Taxi or Limo
If you plan to get around by car (taxi or limo), for example for an airport transfer or within the city, you might want to check Talixo. This tool allows you to compare prices between taxis and other car services. They even have a economy class where you get trip fares below the taxi fare. You can book your trips directly online. Furthermore they also offer mini-buses which makes travelling in groups easier and cheaper.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
U and S Bahn
Getting around Berlin is easy by bus or U Bahn or S Bahn . U is supposed to mean underground and S surface , but they seem to do both. I bought a day travel ticket for 6 euro 50 which was used on bus, U, S, and DB train in Berlin.
Beware of changes on S Bahn
If you have not used the public transport system in Berlin for a couple of years you need to be aware of some changes to the S Bahn. At weekends you may be a on train which has a display on the front of the train showing it is going to say Wannsee but on route there is an announcement which may mean you have to change trains to continue your journey. You may board a train which indicates it ends the journey at say Pankow but you then discover on reaching Pankow that it changes route numbers and continues to Bernau. Another surprise is a route is divided. You travel about halfway when that trains ends its journey and reverses its route, you have to way for a train doing the same coming the other way which will stop at the station for several minutes before it reverses its route. This appears to be a money saving exercise to cut down on the amount of trains at weekends. There is engineering works on the U6 subway route between Friedrichstr and Französische Str until November 2013. The best advice I can give is to use the journey planners on the BVG or VBB websites.
As I left Griebnitzsee S-Bahn Station I was amazed to see that you could hire a bicycle just outside the station. Potsdam-per-pedales are located at Griebnitzsee, Potsdam and Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin, they will also deliver the bicycle to your hotel for an extra charge. They can supply touring, mountain, tandems and children's bikes and for the less strenuous electric bikes. They can also supply all the extras that you need for your trip. They have a number organised tours around Potsdam, Wannsee, Berlin and the surrounding countryside. They are open on weekdays throughout the year and weekends from the end of March to the end of October. One way hire between their locations is also possible. They also hire canoes but as I am very uncoordinated I would be taking an early bath.
Mit mir stehst du nie im Stau
Here on VirtualTourist there used to be a member from India called asurfacing (Deepti), who wrote that the first German word she ever learned was Stau, meaning traffic jam.
She explained: "It's a very important word it seems, for every radio station seems to use it on a regular basis. It's a word usually followed by a passionate Scheisse! Which was my second German word."
My own theory is that most Germans secretly love to get stuck in a Stau -- but for those few who don't, a good alternative in the cities is to rent a bike from NextBike (first photo), which advertizes: "Mit mir stehst du nie im Stau" meaning "With me you will never get stuck in a traffic jam".
I have used bikes from NextBike in Dresden and Leipzig, but not in Berlin because I had already rented one from a bike shop.
Berlin also has masses of DB CallBikes (second photo), which I have described in detail in one of my Karlsruhe tips and also in one of my Dresden tips.
The DB CallBikes are somewhat more expensive than the NextBikes, but the systems are similar. I have always been satisfied with both except for the necessity of using a cell phone to access them.
Another option in Berlin is "Take a Bike" (third photo), which I haven't tried yet, but in 2009 I saw a group of young people using them.
2. DB Call a Bike
3. Take a Bike
Airport and onwards
Train from the Schonenfeld airport takes around 30mins, and costs 3.20 euros and that covers all transport within the city , as a one way. The train we took went to Oudkruntz and from there had to Alexanderplatz, all about 30mins-45mins.
To go to Prague by train, by booking on Bahn.de, we got a single for £36 each, by booking early.
It takes 4.5 hours from the main bahnhof.
Booking online is cheaper than buying on the day even if its the same day travel so book online, save about 30%.
Berlin's Underground Subway system (U-Bahn) is an efficient and reliable way of moving around the city. I tended to buy day tickets (Tageskarte) which allowed travel on the whole underground network as well as the tram network (S-Bahn) until 3am the following morning. These were about 6 or 7 Euro for the AB zone where most of the sights of interest are situated. I never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a train to arrive, however, at peak times the trains did get very busy so watch your wallet and hang on tight!
There are 10 lines in Berlin's underground network. I mainly used the U2 as my hotel was very close to one of the stops. The U2 line is very convenient for sightseeing as it runs between Potsdamer Platz to the West and Alexanderplatz to the East. I also used the U8 line to explore the North of the city.
- Budget Travel
Hauptbahnhof (Main station)
Opening in May 2006, the central station is now the main station in Berlin and is Europe's largest two level rail station. The upper level of the station has six tracks (two of which used for the Berlin S-Bahn) and eight on the lower level (two more are reserved for the U55). There is no rail connection between the upper and lower level track in the station area (or anywhere else nearby). 1,800 trains call at the station per day and the daily number of passengers is estimated to be at 350,000.
There are a few hotels just one minute from the doors and this makes it a great place to stay especially if your travelling onward.
