↑Photo credit: A Spätis, Berlin | © Robert Agthe/Flickr
If you have visited Berlin before you might have noticed all the small supermarkets on every corner of every street. These small shops sell a wide variety of liquor and cigarettes and some easy to-go products. Some of the bigger shops might sell some things you could find in a drug store like shampoo and deodorant. But what is going on with these shops, and more importantly, and how is this a part of Berlin’s culture? Let’s talk about the Späti-kultur within Berlin.
What is a späti?
Like I said, if you visited Berlin before you couldn’t have missed them. But if you are planning your trip to Berlin this is probably good to know. Me, personally, wouldn’t go into these späti’s if it wasn’t for my German roomie I was in Berlin with. These little shops look a little bit illegal, cracky, and weird if you are not used to them but don’t judge a book by its cover.
A späti is basically a night shop, which is open till around 4 or 5 in the morning; some of them close earlier. These shops feature everything between alcohol/sigarettes and sweets. Some of the shops even have a bar, and most of them have a small terrace to drink the beers you just bought.
Where to find them?
Don’t bother to go out and find one. They are literally on every street! I think I haven’t been on a street without a späti in Berlijn ever in my life. But if you really looking for a specific one you can use spätifinder.
Why are there so many?
The Späti was introduced more than a hundred years ago in Berlin to serve mineral water to pedestrians in an attempt to fight the rampant problem of alcohol addiction: Alcoholic beverages where actually forbidden in the small stores. Nowadays this is hard to believe, for the Späti is the source of every beer-to-go. There are late shops and kiosks in other German cities, too, but in no other town the Späti is of such high importance as in Berlin. These Späti’s have become an authority which has ben integrated in the daily life of the Berlin capital. Residents of Berlin go to these shops every moment of the day, wether they need some deodorant or just a beer/soda to go. It’s an easy and approachable shop to hop in and off real quickly.
On weekends you can’t find a Späti without somebody sitting in front of it drinking a beer, any time in the weekend. These späti’s are a part of Berlin’s nightlife and its unimaginable to go without going to a späti first. Wether you are on your way to a friend, a party, or even a rave the späti is there to serve you a cold drink, snack or sigarettes on the go. Because these shops are so intergraded within the lives of Berlin people it’s called the späti-kultur.
Whenever you visit Berlin, if its for work or holiday, don’t hesitate to hop in one of these stores at any moment of the day. It’s what everybody does and it makes you, in my opinion, feel like home in Berlin.
Looking for some other shops, art exhibitions, restaurants?
Have a look at Visit Berlin!