You can tell a lot about a city by what it throws away. Or, in the case of flea markets, resells. Berlin has a great selection of second-hand markets where you can find everything from worthless junk to valuable antiques, with plenty of quirky gift ideas all along that spectrum.
Strasse des 17. Juni. Operating Saturdays and Sundays, this is the classic Berlin flea market. The stallholders tend to know their stuff but it’s always worth contesting the prices they suggest. An old lithograph of Berlin makes a cheap yet original souvenir.
Mauerpark. When central Berlin’s bar hoppers eventually rouse themselves from bed on a Sunday, they often head here, a rambling market running along the old death strip of the Berlin Wall. Its retro offerings have furnished many a student’s apartment; pick up a screen-printed t-shirt for a portable gift.
Treptow. Also adjacent to the old Wall, this has the advantage of being indoors (though if truth be told, the roof does leak a little when it rains). You’ll find old tools, stuffed animals, well-thumbed books and a huge amount of decorative items. How about a porcelain figurine? You can always wrap it in a t-shirt for the journey home.
Rathaus Schöneberg. The usual array of merchandise, ranging from decorative to dismal. The stalls are grouped in front of the town hall for the district of Schöneberg; look up and you’ll see the balcony from which JFK famously proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner” in 1963. Pick up an old color picture book of Germany’s tourist hot spots as a retro keepsake.
Ostbahnhof. This is a sedate Sunday affair in the shadow of a main station; postcards, stamps and other specialty collectors’ items are here in abundance. Treat yourself to a handful of old photos and make up stories about their subjects.