the same year Gottlieb Daimler received a patent for an internal-combustion engine and began construction on a four-wheeled horse-less carriage. At this point, the two men worked independently, with little knowledge that they were at the start of building the Mercedes Benz Empire.
The three-pointed star that adorns the premium cars was supposed to symbolise Daimler’s ambition of universal motorization – “on land, on water and in the air” and has become one of the most recognisable trademarks in the world.
Mercedes has produced exact replicas of Benz’s three-wheeler and orders have been received from collectors and institutions around the world. The car, which has a top speed of 16 km/h, is handcrafted from modern materials and uses gasoline instead of the original ligroin.
Mercedes-Benz showroom / restaurant
Tel: 030 39 011127
Fax: 030 39 014466
Sports fashion: Adidas
A visit to any vintage clothing house in the world would reveal an assortment of Adidas original tracksuits and Gazelles, a testament of the long-standing history of the German sporting brand.
Adidas started in a village of Herzogenaurach, located twelve miles Northwest of Nuremberg, when founder Adolf “Adi” Dassler realized the need for performance athletic shoes and began producing soccer and running shoes on a small scale. After a family dispute, Adi’s brother Rudolf Dassler went off and founded PUMA in 1948, launching the Dassler brothers into a fierce business competition that was to change the face of the sport trade.
While Adidas is banking on its huge portfolio and long tradition in sports, it is also mindful of the future and has collaborated with designers Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney for a series of limited-edition footwear, some of which is available at the Adidas Originals shop in Berlin.
Adidas Originals shop
Tel: 030 275 94 381
Fax: 030 275 94 383
Home Décor: Tagebau
Located in the charming neighbourhood of Rosenthaler Strasse in Mitte, Tagebau is a tastefully designed shop that features the work of six international renowned designers.
Shoppers are treated to originally designed pieces of jewellery, fashion, interior objects, furniture, ceramics and hats. Like many other Berlin designers, Tagebau’s designers produce their wares in the back of the shop and use the front as a sales floor. Items to look out for include Gizella Koppany’s theatrical outfits, Angela Klöck’s funky headwear and Eva Sorensen’s fascinating range of jewellery.
Rosenthaler Strasse 19
Tel: 030 28 39 08 90
Walk by DOM’s glittering sequinned entrance and you’ll probably find yourself drawn into the shop unwittingly. This chain store stocks all kinds of interesting objects, accessories, gifts and furniture.
There is a huge emphasis on design and this is evident from the products they carry as well as the layout of the sales floor. Things to look out for include the odd piece of religious kitsch, blow-up sofas and retro lava lamps.
An d. Spandauer Brücke 8
Tel: 030 28 09 83 67
Fax: 030 28 09 83 67
Vivid colours and funky fashion greets the shopper at Waahnsinn. The spacious shop is divided by colour and all kinds of bags, clothes and furniture are stocked. Their large collection of retro furniture like PVC bubble chairs and spherical TVs are definitely a winner!
Rosenthaler Str. 17
Tel: 030 – 282 00 29
Fashion: Sterling Gold
For over 15 years, Michael Boenke has collected around 250,000 evening dresses, gowns and cocktail dresses from more than 60 years of fashion. The best of his collection are available at Sterling Gold.
All colour co-ordinated, hundreds of the most luxurious gowns are stocked, all in mint condition and the affordable prices keep customers coming back. Sterling Gold also provides an in-house tailor who will be on hand to ‘redesign’ a garment to a perfect fit. The tailors will also be able to make matching bags, stoles and jackets for customers who are looking for the complete look.
Oranienburger Strasse 32
Tel: 030 28 09 65 00
Fax: 030 28 09 65 02
Second hand clothes: Garage
The ‘Garage’ is one of Berlin’s biggest second-hand shops and carries an enormous selection of jeans, T-shirts, jackets, blouses, shirts, etc. However the thing that sets Garage apart from the rest is that the clothes are priced according to weight.
Situated at the site of a former motor garage, their second hand stock costs about €14 ($12) per kilogram. Despite the huge range of things on offer, the stock at Garage is well organised and they are known to sell the cheapest Levi jeans in town.
Fax/Tel: 030 211 27 60
At Retro, elegant menswear takes centre stage. Customers choose from a stylish collection of jackets, shirts and pants from designers such as Paul Smith. Also available are tee shirts and jeans from popular Japanese designer Hidehiko Yamane. Jeans from his label Evisu has taken the world by storm, characterised by the ‘M’ logo, stitched into the back pocket.
Oranienburger Strasse 13/14
Tel/Fax: 030 28 097703
The love affair between women and their shoes continues in Bleibgrün, a shoe boutique filled with some of the most gorgeous designer shoes available in the city. Innovative use of classic designs, coupled with a flair for the unconventional make the shoes at Bleibgrün a winner.
Tel: 30 882 1689
Fax: 30 883 3875
You don’t need a map to find Bonbonmacherei. Just follow the sweet smell of candy that fills the courtyard at Heckmann-Höfe. Hordes of sweet-toothed visitors come to this candy store to watch the entire process of candy production, from boiling, cutting, shaping and cooling. Be warned, not many visitors come out empty-handed, especially with the large variety of delicious handmade sweets on offer.
Oranienburger Strasse 32
Tel: 030 44 055 243
Fax: 030 695 181 72
Department Stores: Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe)
KaDeWe – meaning “Department Store of the West” – is the largest department store in Europe (its total sales floor area is equivalent to the Olympic stadium plus four football fields!) and is a must-see for the shopping traveller. The 95-year-old institution has a colourful history and has become as much a part of Berlin as the Brandenburg Gate, the Television Tower and the Reichstag.
