Berlin public transport is quick, well-organized and punctual, as you might expect. The trains, buses and trams are all integrated in Berlin’s public transport network, and together they can get to pretty much anywhere you want. Getting around by public transport within the city is almost always quicker than driving, and with the possible exception of cycling or walking, public transport is the best way to move around in Berlin.
Public Transport Zones
Berlin’s public transportation system is extensive. Image Jaypeg, via Flickr
Berlin’s public transport is fairly simple to use. The city is divided into three zones: A, B and C. You can buy the full three-zone ticket (ABC), or cheaper two-zone tickets (AB or BC). For visitors to the city, buying AB is usually the best choice, unless you plan to ride to Schonefeld Airport, or out to Potsdam.
There are many kinds of tickets, and it is worth planning in advance what you want to buy so that you don’t end up wasting money. There are single tickets, which are valid for up to two hours in the same direction; four-ride tickets, which are slightly cheaper than four single tickets; cheap short-distance tickets (Kurzstrecke) for up to three stops on the train, or six stops on the bus or tram; daily, weekly or monthly travel cards, which give you unlimited travel while the ticket is valid; and a group ticket, which gives unlimited travel for a day for up to 5 people. There is also the Berlin Welcome Card, which gives unlimited travel for three days, as well as discounts to many of the major sites in the city.
There are no ticket conductors checking people as they get on the trains and trams, so you have to remember to validate your ticket yourself, after you buy it at the machine. There are validating machines, which simply stamp the ticket with the time and date, on the platforms or on the bus. Once you’ve validated the ticket once, you can keep going for as long as the ticket is valid without stamping it again. The extensive team of cunning undercover inspectors look out for Schwartzfahrers, free-riders, and will give you a 40 Euro fine if you don’t have a validated ticket with you. No excuses are accepted!
Transportation Opening Hours
Bus passengers in Berlin. Image dimi, via Flickr
The U-Bahn underground trains and the S-Bahn overground trains run from around 5am to 1am during the week, and 24 hours a day over the weekend and on public holidays. At night, there are night buses which follow the routes of the U-Bahn trains. Trains come every 5 minutes during peak hours, and every 10-15 minutes the rest of the time. You can plan your journey with a map, found in all guidebooks and in the stations, or by looking online at Berlin’s journey planner.
Apart from the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses and trams, Berlin public transport also includes ferries sailing across the Spree river. The same ticket can get you on one of six ferry lines at different points on the river. Although it’s not always the quickest way to get around, it’s beautiful and picturesque, whether under clear skies in the sunny summer or plowing through the ice in winter. Some ferry lines only run in the summer.
For adult in zones A and B:
Single ticket: 2.60 Euro
4-ride ticket: 8.80 Euro
Short-distance ticket: 1.50 Euro
One Day ticket: 6.70 Euro
7-Day ticket: 28.80 Euro
Month ticket: 77.00 Euro
Group ticket (5 people, 1 day): 16.20 Euro
Prices may change. You can get the most up-to-date prices on the Berlin public transport site, bvg.de.