Do you want to feel the spirit of East Berlin in the 90s? Explore the Friedrichshain area.
In this blog post: what you need to know to understand Friedrichshain, recommendations on where to stay, hotels, what to visit, and safety in the Friedrichshain Berlin district.
Friedrichshain Berlin District: The Center of East Berlin
Since the 90s, communities of punks, hippies, artists, leftists, and opponents of capitalism have lived here.
After the reunification of Germany, Friedrichshain fell into decay, and many abandoned houses were illegally occupied and turned into squats. Now, the situation is changing. Squatters are being evicted, and the squats themselves are turning into decent buildings and residences.
Rapid gentrification is happening in Friedrichshain district as it is the case in Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg.
Nevertheless, there are still many unrestored houses in the area. Rebellious residents are fighting against gentrification, signing petitions, creating housing cooperatives, and organize protests against rent increase.
It is a side effect of gentrification: prices always go up after the renovation of the buildings. You can learn more about gentrification and alternative Berlin during New Berlin Alternative City Tour.
Personally, I enjoyed strolling around the Friedrichshain area and liked its alternative atmosphere.
It's full of street art, flea markets, vintage shops, informal clubs, unique atmospheric cafes, shabby bars, vegan eateries, and restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. The good thing, restaurants here are still quite cheap, and it's possible to have lunch or dinner for 10-15 Euros.
The streets of Friedrichshain are so lively and filled with progressive and freedom-loving Berlin youth.
What to see in Friedrichshain Berlin District
East Side Gallery
The longest part, 1,300 meters, of the Berlin Wall still exists.
However, now it doesn't separate two parts of the city and two regimes but is one of the most impressive street art galleries in the world.
It was painted by artists in 1991 and rebuilt in 2009 after years of decline. East Side Gallery contains tons of fantastic street art, and you can spend several hours here. Moreover, it's one of the best free things to do in Berlin - it costs nothing to visit.
You will find it on the Mühlenstrasse, next to the Spree river. Note that the murals are painted on the east side of the wall after the fall of communism. Therefore they are not from the Cold War, during which murals could only be painted on the west side.
Explore the East Side Gallery deeper and understand East Berlin on a tour Alternative Berlin by Bike: Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain.
Bars on Simon-Dach-Straße
The tree-lined Simon-Dach-Straße has many cafés and bars.
If you want to enjoy a casual meal with friends, cool cocktails and hang out in the clubs, this area has it all.
Flea Market on Boxhagener Platz
I love Berlin flea markets! Examining counters, sellers and buyers, looking for treasures is my favorite pastime. Maybe you are not aware, but Berlin flea markets are some of the most famous in Europe.
The area around Boxhagener Platz is filled with bars, cafes, and small shops.
Boxhagener Platz itself is a small park with a playground and café. On weekends, you can find many places serving the famous cheap Berlin Brunch.
There is a flea market worth walking on Sundays and a grocery market on Saturdays that sells different products and street food.
The ambiance of Friedrichshain, proximity to busy brunch or coffee spots, music performances in the center of the square, typical Berlin hipster audience, and unique products make it one of the best flea markest in Berlin.
Oberbaumbrucke: Oberbaum Bridge
Oberbaumbrücke is arguably the most beautiful bridge in Berlin and the only link between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.
Explore the Friedrichshain area between Warschauer Straße and Frankfurter Allee with its many bars, cafés and restaurants.
Karl-Marx-Allee - the Main Street of former East Berlin
Take a stroll down the Karl-Marx-Allee, the main street of former East Berlin. It is a large avenue lined with GDR neoclassical buildings and fountains.
Discover why it was first called Frankfurter Allee, then changed the name to Stalinallee after Stalin, and finally received its current name on a tour Berlin Karl-Marx-Allee 2-Hour Tour.
During the tour, you will hear the stories from a Berliner about this district and admire the 2-kilometer long boulevard forming the largest monument in Berlin.
Where to stay in Friedrichshain Berlin District
In the Friedrichshain area, you can find accommodation from 40 euros per night, such as the a & o Berlin Friedrichshain hostel. A double room costs 40-45 euros here.
If you like the spirit of Friedrieshain, then you will love to spend the night at the independent and quirky Michelberger Hotel.
Just see how cool is their industrial design and creative rooms looking like sauna!
The hotel has its own restaurant with ecological local cuisine and vegetarian options.
Relax in their bar and enjoy live music as it usually hosts cool concerts in the evenings. Now popular Travis used to play in the Michelberger Hotel-Bar back in 2013. Who knows maybe you will meet there a future indie rock star?
Nearby attractions include the East Side Gallery, which is only a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
More hotels in Friedrichshain
Safety in Friedrichshain Berlin District
It is generally safe in the Friedrichshain area, but I would not recommend walking alone in the evenings and at night in the former RAW-Gelände industrial zone where the cluster of alternative nightclubs is located. You can run into a bunch of drunkards and drug addicts.
Avoid Warschauer Strasse Station and the street of the same name at night. The crime rate is higher here due to the neighboring clubs, the accumulation of the homeless people, and the general alcoholic atmosphere.
On the corners of many streets in the Friedrichshain district, you will see black guys who stand there for hours and seem to be waiting for someone. In fact, they are either drug dealers or those who help them. Avoid these guys and don't look them in the eyes. The story is the same in some parts of the Kreuzberg area.
1. Berlin Mitte District: All the Must-See Sights of Berlin within the Walking Distance
2. Berlin Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf District: the Heart of West Berlin
3. Kreuzberg Berlin District: Hipster and Alternative Berlin
4. Prenzlauer Berg Berlin District: Post-Industrial Chic & Trendy Lifestyle
5. Berlin Safety Tips for Travelers
Sasha & The Alternative Travel Guide