Updated: Aug 12, 2021
All the things you need to know about getting around in Berlin!
Berlin is nine times bigger than Paris. It's most likely a bad idea to get around a city as big as Berlin without knowing how to get around. Luckily, Berlin has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. It is also one of the oldest in the world and the oldest in Germany!
Here are all the things you need to know, how to(s) and top tips on travelling around Berlin!
Types of transportation
U-Bahn stands for Untergrund which translates literally to Underground. As its name suggests, most U-Bahn runs underground but some are also above ground. The U-Bahn has 173 stations and it runs everyday. On weekdays, most of the lines run from 4am-1am with a 5 minutes interval during the day and 10 minutes at night. You can take the night bus when the U-Bahn isn’t operating (i.e. in the time between 1am-4am). On weekends, it runs 24hours but with a 10 minutes interval during the day and 15 at night.
Click here to plan your journey exactly!
WFF Fact: The U-Bahn was established in 1902 and it was created as a way to reduce the increasing traffic problem in Berlin.
S-Bahn is an abbreviation for Stadtschnellbahn which is a city rapid railway. Although it runs both over- and under- ground, it mostly runs above the ground in the city centre. S-Bahn covers 15 lines and has over 170 stations. It operates seven days a week but take note of the different timings! On weekdays, it runs from 4:30am-1:30am with a 5-20 minutes interval depending on the time of the day. On rush hours, the intervals tend to be shorter. On weekends, it runs 24hours but with a 30 minutes interval.
If you’re not sure which S-Bahn you should take, click here.
WFF Tips: Take the S-Bahn to travel for longer distances because it has fewer stops than the U-Bahn!
Trams. The Berlin tram system was first drawn by horses back in 1865 but today it has more than 20 lines with about 400 stops. Most of them run in the eastern part of Berlin. Nine of them, which are the Metronam (i.e. identified by ‘M’ in front of the tram’s number), run 24/7. The rest have their own varying operating times. Click here to see it.
Click here to see the different route maps for various trams.
Buses. This is the only public transport system that runs 24/7. Click here to plan your journey by bus.
Bikes. It’s not necessarily a part of the public transportation system but it is a way to commute. Cycling is a big thing in Berlin and the city has been continuously improving the facilities for bikers. Today, you can even bring your bike to the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and trams. You do need to pay an extra €2 within zone AB and €2.6 within ABC.
WFF Fact: You can cycle from Berlin to Copenhagen through the Berlin–Copenhagen Cycle Route! It stretches for no less than 630 km (390 mi). Anyone up for the challenge?!
If you don’t have your own bike, there are plenty of bike hires in Berlin.
Bike sharing has been gaining popularity recently because it is convenient. Usually, the bikes will be operated by an app whereby you can access everything from signing up to renting the bike. Here are some of the most popular one in Berlin:
Nextbike. Nextbike is already present in 200 cities across 26 countries in 4 continents. You can rent up to four bikes with one Nextbike account.
Regarding the fare, it’s €1/15minutes with the maximum of €15/24hours rental. The monthly rental fee would be €10/month and you’ll get the first 30 minutes of using the bike for free. An additional €1 / every additional 30 minutes. Keep in mind there might be slight price differences between cities.
Click here for more information.
Jump. Belongs to Uber, Jump is the first electric bike to operate in Berlin in 2018 and the red colour makes it easily recognisable. You can access Jump service through the Uber app. It cost €1 for the first 20 minutes and an extra 10 pence per minute after that.
Keep in mind that the fare runs as soon as you reserve the bike via the app. The bike can be parked for an hour in between and this will be free. However, you’ll need to pay an extra 25 euros if you park outside the service area. Don’t forget to return the bike to the Jump bike station after using it!
Limebike. Being on a mission of cleaner and more livable cities, Limebike offers both traditional and electric bikes. Click here to see the various ‘green projects’ they have. Established in California, United States, Limebike is now present all over the world.
Everything regarding its service, finding, renting, and returning, can be accessed through the Limebike app as well. It cost €1 for the first 30 minutes and around an additional 15p/extra minute. You can reserve the vehicles too but with a booking cost. The booking cost will be charged a per minute starting fee from when you press the reservation button until you unlock the reserved vehicle or cancel your reservation.
In addition to bikes, Limebike also offers electric scooters and electric mopeds.
Wheels. Partnering up with Lime, Wheels offers an electric bike without a pedal that you could rent. You’ll need a moped driving license to rent one. Like the other sharing bikes, Wheels also uses an app to operate its service. It cost €1 to unlock the bike and each minute would cost 20p.
