Devastated by the bombs of the Second World War and sealed off during the years of a divided Germany, today’s Friedrichshain ranks as one of the hippest and trendiest neighborhoods in Berlin. Ever since the wall came down, the district unleashed a massive creative energy, that draws large crowds of both new residents and urban explorers. Friedrichshain’s industrial charm makes this one of the most vibrant places in Berlin.
Checking out remnants of the wall, exploring the art scene at a former industrial site, and sunbathing in Berlin’s oldest park are just some of the things that will keep you busy here – but wait, there’s more. Here’s my local Friedrichshain neighborhood guide.
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How to Get to Berlin Friedrichshain
Friedrichshain, or simply F’hain, is located in the eastern part of Berlin and well connected with the public transport network. If you arrive from other districts of the city, S+U Warschauer Straße will likely serve as your gateway to the neighborhood. From here, all of the main sights can be easily explored on foot.
Things to Do in Friedrichshain
Here’s my curated list of things to see and do in artsy Friedrichshain, brought to you by a local Berliner. If you’re ready to dive even further into this thrilling neighborhood, either feel free to reach out to me directly for more tips on Friedrichshain or check out these recommended activities and tours.
1. Acclimate to F’hain at Boxhagener Platz
Boxhagener Platz is the unofficial center of Friedrichshain and a great place to start your tour through the neighborhood. Known to Berliners only as Boxi, the square is a rather modest space.
The numerous casual joints, bars, and restaurants, that together turn this neighborhood into one large entertainment hub in the pm, are the real thrill here. For the full experience, head to Simon-Dach-Street.
If mixing & mingling with both the local and the visiting crowd is not your cup of tea, roam some of the calmer streets surrounding Boxi.
Explore the abundance of street art, eaves-drop on passing strollers chit-chatting in languages from around the world and check out some of the small boutiques and craft shops.
No Friedrichshain neighborhood guide would be complete without a mention of the Food Market, taking place right on Boxi every Saturday from 9am-3pm. During this weekly happening, local (urban) farmers offer anything from pickled veggies, to fresh juices, French cheese, and other delights.
If you happen to be on the same spot on a Sunday, you’ll find yourself surrounded with loads of vintage furniture and clothing. Sunday’s Flea Market (10 am-6pm) is a great place for thrift shopping.
2. Mix & Mingle with the Scene at RAW Gelände
When roaming Friedrichshain, you’ll eventually come across RAW Gelände, a huge former railway station that has transformed into a vibrant art and event space in the heart of Berlin. In fact, this is the largest coherent area in Germany offering permanent cultural activities.
The massive complex houses some of Berlin’s most famous bars and clubs, including cassiopeia, Suicide Club, and Haubentaucher – the latter featuring a large outdoor swimming pool.
In Urban Spree, the neighboring art and event center, you get to browse changing exhibits on urban culture.
As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also a large vintage furniture store and – if you find yourself at RAW Gelände in winter – a historical Christmas market, accessible for a small fee.
Covered in artsy graffiti and street art, RAW Gelände is simply a great venue to hang out when in Friedrichshain.
And no matter if you leave the site in the am or pm, make what a wurst your final stop. This casual joint at the main entrance will fix you up with one of the best Currywursts in town – and create lasting memories.
3. Marvel at the Historic Oberbaum Bridge
Located steps away from the RAW area, Oberbaum Bridge is a double-deck overpass crossing the Spree river. Finished in 1896, it links Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, the two distinct neighborhoods that today form one district.
Its Gothic architectural design, featuring two towers, several pointed arches and coats of arms, make Oberbaum Bridge an essential part of any Friedrichshain neighborhood guide.
During the years of a divided Germany, the bridge was part of East Berlin’s border with West Berlin, with check points installed at each side of the overpass. When the wall came down 1989, the bridge was gradually reopened for pedestrians, cars, and Berlin’s metro lines.
Today, Oberbaum Bridge invites casual strolls across the Spree and offers stunning views of Berlin, with the imposing TV Tower looming in the distance.
Musicians, DJs and young crowds taking advantage of the special acoustic in the bridge’s arches are a common sight. On a warm summer evening, Oberbaum Bridge can be an entertainment venue in itself.
4. Walk along East Side Gallery
If you’re into art and history, Berlin’s East Side Gallery will definitely get you excited. Forming the longest running open air gallery in the world, it consists of more than 100 individual graffiti works that have been painted on 1.3 km/4,300 ft long remnants of the wall.
East Side Gallery, now a heritage-protected landmark, is a prime example of how to successfully integrate elements of Berlin’s past into its modern city landscape. When you walk along the gallery, a few murals will likely stand out – the size of the crowd taking pictures is a good indicator.
One of the most famous pieces is Dimitri Vrubel’s work “My God, Help Me to Survive This Fatal Attraction.” Does this ring a bell? Also referred to as “Fraternal Kiss”, the piece depicts then-President of East Germany, Erich Honecker, and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev seemingly sharing a moment of intimacy. While based on an actual photograph, this fraternal embrace was simply a way of socialist greeting. The pointed title, however, speaks for itself.
5. Travel Back in Time at Karl Marx Allee
Soviet architecture is a common theme in many of Berlin’s neighborhoods. But nowhere is it more apparent than at Karl-Marx-Allee, a massive boulevard that was built during the heights of the GDR. A walk along the Allee feels like traveling back in time, with towering Stalinist architecture wherever you look.
The uniform buildings were designed to contain apartments for workers on the higher floors, with ample space for shops and restaurants on the ground level. It doesn’t take much to imagine the grandeur this boulevard was designed to have.
And even today, this wide street still has a very unique feel. Frankfurter Gate, two imposing towers on top of said buildings and located on opposite sides of the street, offers excellent photo opportunities.
6. Relax in Expansive Volkspark
Volkspark Friedrichshain holds the title of oldest park in Berlin. Construction for the expansive green urban space started back in 1840, and the park has been a vital part of neighborhood life ever since.
While Volkspark’s age alone might have already secured its listing in this Friedrichshain neighborhood guide, there’s so much more to explore here.
Besides the spacious green lawn (ideal for sunbathing), Volkspark also boasts a great infrastructure for getting active outside. Several beach volleyball fields, tennis courts, an outdoor gym, and even a site for rock-climbing can keep you busy for hours. During the summer months, an open-air movie theatre provides for additional entertainment.
Culturewise, Volkspark Friedrichshain is equally attractive. Sprinkled throughout the park, there’s an abundance of monuments and sculptures that deserve your full attention.
The most famous one is the Fountain of Fairy Tales, starring over 100 characters from traditional German narratives – and an excellent place for taking a breather after a long day of roaming Friedrichshain.