Berliners traded high streets for flea markets long ago. Whether you're furnishing a new flat or hunting for old East German memorabilia, it's a given that you'll pay a flea market a visit. Here's a list of the best and the boldest that Berlin can put out on the streets.
The mother of all flea markets. I don't say that lightly – if you want to make a single round of the whole thing it'll take four hours, and that's not including chilling time with a beer and steaming street food. In Mauerpark you'll find everything and everyone. It makes Berlin feel like a village when you bump into people that you know, because this is the best way to spend a Sunday. Once you're done trawling the stalls, rest your legs listening to the Bear Pit Karaoke in the park. The park and market are the essence of post-Wall Berlin life (a massive hint is in the name Mauerpark, or 'wall park').
The one downside to Mauerpark? Everyone goes there. It's loved so much that it gets rammed full of crowds. If you want to escape the hip hoards, walk five minutes and you'll come across the small local flea market on Arkonaplatz. With one currywurst stall and a few small rows of jumble stalls, the atmosphere is a bit more laid-back and with lots of local love.
Right on the spot where Kennedy said he was a doughnut, there is a quaint local flea market every Sunday. It has all the charm of a car boot sale and the good prices, too. Rummage through the heaps of cheap paperbacks and take one to the nearest brunch establishment on Akazienstrasse (read our brunch guide to figure out which one!).
It's as if all the new cool young creatives populating the district of Neukölln have come together in one market. The banks of the peaceful Landwehrkanal come alive with old things made new. It turns into a bit of a party with international streetfood, drinks and live bands – you could even theoretically have a soundtrack to your shopping with their dedicated local music CD, 'The Sound of Now'.
© Rosalee Edwards
You are guaranteed to be spending a lot of time on this island, considering how many museums per squared mile it has. Conveniently you can still tap in to Berlin's soulful slow side at a Saturday flea market which runs along the west bank of the Island. The end closest to the Bodemuseum is mostly retro, whilst the other end near Unter den Linden is all about crafts. If you need a lit hit then there are plenty of books for as little as one euro each, plus there's the Humboldt University's permanent book market just around the corner.
Boxi is made for people who like spontaneity. The market makes a ring around Boxhagener Platz, a leafy square which is adored for its cafes, burger joints, multi-culti eateries and bars. You can obsess over reasonably priced knick-knacks, haggle, consult over coffee, and come back. One Sunday I came to Boxi for a stroll, and left in a van with a bookshelf. It's also a fountain of birthday gifts with lots of hand-made jewellery and arty stuff.
SO36 Night Flea Market
That's right. Berliners are so fanatical about partying that they have to come up with creative ways of bringing their daytime activities into the club. One Wednesday every month night owls can flutter around hand-made and second-hand stalls whilst bobbing their heads to DJ sets. You can even take a break from shopping and dancing for a game of table football.
In case I haven't hinted at it enough, here's a final word on flea markets: go. They are the place to let your hair down with the locals, to paw pieces of history and to get a good bargain. Now go and haggle your heart out.