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Shopping in Germany

While the rise of malls and big box retailers do tend to make countries shops seem uniform and bland, Germany still has a lot of smaller places and quirkier districts where you can find more eclectic products and perhaps more real “German” products. In smaller streets of large cities you can discover a lot of specialist shops which sell quality (and often expensive) items like fashion clothing, china, glassware, leather goods, flowers, spices, antiques, candles, and more.

Another feature of Germany (like many European countries) is the prevalence of markets. There are permanent or regular food and flea markets around most cities, especially on weekends, where many Germans do their basic food shopping, or hunt for bargains for the home.

As far as shopping hours go you won’t find anything much open on a Sunday. Germany had some of the strictest opening hours in the world until fairly recently. It’s an irony that West Germans has less shopping freedom than their counterparts in the DDR. There workers could shop till later in the evening and also on Sundays. So with the fall of the Berlin Wall East Germans suddenly found themselves with much less freedom to shop than in the “free” west.

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Top 10 Shopping malls and Boutique shops in Germany

  • Kurfürstendamm (Berlin): The Ku'damm really is the Champs-Élysées of Berlin. A striking, wide boulevard that you can leisurely wander down and enjoy a certain side of Berlin. Beyond the obvious tourist highlights there are restaurants and cafes (with plenty of outdoor seating), much shopping (many fashion labels make their home here) and a beautifully Western Europe atmosphere.
  • Alexa (Berlin): Search for the giant pink building near Alexandraplatz; it’s sure to be the Alexa shopping mall. 180 shops — about half are fashion and accessories, but you’ll also find (a lot) of bookstores, long with cafes and restaurants.
  • Friedrichstrasse (Berlin): This street is a good place to shop if you’re looking for higher end fashion labels and for the boys: car showrooms! You can break the shopping up by a visit to nearby Checkpoint Charlie or check out some sections of the Berlin wall.
  • Galeria Kaufhof (Munich): Founded in Cologne the 19th century this department store has had a presence in Munich for over 40 years. Selected fashion ranges and street styles, along with gourmet foods.
  • Ingolstadt Village (Munich): One place in Munich you might find a bargain — with 30-60% of the retail price of clothing.
  • Schildergasse (Cologne): This street was first opened as a shopping area in the middle ages. Today it’s the busiest in Europe (13,000 people pass through every hour)! Department stores, chain shops, bakeries and cafes are all here in this landmark street.
  • Zeil (Frankfurt): Zeil is often termed the 5th Avenue of Germany. Highlights include Zeil Galerie, a 10 floor shopping centre as well as many chic boutiques for the affluent shopper.
  • Mönckebergstraße (Hamburg): Or “The Mo” as it’s called by locals is lined with historical architecture. Highlights include the world's largest electronics goods store (Saturn) and Europe's biggest sports store (Karstadt).
  • Königsallee (Düsseldorf): Or... you guessed it “The Kö,” is a long avenue lined with 100 year old trees that stretches along the banks of the Rhine. It’s dotted with many boutique, luxury stores and shopping centres.
  • Karolinenstraße (Nuremberg): Strolling along Karolinenstraße you’ll find a lot of big brands in big shops. Trendy fashion labels mix with chain stores and boutiques. Highlights are the giant SportScheck and the spectacular THALIA Buchhaus.

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Top 5 Local shops and Local products in Germany

  • Another Country (Berlin): This is a second-hand bookshop like no other. Many books are available for loan (simply return them for a refund less €1.50). Some are reference-only to read in store. It’s at times messy; books lie in piles on tables, yet it has a sense of life and community and is well worth a visit for the literary inclined.
  • Dear Goods (Munich): A unique Munich shop that attempts to dispel the myths that fair-trade clothing has to be ugly and vegan food can’t taste fantastic, Dear Goods is animal-friendly, eco-friendly and human-friendly!
  • Niederegger (Lübeck): A shop/museum/cafe that’s a treat for mazipan fans. This almond confectionary has been locally made since 1806. Yes, there’s really a museum!
  • Kochhaus (Frankfurt): A fantastic concept shop. It sells 18 recipes at any one time plus all the ingredients to make them. You can buy just what you need for the one meal, so is great if you have a self-catering option at your hotel.
  • Michel and Elbe (Hamburg): A photo gallery which sells images of Hamburg and its port. Not tourist pictures either; this photography gives a real sense of the city’s diversity.