- U-Bahn Most efficient way to travel; operates 4am to 12.30am and all night Friday, Saturday and public holidays. From Sunday to Thursday, half-hourly night buses take over in the interim.
- S-Bahn Less frequent than U-Bahn trains but with fewer stops, and thus useful for longer distances. Same operating hours as the U-Bahn.
- Bus Slow but useful for sightseeing on the cheap. Run frequently 4.30am to 12.30am; half-hourly night buses in the interim. MetroBuses (designated eg M1, M19) operate 24/7.
- Tram Only in the eastern districts; MetroTrams (designated eg M1, M2) run 24/7.
- Bicycle Bike lanes and rental stations abound; bikes allowed in specially marked U-Bahn and S-Bahn carriages.
- Taxi Can be hailed, ordered by phone or picked up at ranks.
Berlin's extensive and efficient public transport system is operated by BVG and consists of the U-Bahn (underground, or subway), the S-Bahn (light rail), buses and trams. For trip planning and general information, call the 24-hour hotline or check the website.
The U-Bahn is usually the most efficient way of getting around town. The S-Bahn comes in handy for covering longer distances, while buses, trams and bicycles are useful for shorter journeys.
- Bicycles are handy both for in-depth explorations of local neighbourhoods and for getting across town. More than 650km of dedicated bike paths make getting around less intimidating even for riders who are not experienced or confident.
- Having said that, always be aware of dangers caused by aggressive or inattentive drivers. Watch out for car doors opening and for cars turning right in front of you at intersections. Getting caught in tram tracks is another potential problem.
- Bicycles may be taken aboard designated U-Bahn and S-Bahn carriages (look for the bicycle logo) as well as on night buses (Sunday to Thursday only) and trams. You need a separate bicycle ticket called a Fahrradkarte (€1.90). Taking a bike on regional trains (RE, RB) costs €3.30 per trip or €6 per day.
- The websites www.bbbike.de and www.vmz-info.de are handy for route planning.
Many hostels and hotels have guest bicycles, often for free or a nominal fee, and rental stations are at practically every corner. These include not only the expected locations (bike shops, gas stations) but also convenience stores, cafes and even clothing boutiques.
Prices start at €6 per day, although the definition of 'day' can mean anything from eight hours to 24 hours. A cash or credit-card deposit and/or photo ID is usually required.
The following outfits are recommended. Call or check the website for branches and be sure to book ahead, especially in summer.
Fahrradstation Large fleet of quality bikes, English-speaking staff and seven branches across Mitte, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg and Potsdam. Bike rentals start at €15 per day or €49 per week. The Friedrichstrasse branch rents e-bikes. Online bookings available.
Prenzlberger Orange Bikes One of the cheapest bike rentals in town with proceeds going to social projects for kids and youth.
Lila Bike Small outfit in Prenzlauer Berg with quality bikes and great prices.
- Buses are slow but useful for sightseeing on the cheap (especially routes 100 and 200). They run frequently between 4.30am and 12.30am. Night buses (N19, N23 etc) take over after 12.30am.
- MetroBuses, designated M19, M41 etc, operate 24/7.
- Tickets bought from bus drivers (cash only) don't need to be validated.
Car & Motorcycle
Driving in Berlin is more hassle than it’s worth, especially since parking is expensive and difficult to find.
- All the big internationals maintain branches at the airports, major train stations and throughout town. Book in advance for the best rates.
- Taking your rental vehicle into an Eastern European country, such as the Czech Republic or Poland, is often a no-no; check in advance if you’re planning a side trip from Berlin.
If you're bringing in your own car, be aware that central Berlin (defined as the area bounded by the S-Bahn circle line) is a restricted low-emission zone (Umweltzone), meaning that all cars entering (yes, even foreign ones) must display a special green sticker called an Umweltplakette, available only for eligible, low-emission cars (which includes pretty much all modern cars). Drivers caught without one will be fined €80. Buy one online in advance (at www.green-zones.eu, www.umwelt-plakette.de). Once in Germany, stickers are available from designated repair centres, car dealers and vehicle-licensing offices.
- You can order a taxi by phone, flag one down or pick one up at a rank. At night, cars often wait outside theatres, clubs and other venues.
- Flag fall is €3.90, then it’s €2 per kilometre up to 7km and €1.50 for each additional kilometre. There's a surcharge of €1.50 if paying by credit or debit card, but none for night trips. Bulky luggage is charged at €1 per piece.
