Anything goes in bohemian Berlin and this ethos is very much reflected in the attire of its inhabitants. You’ll see all sorts of eye-catching apparel being worn on the streets of this city, which is a haven for DIY hipsters and funky fashionistas.
Whether you have a penchant for punk clothing, designer clobber or vintage garments, if you’re looking to replenish your wardrobe, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a diverse selection of shops and markets catering for all persuasions.
The difference between east and west is still keenly felt and as a rule you’ll find the more conventional retailers and designer boutiques in west Berlin. East Berlin, meanwhile, is the quirkier end of town, where you can find night markets, flea markets and pay-by-the-kilo secondhand clothes shops, not to mention a glut of record stores and bookshops.
While prices in the multinational stores are in line with the rest of Europe, there are plenty of bargains to be found in independent emporiums and markets, where the only thing more satisfying than picking up a €15 outfit is being able to drink a sensibly priced beer as you peruse the wares. Now that’s what we call shopping.
The famous main avenue of west Berlin is Kurfürstendamm that runs through Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf, still a great place to shop for big brands. The neighbourhood is also home to the city’s premier department store, KaDeWe (Tauentzien-Strasse 21-24). Most Berliners will agree that the best shopping is available in Mitte between Hackescher Markt and Alexanderplatz.
If you’re sick of looking at price tags, head to Garage (Ahorn-Strasse 2) where you can buy clothes by the kilo.
Markets abound in Berlin. The best known are Flohmarkt am Mauerpark and Flohmarkt am Arkonaplatz, both on Sundays in Prenzlauer Berg.
For eclectic clothing try the bi-monthly Voodoo Market (Chez Jacki An der Schillingbrucke, Friedrichshain), where you can drink while you shop. Meanwhile, there’s funky junk and punk paraphernalia at the SO36 night market (Orien-Strasse 190, Kreuzberg), which is held on the third Wednesday of the month at 2000.
For antiques try the Antik & Trodelmarkt (Richard-Strasse 105, Neukolln), which is open Monday to Friday 1000-1800.
The biggest shopping centres in central Berlin are Alexa (Alexanderplatz), Schönhauser Allee Arkaden (Schönhauser Allee) and Potsdamer Platz Arkaden (Potsdamer Platz).The most soulless place to shop is probably the Europa Centre (Am Tauentzien 9-12).
Shops in Berlin are generally open Monday to Saturday 0900/1000 to 1900/2000. Almost everything is closed on Sunday.
By all means go and a buy a fridge magnet with a chunk of the Berlin Wall on (they’re ten-a-penny in the city’s souvenir shops). However, if you want to go home with something less predictable, take a trip to the artist squat known as Tacheles (Oranienburger-Strasse 54-56), where you can chat to the residents, watch them paint, sculpt or draw, and help support their constant battle against eviction by buying some of their work.
There are a cluster of anti-souvenir shops scattered around the eclectic Kreuzberg district; Oranienstrasse is the place to go for anarchist clothing and I Love Kreuzberg paraphernalia. Markets are also a great place to pick up souvenir antiques and bric-à-brac.
Visitors from outside the EU can reclaim a portion of that on goods worth over £25. Berlin shops displaying the ‘TAX-FREE’ sign issue a receipt that, when stamped by customs, can be redeemed at a tax-free reimbursement office.