Formerly a neighbourhood in East Berlin, Friedrichshain has an alternative and artistic vibe. Tourists are often attracted to the area’s famous GDR-era relics, including the longest surviving stretch of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery, and the socialist boulevard, Karl-Marx-Allee. However, the artsy neighbourhood is also known for its punk-locals, artistic collectives and for housing Berlin’s most rambunctious nightlife. With so much on offer, we’ve broken down the top 10 things to do in Berlin’s artsy hub.
An impressive socialist boulevard built by the GDR between 1952 and 1960 between Friedrichshain and Mitte, Karl-Marx-Allee was originally called Stalinallee, and was built to contain apartments for workers, and also shops, restaurants and cafés. The boulevard comes together in a large, impressive peak at Frankfurter Tor, which presents tourists with fantastic photo opportunities.
Urban Spree is a multifaceted art space housing a gallery, concert room and an event space. It is meant to provide a space for the best of urban culture to be displayed, through things such as exhibitions, a bookshop, concerts, and a dual outdoor gallery and biergarten. The gallery itself also manages to include urban artists, including graffiti artists and photographers, to fully embrace its grassroots approach.
Anyone who calls themselves an art lover has to check out the murals of the East Side Gallery A section of the Berlin Wall, along the river Spree, is now used as an open-air art gallery. One of the best ways to experience the murals is on bike, whether alone or with a cycle tour is up to you. You will be able to go through Bernauer Street via Potsdam Plaza, and explore the vestiges of a difficult past with memorials, remaining sections of the wall, and even watchtowers along the way.
Located in the same RAW building complex as Urban Spree and Suicide Circus, Haubentaucher is an incredibly swanky swimming spot in Berlin. Enclosed within the walls of an old brick railway station, the pool area has everything anyone could want from a day spent poolside. With plenty of sun lounges, an inviting pool and a DJ spinning amazing tunes, it’s the perfect place to relax amongst one of the neighbourhood’s coolest arty hubs.
Berlin’s Oberbaum Bridge is one of the city’s most historic and recognizable landmarks. It played an important role during the Cold War, serving as a checkpoint between West and East Germany. Nowadays, it serves as a symbol of a unified Berlin, linking Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and it’s common to find buskers, artists and other locals hanging out, selling and performing under its concave.
The lush, sprawling parklands of Volkspark Friedrichshain bare the title of the oldest park in Berlin. Offering plenty of inviting green spaces, it is also adorned with several sculptures, monuments and fountains, including a well-known fairytale fountain, featuring characters from beloved German fairytales. It’s a great place to wander, relax and enjoy a BBQ with friends.
Kino International has a certain charm to it reminiscent of 60s Soviet-glam. The theatre is a cultural institution and plays host to both independent film screenings and other culturally significant events. Just tip-toeing over the boarder into Mitte, this amazing cinema will sate the cinephile in us all.
Located in a former warehouse in Friedrichshain, the independently owned Michelberger is usually the go-to spot for anyone who fancies themselves creative when visiting the city. With regular live music and art events in their large, lush courtyard and plenty of delicious cocktails on the menu, it’s not-to-be-missed in the neighbourhood.
Feeling nostalgic for Mario Kart or Pacman? If you’re missing your childhood, the Computer Games Museum might be the place for you. Take a virtually guided tour through over 60 years of interactive machinery, as well as a plethora of industry relics and the first next-gen simulators. The center also plays host to a variety of international events like International Games Week Berlin, and manages to attract a similarly international patronage.