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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Berlin is a great city to walk around – it is a big city but it is broken into smaller areas that each has their own feel about them. With a centrally located hotel and a train pass, you could ideally walk a good bit of the city if you have the time.
During our time in Berlin, Hubby and I walked a lot – probably more than most visitors, but that is just what we do. We used the metro and train only when we had our luggage or needed to get to a specific location farther away by a specific time. Otherwise, we walked taking different routes each time so we could see different parts of the city each time…especially as we would get closer to our hotel we liked to vary the way we arrived. That way we were more apt to discover hidden gems, small cafes, interesting shops, or just see how the Berliners live!
Depending on your interests, the travel guides list doable walks around Berlin. We opted to take a map of the city and create our own based on our interests. One of our favorites was a walk through the Tiergarten and Kurfürstendamm. Planning ahead, we knew what specific sites we wanted to see - the Victory Column and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church among others – as well as a stroll (well, a bit more quickly than a stroll) through the Tiergarten.
Other times we walked Unter den Linden from the Brandenburg Gate to Alexanderplatz, which gave us a feel for this most visited part of the city. It helped us get our bearings and see where things were that we would be returning to later.
And on our first night in Berlin, we walked to Charlottenburg for dinner! Yes, that was a bit of a longer walk, but we had been on the train all day and it felt good to stretch our legs. After dinner, we walked through the public gardens behind the palace before heading back to our hotel.
I recommend walking in Berlin when you get the chance. The metro and train system is great, but you go so quickly past things that one cannot get a good feel for the city itself and the way Berliners live. Give it a try!
Before you board the train (S-bahn or U-bahn), be sure to validate your ticket in the little box that is either near the ticket kiosk or near the entrance to the platform. Simply slide your ticket into the slot until you hear a click, then pull it out of the slot. This puts a time stamp on your ticket and ensures that it is valid for this trip. If you have a 7-day ticket, you only validate it on the first trip. Your seven days begins at that time.
There are random inspections for tickets and, if you are caught without a ticket or a validated ticket, you will be fined.
Traveling by bus is very simple and a good addition to the already efficient train and underground system. We used the bus in conjunction with the train to get to Charlottenburg Palace. Since we had our seven-day tickets, we simply showed the ticket to the driver as we boarded the bus. If you need a ticket, purchase it from the driver when you board.
There are buttons that say “Stop” for you to push to notify the driver you want to get off the bus.
Details, schedules, and route planners are available on the bus website below.
There are many options for local public transport in Berlin and many options for tickets, depending on what your needs are. While I was in Berlin, I utilized several of these options, each one being extremely easy to purchase and use. When Hubby and I were there, we knew we would have only a few trips since we prefer walking most places. But for those times when we had our luggage, we would use the train system.
There are three main sections to the Berlin transportation map – A, B, and C. The very center of the city is A with B and C being larger circles around the center. These are clearly marked on the train system map. You purchase your tickets based on what sections you will be traveling in. If you are headed to the C section, which is farther away, the price is higher. We just used the tickets for AB sections.
We purchased the four-trip ticket from the kiosk, which offers you a slightly reduced fare per ticket. The kiosk will print out four tickets (so wait for all of them) for €8,40 (a savings of €1,20 for the four). You need to validate each ticket as you use them.
On the final day, we had used up our four tickets and we had one final trip to the Hauptbahnhof. So we simply purchased two single tickets from the kiosk at a price of €2,40 each and validated the tickets as we entered the platform.
And during my week-long history course, we purchased the seven-day ticket for €28, which offers unlimited use of the S-bahn, U-bahn, and bus for a full seven days. This is a great value if you plan to use the public transportation system a lot (more than 11 single trips and it is paid for). You only need to validate this ticket before your first trip. Just make sure you have this ticket with you each time you travel in case you are asked to prove you’ve paid for your trip.
Note: prices are for 2012
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.
Berlin’s central train station, the Hauptbahnhof, is a huge new modern looking building which supports the trains and underground/metro system. It opened in 2006 in time for the World Cup. The building houses five levels with include train platforms, U-Bahn platforms, and restaurants and shops.
Hubby and I arrived in Berlin at the Hauptbahnhof on the ICE train and easily transferred over to the S-bahn system to reach our hotel. When my week-long history course began several days later, we were in the Hauptbahnhof on a daily basis, utilizing S-bahn, U-bahn, and the eateries and shops (it was the closest place to our hostel with a large selection of places to eat). It came in handy for in my class that needed to visit the Apotheke (pharmacy), or as some of my companions did, “needed” a good cup of coffee from either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
The Hauptbahnhof is well marked and there are ample signs and maps. You need to know the type and number of your train in order to find the platform – ICE and S-bahn trains are on the upper levels and the U-bahn is on the lowest level. You can pick up maps of the Berlin stations and trains at the DB information offices at the station.
There are plenty of places to sit and relax in the open outside area behind the Hauptbahnhof; unfortunately, there just aren’t as many places to sit inside the station. Steps and escalators lead to the platforms, as well as an elevator for those who require one.
Hubby and I took the high speed ICE train to Berlin. From Frankfurt it took about 4 hours, but we kept busy and the time went quickly. Our train brought us into the center of the city at the main train station, the Hauptbahnhof and from there we caught the regional S-bahn for a short ride to the Zoologicalgarten stop near our hotel.
The Hauptbahnhof was so big and a bit confusing at first. Once we got a feel for the station, with its many platforms on different levels, its shops, services, and restaurants, we were more comfortable with getting around.
Others in my history class arrived at the airport and they each said it was rather easy to catch a bus into town. And, while it didn’t seem crazy to drive a car in Berlin (not like other European cities), parking is expensive, so if you don’t need your car, it is just easier to take the train and not have to worry about it.
We enjoyed a snack in the restaurant car and enjoyed the ability to walk around to stretch our legs. I enjoy train travel since I can relax and read, take a nap, or do something else while traveling.