WFF tips: You can private hire Wheels! Click here for more information.
Bikesurf. Similar to the other services, they offer bike sharing as well but you only need to pay what you can. There’s no fixed rate. You could book the time when you need the bike. However, bikesurf enables Berliners to rent their own bike to others as well.
If you prefer to buy your own bike, here are some places worth checking out:
Decathlon. It is a big sports store that has pretty much everything. If you’re looking to buy a new bike, check this place out!
Stadler. A big bicycle shop where you could find various equipment and other things related to bicycles. Worth checking out if you’re looking to buy a new bike! Check it out here.
Fietsenbörse. Whereby you could buy second hand bikes. You can expect to see more than 500 bikes there! They are present in many other cities other than Berlin as well. Click here for more information.
Berlinerfahrradmarkt. Another place where you can buy second hand bikes. If you know what kind of bike you want, we would recommend doing your own research on the average price of its new and used price prior to coming. It might be useful in negotiating for the price when you’re at the bicycle flea market like this. For more details, click here.
Sell Your Bike Berlin. A facebook group where people buy and sell various types of bikes. It’s also quite a cool option. Check it out here!
Biking could come in really handy especially to avoid traffic jams. However, the hustle and bustle of Berlin might be intimidating and dangerous for someone who is not used to cycling as a way of commuting. Therefore, make sure to always wear your safety gears and take it slow!
Generally, taxis are quite expensive in Berlin. If you hail a taxi on the street, there is a special rate of around €5 for 2km, which is a fixed rate. About an additional €2/km for journeys up to 7km and €1.50/km for journeys over 7km. This special rate can be attained by saying “Kurzstrecke" to your taxi driver in German as soon as you get into the cab.
Do note that if you’re bringing a suitcase, it costs €1/suitcase.
WFF Facts: Berlin’s public transportation is extremely reliable! It’s rarely late and it runs often. You probably won’t wait more than five minutes to get on a train during peak hours.
Berlin is divided into three different zones:
A - city centres and it includes all the 27 stations of the S-Bahn Ring / Ringbahn which is a type of line of the S-Bahn.
B - this is the area that covers the area after Zone A till the city limit.
C - the rest of Berlin which includes places like Berlin Brandenburg Airport BER, Potsdam, Oranienburg, etc.
The fares are divided into zones AB, BC, and ABC.
There are also several types of tickets. Luckily, once you buy your ticket, it is valid for S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses, and trams. Keep in mind that you need to validate the tickets. You can do this by putting in your ticket by stamping them at the yellow or red boxes either on the platforms or inside the trams. There are often inspections and you’ll get fined if the tickets aren’t validated.
Single ticket (Normaltarif). The ticket will be valid for 2 hours from its activation and you could make unlimited changes between bus, tram, U-Bahn and S-Bahn as necessary, travelling in one direction.
Children (6-14 years old)/reductions fare: Zone AB, €1,70. Zone BC, €2,20. Zone ABC, €2,50.
Adult: Zone AB, €2,80. Zone BC, €3,10. Zone ABC, €3,40.
WFF Facts: Kids under 6 travel for free!
Short-distance ticket (Kurzstreckentarif / Kurzstrecke) cost €1,70 (€1,30 reductions). With this ticket you can travel for three U- or S-Bahn stops, or six stops on the tram or bus but no transfers are allowed.
Day ticket (Tageskarte) costs. Costing € 8,60 (€ 5,50 reductions) for zone AB and € 9,60 (€ 6,00 reductions) for zone ABC, this ticket will be valid from whenever you activate it during the day until 3am the next morning.
Longer-term tickets (Zeitkarten). There are several types of this ticket:
Seven-day ticket (Sieben-Tage-Karte) which cost €30 for Zone AB and €37,50 for Zone ABC. If you’re travelling to Berlin for a week and planning to travel a lot, this could be the perfect ticket for you!
Monthly tickets (Monatskarte) cost €81 for Zone AB and € 100,50 for Zone ABC. Again, if you’re travelling a lot per month, this might save you a significant amount of money but don’t forget to calculate your average monthly travel cost before buying this.
WFF Facts: Normally you’ll spend only around €85/month for public transport. It could be cheaper if you bike.
You can buy tickets from various places such as bus drivers, vending machines at U- or S-Bahn stations, aboard trams, station offices and news kiosks sporting the yellow BVG logo. Keep in mind, bus drivers and tram vending machines only take cash. Some vending machines accept debit cards.
That’s it for now, you’re ready to travel around Berlin! Berlin is a huge city that’s full of life and you should explore it as much as you can while you can.