Get ready to take a piece of Berlin home with you!
Souvenirs are a great way to remember your vacation and share your experiences with friends and family. In Berlin, the options are endless! From classic memorabilia to quirky finds, the city has it all.
But with so many choices, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That's why we've put together a list of 14 typical Berlin souvenirs, complete with their fascinating history and cultural significance.
So let's dive in and discover the best souvenirs Berlin has to offer!
1. Traffic Lights
On October 13, 1961, traffic psychologist Karl Peglau submitted his proposals for new traffic light symbols to the GDR Ministry of Transport, and the traffic light men, the "Steher" and the "Geher," were born. Behind the cute traffic light men was well-founded research - and development work.
The primary goal was more safety for pedestrians. So that more light could pass through the traffic lights and they were more visible, these traffic light men were therefore significantly thicker than their thin Western counterparts and wore a hat.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, they were initially to be replaced by the western traffic light men, but were saved on the initiative of the Tübingen designer, Markus Heckhausen and developed into a cult figure.
Ampelmann stores can be found in shopping streets all over Berlin, whether on cups, as key rings, or as figurines, the funny little men are sold everywhere as cult figures.
2. The Berlin Bear
The Berlin bear has been the heraldic animal of Berlin since about 1280. It still adorns the city's coat of arms today. The raised paw is to symbolize the independence of Berlin. Every year on March 22, Berlin celebrates the Day of the Berlin Bear.
Images with the Berlin bear can be found on buildings throughout Berlin. In 1954, the first Berlin kilometer stone was erected on the highway between Cologne and Frankfurt and a milestone with the Berlin bear showing the distance to Berlin in kilometers.
Whether as a plush animal or as a design on plates, cups, bags, T-shirts or the like, he is a typical Berlin souvenir.
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3. Buddy Bear
The Buddy Bear was developed in 2001 by Eva and Klaus Herlitz in cooperation with the Austrian artist and sculptor, Roman Strobl. In 2001, about 350 bears were painted in Berlin and placed throughout the city.
The upright bears, which are two meters high and weigh around 50 kilograms, are painted by artists from all over the world, the only exception being the bear in front of Lichtenberg City Hall, called Kumpel, which was designed by a group of schoolchildren. Originally planned as a temporary action, it has been running without restriction since the 2010s.
In 2016, the German Foreign Office decided that Buddy Bears would gradually be placed in front of all foreign missions of the Federal Republic as a symbol of a tolerant, free, and democratic Germany.
Meanwhile, Buddy Bears are considered the new emblem of Berlin and are sold in numerous stores with different designs and paintings.
4. Berliner Luft
Not to be confused with the famous operetta song of the same name composed by Paul Lincke in 1904, this is a liqueur made from water, sugar, pure alcohol, and peppermint essences. This peppermint liqueur has an alcohol content between 15% and 20%. It is available in colorless and green.
Since 1932, the Schilkin Spirituosen company in Berlin has been producing it and the company has become known nationwide for the peppermint liqueur "Berliner Luft," also called "Berliner Pfeffi". In GDR times, it was only available to East Germans.
Gradually, the peppermint liqueur has developed into a trendy schnapps. Because of its slightly pungent smell of toothpaste, the order of the same is often placed with the words "Brush your teeth once, please".
The ideal souvenir for those looking for both a nostalgic and a modern souvenir.
5. Pijökel 55
It was first produced in a manufactory on Preslauer Berg in a tiny laboratory with walls tiled up to the ceiling and fly-screened windows. It was here that Gabriel Grote and his partner, Birkenhake, developed the herbal potion Pijökel 55. The recipe came from Grote's father, a pharmacist, who developed it in 1964. The name of the liqueur recalls his high school graduation class of 1955 and a root wood that was cultically revered by his class community. Pijökel is Low German and means little thing.
The spice-herb liqueur has a pleasant sweetness in the background, a somewhat clearer clove flavor, and next to it aromas of almond, vanilla, and cinnamon mingle with ginger, cardamom, and galangal.
An original souvenir for those who appreciate the slightly different spirits with history.
6. Wall Stones
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and is the most significant symbol of Germany, which was divided until 1989. Since its fall, the wall has been increasingly banished from the cityscape of Berlin. Parts of the wall are still being dismantled and sold all over the world. However, it is becoming increasingly rare to find real wall stones.
For all those who would like to take home a piece of history, a piece of Berlin, Berlin wall stones are sold everywhere in the city as a souvenir, whether in acrylic, behind glass, or as individual stones in a 300-gram bag. But whether or not all these stones are real is questionable.