- Best avoided during daytime rush hour.
- Tip about 10%.
|East Side Gallery||Brandenburger Tor||€15|
|Jüdisches Museum||Hackescher Markt||€11|
Short Cab Ride
A great way to cover short distances quickly is the Kurzstreckentarif (short-trip rate), which lets up to four people ride in a cab for up to 2km for €5. This only works if you flag down a moving taxi and tell the driver you want a 'Kurzstrecke' before he or she has activated the regular meter. If you want to continue past 2km, regular rates apply to the entire trip. Passengers love it, but cabbies don't, and there's been talk of tossing the tariff altogether.
- Trams (Strassenbahn) operate almost exclusively in the eastern districts.
- Those designated M1, M2 etc run 24/7.
- A useful line is the M1, which links Prenzlauer Berg with Museum Island via Hackescher Markt.
- Tickets are available from in-tram vending machines (cash only) and don't need to be validated.
Tickets & Passes
- One ticket is valid for all forms of public transport.
- The network comprises fare zones A, B and C with tickets available for zones AB, BC or ABC.
- AB tickets, valid for two hours, cover most city trips (interruptions and transfers allowed, but round-trips are not). Exceptions: Potsdam and Schönefeld Airport (ABC tariff).
- Children aged six to 14 qualify for reduced (ermässigt) rates; kids under six travel free.
- Buy tickets from bus drivers, vending machines at U- or S-Bahn stations, and aboard trams, station offices and news kiosks sporting the yellow BVG logo. Some vending machines accept debit cards. Bus drivers and tram vending machines only take cash.
- Single tickets, except those bought from bus drivers and in trams, must be validated at station platform entrances.
- On-the-spot fine for travelling without a valid ticket: €60.
- A range of travel passes offer better value than single tickets.
Travel Tickets & Passes
- If you’re taking more than two trips in a day, a Tageskarte (day pass) will save you money. It’s valid for unlimited rides on all forms of public transport until 3am the following day. The Kleingruppen-Tageskarte (group day pass) is valid for up to five people travelling together.
- For short trips, buy the Kurzstreckenticket, which is good for three stops on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn, or six stops on any bus or tram; no changes allowed.
- For longer stays, consider the Wochenkarte (seven-day pass), which is transferable and lets you take along another adult and up to three children aged six to 14 for free after 8pm Monday to Friday and all day on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Monthly passes are also available.
|Ticket Type||AB (€)||BC (€)||ABC (€)|
|Ermässigt (reduced single)||1.70||2.20||2.50|
|Tageskarte (day pass)||7||7.40||7.70|
|Kleingruppen-Tageskarte (group day pass)||19.90||20.60||20.80|
|Wochenkarte (7-day pass)||30||31.10||37.50|
Walking around Berlin's neighbourhoods (Kieze in local parlance) is a joy but to travel between them you want to make use of the excellent public transport system.
Travelling at Night
No matter what time it is, there's always a way to get around Berlin.
- U-Bahn lines run every 15 minutes all night long on Friday, Saturday and public holidays (all but the U4 and U55).
- From Sunday to Thursday, night buses (N1, N2 etc) run along the U-Bahn routes between 12.30am and 4am at 30-minute intervals.
- MetroBuses (designated M11, M19 etc) and MetroTrams (M1, M2 etc) run nightly every 30 minutes between 12.30am and 4.30am.
Feature: Berlin's Transport System
- Berlin’s comprehensive public transport system is administered by BVG and consists of the U-Bahn (subway, underground), the S-Bahn (light rail), buses and trams. U-Bahn and S-Bahn are the most efficient methods of transport.
- For full information and a handy journey planner, go to www.bvg.de (also in English).
- Network maps are posted in stations (usually on platforms), on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, and on trams.
- Tickets are available from vending machines at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations and on trams, from bus drivers and from BVG sales offices.
- Tickets must be validated (stamped) before boarding the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Those bought from bus drivers and on the tram are prevalidated.
- Vending machines in U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations accept cash and EC Cards but not credit cards. Bus and tram tickets must be paid for in cash. Tram vending machines only take coins; sometimes exact change is required. Bus drivers carry only a small amount of change.
- For most rides you need an AB ticket; if taking more than two trips per day, get a Tageskarte (day pass).
- To determine the right direction, use the map to identify the final stop of the line, which is also posted on electronic displays on station platforms.