Friedrichshain is undoubtedly one of Berlin’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. The former East Berlin district marries historical significance with creativity and an alternative vibe, which is reflected in its best bars.
From hanging out in the neighbourhood’s stunning parks to hunting for bargains at Ostbahnhof’s Sunday market, there is no shortage of things to do in Friedrichshain. Beyond dancing to techno at Berghain, Friedrichshain offers a wide variety of nightlife options, with visitors spoilt for choice when it comes to drinking spots – charming courtyards, microbreweries and Budapest-inspired ‘ruin bars’ await.
Hops and Barley
Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, Beer
Hops and Barley brews not only craft beer but also cider | Courtesy of Hops and Barley
Having opened its doors in 2008, Hops and Barley has become one of Berlin’s most popular microbreweries. It’s among Friedrichshain’s prime spots for craft beer aficionados, with a rotating menu of brews that ranges from the traditional to the experimental. Plus, it even brews cider. The bar itself is cosy, with traditional green tiles giving it a pub-like feel, while its exposed pipes and brewing equipment lend the space a modern touch. You’re just around the corner from trendy Boxhagener Platz too, if you want to continue the bar crawl.
If visiting Booze Bar Berlin, be sure to grab a seat around the large exposed-brick bar – you’re about to catch a show. The bartenders here really know their stuff, so rather than choosing a cocktail from a list, order a bespoke cocktail based on your preferences. Regularly hosting guest DJs, Booze Bar is also a popular spot to enjoy a game of table football. The bar lies on Boxhagener Straße, just across the road from Hako Ramen am Boxi that serves (arguably) the best vegetarian ramen in the city.
As well as being one of the city’s best boutique hotels, the Michelberger is also home to one of Friedrichshain’s most charming bars. With quirky decor – think exposed concrete and overhanging lamps made out of book pages – and a menu of natural wines, local beers and small-batch spirits (along with plentiful bar snacks), the hotel’s bar draws a young, arty crowd. DJs play throughout the weekend, while the spacious outdoor courtyard – decked out with fairy lights – sees the Michelberger come alive in the summer months.
With Szimpla, you get two bars for the price of one. Taking its name from Budapest’s most famous ruin bar (an abandoned industrial space-turned-hipster bar), Szimpla’s decor hints at its Hungarian theme. Hungarian phrases adorn the walls, and you’ll spot the odd bottle of Unicum, a Hungarian herbal liqueur. Sitting among its mismatched vintage furniture, you can sip on Hungarian wine, cocktails or German pilsners. If you move next door, you’ll be transported to the bright lights of Labor, which specialises in Hungarian microbrewery Mad Scientist’s inventive craft beers. The whole space features a laboratory theme, with white walls, drinks that come in Erlenmeyer flasks, and a menu set out like the periodic table of elements. The beers here are pretty experimental when it comes to flavours; expect to find exotic fruit beers as well as tequila-infused brews.
Bar BoBu’s interior is reminiscent of a New York dive bar | Courtesy of Bar BoBu Productions
Located slightly away from Friedrichshain’s main drinking spots, Bar BoBu feels very local. Its unassuming entrance on a quiet residential street near Frankfurter Allee leads to a dimly lit, atmospheric bar, whose decor can only be described as East Berlin meets New York dive bar. Visit when its house band is playing to really feel like you’ve stepped back in time, or check out the bar’s packed events schedule – from jazz concerts to English comedy nights. Hungry? Look no further than neighbouring restaurant Butterhandlung, which serves up inventive European dishes.
Fitcher’s Vogel lies on Warschauer Straße – a short walk away from Frankfurter Tor U-Bahn station. A good place for a few civilised drinks before a less civilised night of debauchery, this smoky bar features mismatched furniture and candlelight, giving it a homely feel, while its drink selection has very reasonably priced wines, beers and cocktails. While one could easily spend the whole night here, you can head down the road to offbeat cultural centre RAW, which is home to notorious clubs such as Cassiopeia, to ramp the evening up a level.
After a long winter of sub-zero temperatures, there’s nothing Berliners love more than taking to the streets and parks with a beer in hand. To combine a bar atmosphere with the great outdoors, look no further than Holzmarkt. Located on the banks of the Spree River, this outdoor bar and beer garden is the place to be in Friedrichshain when the sun shines. Juval Dieziger and Christoph Klenzendorf, who previously ran the renowned club Bar25 (now closed), started the project. Their aim is to create a new urban village – a hang-out spot that is open to all. If the huge mix of people who visit here is anything to go by, the project has been a success. Along with the buzzing bar area, there are shops and a variety of food options on offer, including delectable baked goods at SK Patisserie and the locally sourced menu at Katerschmaus restaurant.
If you’re looking for some of Berlin’s best cocktails in stylish surrounds, Chapel delivers. With a living room-esque interior, Chapel manages to remain unpretentious while serving up some of the most Instagrammable drinks in Friedrichshain – both classic concoctions and the bar’s signature drinks, including the unusual Bacon Cheesecake cocktail. Situated on the main road en route to the Ostkreuz station, Chapel is in easy reach of great restaurants to head to before or after your cocktail. Give Transit a try if you’re in the mood for pan-Asian small plates or BBB Burger for some of the fanciest burgers in town.