Shop till you drop in Germany – a haven for bargain hunters

A shopper’s paradise, from designer<br>stores to market streets

From high end designer boutiques and traditional markets to huge shopping malls, German towns have it all. Bargain hunters and label addicts can shop side by side in some of the country’s most renowned shopping districts

Home to famous designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Escada and Joop, Germany is a leading country on the international fashion scene. As you stroll down the busy downtown shopping areas, you may spot celebrities and millionaires such as Michael Schumacher, Brad Pitt, Madonna or Claudia Schiffer. But Germany is also a great place to go if you are on a small budget, since there are sales all year round and prices are among the most competitive in Europe.

With their picturesque downtown streets and quaint boutiques, German cities offer a great backdrop for shopping, whether it involves finding a bargain in the flea market or purchasing the latest Bottega Veneta handbag in KaDeWe.

Despite their diversity, they share a common feature: charming pedestrian streets lined with shops ranging from huge department stores to exclusive haute couture boutiques. These boulevards are easily accessible by Germany’s user friendly public transport.

Most towns have their own classic market streets, where musicians, acrobats and artists create a vibrant atmosphere in which to browse. Local vendors selling German products can be found nestled alongside foreign stalls with exotic goods from all over the world, providing an ideal opportunity to shop for both traditional and unusual gifts. The markets of Cologne for example are among the most thriving in Germany, while the city’s famous Schildergasse and Hohe Strasse outshine many other major shopping districts in Europe. Both streets run from the city centre to the central train station and the famous Dome of Cologne, one of the most imposing cathedrals in Europe.

Another prestigious street for shopping is Monckerbergstrasse in Hamburg, home town of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Located in the main shopping district, the street is also close to the main train station and Market Hall, where bargain hunters will enjoy trawling the area for antiques. Das Stilwerk is a up market shopping centre with superb interior decoration and houses almost every haute couture name imaginable.

Another area that should be on every label addict’s hit list is the prestigious Maximilian Street in Munich. Its myriad of exclusive shops contains all the biggest names in clothes and jewellery including Bulgari, Armani, Hermes, and Guy Laroche. Young people may prefer to hunt down the latest fashions in Gaertnerplatz or in Fuenf Hoefe, Munich’s trendiest shopping arcade. Once you have restocked your wardrobe, you can buy souvenirs from the market in Am Platzl or go food shopping in the Viktualien Market; the latter sells fresh fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices and makes an interesting alternative to supermarket aisles.

Shopaholics can also stroll through Frankfurt streets interspersed with the many cafes and restaurants of the Zeil, a pedestrian zone in the city centre, one of the most famous shopping streets on the Continent. Shoppers can leave their bags in one of the lockers conveniently provided in Hauptwache and take a break in some of Frankfurt’s beautiful parks.

The panoramic view of the city from the roof terrace of the Zeilgalerie is also worth a visit.

Rivaling London’s iconic Harrods for its variety of products, KaDeWe is the biggest department store in Europe, attracting more than 50,000 shoppers each day in Berlin. Germany’s capital city offers many highlights for shoppers, such as the three kilometre long Kudamm Boulevard, the Potsdamer Platz Arcades and Friedrichstrasse. Held twice a year, Berlin’s fashion week has propelled Germany onto the international fashion scene and contributed to making the country one of the best shopping destinations in Europe.

However, it is the modern city of Dusseldorf that lays claim to being the fashion metropolis of Germany. Many designers have set up shop here and the city hosts various international fashion events. Wandering through Koenigsallee for example is tantamount to stepping onto the catwalk, as the area is home to some of Dusseldorf’s most exclusive designer shops. For shoppers on a budget, it is best to stick to the old part of the city and its little side streets, which are full of inexpensive boutiques and avant-garde shops.

With their variety of markets, malls and boutiques, German cities cater to a wide array of tastes and their green surroundings offer an ideal place to relax after a manic day of shopping. One final plus point - holidaymakers can claim back VAT in one of the tax refund offices at the airport and save 19 per cent on each item.

Article supplied by German National Tourist Office in the UAE