Guide to public transport in Berlin
Berlin has an integrated public transport network that works amazingly well, most of the time. In the city, you will find U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn AKA underground trains), bus and Strassenbahn (literally ‘street train’ AKA trams) and S-Bahn (Schnellbahn, meaning ‘fast train’, which is the local overground rail network). All of these are run by BVG (The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe), the local operator, but you will also find regional commuter trains run by DB (Deutsche Bahn), the national operator. These include RB (RegionalBahn, which travels outside the Berlin metro area and stops at all / most stops), then there is RE (RegionalExpress) these cover the same areas as RB trains but only stop at the main stations. There are also others such as IC (InterCity) and ICE (InterCityExpress) but you would only use these for travel to and from Berlin to places further afield like Hamburg and Dresden etc.
Remember your line colour (and the number if that is easier for you) and the end station, and you will easily find your way about. Most S/U-Bahn trains, buses and trams run every 5-15 minutes during the day. Buses and trams run every half hour at night. U-Bahn trains run every 15 minutes on weekend nights, with N buses following their routes every half hour. Don’t be scared to use the bus or tram system as they are quick and easy to use with announcements and signs for each stop.
Berlin’s AB travel zone covers the area where most tourists will be visiting but if you are travelling to Potsdam, Oranienburg for Sachsenhausen concentration camp or Berlin Brandenburg Airport then you’ll need an ABC ticket. With an Einzelfahrschein (single ticket) ticket (AB-zone €3, ABC €3,80) you can travel one way for up to two hours with unlimited transfers. Buy a €2 Kurzstrecke (short distance) ticket if you want to travel up to three S/U-Bahn stops, or up to six stops by bus or tram. If you are on a major travelling day, Tageskarte (day ticket). A 24-hour ticket allows one passenger to travel for 24 hours for as many trips as desired. Transportation fares for up to three children aged six to fourteen are included in the ticket price. Fare zone AB: € 8.80 (regular), € 5.60 (reduced) Fare zone BC: € 9.20 (regular), € 5.90 (reduced) Fare zone ABC: € 10 (regular), € 6.10 (reduced) or the seven-day pass (The seven-day ticket allows one passenger to travel for a flat rate from the time of validation for 7 consecutive days until midnight at the end of the 7th day. Fare zone AB: € 36, Fare zone BC: € 37, Fare zone ABC: € 43. Groups of up to five people are best off with a Kleingruppenkarte (small group day ticket). The small-group day ticket allows up to 5 people to use all public transportation services for 24 hours. One dog can also be taken along Fare zone AB: € 25.50 Fare zone BC: €26 Fare zone ABC: € 26.50. The multiday Berlin Welcomecard (from €23) is valid for transport and some attractions.
For up-to-date information, please visit – BVG The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, who run the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses and trams.
Tariff zone Berlin A:
Inner-city of Berlin including the S-Bahn ring.
Tariff zone Berlin B:
Outside the S-Bahn ring until the city limits.
Tariff zone Berlin C:
Rural districts surrounding Berlin (approx. 15 km around the state of Berlin), including the city of Potsdam.
Tickets can be used on all transport, including ferries such as at Wannsee, Click here for a full bus and ferry map.
Buy a ticket from a vending machine, don’t worry there are instructions in English (and other languages). Buy an AB ticket for most journeys, except if travelling from BER Airport, as this will need an ABC Card.
Once you have purchased a ticket from a vending machine, you can use it on all BVG, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Bus, Tram and local RB and RE train services. Joined up thinking for once! Instructions are in English and they should accept coins, notes and bank cards.
Arriving in Berlin by air
Travelling from Berlin Brandenburg to Berlin City Centre
Berlin Brandenburg Airport is situated in the southeast of Berlin, approximately 11 miles (18 km) from the city centre. The airport railway station is located in Terminal 1 on level U2.
Here you can find maps of the entire BER airport as well as a more detailed overview of the individual terminals.
To reach Berlin’s city centre, you will need a valid ticket for fare zones ABC.
Bus: The express bus lines X7 and X71 depart every 5 minutes from BER Airport Terminals 1-2 and 5 towards U Rudow (U7). The express bus line X71 departs every 20 minutes towards U Alt-Mariendorf (U6).
Regional Train: Airport Express train (FEX), which departs at BER Airport Terminal 1-2 and travels via Ostkreuz and Gesundrunnen to Berlin Central Station. Regional lines RE7 and RB14 with four trips per hour.
S-Bahn: Further connections are offered through the S-Bahn lines S9 (towards Spandau) and S45 (towards Südkreuz), which each depart every 20 minutes from BER Terminal 1-2 and 5.
The new Rostock-Berlin-Dresden Intercity line stops at BER Airport T1-2 every two hours and connects BER to the German long-distance rail network.
Remember to validate your ticket before your journey on trains by punching it in the yellow or red machines near the end of the platforms. On buses and trams, smaller validation machines are on board near the doors so insert your ticket once you’re on. Both uniformed and plainclothes inspectors check tickets and they work in groups. If you are caught without a valid ticket you’ll be fined €60 on the spot.
You can order a taxi in Berlin using these numbers or use their apps. We haven’t used any of these, so cannot vouch for them.
Würfelfunk: +49 30 21 01 01 www.wuerfelfunk.de
City-Funk Berlin: +49 30 21 02 02 www.cityfunk.de
Taxi Funk Berlin +49 30 20 20 21 220 www.taxifunkberlin.de
Receipt for taxi trips
Always ask for a receipt. Not only is it handy for any problems with fare payments, but it is also handy in case you leave anything in the car. Make sure that the receipt includes the following details:
- Operator’s address
- Concession number (usually pre-printed, the number must match the number on the bottom right of the rear window)
Berlin is a flat city and there are plenty of cycle paths and wide bus lanes for you to use. Even though it doesn’t look like it, cycling on the pavement is illegal and you may get fined. If you get tired you can take your bike onto the S/U-Bahn train. Bike rental is around €10-12 per day.
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