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© Voo The best shops and markets in Berlin: Voo

The best shopping in Berlin

From luxury wares and vintage frills to German delicacies from farmer's markets, discover the best shopping Berlin has to offer

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In Berlin, shopping is a jumble of wildly diverse elements: the traditional, with classic department stores like KaDeWe; the local, with lively markets offering up the best regional produce; and a love of craft and art fanzines galore at shops like Motto.

The best thing to do is just start walking: Berlin has no distinctive shopping neighbourhood, and some of its treasures can be found in the least expected places – a hidden inner courtyard like Kreuzberg fashionista favourite Voo – with many popping up for only weeks at a time. Berlin, with relatively cheap overheads and a massive DJ population, also has a thriving record shop scene centred around places like Oye and Hard Wax. More conventional shopping can be found on Kurfürstendamm in the west, with an Apple store and flagship Uniqlo. In the east, Friedrichstrasse offers a similarly upmarket selection, but with slightly younger fashions at places like the Quartier206 store. For cutting-edge designers, head to the area around Mulackstrasse in Mitte, where many have opened interesting boutiques or try Das Neue Schwarz, for haute-couture at knock-down prices. A word of warning, don't expect to do much shopping on a Sunday; laws still remain in place from a more religious age limiting trade on the day of rest. This even extends to supermarkets, with only the major train stations like Hauptbanhof allowed to keep them open.

The best Berlin shopping

Winterfeldt Markt

Shopping Markets and fairs Schöneberg

Berlin has a thriving farmer’s market community and this Schöneberg institution is one of the best. In the leafy square surrounding the St. Matthias Kirche, the Winterfeldt market teems with life twice a week. Over 250 stalls pack it, stocking some traditional market tat like cheap socks, but primarily high-end gastronomic produce. The emphasis is on the local and seasonal, with stalls specializing in rare ingredients like wild herbs and edible flowers, foraged mushrooms and locally-made salamis. There are plenty of vendors doing cooked food for snacking on the hoof: Bauer Lindner is a porcine institution, the pork bratwursts made from his own organic drove raised in Brandenburg.

Another Country

Shopping Bookshops Kreuzberg

A second-hand bookshop with legendary status and a whiff of bohemia: Another Country is a window into a Kreuzberg of the past. Its proprietor, Sophia Raphaeline, established the shop at a time before the area was laden with the cafés, restaurants and shops that now dominate Bergmannstrasse. The set of rooms have the feel of a private study, with homely blue paintwork, piles of books laid out on tables and a fridge for beers; a projector in the back room is set up for film nights and the shop also hosts quizzes and dinners. Another Country operates a quasi-library system, whereby books are returned for a refund (minus €1.50) – it’s a social service which encourages scarcer titles to stay in circulation. Although a rather fiddly system, it’s good for those who are on the move, short of pocket or low on storage space. It’s also one of very few places that opens on a Sunday if desperate for a literary fix.

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Motto

Shopping Bookshops

You have to know what you’re looking for with this one, tucked away as it is in a disused frame factory in a courtyard just off Schlesisches Tor. Motto is Swiss by origin and Swiss in its super design consciousness. Besides pop-ups all over European art hot spots like Venice and Basel, as well as an outpost in Melbourne, this Kreuzberg branch was the first permanent one, opened in 2008, and remains the most inviting. A softly lit array of fanzines, back-issues, artist’s books, posters, rare print-runs and cult classics are spread in a come-hither way across a long central table; altogether some 3,000 changing titles are carried by the store. Look out for book launches and evening events.

v.Kloeden

Shopping Toys and games

Germany is proud of its toy-making tradition, and puts an emphasis on alternative education for children. V.Kloeden is a charming shop in West Berlin that proves that educational toys don’t need to be boring. There are shelves of picture books, some handily in both German and English for bilingual families, and even Asterix comics in Latin for particularly adventurous parents. It’s rammed with toys of all sorts too – wooden Brio train sets, eerily lifelike Käthe Kruse dolls, Kersa puppets as well as more practical kit like rocking horses, detective sets and Little Prince suitcases.

