That stores are closed on Sundays and on German public holidays. In case of emergencies, you can always go to the airport and use the grocery store there. It is more expensive, but it is open on Sunday! You can also purchase foodstuffs at large gas stations and at main train stations “Hauptbahnhof”.- more info in our ‘Grocery Shopping‘ article.
That you have to bag your own groceries and have to pay for your own grocery bags.
That you may have to weigh fruits and vegetables before you bring them to the check-out in many German grocery stores. There is a number listed for the produce that you have chosen which can be matched with the number on the scale, making it easier for those who do not know the German name for all the fruits and vegetables.
That you shouldn’t touch and select produce offered at the speciality fruit and vegetable stands at the Farmers Market. All you need to do is say what you would like and the quantity and the vendor does the rest for you.
That you need a Euro 1 or 50 cent coin in order to free the shopping cart from its stand at the grocery store. This is the way of making sure that all carts are properly returned without having to hire someone to retrieve them from the street. You’ll get your EURO back when you return the cart to its stand. You can purchase a small ‘shopping cart coin’ in the supermarket for your keychain, this will save a lot of hassle!
That you have to introduce yourself to your neighbours, it isn’t the other way around. In fact, it is very appreciated if you hang a note in the foyer for the neighbours to read, say you are moving in, your name and apologies if there is any disturbance on moving in day. This will make for a good start to the neighbourly relationship.
That you should treat your movers to coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches if you want to keep them happy at your home working – Do not serve beer! And the acceptable tip for your moving crew is Euro 5-10 per person, per day.
That tipping in a German restaurant is up to 10%. A tip is already included in the price of your food in most restaurants and German waiters and waitresses earn a salary. A small tip can be given to taxis by rounding-up to the nearest even number. And a Euro 10 tip (per person) to your garbage men and your mailman at Christmas time is standard practice.
That your German washing machine could take up to 1.5 hours to complete a single wash or even longer! Also, top-loading washing machines are virtually unheard of in Germany.
That people follow the rules, all the time! and if you don’t you will be made aware by complete strangers. It’s not just you, it happens to most ex-pats.
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, 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.
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.
After a long hot summer, the glowing colours of Autumn can be a welcome sight and Berlin has so much to offer in this bright and cosy season. It’s time to throw on a few more layers and to enjoy what the city and surrounding countryside has going on indoors and outdoors, falling leaves in beautiful parks but also fantastic museums and lovely cafes in which to pick up a warm drink and some delicious food.
- Spargelhof Klaistow – A family run Asparagus Farm turned ‘Amusement Park’ for young and old – they produce Asparagus, Blueberries and Pumpkins, all of which are sold fresh on location. There is a a huge playground for children, restaurant, a climbing-forrest, animals to see and in Autumn they host a HUGE pumpkin exhibition which is worth a visit. On the 26.10 they will be hosting a Halloween Party for young and old, including Pumpkin carving, kids disco and a bonfire. Klaistow is approximately a 40min drive from the center of Berlin, it can also be reached with the Regional train/Bus and also by bike. https://www.spargelhof-klaistow.de/unser-hof/
- Urban Nation Mueum – Situated in Schöneberg, you can imerse yourself in some modern art at the URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART .Recently opened, it is free of charge and hosts changing exhibtions, it features artists from all around the world. https://urban-nation.com/museum/
- Schlossgarten Charlottenburg – Time for an autumnal walk amoungst the most stunning colours this time of year has to offer. The baroque gardens of this charming Palace, which was completed in 1713 are beautifully designed and as you wander down the rambling paths you can discover many features, for example a carp pond, the Mausoleum and the Orangery. Charlottenburg Palace is a richly faceted setting of royal garden design, which aims to inspire its visitors and provide them some relief from the capital city’s hectic pace. Its creation began in 1695, guided by the clever and worldly electress, Sophia Charlotte. She commissioned Siméon Godeau, a pupil of the famous court gardener of Versailles, André Le Nôtre, to lay out the most modern garden in the German-speaking world (citation from -) https://www.spsg.de/en/palaces-gardens/object/charlottenburg-palace-gardens/
- Shopping for winter woolies – Cooler tempretures call for warm clothing, why not take a days out to stroll down the Avenue, browse the stores and pop into a cafe for a hot chocolate? Friederich Str in Mitte and the Kurfürstendamm offer all the highstreet brands and lots of opportunities for something to eat and drink. If you are looking for something a little more individual, the Akazien Kiez in Schöneberg, or the area around Hackesicher Markt in Mitte may be more suited to find more individual stores. If you are shopping for children, who will need wet weather/snow clothes for school and kindergarten, as you are often required to have a set which they leave in a cubby – there are many great secondhand shops around, especially for small children.
- Sports in Berlin – Why not support a home-team and go see some local sports?! Alba Basketball plays home games in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and it a great day/night out. Founded in 1989 ALBA BERLIN now plays its 29th season. Eight German league titles, nine German cups and the Korac Cup in 1995 are the outcome of 29 years in which the “Albatrosses” always played in a European competition and always reached the German playoffs (citation from ) https://www.albaberlin.de/en/
- Eating Soup – it’s cold outside and it’s time to eat some delicious hot food. Ramen has been a huge trend world-wide and great ramen can be found in Berlin too. Why don’t you give Cocolo Ramen Xberg https://kuchi.de/restaurant/cocolo-x-berg/
- Laughs – Berlin also offers an aray of English Speaking entertainment and amoungst other options is the Quatsch Comedy Club English Comedy Night. Tickets range from 18-32€ and can be booked online. https://www.quatsch-comedy-club.de/berlin/english-shows/
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.