SHOPPING IN GERMANY
Berlin is fashionable for creative, bohemian style. Henceforth, designer labels have less appeal here than in Hamburg, Düsseldorf or Munich. Young people seem to spend more money on cell-phone cards than clothing.
Kufürstendamm is still touted as the shopping mile of Berlin. The best stretch for exclusive fashions, such as Bruno Magli, Hermès, and Jil Sander, are the three blocks between Leibniz Strasse and Bleibtreustrasse. For home furnishings, gift items, and unusual clothing boutiques, follow this route off Kufürstendamm: Leibniz Strasse to Mommsenstrasse to Bleibtreustrasse, then on to the ring around Savignyplatz. Fasanenstrasse, Knesebeckstrasse, Schlüterstrasse and Uhlandstrasse are also fun places to browse.
Kufürstendamm ends at Breitscheidplatz but the door-to-door shopping continues along Tauentzienstrasse, which, in addition to international retail stores, offers Europe's largest department store, the upscale Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe.
The finest shops in the historic eastern section of Berlin are along Friedrichstrasse, including the French department store, Galeries Lafayette. Nearby, Unter den Linden has just a few souvenir shops and a Meissen ceramic showroom. Smaller clothing and specialty stores populate the Scheunenviertel. The area between Hackescher Markt, Weinmeister Strasse, and Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz alternates pricey independent designers with groovy secondhand shops. Neue Schönhauser Strasse curves into Alte Schönhauser Strasse and both streets are full of stylish casual wear. Galleries along Gipsstrasse and Sophienstrasse round out the mix.
The tree-shaded pedestrian zone of the Zeil is said to be the richest shop-'til-you-drop mile in Germany. There's no doubt that the Zeil, between Hauptwache and Konstablerwache, is incredible for its variety of department and specialty stores. The area abounds in shopping arcades.
The Zeil, however, is only the centrepiece of the downtown shopping area. The subway station below the Hauptwache also doubles as a vast underground mall. West of the Hauptwache are two parallel streets highly regarded by shoppers. One is the luxurious Goethestrasse, lined with boutiques, art galleries, jewellery stores and antiques shops. The other is Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse, better known as the Fressgasse ("Pig-Out Alley"). Cafés, restaurants, a shopping arcade and pricey food stores line the street, tempting visitors with everything from crumbly cheeses and smoked fish to vintage wines and chocolate creams.
Heading south toward the cathedral and the river, you'll find an area of art and antiques shops on Braubachstrasse, Fahrgasse and Weckmarkt. In addition to these major shopping areas, Schweizerstrasse in Sachsenhausen is home to many clothing boutiques, shops, galleries and cafés. This street runs south through Sachsenhausen, starting from the Main riverbank.
Sachsenhausen's weekend flea market takes place on Saturday from 8am to 2pm on the riverbank, between Dürerstrasse and the Eiserner Steg. Purveyors of the cheap have taken over. Get there early for the bargains, as the better-quality stuff gets snapped up quickly. Shopping success or no, the market can be fun for browsing.
Munich has an immense central shopping area, a 2-km (1-mi) Fussgängerzone (pedestrian zone) stretching from the train station to Marienplatz and north to Odeonsplatz. The two main streets here are Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse, the sites of most major department stores. For upscale shopping, Maximilianstrasse, Residenzstrasse and Theatinerstrasse are unbeatable and contain classy and tempting stores that are the equal of any in Europe. Schwabing, north of the university, has several of the city's most intriguing and offbeat shopping streets – Schellingstrasse and Hohenzollernstrasse are two to try.
Bavarian antiques – from a chipped pottery beer mug to a massive farmhouse dresser – are found in the many small shops around the Viktualienmarkt, including on Westenriederstrasse, just south of the market. Number 8 Westenriederstrasse houses three antiques shops packed from floor to ceiling with curios, including a great collection of ancient dolls and toys.
Also try the area north of the university – Türkenstrasse, Theresienstrasse and Barerstrasse are all filled with antiques stores.
Strictly for window-shopping – unless you're looking for something really rare and special and money's no object – are the exclusive shops lining Prannerstrasse, at the rear of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Interesting and inexpensive antiques and assorted junk from all over eastern Europe are laid out at the weekend flea markets beneath the Donnersberger railway bridge on Arnulfstrasse (along the northern side of the Hauptbahnhof).