East Central Berlin has been transformed into a trendy mecca for students, artists, young people and the politically left-wing. Once separated by the wall, the neighborhoods of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg were merged into a single entity in 2001. Though they used to have little in common, the neighborhoods are more than municipally linked. That said, local residents tend to stick to referring to the neighborhoods separately. For a taste of what life was like before they came together, visit the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery close to the Warschauer Straße station in central Friedrichshain.
Though long considered the center of punk culture in the city, Kreuzberg has begun to attract a broader demographic of both visitors and aspiring residents. The beautiful art nouveau façades of the old buildings and the green areas along the river Spree have made it one of Berlin’s most popular up-and-coming areas. Kreuzberg is also home to a considerable population of Turkish immigrants, earning it the nickname Little Istanbul. Check out the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, Viktoriapark and the Topography of Terror (an outdoor museum located at the site of the former Nazi headquarters).
Though somewhat poorer, Friedrichshain has many notable points of interest. Be sure to check out the two landmark towers on Karl-Marx-Allee (Frankfurter Tor), the so-called Fairytale Fountain, and the memorial to Polish Soldiers and German Anti-Fascists in Volkspark.
Both neighborhoods are packed with political organizations, restaurants, cafes, pubs, galleries, parks, music venues and, unlike many other parts of the city, a plethora of affordable housing, making the area especially popular with younger expats.