Grocery shopping in Germany can be different to other countries, especially if you are used to long opening hours and convenient weekend shopping as it is offered in other places.
Germany still adheres to a more traditional model, including speciality stores, butchers, bakeries and outdoor farmers markets instead of only 24/7 convenience stores and big Malls. The speciality stores have the great advantage of having very knowledgeable staff and a wide range of specific and fresh products.
Opening hours are government regulated, this is particularly evident in regard to shops being closed on Sundays and on all public holidays such as Easter & Christmas. The exception to the Sunday rule are bakeries, they are usually open from 7 – 12 pm and the ‘Verkaufsoffener Sonntag’ which occur around 4 times a year, usually in the lead-up to Christmas, shops will be open from 1 – 6 pm. In a pinch, you can pick up limited goods from Gas Stations or in some neighbourhoods ‚Spätis‘ which are typical for Berlin, small shops that are open late and on weekends which stock, drinks, sweets and snacks.
Sunday Shopping 2019: 08.12.2019 & 22.12.2019 (this applies to all participating supermarkets and shops) These can be googled with the term ‚Verkaufsoffener Sonntag Berlin‘.
Supermarkets are generally open from 7 to 9 pm (in some places later), the major chains in Berlin are Edeka, Kaisers, Rewe, Real and Kaufland. Then there are the so-called Discounters, these include Aldi, Lidl, Netto & Penny – these are defined by their focus on less effort put into the display of the goods, sale of many no name or own-brand products and cheaper prices, they also offer weekly specials from furniture, clothes, plants to stationary.
Organic food is very popular in Germany and widely available, the word for this in German is BIO. Regular supermarkets all carry their own-brand line of BIO products, as do most of the Discounters. However, there are also BIO only supermarkets around, for example, Denns, LPG & Das Reformhaus.
There are also countless open-air markets around Berlin, these are called Wochenmarkt, here you can buy fresh produce daily, from Fruit and Vegetables to meat, fish and speciality foods such as Turkish or Asian. Open-air markets are usually once a week. Wochenmarkt days and times in your area can be found here: https://www.wochenmarkt-deutschland.de/maerkte/berlin/wochenmaerkte-in-berlin/
A couple of very important notes – you will need a 50 cent or 1 Euro coin for the shopping cart. Bring your own bags, bags are available but can cost up to 1 Euro and it is better for the environment to bring your own bags. Pfand, this is a small deposit imposed on glass and plastic bottles, usually around 25 cents to ensure you recycle the bottle, the deposit is refunded upon return of the bottle. One more tip, this is from experience – there is a product called Dishwasher Salt (Geschirrspüler Salz) in Germany, it is for the dishwasher ONLY. Be careful not to buy it and use it as regular salt.
If you are looking for country-specific products, some supermarkets carry small international sections and there are some speciality stores around Berlin.
Local food & produce: https://markthalleneun.de/ & https://www.visitberlin.de/en/arminiusmarkthalle & https://www.top10berlin.de/en/cat/shopping-261/farmers-markets-2840
Asia: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187323-d2421570-Reviews-Dong_Xuan_Center-Berlin.html & https://goasia.net/
International: https://www.goldhahnundsampson.de/shop/ & https://www.rogacki.de/
Australia/New Zealand: https://australiashopping.de
(Source for Pfand: https://liveworkgermany.com/2017/05/how-does-the-german-pfand-system-work-and-is-it-effective/ )
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.