One of my favorite areas of Berlin is actually also one of the most touristic. Hackescher Markt is located only a short walk away from Berlin’s Alexanderplatz and is a popular place not just for tourists but also for locals. I think because of its central location and its huge selection of cool shops, cafés and decent restaurants (at every price level, too!), it’s a convenient place for just about everyone. This past week I went around Hackescher Markt with my friend Freddy, a popular fashion blogger, to find what’s new and cool in the area. He’s already put up a round-up of Berlin’s best places to shop over on his blog so make sure you check that out!
Hackescher Markt is an area full of life and energy in downtown Berlin. Every time I walk through the area I discover something new or find something I’d never seen before . It’s a maze of courtyards or Höfe. Thankfully the area’s shops aren’t just international brands (though of course they’re represented there), but also independent shops featuring Berlin exclusives. Side streets around the area will lead you to small art galleries, former squat houses and more than a few shops. If there’s one place in Berlin where you’d be hard-pressed to come away without buying anything, it’s here.
The area has a history of attracting alternative and subculture scenes. One of my favorite cafés in the area, Café Cinema has a small patio in one hof (courtyard) where you can enjoy good coffee in a pretty cool setting. The entire courtyard is covered from floor to ceiling with graffiti and street art. In fact, many of Berlin’s street art tours make a wander through Hackescher Markt for the amazing amount of graffiti in the area.
When exploring more through Hackescher Markt, you’ll stumble into big brands like Ben Sherman or Hugo Boss, but it’s the smaller, independent shops which are really worth stopping in for. Neue Schönhauser Strasse is an especially good street for a wander. Check out the shop 140z which has a wide selection of brands for both men and women, plus a hidden cafe and courtyard in the back of the shop.
A little further afield and closer to Rosa-Luxembourg Platz, you’ll find lots of cheap eateries (Dolores is a local favorite for those craving burritos), but also the odd luxury hotel and high-end fashion shops. The Volksbühne Theater puts on a wide variety of performaces, but it’s their bar and club, the Grüner Salon, which I particularly like. There are regular concerts and themed nights, with occasional political discussions and other talks & events in the mix. Same as the cinema nearby, Babylon Kino, which hosts special movie events and film festivals (now showing silent movies for free at midnight on Saturdays). Across the street, the friendly Trüffelschwein shop sells a well-curated selection of brands to help you achieve that “Berlin style.”, whatever that style might be.
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If you’re planning to explore Hackescher Markt, I recommend spending a bit of time walking around. Don’t be afraid to get lost because that’s the point in this part of town! Each courtyard leads to somewhere else and it’s very much like a maze, but one full of hidden shops selling everything from design books to vintage clothes. Plus, in true Berlin style, there are regular flea markets in front of the Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station. Oh, and yes…there are female prostitutes that work in the area, along Oranienburger Strasse. Which is understandably a bit funny because this part of Berlin Mitte is far from seedy.