Practical Life in Berlin


Transport in Berlin


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Berlin has superb transportation options and despite it's location in the far NorthEast of the country, is well connected to the rest of the country and Europe at large.

Navigation

House numbers do not necessarily run in one direction with odds on one side and evens on the other. It is common for house numbers to ascend on one side and descend on the other. Especially on long streets, check the numbering scheme first: you can find the name of the street and the numbers on that block at nearly every street corner.

Apartments do not usually have individual numbers. You can ring an apartment from the front of the building by last name and most doorways will be marked with their name.

Because an area usually has a square, a street, and the same name may be applied in different neighborhoods, it is important to clarify exactly where you are referring to. For example: you would not simply refer to "Kurfuersten" when talking about Kurfuerstenstrasse because there is a also "Kurfuerstendamm", a square in a different place.

Public Transportation

Berlin is a massive city that is best navigated by the excellent bus, tram, S-Bahn and U-Bahn. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, BVG, runs the public transport system and their site has many different features (also in English) including a helpful route planner, maps, and schedules. You may also call #49 30 19449 to reach customer service.

Tickets

Standard tickets are 2.30 euros for areas A and B (these are the main areas of the city). Tickets are valid for any travel within two hours of validation, in a single direction, within the appropriate fare zones. There is no limit to transfers, even between trams/buses/S & U-Bahn. For a single, short journey you can buy a Kurzstrecke for 1.40 euro, but this is only valid for 3 stops on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn (six stops by bus or tram); no transfers are permitted.

    Different Ticket options:
  • Berlin WelcomeCard -
  • Tageskarte (day card) - 6.30 euro
  • 4 Fahrten Karte - 4 single trips bought at once for a reduced price 8.20 euro
  • The Berlin CityTourCard - Ticket valid for all public transport services in Berlin, Potsdam and the surrounding area and a discount card for many tourist attractions.
  • Available for
    48 hrs, tariff zone AB for 15.90 euro or tariff zone ABC for 17.90 euro
    72 hrs, tariff zone AB for 21.90 euro or tariff zone ABC 23.90 euro
    5 days, tariff zone AB for 28.90 euro or tariff zone ABC 33.90 euro
  • Group ticket for 15.00 euro for up to five persons. If you are traveling more than two trips a day, this ticket is cost-effective for three persons and above.

Tickets can be purchased at vending machines at U- and S-Bahn platforms. Machines will be aboard trams, and the bus driver will sell you a ticket. The machines operate in English and various other languages. Payment is mostly by local bank cards, coins, and banknotes. If you need assistance, most larger stations have staffed ticket counters where you can ask questions and buy tickets.

You must validating your ticket before use. Validation machines are usually located next to ticket machines on platforms, and are yellow/white in the U-Bahn and the bus, and red on S-Bahn platforms. Validation simply means the machine prints a time stamp onto the ticket.

Plain-clothed inspectors patrol transportation and if caught without a ticket, they will charge a 40 euro fine. You can request to see their ID if your question their authority. They are not sympathetic, so ride black at your own risk.

At some large stations like Frankfurter Allee, Zoologischer Garten and Eberswalder Strasse, people will give away tickets that are still good to people who will then sell them to other people. Be aware that of the time the ticket was stamped and that you are technically only allowed to go in one direction with a single-journey ticket. Don't pay more than half the price of a regular ticket.

Metro

UBahn

The underground rail or subway is known as the U-Bahn. Although Germans and long-term residents are sure to complain, the U-Bahn and S-Bahn are a stunning system of efficiency and surprising reach. All U-Bahn stations now have electronic signs that give the time of the next train and are generally accurate. Confusingly, a few stations and areas of track are overground.

U-Bahn stations can be seen identified by their big, blue "U" signs. The platforms are relatively shallow compared to the London tube and without turnstiles so you can enter the U-Bahn without obstruction. During the week, U-Bahn and S-Bahn service stops from 1:00 to 4:30 (trams and special Night Buses still provide service every half an hour). On weekends (Friday to Sunday), as well as during the Christmas and New Year holidays, all U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines (except line U4) run all night, making even late night transport easy.

S-Bahn

The S-Bahn is the best way to get around the city quickly. Administered by Deutsche Bahn, this rail runs mostly aboveground. The BVG is the best site to plan trips. The Ringbahn encircles the city and offers fast connections to anywhere in Berlin. In the center, most S-Bahn lines run on an east-west route between Ostkreuz and Westkreuz via the stops Warschauer Strasse, Ostbahnhof, Jannowitzbruecke, Alexanderplatz, Hackescher Markt, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof, Bellevue, Tiergarten, Zoologischer Garten, Savignyplatz and Charlottenburg.

