There is a whole lot to see and do in Berlin’s Friedrichshain (pronounced something like: Freed-richs-hine) besides taking an intimidatingly long walk down Karl-Marx-Allee. As soon as you arrive at this grand boulevard, you immediately feel small and trivial and get an inkling into what the GDR was all about. The architecture in Berlin is an important signifier when it comes to the the former East and West – even if the Wall has come down, the buildings and memorials have not. In Berlin’s Friedrichshain, there are many historical places and icons, but there are also places that stand as a badge for the Berlin we know (or have heard of at least).
This magnificent park is a beautiful landscape of the green Berlin and is the oldest park in the city. The park has lots of fountains, including the well-known fairy tale fountain that is adorned with traditional German fairy tale characters. There are several monuments around Volkspark Friedrichshain, and it’s a great park to go to in the summer for a self-made BBQ, or even just a beer with some friends.
This is a typical GDR architectural building that can’t help but feel like it belongs to another time, and maybe it does. The retro theater has a bar on the top floor which offers a nice view of what the former East Berlin once looked like. We don’t recommend going there for a film necessarily, but for the actual building itself. Kino International screens both German and international films, in case you’re feeling like a retro movie night and drink.
If secondhand is what you’re after, then this is your best tip yet. This massive building offers five floors of vintage, vintage, and more vintage. If your sunglasses break, your bag is worn out, or you’re really just looking to buy a lot of secondhand goodies, this is your shop. Other than the outdoor markets, Humana has the best prices in Berlin.
The thing is, most people don’t even know where Berghain actually is. Well, at least most people who live outside of Berlin and haven’t been to Berlin ever before. Berghain is one of the essential icons Friedrichshain calls home. It’s one of the very few places that gets the local Neukölln kids out of Neukölln. Its reputation at this point in history is beyond words.
Before it became one of the most well-known squats in Berlin, it was a Fischladen (fish shop), hence the name. They have a bar for those who are interested in exploring the Berlin punk scene – this area of Friedrichshain can get pretty hardcore. They make their own beer, making it a well-spent night out.
Freidrichshain’s RAW should be more well known than it presently is. They have a great weekend market with both handmade and secondhand merchandise. There are more than a few music venues, like Urban Spree, Badehaus, and nice bars and galleries that turn RAW into its own little community – definitely worth checking out over the weekend.
Boxhagener Platz has one of the best Sunday markets in Berlin, if secondhand is what you’re after. The guys running the square make sure to keep the tables for those selling secondhand stuff, but Made in Berlin vendors still manage to sneak their way behind a table here and there. Boxhagener Platz has great Asian restaurants, because the Asian workers were the guest workers in this area, making it as authentic Asian as you can get in Berlin. There are nice coffee shops and vegetarian bites to be found around this little Platz, too.
If you’re curious about what “Berlin used to be like,” to which all the locals continue to refer, b-ware! Ladenkino is a good spot to get a glimpse of that nostalgic Berlin. They offer beers in the little bar by the entrance, DVD rentals, and the tickets to this alternative theater are fairly priced. A cool, cozy, intimate spot to have an easygoing evening.
Anyone for karaoke? Everyone should be for karaoke. Monster Ronson’s is a Friedrichshain gold mine. Take friends who say they don’t like karaoke, and the minute they drink enough and loosen up, it’s a guaranteed good time for one and all (but more for all than one).
If you’re looking for the best falafel in Berlin, Oase is it. It may look innocent from the outside, but it’s certainly a guilty pleasure from the shawarma and falafel inside. The place barely has any seating inside, so it’s more of a take-away joint. If the weather is friendly, you can have a seat by the single table outside, but this also means you can buy a beer from the Spätiacross the street, and there you have a pleasurable time ahead of you.