Shopping in Berlin: Ku'damm, a famous city street

by Paul.Sullivan

The “Oxford Street” of Berlin, Ku'damm offers everything from high street brands to serious haute couture

The upper part of Charlottenburg’s Ku'damm (as the somewhat long-winded Kurfuerstendamm is usually abbreviated to), with its leafy, pleasant side streets and slew of upmarket stores and boutiques has long been a shopaholic favourite. You can easily spend a whole day exploring and shopping. Here are some of my favourite places to get you started...

Clothing and shoes

KaDeWe (Tauentzienstr. 21-24; www.kadewe.de), having opened in 1907, is something of an institution in Berlin. Its name “Department Store of the West” and not only is it the largest department store in mainland Europe, it’s also a pretty good place to start exploring the area’s world of clothing, with brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, Chanel, Bulgari, Cartier and Montblanc for men, women - and children.

Those with a penchant for more individually tailored elegance – men and women – should take a stroll to the flagship store of German designer Jil Sander (Kurfürstendamm 185; www.jilsander.com). The shop will appeal to both men and women interested in not only clothing, but accessories, shoes, and jewellery. Pricey, but beautiful.

More haute couture sophistication can be found at Anette Petermann (Bleibtreustr. 49; www.anette-petermann.de), whose designs are favoured by many local Berlin celebrities. For something a little cheaper yet still stylish, Bally’s flagship store (Kurfürstendamm 219; www.bally.com) is a lovely space with some great clothing plus bags and accessories. Kramberg (Kurfurstendamm 56) is a good place for women seeking international labels like Gucci, Armani, and Chanel.

Men with a taste for shoes can head to Budapest Schuhe (Kurfürstendamm 199; www.budapester.eu), which specialises in handmade shoes and brogues from England, Austria and Hungary. The range is extensive and the service friendly. Another option is Riccardo Cartillone (Savignyplatz 5; www.riccardocartillone.de), which has a superb range of hand-made Italian leather shoes and boots.

Accessories and cosmetics

At Harry Lehmann, (Kantstr 106; www.parfum-individual.de), the Lehmann family showcases its generations-old family recipes of perfume; they’ve been brewing here since 1926. There’s a wide selection of scents - or you can choose to customise your own.

Bree on Kurfürstendamm (Gerberstraße 3; www.bree.com) is the place to go if you’re in search of the perfect handbag. Men might also find something here, as they do carry unisex travel bags, too. For upscale accessories, check out Bucherer (Kurfürstendamm 45; www.bucherer.com), whose company has sold Swiss watches and designer jewelry since 1888.

The German designers featured at Klaus Kaufhold (Kurfürstendamm 197; www.klaus-kaufhold.de) specialise in a style of minimalism. Their less-is-more approach combines rubber and diamonds in understated pieces that are certainly unique. The Porsche Design (Kurfürstendamm 190-192; www.porsche-design.com) flagship store, meanwhile, sells exquisite products - everything from shoes and luggage to pipes and pocket knives – at equally exquisite prices.

Books

If you enjoy getting lost in labyrinthine book stores, check out Bücherbogen on Savignyplatz (Stadtbahnbogen 593; www.buecherbogen.com), right under the S-Bahn train. Housed in four separate buildings, the shop specializes in arts, architecture, design, film and theatre. Around the corner is the delightful Marga Schoeller bookshop (Knesebeck Strasse 33), a popular store with a wide selection of fiction and more in English and German.

Antiques and collectibles

There are several antiques stores at the eastern end of Ku’damm. L. & M. Lee (Kurfürstendamm 32) is one of the most established, selling porcelain, silver, and glass from the early 20th century, as well as 19th-century pieces from all across Europe.

On weekends you can also try your hand at the Berlin Flea and Art Market (Berliner Trödelmarkt und Kunstmarkt), which is held from 10am to 5pm at Strasse des 17. Juni. Here buy antiques, handcrafted items and a range of art that can keep shoppers busy for hours.

Food

Serious foodies head to Confiserie Melanie, (Goethestrasse 4; www.bei-melanie.de) a small, old victual store owned and operated by Sabine Dubenkropp. The store sells treats from around Europe in addition to original specialties like handmade truffles spiked with absinthe.

Leysieffer (Kurfürstendamm 218; www.leysieffer.de) is the place to go for chocolate. Open for a century at this original location, they’ve perfected truffles, nougat, dark chocolate and more. If sweets aren’t your thing, then head to the 6th floor of KaDeWe (Tauentzienstr. 21-24; www.kadewe.de), world famous for gourmet foodstuffs and exotic produce.

More expert advice on Berlin

For suggestions on where to stay in Berlin, see my Berlin Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Berlin page.

Read my overview on Shopping in Berlin.

Paul.Sullivan

I've been covering travel, music and culture as a freelance writer & photographer for a decade.

My articles and images have appeared in various international publications including The Guardian, The Independent, Sunday Times, Easyjet Magazine, Financial Times, Intelligent Life, Matador, and I've written, photographed and contributed to several high profile travel guides for publishers like Time Out, Cool Camping, A Hedonist's Guide To, Rough Guide...and more.

I first came to Berlin in 1999 to write about the city's incredible music scene. I fell immediately in love with its rawness, its history and its expansive, overwhelming sense of possibility. I returned over the years and finally got commissioned to write a guidebook (HG2 Berlin) in 2007, which was published in 2008. A year later I was living here, in leafy, laid-back Prenzlauer Berg.

I adore many European cities - Madrid, Paris and Amsterdam are among my favourites - but Berlin is the only place I've felt compelled to live. If anything, since I've been here my passion and respect for the city have grown exponentially.

My Berlin

Where I always grab a decent coffee: There are literally zillions of places to get decent coffee in Berlin. But for a truly outstanding cup I head to The Barn in Mitte, Bonanza Coffee Heroes in Prenzlauer Berg or No Fire No Glory in Friedrichshain.

My favourite stroll: In summer I really enjoy a walk along the section of the Spree where you can see the Reichstag and the Hauptbahnhof, and relax at one of the cafes on the embankment. In winter I like the atmosphere and relative emptiness of broad boulevards like Karl Marx Allee or Unter den Linden.

Where to be seen: Oh my, there are so many places to be seen in Berin. My favourite see-and-be-seen restaurant is Grill Royal, as it backs up the hyperbole with good views (if you can get a terrace seat) and excellent steaks and seafood dishes. Clubs like Tausend are good for showing out, but I prefer the more underground feel of Berghain and the Panorama Bar.

The most breathtaking view: Berlin has some great view points. You can take a lift up the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), ride to the top of the Kollhoff Tower on Potsdamer Platz or climb up to the memorial in Kreuzberg's Viktoriapark - Berlin's highest natural viewpoint.

The best spot for some peace and quiet: Berlin has many leafy parks in which you can easily get away from it all. My favourite is Volkspark Friedrichshain, which is vast and dotted with interesting historical monuments (as well as the gorgeous Märchenbrunnen fountain).

Shopaholics beware!: Both downtown Mitte and the side streets of Charlottenburg (between Kantstr. and Ku'damm) are full of amazing boutiques selling everything from underwear and jewellery to designer clothing and accessories. You'll need a lot of resolve to resist.

Don’t leave without...visiting the atmospheric Mauerpark flea market on a Sunday. In summer you'll also find the famous Bearpit Karaoke underway.