Berlin’s U-Bahn underground rail network is fast, comprehensive and efficient. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to get from A to B, and the yellow U-Bahn trains will become part of your Berlin experience very quickly!
Guide to Using the U-Bahn
Distinctive yellow U-Bahn train. Image Max Patzig via Flickr
The U-Bahn is a network of underground trains, which covers most of Berlin, and has good connections to the other transport systems in the city: S-Bahn overground trains, buses, trams and ferries. In fact, the same ticket covers all the transport systems, so you can change between U-Bahn and the others if it makes your journey easier, without paying again. Berlin is divided into three zones: A, B, and C. Most visitors never go further than Zone B, unless you’re planning to go to Schonefeld Airport or Potsdam, so you can save money by buying two-zone tickets rather than three zones.
There are a number of different types of tickets, and it’s best to think in advance and decide how much you’re going to be using the U-Bahn (and any public transport) before you buy your ticket. For example, there are single tickets, valid for 2 hours; 4-ride tickets, slightly cheaper than four singles; daily, weekly, and monthly travel cards; and the Welcome Card that includes free transportation and discounts to sites around the city.
The U-Bahn stations have no barriers or turnstiles. When you get on the train, you have to validate your ticket: there are a number of yellow or white machines in the train and on the platforms, where you stick in your ticket and get it stamped with a date. If you have a ticket for an extended period of time, you only have to stamp it once. For the criminally minded, it’s tempting to try and get away with not paying at all, or buying a ticket and not stamping it for a few rides. Be aware that many trains have undercover ticket inspectors, so the homeless man sitting next to you, or the dreadlocked hippy standing beside you could turn around suddenly and demand a validated ticket. No excuses are accepted: a 40 Euro on-the-spot fine is the norm.
The U-Bahn system is quite easy to navigate. There are ten lines, and you just have to look at the map printed on the wall in several places around the station, or in your travel guide, and see which line you have to take to get there. The trains display the name of the last station on the line, so if you wanted to go from Potsdamer Platz to the Zoological Gardens, for example, you would take the U2 train westbound, and the train would have the last station, ‘Theodor Heuss Platz’, marked on it. Trains come every 5-10 minutes, more frequently during the day and less at night. At night, between 1am until about 5am, there are night buses that run more-or-less on the same routes as the U-Bahn trains. On weekends and public holidays, the U-Bahn trains run all night.