There have been several issues in the past few winter months with the S-Bahn being frequently closed due to bad weather and driver's stoppages.

Trams

Trams are mostly in East Berlin. Running along the roadways, they can easily be spotted by their bright yellow color and signs with "M". Lines are marked as "M4", "M10", etc. Tickets can be purchased from a machine on the tram.

Metro/Bus: http://www.bvg.de/

Train

The S-Bahn is under the jurisdiction of the German train company- Deutsche Bahn (DB). Train stations are connected to the main S-Bahn line, and some to the U-Bahn. The DB's site offers excellent trip planning services and should be used for planning most train travel within Europe.

Regional (RE) - This are the slowest train and connect the city to the outlying suburbs. They stop at every station.
EuroCity (EC) - International train service within the European inter-city rail network. Seat reservations may be required at 3 euro.
ICE trains (InterCity Express) - Not pronounced "ice" because of German pronunciation, these trains offer the fastest transportation, although unfortunately their high-speeds are compromised by their many stops. From Berlin to Munich takes about 6 hours. The trains can reach 300km/hr and it is very comfortable and clean. Seat reservations may be required at 3 euro.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased at all train stations. Most counters have at least semi-English speaking staff. Hauptbahnhof is best equipped for foreign travelers. The sooner you buy the ticket, the more likely you'll get a reduced price.

Stations

All regional and intercity trains now stop at the Hauptbahnhof, the main station and largest station in Europe. The station includes a shopping mall, post office, toilets and showers and the Infostore tourist information center.

Former main stations Zoo Bahnhof (Zoologischer Garten) in the West and Ostbahnhof station in the East are now just regional stations.

Train: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/index.shtml

Bus

Buses are the slowest form of public transport, but yellow double-decker buses will eventually take you to almost anywhere in Berlin. These are more common in the West as tram lines were removed to facilitate more vehicular traffic. Besides the normal metro buses, there are also express buses (indicated by an X), but these don't halt at every stop. There are printed timetables and routes listed at almost every stop.

The most famous bus lines are bus routes 100 and 200 which are inexpensive way to get a view of many of the city's landmarks.

Long-Distance Buses

Berlin is serviced from over 350 destinations in Europe. Long distance buses arrive at Zentraler Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (Central Bus Terminal) in Charlottenburg.

Ferry/Boat

Berlin is well appointed with waterways, rivers, and lakes. There are six passenger ferry routes that operate within the city boundaries of Berlin. They are operated by the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), the public transportation operator, with a page dedicated to water travel.

  • F10 - S Wannsee to Alt-Kladow. Runs every 60 min with a 20 min duration.
  • F11 - Wilhelmstrand to Baumschulenstrasse. Runs every 10-20 min with a 2 min duration.
  • F12 - Mueggelbergallee to Wassersportallee. Runs every 10-20 min with a 2 min duration.
  • F21 - Krampenburg to Grosse Krampe to Zum Seeblick. Runs every 60 min with a 14 min duration.
  • F23 - Mueggelwerderweg to Mueggelhort to Neu Helgoland to Kruggasse. Runs every 60 min with a 25 min duration.
  • F24 - Spreewiesen to Kruggasse. Runs every 60 min with a 5 min duration.

Plane

Tegel International Airport(ICAO: EDDT, IATA: TXL)
Located in the north-west of the city, this is the main airport international airport as well as a domestic hub. The original airport was designed as a hexagon, but two additional terminals have been added.

Schoenefeld (ICAO: EDDB, IATA: SXF)
This airport is southeast of Berlin and is the base for most low-cost airlines (i.e. easyJet, Ryanair and Germanwings) and charter flights.

The construction of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg), (IATA: BER) has started at Schoenefeld. The airport is scheduled for opening inn June 2012. After the opening all air traffic in the Berlin-Brandenburg region will be bundled at BER while the Tegel airport is going to be closed down.

Transport From the Airport

Transport from Tegel:
Buses - The no. 109 or X9 bus will take you to Berlin Zoo railway station, where connections are possible to the city's extensive U-Bahn and S-Bahn railway network. An express coach leaves approximately every ten minutes for the city center and costs 2 euro. Its takes around 45 minutes to Alexanderplatz, but may be longer with traffic.
Train - The airport is not train station accessible. The closest you can get is Jakob-Kaiser Platz on the U-Bahn line U7, which is 5 minutes from the airport with bus X9/109, Kurt-Schumacher Platz on the U6, 10 minutes from the airport with bus 128, and Beusselstraße S41/S42 (the ring) connected to the airport with an express bus. Any indication to a Tegel railway station refers to the remote S-Bahn station.
Taxis - Taxis will cost approximately 15 euro to the center.