Berlin has a very reliable metro station with many stations that are conviniently located near the many tourist attractions around the city. The underground stations have shops and small cafe's and fast food outlets where you can grab something quick and the underground seems to be well maintained and easy to navigate around.
Berlin offer the "Berlin Welcome Card" where you can get unlimited travel by for 48, 72 hours or 5 days. It also will give you some discounts at certain attractions and museums. Prices range from 17.90 Euros to 35.90 Euros.
See website below for more information.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
Berlin Welcome Ticket
I am so glad I bought this ticket. It will have saved us huge amounts of money and time.
As we were staying for 3 nights 4 days I decided to buy the 72hour Welcome card ticket in advance from their website. It cost 36Euros each but it meant we had entry to the MuseumInsel sites and complete coverage of the rail network in Berlin. In addition we had discounted entry fees at all of the different sites we visited including the Neues Museum, the DDR Museum, the Naturkunde Museum, the Photographic Museum and the reduced rates on the city bus tour and the bus from the airport. The saving in time and convenience was well worth it. You just have to remember to validate the ticket by getting it stamped in the machine the first time you use it.
I ordered it online and the package arrived in the post just less than a week later. We received a helpful booklet that detailed all of the different discounted places and a map of the rail network, though I must say it was impossible to read the map.
If there is just one thing you should do in Berlin it is to buy the Welcome Card if you intend to travel around on the train and visit the tourist locations.
- Budget Travel
Train station staff unhelpful
Berlin has the best public transport system in Europe and it is easy and fairly inexpensive to get around this huge city. However on a more negative point we found the staff working in the train stations we visited to be extremely bad mannered and unhelpful. I think they should make a special effort to help tourists who may not speak German find the correct train to get to where they need to go as it is easy to get lost. Lots of times we boarded the wrong train which wasted a lot of time and when we did ask the station staff most of them were bad mannered.
Why I LOVE easyJet
Although Schoenefeld is supposed to be being replaced by the new Brandenburg airport this has been postponed to March 17th 2013 and so my easyJet flight last time round was rescheduled back to Schoenefeld which has become one of my favourite airports.
Unfortunately on my last trip I missed my flight by minutes - I'd gotten confused by the new layout at Ostkreuz S-bahn station :-( When I got to the easyJet terminal my flight was showing as "Boarding" and so I went to the front of the queue and asked if I could be fast-tracked. This was no problem and I got straight to security and to the front of that queue too.
I raced for my gate but when I got there the woman in charge apologetically informed me that they had closed the aircraft door. Such is life - it's not the first time I've missed a flight.
Having gone back through security I found the easyJet desk and asked if there was another London flight later that day. The woman at the desk informed me that there was a Gatwick flight that evening and that it would cost 180 Euros. I said OK and mentioned that I'd just missed my flight.
"Oh that's no problems, sir. I can change your ticket for 60 Euros."
This sounded a bit better than 180.
When she saw that my ticket was for Luton she did a quick search on her computer and found that there was one seat left on their Luton flight that afternoon. Which was a doubleplusgood bonus as my train ticket back to Devon was valid from there.
I still had to hang at the airport for most of the day but found a socket to plug my laptop in at the cafe and bought a relatively cheap WiFi package and so that was me sorted - beer and VT (and FB).
I just hope that easyJet have got a dedicated terminal when Brandenburg finally opens.
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Tickets in Berlin
Berlin has a very good transportation network. Of course, there are some negative sides, like the old S-bahn trains that must be completely replaced until 2018. There are buses, trams, S-bahns (suburban trains) and subway (U-bahn) in Berlin; you can also ride a bike in the whole city, there are good conditions for that.
You can buy tickets from some ticket-desk or from a special ticket-machines that are located almost everywhere. For using the machines you'll need coins or banknotes by 5 euro (it is impossible to put inside bigger banknotes). It is quite easy to buy a ticket, just choose your language first and after that follow the instructions. If you buy a daily card, do not forget to validate it. The validating machines are on the buses and trams, as well as on the rail stations and U-bahn stations. You need to validate it only once. It is the same with the other tickets: they must be validated upon the first departure.
A tip: if you buy a ticket on the bus/tram, you don't need to validate it, because it has the date and the hour stamped on it.
For tourist that want to travel around Berlin all day long I suggest buying a daily card, it is only 6.80 euro for ABC zone (a single ticket is 3 euro).
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Berlin Hauptbahnhof Europlatz
The ultra modern main train station was refurbished and reopened during 2006. It looks fantastic and stands out on the skyline.
A hub for international and local trains including the U-Bahn and S-Bahn.
- Budget Travel
The best way to see Berlin is probably by organized city tour busses. Within 3 hours you can see all the most important attractions of Berlin, a city that offers really many famous and very beautiful buildings and parks. The cost was about 20 euro, you can leave the bus whenever you want and board the next one in order to continue the tour.
We went to Berlin by car, and I still recommend it, if you don't live too far away (by the way German highways are really confortable and permit high speed); even if it is a big city, the traffic is not the same as in other places and it is quite easy (with a navigator system) to travel to/from/in the city.
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