There are about 1,000 Spätis (or Spätkauf) in Berlin, and they are an important part of Berlin’s nightlife. But what exactly is a Späti? It’s a store that is open after the normal store hours and often late into the night. As a result, they can provide much needed items such as tobacco and alcohol or some cheap snacks before you head to next bar or club. It’s especially important for those traveling on a limited budget.
These stores enable many people to go out while sticking to a tight budget, since you can drink that beer en route to your next destination. Whether you consume it on the train or on the street, that’s one less beer you’ll have to buy in the club or bar. In warm weather, you can pick up a few drinks here (they even have sparkling wine if you’re got something to celebrate) and some snacks and head to the nearest park for a picnic.
Some Spätis are located in prime spots near some of the bars and clubs you’ll want to visit. You’ll see both locals and tourists stopping in, grabbing some snacks and a cheap beer to consume before going into the venue.
If you’re like me, you will be enjoying some of the very good German beer while you’re in Berlin. And since beer can make you hungry, stopping into a Späti for some chips or a bar of chocolate can make it possible for you to continue on to another destination or simply head home without feeling overwhelmed. A döner or falafel sandwich is another great snack after a night of drinking, but I’ll have to tell you more about that another day.
Others are looking for an energy drink to keep them going, or perhaps a cigarette or two if you’re not looking to buy a whole pack. Whatever it is you need, you may well be able to find it there.
While you can find one of these stores in pretty much any area of Berlin, some are better than others. In Friedrichshain look for one at the U-Bahnhof Samariterstr. If you are going out in Kreuzberg, check the Späti at Skalitzer Str. 73 or the one at Gräfestr. 30. In Prenzlauer Berg, look for one at Danziger Str. 3.
The Spätis are so intertwined with the Berlin nightlife that recently artists created a project to paint them with murals or graffiti. There were many willing to partake in this, since Berlin is home to a multitude of graffiti artists.
These stores are allowed to be open later than the normal business hours of other stores, but please note that they are not allowed to be open on Sundays without facing fines. Gas stations, however, if you can find one nearby, are still open and sell many of the same items, although the prices there are noticeably higher.
Find an apartment in Berlin through Only Apartments and you’ll have a comfortable place to call home on your next trip to the German capital. And if you arrive late in the evening after the stores have closed, Spätis are also useful to find some fruit or yogurt for your breakfast the following morning.