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Dong Xuan Center

Shopping World food

For a taste of Saigon in Berlin, head out east to the massive Dong Xuan Center, a sprawling industrial zone in Lichtenberg. The Center is situated within four cavernous warehouses on the former site of an enormous coal and graphite processing plant (it was demolished in the 1990s and underwent extensive ground 'detoxification'). Tradesmen hawk all sorts of wares for businesses affiliated with the Vietnamese community, from wholesale nail salon supplies to glitzy chandeliers, but, most importantly, there are enormous food halls catering to trade. Butchers proudly display bowls of various animal by-products, including tongues, sweetbreads and blood sausages made to order with bottles of fresh blood for those wanting to try their hand at home. The powerful smell of Thai basil, coriander, lemongrass and other south-east Asian herbs wafts up from the fresh produce sections while bags of rice form solid walls (watch out for sneaky sparrows, who swoop down from the rafters for a nibble). If hungry, stop off at Duc Anh in Hall 3 for bun cha: a towering pile of fresh herbs and salads, served with steamed rice noodles and a chunks of marinated, roast pork in a delicate broth of sweetened fish sauce.

Das Neue Schwarz

Shopping Second-hand shops

Previously hidden in a courtyard, this excellent designer vintage store has now migrated to a street-side shop front. Mulackstrasse is full of expensive designer boutiques and Das Neue Schwarz (which translates as ‘the new black’) is a great alternative for those looking for a (relative) bargain. The shop has a beautiful wooden clothes rack suspended from the ceiling by thick rope and shoes running along both sides of the walls with lots of accessories on shelves above. The stock is hand-selected, almost new designer pieces from past seasons, most still with tags. There’s stuff for boys and girls too: chunky Celine handbags, flashy Bernard Willhelm bomber jackets, Chloe wedges and Dries Van Noten suits to name just a few.

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Hard Wax

Shopping Music and entertainment

Berlin and Detroit will be forever linked by techno. Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus started their Basic channel imprint in the late 80s to begin releasing the analogue, richly-textured techno being produced at the time in America’s Motor City. This was in massive contrast to the acid house and rave music that was the primary electronic music in Europe at the time, so they began to form a community of like-minded music lovers around their Hard Wax record shop and their ground-breaking Basic Channel dub techno releases. Up an anonymous staircase in the back of a Kreuzberg courtyard lies this vinyl mecca, famous for its flawless selection of dub, techno and reggae, many of the city’s biggest DJs like Marcel Dettmann and DJ Hell having started out working here. Record shop staff are generally not known to suffer fools gladly, but Hard Wax is infamous for its haughty service. They take sound seriously here: best not to ask for the latest Madonna record.

Galeries Lafayette

Shopping Department stores Mitte

The most famous of Paris’ Grand Magasin, Galeries Lafayette, built itself a Berlin outpost in the mid-90s when the city underwent a post-reunification construction boom. Aptly located on the corner of Französische Straße (French street) it brings a sense of Parisian chic to central Berlin. With its smooth glass exterior, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, it’s a lot more modern than its French counterpart. Fashion-wise it caters across the board, with sophisticated labels such as Ferragamo and Agnes B. for genteel Charlottenburg mums, while French rock-chic from Sandro and The Kooples caters for a younger crowd. As to be expected, their food halls are excellent, if a little less spectacular than at KaDeWe, with a fine butchers selling Charolais beef and capons from Burgundy plus a traiteur (delicatessen) with all sorts of prepared salads, terrines and pâtés to take away.

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Du Bonheur

Shopping Pâtisseries

A recent addition to Berlin’s patisseries, it’s already become one of the best, knocking out all sorts of fine French pastry, freshly-made croissants and a fabulous array of colourful macarons. All of these require extremely long hours, most places just buying in frozen dough and even bread from industrial bakeries. Here it’s all lovingly overseen by Anna Plagens, who trained under Pierre Hermé himself, the man credited with fetishizing the macaron at Fauchon, Ladurée and now under his own brand name. Unsurprisingly Du Bonheur’s macarons are pretty spectacular, with fillings like orange, salted caramel and liquorice, bite-sized morsels of pure joy. Their buttery croissants are made daily for a satisfying crunchy flake, and they also do classics like Paris-Brest, a circular choux ring filled with praline cream, or elegant birthday cakes with raspberry, chocolate cream and meringue.

Modulor

Shopping Art, craft and hobbies

The innocuous Moritzplatz roundabout was always a no man’s land, but there have been a fair few high-profile shops opening around there, including a high-end kitchen appliance shop, a banh-mi café and the Prince Charles nightclub. One of the first, though, was Modulor, a paradise for the crafty, with absolutely anything and everything an artist or designer might need. Over a number of floors, everything is logically laid out – rolls of bizarre synthetic materials stacked up for use by product designers or experimental fashion students, but also more traditional art supplies: row after row of coloured pencils, markers, chalks, charcoals, oils and acrylics. They also offer services like cutting, laser etching and rental of tools. It’s also a great place to come for decorative ideas for the more DIY-minded, as they sell shaped objects, metallic papers, printed wallpapers and plastic models which can be used around the house.

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