Founded in 1907, the store was bought over by Hermann Tietze in 1927, but was taken away from him when the Nazis came into power because of his Jewish origins. During the war, an American aircraft crashed into the store, virtually destroying it.
KaDeWe was rebuilt and has since become a shopping Mecca for both tourists and locals alike. Its ‘legendary sixth floor’ should not be missed, where customers can choose from around 33,000 products in the largest food-hall in Europe
Tel: 030 21 21 0
Fax: 030 21 21 26 20
Jewellery: Susanne Sous
From her spacious workshop in Kreuzberg, designer Susanne Sous is making headlines with her unusual jewellery designs. Her rings are made of everyday items such as candles, soap and even butter cookies!
One of the most interesting pieces in her collection is the ice ring. Literally made out of ice, these last just a couple of minutes but Susanne has started selling Ice Ring moulds so that you can make your own rings at home!
Her innovative pieces can also be found in hip boutiques in Mitte as well as at department stores such as KaDeWe.
Tel/Fax: 030 78992592
Curios: Paul Knopf
Berlin is a city in constant change but it is still possible to find eccentric little curiosity shops such as Paul Knopf’s fascinating emporium where more than a million buttons are sold.
Buttons from all over the world made from all sorts of materials and designs are crammed into this tiny shop which caters to button collectors, as well as the regular customer looking for replacements.
Paul seems to know the location of every single button in his shop, which is a real feat in itself. And if you cannot find the button that you want, he also makes his own buttons in a room at the back of his shop.
Zossener Strasse 10
Tel: 030 692 12 12
Fax: 030 694 15 00
Hat design: Fiona Bennett
Hats, hats and more hats! Fiona Bennett is the owner and designer of one of Berlin’s most amazing hat shops. She specialises in creating some of the most elegant and extravagant headgear for a mainly female clientele.
The shop itself is fantastically designed and there are daytime, evening and wedding collections to choose from. Hats are made with feathers, pearls, velvet and silk and even though prices can be a little hefty, just bear in mind that quality comes at a price.
Große Hamburger St 25
Tel/Fax: 030 280 96 330
Germans are among the world’s leaders in porcelain making and KPM is one of their leading porcelain makers, founded right here in Berlin. It was Frederick the Great, the Prussian King who had a penchant for porcelain, who gave the manufactory its name and trademark of the royal blue sceptre in 1763.
Each KPM piece is lovingly handcrafted and above all else, KPM is known for its lavish painting, a tradition that is still being carried on in its manufactory.
Unter den Linden 35
Tel: 030 206415 0
Fax: 030 206415 29
Teddy bears: Steiff
Everybody loves teddy bears and it was in Germany that Richard Steiff created the first teddy. From its humble beginnings, the Steiff Teddy bear has become a household name in Germany, and a must-have for collectors all over the world.
The Steiff Teddy bear celebrates its 100th birthday in 2002 and what better way to join in the celebrations than to drop by Steiff in Berlin to pick up one for yourself? The bears may be expensive but remember it is an investment in itself.
The limited edition Louis Vuitton Steiff teddy bear holds the world record for the highest price ever paid for a bear after it cost Jessie Kim of Korea a whopping US $195,000 at a Christie’s auction!
Steiff in Berlin
D – 10719 Berlin
Tel: 30 88 72 19 19
Fax: 30 88 72 19 20
Located along Friedrichstrasse, Gawronski is a spacious bookstore that specialises in design, art and architecture reading materials. Started by a husband and wife team, the collection here is excellent and is worth a visit for any design aficionado.
Tel: 030 24048890
Fax: 030 24048891
Records: Platten Pedro
Berlin is a record collector’s paradise and Platten Pedro has one of the largest and best collections of used records in town. The owner, a vinyl junkie known as Pedro, refuses to sell CDs in his shop as he thinks that the CD does not do justice to the music.
The shops is stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes upon boxes of records and a peek in the back of the shop reveals even more vinyl in dusty bookshelves. Pedro will occasionally have rare records up for sale but be warned, they do not come cheap.
Tegeler Weg 100
Tel. 030/ 344 18 75
Accommodation, books & Travel
Hotel Grosser Kursfurst
Neue RoSstr 11/12
Tel: 00 49 (0) 30 246 00- 0
International reservation: 00 49 (0)89 – 45830 – 812
Fax: 00 49 (0) 30 246 00 – 300
German and English website with short write-ups on more than 250 shops in Berlin. Other features include a Berlin city map and German pages on shopping in Hamburg.
Europe Guide Book
English website providing extensive information on countries and cities in Europe. Shopping sections are detailed and useful.
English website that serves as a general guide to Berlin. Useful information about selected shops as well as other facets of life in Berlin.
Shopping & Restaurant Guide Berlin
by Daniel Haaksman (Mo Media, Breda 2000)
A guide to shopping and eating in Berlin that is particularly useful as it is divided into sections according to geographical districts of the city.
The Rough Guide to Berlin
by John Gawthrop & Jack Holland
A travel guide to Berlin with a long list of recommended shopping.
Lonely Planet Berlin
by Andrea Schulte-Peevers & David Peevers
The definitive travel guide to Berlin
German Tourism Board
18 Conduit St
London W1S 2DT
Tel: 0207 317 0902
Berlin Tourist Office
Am Karlsbad 11
Tel: 00 49 (0) 30 26
Fax: 00 49 (0) 30 26 47 48-999
Guide by Silvia Santamaria