Shopping in Berlin
Shop till you drop – this motto, designed for New York City, could be Berlin’s motto as well. Beautiful boulevards, huge department stores, shopping malls and fancy little shops – better arrive with an almost empty suitcase. Here are some tips on where to go shopping in Berlin. If you are more looking for the experience, you might also like our post on Berlin markets and flea markets.
Classic City West: Kurfürstendamm and KaDeWe
The City West is the heart of the old West Berlin, when Berlin was still a divided city. The Kurfürstendamm is an upscale boulevard with designer stores, cafes, luxury hotels and expensive restaurants. And, most important: Berlin’s Apple Store is here.
Follow the Kurfürstendamm East and find big clothing shops of the more affordable kind and two large department stores: Karstadt and the KaDeWe. KaDeWe, founded in 1907, is the second largest department store in Europe (second only to Harrods in London). The store is famous for its delicatessen in the 6th floor. For example 3,400 wines and 1,300 different kinds of cheese from all over the world are offered. It’s like a museum of gourmet eating. The KadeWe is in walking distance to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, which is worth a visit and FREE.
Bikini Berlin – the Concept Mall
In the same neighborhood, close to the station Bahnhof Zoo, find the “Bikini Berlin”. In this mall they sell European designer brands and rather original stuff. On the ground floor are the so-called “pop-up stores” where retail start-ups can test the market. From the rooftop you can look down on the Berlin Zoo – the baboons will be happy to entertain you. Why is it called Bikini? The fourth floor of the landmarked 1950s commercial building was open to mark the line between retail and offices – so people called the two-part building the “Bikini”.
Germans love shopping malls. So, in Berlin, you’ll find one in every neighborhood. More often than not they are called “Arcaden”. The beautiful thing is: When you know one, you know them all. Even if you don’t want to shop, you’ll find everything a traveller might need: clean restrooms, ATMs, good quality fast food, a shoe repair service and sometimes a possibility to buy theater tickets.
Berlin’s newest mall is the “LP 12 Mall of Berlin” at 12, Leipziger Platz, next to the more famous Potsdamer Platz in the very center of the city. With more than 270 shops and service providers it is by far the largest mall in Berlin.
Upscale Shopping in the Friedrichstraße
From Checkpoint Charlie to the station Friedrichstraße is a long street that used to be the amusement strip of the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, this is one of Berlin’s fines addresses for shopping and dining (especially at the nearby beautiful square, the “Gendarmenmarkt”). Don’t miss the “Galeries Lafayette”, a branch of the famous department store from Paris. For books, CDs and DVDs, check out the Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann close to the Friedrichstraße Station. They carry everything you ever wanted to read about Berlin in German and English and a special English department as well.
The Center in the East: Alexanderplatz
Next to the TV tower, Alexanderplatz offers a wide variety of shopping opportunities: First, the Galeria Kaufhof, a department store in the former “Centrum Warenhaus”, the biggest department store in the German socialist state, the GDR. Second, another mall, the “Alexa”, and all the rage: “Primark”, the affordable clothing warehouse for young shoppers. The TV tower is right next to the Alexanderplatz, and a great way to see Berlin from the top.
Fancy little shops in the neighborhoods
The former working quarters of the late 19th century like Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are now the hippest neighborhoods in town. Check out the little shops around Kastanienallee-, Helmholtz- and Kollwitzplatz or in the Oderberger Straße (vintage clothing) in Prenzlauer Berg. Or explore the Boxhagener Platz neighborhood in Friedrichshain. In Kreuzberg, you might want to walk the Oranienstraße and the Bergmannstraße. In this neighborhood with its long tradition of immigration from Turkey, enjoy a certain exotic atmosphere as well.
Last but not least: The Spandauer Vorstadt and the famous “Hackesche Höfe”
The Spandauer Vorstadt is north of the S-Bahn stop “Hackescher Markt”. In the Oranienburger Straße, Rosenthaler Straße, Neue Schönhauser Straße and Münzstraße you’ll find the trendy international (namely American) brands and also Berlin designer labels. And do not miss the “Hackesche Höfe”. The regular Berlin worker used to live in a tenement that consisted of multiple inner courtyards. The Hackesche Höfe is a more beautiful version of this style, conceived by reformers in the early 20th century. Inside, you find a variety of interesting shops and cafes.
+++And, don’t forget: Shoppers from outside the European Union can get tax refund at the airport (check out the service desk in the department stores and malls)!+++