Nestled in between lively Greifswalder Street and pretty Volkspark Friedrichshain lies unarguably one of Berlin’s most charming neighborhoods. And I don’t just say that because I live here. The Kiez (= neighborhood) forms the border between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain and combines the best of both worlds: spotless Altbau buildings, casual cafes and restaurants lined along cobble-stoned streets, and an abundance of small boutiques and shops.
What distinguishes it from the more gentrified corners of Prenzlauer Berg is the buzz on the streets. Life happens on the sidewalks. The joyful screaming of kids mixes with the Italian chef announcing that the Pizza Tonno is ready for pick-up and the local farmer from neighboring Brandenburg advertising his freshest harvest on the weekly market.
Throw in a few yuppies sipping on a wine spritzer and locals exchanging latest news over a Späti-run (= Berlin’s typical open-late shops) and there you have it: an average day in Bötzow Kiez. Here is my local’s guide to Berlin’s most charming neighborhood.
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How to get to the Bötzow Neighborhood
The Bötzow neighborhood is well connected with Berlin’s public transportation system, run BVG. Check out their handy trip planner to navigate Berlin like a local. Your easiest entryways into the neighborhood will be either via the M4 line (📍“Hufelandstrasse”) or the M10 line (📍“Arnswalder Platz”).
By the way, the Bötzow neighborhood is also a great place to base yourself during your stay in Berlin. If you are looking for a bit of comfort without compromising on authentic Kiez life, get yourself a room at Leonardo Hotel (recently renovated) or Victor’s Residenz. Should you be traveling in a group, the stylish apartments at Holiday 33 offer plenty of room.
Things To See & Do in Berlin’s Most Charming Neighborhood
1. Arnswalder Square
Arnswalder Square is a great place to start your explorations of the Bötzow neighborhood. The square’s center occupies a massive fountain, which was originally designed for a public park in Buenos Aires and ended up being built in Berlin. Good for us! It is widely referred to as the “Fountain of Fertility” and the stone ensemble of two bulls, a fisher, and a mom with her child has been watching over the square since the 1940s.
No local’s Berlin neighborhood guide would be complete without mentioning at least one food market, so here we go. Every Saturday (🕒 9 AM – 3 PM), Pasteur Street at the southern end of Arnswalder Square turns into a mecca for foodies, as farmers from the region offer their fresh goods. Be prepared for handmade pasta, regional meat specialties as well as seasonal vegetables, fruits, and cheese. This is also a great place to pick up an unpretentious (but so good!) Berlin-style grilled sausage.
2. Hufeland Street
Hufeland Street is the informal center of the Bötzow neighborhood and one of its biggest draws. A wide cobbled-stoned and tree-lined street, Hufeland Street is home to an abundance of cafes, restaurants, shops, and creative spaces. When strolling along this lively street, you cannot help but marvel at the charming old-style buildings, each adding to the unique and traditional feel – this street is just outrageously pretty!
You could easily spend hours eating, drinking, and browsing the shops on this street alone. But this would not be a local’s Berlin neighborhood guide, if I did not spill a couple insider tips. First and foremost, you cannot visit this street without getting one (or two) delicious scoops of ice cream at Rosa Canina. Their frozen delights are all about fresh ingredients and pure flavors. The raspberry basil ice cream is out of this world.
If you are a tad more hungry, you have (amongst several others) the choice between fantastic Ki Kuriya, a Japanese restaurant, fixing you up with lush sushi plates or rich Asian fusion tapas, and A Cabana, a casual Portuguese eatery known for its authentic fish dishes. For a more rustic feel head over to Alt Wien, where the schnitzel is both heavenly thin and larger than your plate. Top this overindulgence off with a visit to BUCHBOX!, which manages to offer a large selection of books and gifts in a rather cozy store.
3. Volkspark Friedrichshain
Volkspark Friedrichshain holds the title of oldest park in Berlin and serves as the green lung of the Bötzow neighborhood. 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 local’s Berlin neighborhood guide, there’s 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 and 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 the Bötzow neighborhood.