Berlin, the capital of Germany, is one of those cities where experiencing local life in various neighborhoods and enjoying the vibe of the area is as interesting and fun as seeing major highlights. Each of Berlin’s districts is different in a way, each offers plenty of attractions and each is worth visiting.
One of my personal favorite areas of Berlin is Friedrichshain, located in the former east part of the city.
In the past, it was an industrial area inhabited mostly by the working class. After the reunification of the city the place went through the gentrification process and today it’s one of the most popular neighborhoods of Berlin (although often in the shadow of more popular Kreuzberg that is just across the Spree river).
Friedrichshain attracts artists, families, alternative types, and more, and everyone can find something interesting for themselves there.
If you are planning a trip to Berlin don’t miss Friedrichshain. You can easily spend the whole day in the district but even a short walk around (especially around Boxhagener Kiez) can give you a great feel of the place. Here is my guide to the best things to do in Friedrichshain!
Table of contents
- 1 Where is Friedrichshain
- 2 Things to do in Friedrichshain
- 2.1 Admire the beauty of Oberbaumbrücke
- 2.2 Visit East Side Gallery
- 2.3 Hang out at Holzmarkt 25
- 2.4 Enjoy RAW Tempel
- 2.5 Discover Boxhagener Kiez
- 2.6 See a movie at Kino Intimes
- 2.7 Admire street art at Graffiti Wall of Fame
- 2.8 Marvel at the impressive architecture of Karl-Marx-Allee
- 2.9 Visit Computer Games Museum
- 2.10 Enjoy the green oasis of Volkspark Friedrichshain
- 3 Final thoughts on visiting Friedrichshain
- 4 Travel Resources
Where is Friedrichshain
Friedrichshain district is located in the central-east part of Berlin, surrounded by Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Lichtenberg.
Getting to Friedrichshain is very easy, with plenty of public transport options. The main train station in the area is Ostbahnhof but you can also use sbahn (stations Ostbahnhof, Warschauer Strasse, Ostreuz or Frankfurter Alee), metro (U1, U3, U5), trams and buses to get here.
I recommend getting Berlin Welcome Card for your trip to Germany’s capital – not only you can get discounts in numerous places (such as museums, restaurants, etc) but you can also use public transport for free.
Things to do in Friedrichshain
Below you can find my favorite things to do in Friedrichshain. Some of them I discovered during my numerous visits to the area, others were recommended to me by locals.
I also found Visit Berlin’s app “Going Local” very useful when exploring the neighborhoods – it’s easy to use and includes so many great places that make each of Berlin’s districts special.
Be sure to download the app for your Berlin trip! And now let’s talk about Friedrichshain!
Admire the beauty of Oberbaumbrücke
This is probably the most beautiful and iconic of all Berlin bridges (and there are 960 of them, more than in Venice!) and the best getaway to Friedrichshain when arriving from Kreuzberg.
Oberbaumbrücke was built at the end of the 19th century, in 1896, in the place of the former wooden bridge. During the times of Berlin’s division, the bridge was one of the border crossings between East and West (since both neighborhoods were on different sides of the Wall: Friedrichshain in East Berlin and Kreuzberg in West).
Today Oberbaumbrücke is one of the symbols of the united city and crossing it at least once during your trip to Berlin is a must – it can give you a feel of how Germany’s capital used to be in those dark times.
Another reminder of those times and the importance of Oberbaumbrücke if the neon “Stone – Paper – Scissors” by Thorsten Goldberg, installed on the bridge – the game of rock, paper, scissors is a symbol of the arbitrariness of immigration decisions both during the Cold War times and currently, with the migrants.
Oberbaumbrücke is one of Berlin’s main landmarks not only due to its importance. The architecture of the bridge is pretty amazing too. The brick Gothic style is accompanied by numerous decorative elements, such as arches and cross vaults, making the structure one of the most picturesque places in Berlin.
The bridge’s beauty was also appreciated in pop culture as you can see it in numerous productions, the most famous one being the famous German movie “Run Lola Run”.
When crossing the bridge you can admire the lovely vista of Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and beyond. What makes it even more special is the metro line running on the top level of the bridge.
Visit East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery is another of the must-see Berlin attractions that you can find in Friedrichshain.
After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 parts of the structure remained in their spots to be a reminder of the city’s history. The longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall is what is known today as the East Side Gallery.
It stretches for 1316 meters along Mühlenstraße, between Ostbahnhof and Oberbaumbrücke and it is probably the largest murals’ open-air collection.
After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, numerous artists from all over the world were invited to create their works on the remaining part of the wall. Originally there were 102 murals by artists from 21 countries but, as it often is with street art, over the years some works were destroyed and new ones appeared – what you can admire today are actually replicas repainted in 2009.
The majority of murals have the political overtone and are the commentary of the transformation in Berlin and the Eastern Block in the 1980s/1990s. Be sure to walk the whole length of the wall and see all the works as some of them are truly iconic (like the mural showing Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing).
East Side Gallery is accessible 24/7 and visiting it is free of charge.
Not long ago the area around East Side Gallery used to be some kind of no-man land but it’s developing rapidly with modern buildings appearing and the revitalization of the Spree banks. Besides visiting East Side Gallery you can also relax in the surrounding, especially at the riverside.
Hang out at Holzmarkt 25
Holzmarkt 25 is one of the newest alternative spaces in Berlin, located on the banks of the river Spree.
In the past, the iconic techno club Bar25 was located in the very spot, one of the favorite places of locals to party or simply hang out. Since it was closed down in 2010 the space was greatly missed and eventually the plans to reinvent it in a way appeared. Finally, in 2017 Holzmarkt 25 was opened.