7. Hertha BCS
On July 25, 1892, the Berlin Football Club Hertha was founded as one of the first pure soccer clubs in Germany. In 1945 it was dissolved and on August 01, 1949 it resumed its game as Hertha BSC. Since the 90s it plays in the Bundesliga.
The club was named after a steamer that one of the founding members had sailed on. The colors of the chimney of this steamer were blue, white, and yellow and served as inspiration for the club colors, although the yellow disappeared rather quickly.
In Berlin there are 7 Hertha Fan Shops spread throughout the city, the store at Ostbahnhof is also open on Sundays.
A must for all Hertha BSC soccer fans and those who want to become one....
This is how the capital tastes, and everyone knows the famous Berlin currywurst. According to popular belief, currywurst originated in Berlin in the aftermath of World War II.
Its success can be attributed to the hardship of the post-war period, when natural casing was in short supply. Today, it is a staple of Berlin cuisine.
While you may have long since fallen in love with it during your stay in Berlin, your besties at home may not yet know about its stunning flavor. That can be quickly changed, because there is currywurst in a jar to take home. Its a spicy souvenir also known as Berlin capital praline.
Sold in many stores throughout Berlin, the most original is Currywurst To Go in a fancy swing-top jar. Don't forget to buy curry ketchup and matching condiments as well.
9. The Captain of Köpenick
On October 16, 1906, a shoemaker from East Prussia dressed in the second-hand uniform of a captain marched into Köpenick City Hall with soldiers gathered along the way, seized the city treasury and had the mayor arrested.
10 days later the impostor was caught and sentenced to 4 years in prison, but the whole world was amused by the Germans' belief in uniforms.
Carl Zuckmayer turned it into a play in 1930, and the story was made into a movie many times, including one starring Heinz Rühmann in 1956.
As a puppet, the Captain of Köpenick is a popular souvenir, there is also a commemorative coin issued for the 100th anniversary.
A very special Christmas symbol is the original nutcracker from Saxon Erzgebirge. Traditionally, nutcrackers wear a brightly painted fantasy uniform and have a grim facial expression. This form of representation is due to the special living conditions of the inhabitants of the Ore Mountains after the closure of the ore mines. Since 1870, there is hardly a Christmas decoration without a nutcracker.
So if you happen to be in Berlin at Christmas time, a nutcracker from Saxon Erzgebirge is a popular souvenir for young and old.
11. Rubber squeak Duck
When this duck figure made of elastic plastic is squeezed, the classic squeaking sound is heard. The first patent for a squeaking duck was issued as early as 1949.
The largest collection to date, with 5631 different ducks, belongs to Charlotte Lee from Washington/USA, who received an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for it.
The most famous squeaking ducks are those that went overboard in the North Pacific on January 10, 1992, when the Greek freighter, Ever Laurel, was in distress. The huge flock of squeaking ducks that has been traveling the world's oceans since that day helps researchers around the world to better document the distribution of garbage in the world's oceans.
Meanwhile, almost every city has its own special squeaky duck with an outfit typical of the city. CityDuck Bodo Berlin likes to drink Berliner Weisse....
12. Berliner Schnauze
A bit of an acquired taste at first, over time you'll hear yourself in the famous Berlin dialect. The Berlin dialect, which is spoken in the greater Berlin Brandenburg area, is accompanied by a coarse but hearty sense of humor. That is why this dialect is often referred to as the Berlin Schnauze.
If you feel like learning a little more about it and want to use the Berlin Schnauze at home, the "Liliput Berlinerisch" by Langenscheidt is recommended as a souvenir.
13. Berlin Landmarks
Berlin's landmarks and sights, from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag to the Berlin TV Tower, the Berlin Wall, and the Berlin Bears are available in every form as souvenirs.
Whether as a cup, plate, glass, postcard, poster, t-shirt, bag, magnet, pocket knife, or keychain, everything can be found. There are noodles in the shape of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Bear; the Berlin subway is available in a miniature wooden format, cooking aprons with printed currywurst, Berlin calendars and snow globes with the Charlottenburg Palace,
T-shirts, bags, and drinking bottles with the inscription "I love Berlin".
14. I love Berlin
The saying is one of the classics from Berlin, which you often see worn as souvenirs in other cities. Berlin souvenir stores sell T-shirts, caps, scarves, bags, and all sorts of other clothing with the inscription.
Check out our Berlin Shopping Guide where we have collected the best places to buy souvenirs in Berlin.