Shop It Like It's Hot
With summer weather finally here, it’s high time to stroll, browse, and window-shop your way through some of Berlin’s most interesting shopping neighborhoods. Hilda Hoy tells you where.
Shop your way through Berlin, from the genteel boutiques in Charlottenburg to the hip, minimalist stores in Mitte.
First-time visitors to Berlin are often surprised to discover how spread out the city is, and how each of its many districts and neighborhoods has its own uniquely distinctive character, history, and even aesthetic. This holds true even when it comes to shopping. The genteel boutiques of west-end Charlottenburg are a pretty stark contrast to the hip, minimalist boutiques in Mitte, not to mention the starkly modern shopping centers in Berlin’s budding commercial core. Lest you get overwhelmed by the wide breadth of Berlin’s shopping scene, it’s best to focus your attention on one neighborhood at a time. Read on to discover our top three destinations.
1 IN THE MITTE OF IT ALL There’s a reason the area of Mitte around Hackescher Markt and Rosenthaler Platz is so popular with shopping fans: these neighborhoods offer close-set streets of concentrated shops where you can browse to your heart’s content without having to walk too far. Start across from S-Hackescher Markt station, where Japanese lifestyle brand Muji (Hackescher Markt 1) has a spacious flagship store stocking everything from high-quality wardrobe basics to functional design objects for the home to stationery that will inspire you to start keeping a journal, pronto. Round the corner into Neue Schönhauser Straße, a short street chockablock with clothing and footwear shopping options like a boutique from Spanish shoemaker Camper (No. 11) and a Birkenstock store (No. 6), the ultracomfortable German sandals making a fashion comeback. You’ll also find The Kooples, Sisley, and Weekday (Nos. 11, 12, and 17), coquettish French lingerie from princesse tam-tam (No. 16), plus upmarket chains like & Other Stories and COS (Nos. 15 and 20). Even Karl Lagerfeld has his Karl boutique here (No. 8). There are plenty of options for men, too. 14 oz. at Neue Schönhauser Str. 13 carries a well-curated selection of refined casualwear for fashionable gents, as does the Ben Sherman boutique (Rosenthaler Str. 31). For something truly special for the man in your life, don’t miss the flamboyant bowties, suits, and accessories from Herr von Eden (Alte Schönhauser Str. 14).
With a wide variety of tasty cafés and restaurants to choose from, you’re now at the perfect junction to take a break and refuel. Mamecha (Mulackstr. 33) is a calming spot for a pot of Japanese tea and a bento box, Zeit für Brot (Alte Schönhauser Str. 4) has good coffee, quiches, and tasty sandwiches, while
YamYam (Alte Schönhauser Str. 6) has spicy Korean soups and dumplings.
Afterward, head west along Torstraße, where fans of hip urbanite fashion can have their fill at SOTO and No. 74 (Torstr. 72 and 74). Pop across the street to visit
Grober Unfug too, the best comic book store in the city (No. 75). Once you’ve reached Rosenthaler Platz, make a sharp right and head uphill into the Prenzlauer Berg district, filled with plenty of small, cute shops for browsing, like Kauf Dich Glücklich (Kastanienallee 54) and Kwikshop (Kastanienallee 54). If you make it all the way up to Oderberger Straße, you’ll be rewarded with some great secondhand stores stocking retro chic.
2 GET MALLED In contrast to the many small boutiques around Rosenthaler Platz, the area of Mitte around Friedrichstraße and Potsdamer Platz is dominated by big shopping centers, making this the perfect destination for high-powered shoppers. Start on Friedrichstraße, where the French Galeries Lafayette department store and shopping complex Quartier 206 have their home (Nos. 76 and 71). The latter houses exclusive boutiques like Moschino and Etro within its dazzling,
"The genteel boutiques of Charlottenburg are a stark contrast to the hip, minimalist boutiques in Mitte."
Art Deco-style interior, plus the two-level Departmentstore Quartier 206, which carries a careful selection of fashion and cosmetics brands from around the world. Just a short walk away is the enormous Mall of Berlin, which opened to much fanfare last autumn on the very spot where the largest shopping center in all of Europe stood at the turn of the past century. With four sprawling levels and nearly 300 shops, the Mall of Berlin boasts fashion, electronics, cosmetics, food, and fun to keep shoppers entertained for hours. Liebeskind, Navyboot, Intimissimi, Laurèl, 7 For All Mankind, and menswear emporium Wormland are just a few of the outlets to look for here. For a meal break that’s miles above your average food court find, treat yourself to a delectable steak from the Beef GrillClub by Hasir.
3 THE BEST OF THE WEST
While the shopping area around Friedrichstraße is still relatively new, out west is where Berlin’s shopping history was made. The venerable Kaufhaus des Westens – or KaDeWe (Tauentzienstr. 21-24) for short – dates back to 1907 and is not only Berlin’s oldest shopping destination, but also the most luxurious. Today, the eight-story behemoth is still a must-see – even nonshoppers will find plenty to love in KaDeWe’s famous food hall, where the oyster counter is a favorite spot amongst in-the-know gourmands.
There’s much more to discover in this area than just KaDeWe, however. Tauentzienstraße and adjoining Kurfürstendamm – or Ku’damm as the locals call it for short – are both big shopping boulevards, with the latter especially known for its luxurious tenants: Burberry, Rolex, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel (Nos. 183, 184, 186, 56-57, 188-189) are just some of the upper-crust boutiques you’ll find along this street, while the new concept mall BIKINI HAUS is just around the corner on Budapester Straße. Without breaking the budget, you can also pick up some sweet local souvenirs at the Leysieffer (No. 218) chocolaterie, check out the latest youth trends at the big Urban Outfitters flagship (No. 19), or indulge in some plant-essence-based beauty products at the Aveda lifestyle salon (No. 26A). When it’s time to take a much-deserved break, skip the Starbucks and go for one of the area’s elegant, old-fashioned coffee houses instead. Afternoon tea at the opulent Grosz comes with three tiers of sweet and savory delicacies (No. 193–194), while the nearby Café im Wintergarten Literaturhaus (Fasanenstr. 23) is an elegant, old-fashioned spot for coffee and strudel or a light lunch.
A short walk north of the Ku’damm is Savignyplatz, a stately little square surrounded by residential streets teeming with upscale shops. Check out British mensand womenswear at Chelsea Farmer’s Club (Schlüterstr. 50), Mediterranean trends at the 0039 Italy boutique (Schlüterstr. 51), rare and exquisite teas at Paper & Tea (Bleibtreustr. 4), and beautiful photo books in the shops under the train arches at S-Savignyplatz station.
Top: Mall of Berlin, Zeit für Brot, and Filippa K. In the middle row is the chic Departmentstore Quartier 206. Bottom: Auguststraße in Mitte,
Berlin's shopping district.
Photos from top: The Kaiser-WilhelmGedächtnis-Kirche in the background of the Ku'damm. Below that is the stylish Swedish clothing brand Filippa K. On the bottom, the Urban Outfitters flagship store on Ku'damm.