It is a creative and innovative space where everyone can find something for their taste. There are numerous cultural events, bars and restaurants, fleamarkets, yoga classes, and more. While Bar25 was mostly a party place, Holzmarkt 25 is so much more than that.
This is one of the best places in Friedrichshain to hang out and enjoy the alternative atmosphere Berlin is known for.
Enjoy RAW Tempel
RAW Tempel is another iconic hotspot in Berlin that is alive 24/7. This former train repair station has been transformed into yet another multifunctional center Berlin is full of.
During the daytime you can enjoy activities like an indoor skate hall, a climbing wall made on the concrete bunker, the swimming pool in the industrial setting, or the Sunday flea markets (one of the best in Berlin). In the evening the place turns into the party hub with nightclubs and bars you can spend your time in.
RAW Tempel is also one of the best spots in Berlin to admire street art as the area is literally covered in all sorts of art: murals, stencils, graffiti, stickers, and more.
The best way to discover the place is to just wander around, let your intuition guide you and you will be surprised what kind of alternative gems you can find there.
My personal favorite at RAW Tempel is probably Urban Spree Gallery – a space dedicated to contemporary art and urban culture, with concerts, exhibitions, workshops etc.
I try to stop at RAW Tempel every time I’m in Berlin and I always find something new and exciting there.
Discover Boxhagener Kiez
Boxhagener Kiez is the trendiest and coolest part of Friedrichshain, attracting both locals and visitors. The area located between Frankfurter Allee, Warschauer Strasse, and railway lines is home to numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants or small shops and boutiques.
It’s a perfect place to wander aimlessly around, to get the real feel of the place, and to enjoy the laid-back vibe of the area. With its mix of inhabitants and influences, from squatters and artists to young families, that’s where you can find a true Berlin atmosphere.
The heart of the neighborhood is Boxhagener Platz – a green space with a playground, where you can also chill on the grass. On the weekends you can shop at the farmers market (on Saturdays) or flea market (on Sunday) – both attract some great sellers and plenty of customers.
Boxhagener Kiez is also one of the prettiest areas of Friedrichshain, with leafy streets and some beautiful and colorful townhouses. The most impressive street is Knorrpromenade with some impressive buildings and front gardens that reminded me a bit about New York.
See a movie at Kino Intimes
If you feel like watching a movie there is no better place to do so than Kino Intimes.
Located at Boxhagener Strasse, this is one of the smallest cinemas in Berlin, with only around a hundred seats. The first cinema was opened here in 1909, under a different name, and the venue still has this old-times charm and vibe.
You won’t be able to see major American productions here, instead the cinema focus on less known and independent movies (when I visited the place it was airing “Quo vadis, Aida?” – a Bosnian production that was one of the most moving movies I’ve seen in a long time).
Since it’s a small cinema it’s better to book the tickets in advance.
Admire street art at Graffiti Wall of Fame
When visiting Kino Intimes stop for a moment to admire the street art next to the entrance to the cinema. That’s the so-called Graffiti Wall of Fame.
Among many works, you can spot here some of the most iconic examples of Berlin’s street art scene in small format – stencils, stickers, or graffiti. The wall isn’t very large but literally packed with street art so you will surely spend a bit of time here, admiring all the great works.
Marvel at the impressive architecture of Karl-Marx-Allee
Since I’m a huge fan of Stalinist-era architecture I couldn’t miss Karl-Marx-Allee, the main boulevard of Friedrichshain. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, I was walking around with my jaw dropped, being overwhelmed by the grand masterpieces around.
The current look of the boulevard (not to be confused with Karl-Marx Strasse in Neukölln) was designed after WW2 as a major project of East Germany’s post-war reconstruction. Some of the greatest German architects were invited to create this space and the architecture you can see there is socialist classicism at its finest. Due to its importance, the boulevard was named Stalinallee between 1949 and 1961.
Karl-Marx-Allee is over 2 kilometers long, but the most impressive buildings between Frankfurter Tor and Strausberger Platz can be found.
And if you like the architecture of the former Eastern block you can go to some backstreets to see regular blocks of flats – those in Germany are especially beautiful with their aesthetics.
Visit Computer Games Museum
Despite the theme, this museum isn’t only for nerds and geeks. Everyone who played computer games at least once in their life will find something interesting here. The museum with over 300 exhibits focuses on the evolution of computer games since the 1980s and lets you turn back in time and reminisce childhood activities.
Computer Games Museum is conveniently located at Karl-Marx-Allee so you can stop by here when wandering around the boulevard.
Enjoy the green oasis of Volkspark Friedrichshain
Volkspark Friedrichshain is the oldest public park in Berlin, dating back to the mid-19th century and occupying the area at the border of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg. This green oasis is a perfect place to relax after exploring the neighborhood.
You can find there plenty of alleys to wander around, benches to sit down and relax as well as a few cafes. The place is also popular with musicians who entertain passers-by.
When visiting the park you will notice some fine art works, the most famous one being the so-called “fountain of fairy tales” (Märchenbrunnen) from 1913.
There are also two artificial mountains in the park, made from the ruins of buildings destroyed during World War 2.
Final thoughts on visiting Friedrichshain
As you can see above Friedrichshain offers many diverse attractions for each taste: whether you like history, architecture, alternative spaces, or party this neighborhood has it all. This is also where you can experience Berlin and its unique cool vibe at the finest yet the area (except for a few places like East Side Gallery) isn’t overcrowded with tourists yet.
Don’t miss Friedrichshain when you are in Berlin, you will enjoy it for sure!
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Disclaimer: my recent trip to Berlin was in partnership with Germany Travel. As always all opinions and experiences described above remain my own.
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