In this new series, we’re diving into some of Berlin’s best kept secrets. Lesser known neighbourhoods that offer proximity to city centre, offering beauty, culture, nature and of course better value than the most popular districts.
If you’re brave enough to journey further East beyond the gentrified pizza eating punks of Friedrichshain, past the Rummelsburg waterfront, you will reach the green and picturesque district of Karlshorst.
Many are catching onto it as one Berlin’s best neighbourhoods to live. Here’s why you should give Karlshorst a chance.
Karlshorst is situated on the north side of the Spree river, sandwiched between the beautiful Plänterwald and the old east German zoo, the Tierpark. Its small town charm, excellent public transport connections, and proximity to parks on all sides make it perfectly positioned for access to the city and nature, while keeping things at a slower pace than other districts.
Karlshorst is connected with the S-Bahn (S3 Karlshorst S-Bahnhof), U-Bahn (U5 Tierpark), Tram (21, 27, 37 and M17) and various buses. Despite being situated a little out of the central districts, the S-Bahn is fast and it takes just 7 minutes to travel to Ost-Kreuz in the heart of Friedrichshain, putting Berlin’s trendiest neighbourhood on your doorstep.
This is one of the biggest draws of the neighbourhood as it's rare in Berlin to be outside of the ring, yet getting into the center in minutes. Being on the central S3 line it's also possible to cross the entire city, and have equal access to Northern and Southern districts.
The neighbourhood is surrounded by some of Berlin’s most interesting Eastern corners. Despite the perception of it being a slower paced, family oriented district, its position is at the centre of Berlin’s arts and music scene. For musicians and artists it has a perfect balance providing access to the consumption and creation of culture, from the most inspiring venues minutes away, to extremely affordable studio or atelier space in the neighbouring districts of Marzahn and Lichtenberg.
Just over the train tracks you are within walking distance to the spectacular Funkhaus. The former DDR radio station headquarters. The palatial building now hosts concerts and parties at the forefront of electronic music, including performances from Aphex Twin, Floating Points, Nils Frahm and many more.
The complex is also home to the experimental MONOM venue, Berlin’s Centre for Spatial Sound, where concerts which explore music through their multi-dimensional sound system take place.
On the slightly dilapidated upper floors of the main building you will find some of Berlin’s leading music producers in their studio spaces. With limited but affordable spaces to rent, Funkhaus has become one of Berlin’s cultural centres for electronic music.
The garden is also a beautiful spot to visit for a coffee at the Milchbar or pizza at Zola, a branch of one of Berlin’s more popular Neapolitan pizzerias.
Staying on the cultural tip, Karlshorst is also home to Berlin’s leading outdoor live music venue, Parkbühne Wuhlheide. This open air concert venue invites some of the world’s biggest artists ranging from Bjork to Pearl Jam as well as regular classical music performances.
The venue is part of the larger Volkspark Wuhlheide, a green and forested park with walking and cycling trails throughout, which reaches into the district of Oberschöneweide.
The neighbourhood itself is an oasis of calm to escape from the usual hustle and bustle. The small town feeling in the centre, leafy residential streets, welcoming dog and baby friendly cafes, as well as plenty of kindergartens, and a small shopping centre provide everything you need for a comfortable existence.
Sure, it’s not Kreuzberg, Mitte or Friedrichshain, but with these areas accessible in a matter of minutes, you won’t feel disconnected from the city’s pulse. Also with the influx of more expats in the area, the flat whites, trendy cafes and natural wine bars are beginning to appear, so millennials needn’t fear a total drought of avocados and craft beer.
Karlshorst is one of Berlin’s greenest neighbourhoods, and is completely surrounded by parks! With the Volkspark Wuhlheide to the south, Plänterwald and Treptower park to the East and the Tierpark Zoo to the north, taking a breath of fresh air is just a few blocks away.
The Plänterwald is also worth a mention because in addition to being a beautiful forest itself, it is home to the legendary, abandoned Spreepark. A former East German theme park, complete with overgrown rollercoasters and decomposing mechanical dinosaurs.
A little further to the East is also the Kaulsdorfer Seen, a group of three small lakes with a small beach for swimming in summer. These smaller lakes are great places to take a swim in summer with a car, and avoid the crowds who overwhelm the other beaches within the city limits.
Right in the centre of Karlsdorf you can find a number of Kleingartenverein, which are allotment communities. If you are lucky enough to find a free allotment you can even grow your own vegetables and have a special patch to escape to when you feel the urge to get some dirt under your fingernails.
The Tierpark is the largest landscaped zoo in Europe. Spread across the grounds of the Friedrichsfelde palace. With new attractions including the rainforest house you can immerse yourself in the east asian forest, getting up close with tigers, flying foxes, and tree kangaroos.
The zoo has been open since 1955 and is one of Berlin’s highlights for visitors, yet is often overlooked in favour of the more central Zoologische Garten in Charlottenburg, pulling in the tourists more than ever since opening the panda enclosure.
Sure you may not associate Karlshorst with Berlin’s best nightlife, but it’s proximity and transport links to the eastern districts of the city make it one of the best positioned districts to get immersed in the rave.
Of course another 5 minutes on the train will get you to Ostbahnhof, your jumping off point for the infamous Berghain & Panorama Bar. No further explanation needed.
Plus after a short tram ride, cycle or even walk over the spree, you will arrive at Revier Sud Ost (RSO) another of Berlin’s leading techno clubs. Not to forget events at the nearby Funkhaus and MONOM venues as mentioned above.
While you may not find the latest new scandinavian cuisine, fine dining, or emerging food trends in Karlshorst, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes offering international food, from India to Italy, and of course with no shortage of German classics or Döner kebab.
For great coffee, food and a good spot to get some work done, check out the CO.ME.IN cafe, offering quality coffee and food with a clean and light design creating a nice atmosphere for freelancers.
Sure it’s not the centre of Berlin’s culinary scene, but there’s plenty of cosy cafes and interesting eateries to explore. Plus fine dining is just an S-bahn away.
For us, Karlshorst has it all. Access to the city’s top expat areas, a beautiful and green neighbourhood, accessible housing, schools and kindergartens as well as a chilled out vibe that makes home a relief from the inner city pressure.
With residents being gradually priced out of the central districts with furnished housing developments, and rent control laws failing to make it into federal legislature, it’s worth considering areas of the city often overlooked by tourists or new residents.
Interested in Karlshorst? Let us know and when booking your flat package appointment and we’ll get in touch.