I can just imagine strolling through the city on a warm summer’s day and doing a spot of shopping. We may have a while to go before the summer but Bremen is a great place to shop, whatever the weather. You can use the quiet days after the holidays to find a bargain in the winter sales or shop for the latest spring fashions.
Where are the best places to go shopping in Bremen? Come rain or shine? Here is my pick of the best shopping districts, malls and bric-à-brac markets, ranked in order of preference.
The Viertel: interesting little shops and lots of places to eat
The Ostertor and Steintor districts, known by locals as the Viertel (literally ‘the quarter’) doesn’t have any fashion chains. Instead, it is full of interesting little shops where you can browse and chat to your heart’s content. It’s an absolute favourite of mine for shopping and going out, and is ideal if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. This isn’t the place to nip in for five minutes just to buy a pair of jeans. But people who like to do their own thing will find plenty of inspiration. As well as stuff they didn’t even know they were looking for!
If you’re cold or need to rest your legs, if your stomach’s rumbling or you want something to drink, help is close at hand. You’ll find everything from snack bars, cosy cafés and market stalls to high-end restaurants here.
If you have a sweet tooth or you love old-fashioned shops, be sure to pay a visit to Holtorf. The specialist pharmacy Kilia Drogerie Blank, meanwhile, is a veritable treasure trove for cosmetics and healthcare products. If you’re looking for something specific, just go straight up to the ladies behind the counter and ask. The place to go for jewellery and fragrant incense sticks is Minka. The list goes on and on …
Shopping and sightseeing in the city centre
My second recommendation for shopping in Bremen is still the good old city centre. Coming from the train station, this essentially starts at the pig sculptures on the corner of Sögestrasse (‘sow street’ in Low German) and Knochenhauerstrasse (‘butcher street’). Great names, aren’t they? Let’s not forget that we are in the city’s old quarter and this is a reference to the time when pigs were herded along this street towards the Bürgerweide meadows. Or not, as the case may be. Some would have gone to slaughter. Being in the old quarter, there is a special atmosphere and the most popular visitor attractions are close by: the Bremen Town Musicians, the World Heritage town hall and Roland statue, and many more besides. The big brands are also represented here along with a few of Bremen’s more traditional shops.
In the old quarter, you can easily escape the rain if you need to, by ducking into a shopping arcade or department store. At the moment, there are two department stores, but that’s set to change. To find out what’s happening, read Bremen wird neu (Germany only).
The market on cathedral square sells all kinds of delicious produce. I just love it there! Not forgetting, of course, the flower market. And then there’s Markthalle Acht – our market hall with the wonderful Manufactum shop next door.
Souvenirs galore in the Schnoor quarter and on Böttcherstrasse
I may be a local, but I never tire of strolling through the picturesque Schnoor quarter and along Böttcherstrasse with its impressive architecture. I rarely need to buy souvenirs, but I enjoy the cafés and the art – watching the world go by and taking photos. You could do the same. It’s just as much fun in winter. But you won’t just find the usual souvenirs here. Both quarters are home to shops selling local specialities and handcrafted products from Bremen. The delightful Bonbon Manufaktur is located in the Schnoor quarter as well as on Böttcherstrasse. It’s impossible to resist the sweets and lollipops …
Our tourist information office on Böttcherstrasse also stocks Bremen souvenirs as well as providing information and selling tickets.
Shopping centres with everything under one roof
The two largest shopping centres in Bremen are the Waterfront and Weserpark. I personally prefer walking to the shops in the city centre or heading to the Viertel, which isn’t far from where I live. If I want to go to the shopping centres outside the city centre, I need to cycle some distance or go by tram. Parking is free, so if you have a car it’s super convenient. And you’ll find everything here. Both centres have a cinema. You can relax and unwind at the OASE spa complex at Weserpark, or bounce away your cares at the trampoline park next to Primark at the Waterfront. The large malls have well over a hundred stores and offer a vast choice, particularly when it comes to fashion. This means that shopping here is extremely convenient. I’m even tempted to shop here on a cold and rainy day. With everything under one roof, you can stay warm and dry.
The Waterfront is quicker to reach by tram if you’re coming from the city centre. It’s situated in an attractive location on the turning basin of the harbour, and in summer there’s even a ferry service. I find the surroundings here much more pleasant than at Weserpark.
Bargain hunters will be in their element at the Ochtumpark outlet centre in Brinkum, just outside the city. With IKEA (there’s a bus stop outside the market hall) and many other stores virtually next door, it’s equivalent to a large shopping centre, just not under cover.
Browsing bric-à-brac markets in Bremen
The antiques and bric-à-brac market along the Schlachte Embankment is held even in the colder months of the year (except from December to February), and always on Saturdays. That said, the market is much bigger in the summer. For visitors to the city, its location couldn’t be better: it’s situated right in the centre on the river Weser. Bremen’s biggest flea market takes place at the Bürgerweide grounds on Sundays in summer, and at the Hansa-Carré shopping centre in winter – outside but under cover. For bargain hunters like Rike, nothing beats a good bric-à-brac market.
If you want to sit down for a while and take a look at what you’ve bought, the Schlachte Embankment is packed full of bars and cafés. You’ll find the Schlachthof near the market at Bürgerweide, and Paulaner’s im Wehrschloss near Hansa-Carré. In summer, I enjoy nothing more than strolling around the flea market at Bürgerweide – right behind the station – and then relaxing and having a drink under the trees in the beer garden at Schlachthof. But I’ll have to wait a few more weeks before I can do that. The winter market at Hansa-Carré probably wouldn’t be so appealing for visitors.
Planning your shopping trip like a pro
You will find countless tips for shopping in Bremen on the city portal bremen.de. You can also search for products and specific retailers, or find new stores or recommendations in categories such as kids, sport and second-hand. It’s great if you just want a quick overview for your trip, but is also ideal for more thorough research. A search tool for bric-à-brac markets and other markets is available on the Bremen events page.
I’m actually not really much of a shopping expert. So if you are, please let me know your tips!