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11 essential shopping spots in Berlin

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11 essential shopping spots in Berlin
KaDeWe. Photo: DPA
17:00 CET+01:00
An international city with a reputation for style, Berlin is a haven for shopaholics. Here's The Local's guide to some of the best places to shop in the capital city that reflect its range in styles, tastes and creative ideas.

1. Kurfürstendamm

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church surrounded by shops. Photo: DPA

Oxford Street meets the Champs Élysées in this huge shopping district in the west of Berlin. Kurfürstendamm is often referred to as 'Ku'damm' by those in the know, or those who don't want to waste time pronouncing its full name.

It is the largest retail district in Berlin with around 200,000 square metres of shops and restaurants, making it arguably the most famous shopping street in the city. The street begins at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (next to the Zoologische Garten) and stretches 3.5 kilometres southwest to the Halensee lake.

Kurfürstendamm is fairly upmarket with a number of flagship stores for international designer labels. During the Cold War it served as a kind of show window for the capitalist west as one of the leading commercial avenues in west Berlin.

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2. Tauentzienstraße

KaDeWe. Photo: DPA

For those of you with slightly tighter wallets, Tauentzienstrasse is probably more up your street.

Although much shorter than the adjoining Kurfürstendamm, it is home to a large range of well known high street stores, the Europa-Centre mall with its very own Irish pub in the basement and the world famous department store Kaufhaus des Westens.

Also widely known as KaDeWe, Kaufhaus des Westens is the Harrods or Bloomingdales of Berlin. It was first opened over 100 years ago and is the largest department store on mainland Europe.

Even if you don't plan to buy anything, it is still worth a visit to see the impressive displays and the huge range of products.

3. Bikini Berlin

Photo: DPA

Situated on Breitscheidplatz is the 'concept mall,' Bikini Berlin. Stores can rent a space in Bikini Berlin for between three and 12 months, giving independent retailers a chance to test out ideas and meaning the mall is continually evolving.

Bikini Berlin is hipster shopping at its finest with 70 pop-up stores, edgy boutiques, concept stores and a few well-established chains. There are also several cafes and a terrace area on top of the building so you can have lunch with a view of the animals in the Berlin zoo adjacent to the building.

4. Humana

Humana is essentially the polar opposite of KaDeWe. With a few locations in Berlin, the one that's four-storeys high in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood is the largest.

The department store has a dizzying array of clothes and accessories but they are all second hand. You are likely to find one or two treasures hidden among the racks of old t-shirts but you'll need to dedicate an hour or two to properly search for them.

The top floor is helpfully separated into eras and even includes a German Democratic Republic (GDR) section with vintage pieces from former east Germany. The other three floors are divided into men's, women's, plus size, children, and youth - making them a little harder to rummage through if you're looking for something specific.

You can also find a huge number of cozier vintage shops dotted around the Friedrichshain area, which tend to have a more curated collection.

5. McArthur Glen Designer Outlet

Photo: DPA

McArthur Glen holds the monopoly on designer outlets across Europe and it's not hard to see why. The outlet in the Spandau district of Berlin is essentially an entire village populated by factory outlet stores ranging from designer labels to kitchenware, complete with kitschy, faux rooflines.

The outlet is situated about half an hour outside of the capital's city centre and has free parking which makes it very easy to spend the day there and come home with a car full of discounted trainers and chocolates. 

6. Mall of Berlin

 
Located next to Potsdamer Platz, the Mall of Berlin was completed in 2014, making it a relatively new addition to the city. It has a huge food court and 270 shops spread over four floors making it the biggest shopping centre in the nation's capital.

7. Flea markets

Arkonaplatz flea market. Photo: DPA

A Sunday in the capital wouldn't be complete without a wander around one of its many flea markets and they are the perfect place to find relatively cheap items that no one else will have.

The market at Mauerpark is the largest and most famous of them all with antiques, clothing, art and food as well as karaoke in the amphitheatre nearby. But be warned, it is also the most expensive as it tends to attract more tourists than hardcore bargain hunters.

There are dozens of other weekly flea markets around Berlin, many of which are open all year round including Arkonaplatz (pictured above), the antique market at Ostbahnhof. The Nowkoelln Flowmarkt and Kreuzboerg Flowmarkt (yes, that is actually how they are spelled) are also great places to find second hand clothes and handmade items but the markets are closed during the winter months.

8. Alexanderplatz

Photo: DPA

Situated in the very centre of Berlin and marked by the Fernsehturm, which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, it's not hard to miss Alexanderplatz.

The area is home to a number of large chain stores such as TK Maxx, Kaufhof, Primark and Decathlon, meaning that though it isn't the most characterful area to shop, you'll most likely find what you're looking for.

The Alexa shoppping centre, which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, is also located in Alexanderplatz and contains 180 shops.

9. Hackescher Markt

Hackescher Höfe. Photo: DPA

Alexanderplatz's trendy neighbour is popular with students as most of the shops in the area can safely be described as edgy. It is a centre for fashion and design with a few flagship stores situated alongside smaller retailers and great restaurants.

Hackescher Markt is also home to the Hackescher Höfe, a courtyard complex populated by shops, restaurants, bars, art and design centres, offices, flats and even a cinema. The art nouveau style building was put up at the start of the 20th century but was renovated after the reunification, playing a vital role in the emergence of the vibrant 'new Berlin.'

The Hackescher Markt area also has a rich history of links to the Jewish community; the first synagogue and Jewish cemetery in Berlin were established here and the biggest synagogue in Germany was built in nearby Oranienburger Strasse in the 1860's. 

The Höfe itself contained a Jewish Girl's Club in 1916 and a Jewish students' canteen in 1913. But the Jewish owner of the building, Jacob Michael, was forced to flee the country under the Nazis in 1933. The property wasn't returned to its rightful heirs until 60 years later.

10. Friedrichstraße

Checkpoint Charlie. Photo: DPA

Friedrichstraße is one of the more touristy shopping districts in Berlin as it is also the location of a number of museums and landmarks, such as Checkpoint Charlie, the main border crossing point during the Cold War. 

It is also the heart of the entertainment district housing some of Berlin's biggest theatres including the Komische Oper Berlin and Admiralspalast. Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus, situated just south of the station, is more than just a bookstore; the shop sells music, films and stationery too.

Dussmann is also one of the few big bookshop chains that has a considerable English-language section. A huge number of clothing, accessories and cosmetics shops - often a little more upmarket - can moreover be found all the way along Friedrichstraße.

11. Schloßstraße

Photo: DPA

Schloßstraße is the main shopping area in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district of Berlin next to the Berlin Botanical Gardens.

It's a lively neighbourhood situated between Rathaus Steglitz in the south and Walther-Schreiber-Platz, with everything from clothing stores to watchmaker shops.

The area found a new lease of life in 2012 after the construction of Boulevard Berlin, one of the capital's largest shopping centres.

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