From vintage fashion and antiques to food markets offering local and international delicacies, Berlin’s weekend markets are a treasure trove for bargain hunters.
There are few cities that round off the week quite like the German capital. While perhaps not as iconic as its infamous nightclub scene, Berlin’s weekend markets are arguably just as exciting: peruse the market at Boxhagener Platz with mulled wine in hand, splurge on vinyl records at Mauerpark and socialise with the chefs at Berlin’s Thai Park.
A little bit of everything at Mauerpark flea market
Prenzlauer Berg’s verdant Mauerpark defies its history as a former Berlin Wall death strip, with the city’s biggest summer flea market springing to life on the western side of the park each Sunday. Here, trendsetters jostle for space with the perennially cool, as Berlin’s up-and-coming designers offer a glimpse into the future next to piles of vintage fashion staples, antique toys, vinyl and jewellery. Check out Atelier Odenoir’s sustainable unisex clothing (in Berlin’s trademark black) and don’t forget to grab a vegan gyro (Greek doner kebab) before trying your hand – or voice – at rock stardom at the popular Bearpit Karaoke Show.
Located in the hipster hub of Friedrichshain, Boxhagener Platz hosts not one but two weekend markets clustered around its central square. The Saturday farmer’s and organic market may have more than a hundred years of history behind it, but it’s the fresh seasonal produce that really draws the crowds. In winter, perusing the local cheeses, farm-fresh meats and handmade wares is best enjoyed with a cup of piping-hot mulled wine – or, if you’re looking for something with more of a kick, opt for a taster of gin infused with Black Forest botanicals. On Sundays, the focus shifts from food market to flea market, with a vast selection of clothing, furniture, records and classic movie posters to be found.
Go from shopping to dance floor without skipping a beat: bargain hunting meets techno and the city’s energetic nightlife at Griessmühle, a former grain mill in the recently reinvigorated neighbourhood of Neukölln. Established in 2014, the Mühlenmarkt offers after-hours shopping to the soundtrack of live music and DJs, with a gaggle of private second-hand traders selling last season’s hippest threads; weekends don’t get more Berlin than this. Mühlenmarkt takes place on the first and third Friday of every month from 4pm to 10pm.
When the weather turns, head indoors to Kreuzberg’s Markthalle Neun, a historic market hall that first opened its doors in 1891. Saved from the clutches of property developers by the tenacity of local residents, Markthalle Neun reopened in its current incarnation in 2011. Mirroring Berlin’s multicultural melting pot, here you’ll find fourth-generation baker Frau Zeller serving up seasonal cake slices to savour with a latte from artisan coffee spot Kaffee 9, a smorgasbord of cheese at Alte Milch, Portuguese delicacies from Marafado Berlin and Austrian specialties such as homemade sausages at Menze. Start your weekend a day early by visiting the wildly popular Thursday evening Street Food Market, or stop by for a morning treat at the Breakfast Market on the third Sunday of every month.
Museum Island – one of Berlin’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites – hosts a weekend market with an intellectual spin. Here, set against the imposing backdrop of the Ernst von Ihne-designed Bode Museum, bibliophiles and antique aficionados have gathered since 1992 to find their next page-turner or rare collectible. At around 60 stalls, it’s one of the city’s smaller and more relaxed markets, meaning you can take your time browsing vintage comic books, valuable first-edition books, affordable handicrafts, postcards and stamps from eras past.
One of Berlin’s most niche food markets, Thai Park is also one of its most popular. Located in the Preußenpark in the laid-back suburb of Wilmersdorf, for two decades it has served as a meeting spot for city’s close-knit Thai community. The flourishing market now attracts hungry visitors from around the world with its reasonable prices, mouthwatering aromas and authentic Thai street food prepared on the spot. Start with a steaming noodle soup – the best-known soup slingers are in the northern and western corners – and finish with the moreish banana fritters and sticky custard rice wrapped in a banana leaf. Pro tip: Sundays are the busiest but best day to visit, as this is when local families gather at the market and Thai Park’s atmosphere is at its most buzzing.
Occupying the same cobbled square where women gathered to sell their wares a century ago, the tree-lined Arkonaplatz flea market in the central Mitte district is Berlin trinket shopping at its most picturesque. Not as crowded as the nearby Mauerpark market, it’s the ideal spot for Berliners to sell their vintage clothes, GDR memorabilia, children’s toys, old records and second-hand furniture, making for a local but lively atmosphere filled with friendly chatter (not to mention the smell of sizzling Bratwurst). And when you’re finally shopped out, the square’s cafés and eateries are prime locations for that other legendary Berlin pastime: people watching. Pop into the cute Café Fräulein Dietrich to refuel with some caffeine, or enjoy some hearty German fare at Altberliner.