Transport from Schoenefeld:
S-Bahn - The airport is served by the S-Bahn. The airport is in zone C and you will need to buy a ticket that encompasses that area.
Regional Rail - Less regular, but faster regional trains that cost about the same as the S-Bahn.
Buses - Operates between the railway station and the terminal buildings. Bus no. 171 runs to Rudow where you can change to the underground train network, with connections all over the city center.
Taxis - A taxi will cost approximately 23 euro for the half-hour journey to the city center.

Taxi

There are over 7,000 taxis in Berlin and Taxi drivers are known to be fair and less expensive than in many other big European cities. They usually drive cream-colored Mercedes with "Taxi" signs on top. Taxis queue can be found outside larger S- and U-Bahn stops, and can also be hailed from the street at the same rate. Calling a taxi is an option as well; mention to the operator if you want to pay by credit card, as not all taxis have card-reading equipment. Taxi drivers are generally able to speak English.

Taximeters start at 3 euro, with the first 7 kilometers charging the rate of 1.58 euro per kilometer, and then 1.20 euro for every further kilometer. Add a tip of 5-10 percent. World taxi meter can help you estimate your expected fare.
There is a special 3.50 euro Kurzstrecke for short trips (2km or 5 minutes), and can only be used in hailed cabs and if you mention it as soon as you board.

Taxi Companies

  • City Funk Telephone #21 02 02
  • Funk Taxi Berlin #26 10 26
  • Spree Funk #44 33 22
  • Wuerfel-Funk #0800 222 22 55 (tollfree) or #0177-222 22 77 (for mobile phones)
  • Quality Taxi #0800 - 26 30000

Car Hire

Car rental allows visitors to move freely through Berlin and the rest of Europe. Rentals can be easily arranged online or at points of entry. Shop around online to find the best prices as all the major car hire companies are present and prices are relatively low. Several major car rental dealers are located at the airports and major train stations. The minimum age for car rental is 25. Most companies will allow you to rent at a lower age, with an underage fee. German cars usually come with a manual transmission (gear shift). If you prefer an automatic transmission, ask the rental company.

If you select a basic rental rate your total price after tax will include value added tax (VAT), a possible location surcharges (like airport fees) and public liability insurance. Public liability insurance may be a mandatory separate coverage.

Driving Licenses

There is currently no common EU driving licence. A few car rentals request an international driver's license, so check before you go. If you need an international drivers license, you can easily get it at any AAA location. Licenses issued by different EU countries are also recognized in other Member States. While driving in Germany, you must carry your driving licence and vehicle documents at all times.

Roadways & Rules

Seat belts must be worn at all times by the driver and all passengers. Driving is on the right with passing only allowed on the left. When driving on the autobahnen (motorways), strictly observe this rule as there really is no official speed restriction. There is a 130km (80mph) per hour recommended maximum speed. A speed limit of 100km per hour (62mph) applies on major roads, which reduces to 50km per hour (31mph) in built up areas and 30km per hour (19mph) in residential zones.

Berlin requires all cars to have a "Low Emissions" sticker in order to enter the city center (Low Emission Zone, "Umweltzone"). Information on obtaining a sticker can be found on the German website.

Berlin is encircled by a motorway that branches off into six Autobahn highways. All main roads and motorways join the Berliner Ring, or the A10, from which you can access the inner city. The speed limit on the ring is 100km/hr. The city motorway is usually very crowded during rush hour.

Bicycle

Bike riding is much more common than owning a car in Berlin. The city is fairly flat and over 860 km of dedicated bicycle paths, marked by red brick. Do not cross into the red brick lane without looking as bicyclers travel fast. Seeing Berlin by bicycle is unquestionably a great way to acquaint the traveler with the big tourist sites, and the little sprees and side streets as well. Although it's good to carry your own map, you can also always check your location at any U-Bahn station and many Bus Stations. You can create your own bicycling maps online, optimized by less busy routes or fewer traffic lights or your favorite paving [22]. If you are not familiar with searching your own way through the city or you want more explanation of the sights you visit, you can get guided bike tours (with bike included) on Berlin Bike

Bicycle rentals are available throughout the city. Deutsche Bahn now rents silver-red bicycles. Located throughout the city, these bikes need to be unlocked by calling a number on the bicycle with a cellphone and registering with the service. They cost 0.06 per minute with a maximum charge of 15 euro per 24hrs with no deposit.

City Map: Berlin Tourist Map
Road Map: Street map of Berlin


Update 6/06/2011





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