Friedrichshain sits in the eastern part of Berlin, bordering Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg. Best known for the long, colourful stretch of the Berlin Wall that lines its river bank – the East Side Gallery – Friedrichshain is a beaten-up, bohemian playground that encompasses all that is great about Berlin. This 12Hours guide will have you delving into the district like a local, hitting the best eateries, museums, galleries and bars. It’s time to see what’s on the other side of the Wall...
9am: Silo Coffee
We’ll be scouring every corner of this district so you’ll need to set yourself up for the day with a good coffee and a hearty breakfast. Situated right in the heart of the Boxhagener Kiez, Silo is the ideal starting point for your day. The food and coffee are on point, with plenty of contemporary breakfast favourites and heaps of vegan options. There’s super friendly service and a cool atmosphere to boot.
10am: Boxhagener Platz
Breakfast done and dusted, it’s time for some shopping and a stroll. Boxhagener Platz is a hip little square and park with artisan shops and cafes on all sides. On the weekend there is a flea market that offers up a range of antiques, vintage clothing and delicious produce. Silo’s right on the edge of the platz so just take a few steps and you’re there.
11am: Urban Spree
It’s time to get in a healthy hit of contemporary art after all that shopping. Set in a 70.000 sqm postindustrial compound – formerly a set of railway barns – Urban Spree is an eclectic mish-mash of galleries, bookshops, DIY workshops, concert spaces, beer gardens, street food trucks, and bars. Hip and eccentric with a healthy dose of dystopia in the decor. Grab a drink and do some exploring.
12:30pm: East Side Gallery
Now it’s time to head south, over the Warschauer Bridge and towards the River Spree – circa 5-10 minutes. When you hit the water you’ll find Berlin’s famous East Side Gallery. This open-air exhibition – the largest in the world – features graffiti and murals painted on a roughly 1km stretch of the former Berlin Wall. Getting there before the mid afternoon rush means you should be able to shoot some slick photos before the crowds set in.
1:30pm: Michelberger Hotel
Your watch reads booze o’clock and you’ve been doing a lot of walking, so why not stop off for an early afternoon tipple before grabbing some lunch. Just a short stroll up from the East Side Gallery, Michelberger Hotel has a vibey bar and a courtyard that has hosted concerts by bands such as The National and Arcade Fire. A popular spot for the neighbourhood’s freelancing crowd, Michelberger has an off-the-wall atmosphere where there’s heaps of comfy spots and nooks to either work or wind down. If you’re looking to extend your 12 hours in Friedrichshain to an overnight stay then be sure to check out some of their quirky rooms.
2:30pm: Shakespeare & Sons/Fine Bagels
Lunch time now and we’ve got just the place to spend it in. One half English-language bookstore, one half Jewish-American bakery, Shakespeare & Sons is the be-all and end-all as far as bagels in Berlin are concerned. Authentic NY-style bagels and sumptuous sweet baked goods populate the menu. The ‘Meshka III’ (cream cheese, smoked salmon, onion and capers) is a winner, but those with a slightly sweeter tooth might want to try the ‘Sticky Goat’ – a goat’s cheese ‘schmear’ drizzled with honey.
4:30pm: Stasi Museum
Though it’s technically situated just outside Friedrichshain in Lichtenberg, The Stasi Museum is an important spot to hit when you’re visiting this part of town. Just 3 stops on the U-bahn (metro) plus a short walk, it’s about 15 minutes door to door from Shakespeare & Sons. Situated in the former headquarters of the East German Ministry for State Security, the taut main exhibition gives fascinating insight into spies, surveillance, and repression behind the Iron Curtain.
6:30pm: Hops & Barley
The Stasi Museum is intense, so it’s time for a pre-dinner drink or two to decompress. Head down the road from the Stasi Museum and jump on the M13 tram for just 4 stops – exiting at Wühlischstr./Gärtnerstr. As soon as you step off the tram you’ll find the Hops & Barley, a Friedrichshain legend that brews top-notch craft beer on-site. The space is cosy and welcoming, always alive with the hubbub of chatter, and the beer is delicious. Just what you need for a quick wind down before dinner.
Glass empty, head south on Simon-Dach-Straße for 5 minutes to reach the RAW Gelände again (where we were earlier when we visited Urban Spree). This time, though, our destination is Khwan - a wood-fired Thai BBQ joint that has rapidly established itself a reputation for being one of the best Asian restaurants in the city. Starting out as a street food truck and guerilla pop-up project, they found a permanent space in RAW (complete with a beautiful terrace that’s great for summer dining) to serve up delicious regional Thai flavours to grateful Berliners. The menu consists of a dozen or so sharing plates, making it an ideal spot for couples or groups who like to taste a bit of everything.
9pm: Fitcher's Vogel
Dinner is done and it’s time to see the night out, Berlin-style, at one of the district's many offbeat bars. Fitcher’s Vogel is a short walk around the corner and has all the hallmarks of a great Berlin dive-bar – charm, shabbiness, kicker, and ambient electro music. Named after a Grimm fairytale, this place bustles on the weekend and stays open late, serving up fresh and frothy German beer (try the Rollberg Red, it’s a doozy) at reasonable prices – the perfect place to bring your Friedrichshain-fest to a close.