101 Berlin Germany

Berlin 101: Arriving & Getting Around [2021 Update]

Germany_Berlin_Brandenburg Gate
Berlin, the capital of Germany, is worldwide-famous for its modern history and the German people do not try to hide it. You will stumble upon reminders of the World Wars throughout the city. But its history goes much further than that, with the city being first documented in the 13th century. It’s also famous for architecture, contemporary arts, and nightlife.

ARRIVING in Berlin

Berlin is super well connected as you can expect from a central European capital. You can arrive by flight, international train, bus or car.


Berlin is now served by one airport: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (BER). After many delays and controversies, Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF) have been replaced by Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Getting to and from BER is very easy and practical. Located 18km away from the city, it is also a railway hub, connecting the airport to other German cities, and even to some international destinations, not just Berlin.

Due to its troubled past as a divided city, it’s not easy to pinpoint a center. But since I need to pick one for the sake of clarity here, I’m going with Alexanderplatz

From the airport, you have several options to reach Berlin Hbf. The fastest connections are with the express trains: FEX, RE7, RB14, and other regional trains. My strategy is to have the BVG Fahrinfo-App (Android/iOS) and upon reaching the rail terminal, purchasing a ticket for the next available train. FEX runs every 30min, while RE7 and RB14 run every hour. They have a journey time of 31–36min and cost €3.80 each way.

TIP: The trains to/from the airport are included in the ABC Passes. Read more in the Getting Around section below.

If you take the RE7 or RB14, Alexanderplatz is 2 stops before Berlin Hbf, shortening the journey time by 7 minutes. From either station, it’s just a few stops on the U5 to Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), Bundestag (Parliament), and Museumsinsel (Museum Island).

Alternatively, there’s the S-Bahn too but they are not good options to reach Berlin Hbf or Alexanderplatz. While the S9 is a direct connection too but with a journey time of 50min and 43min, respectively. The S45 skirts the south of Zone A and doesn’t go into the center.


International trains will arrive at Berlin Hbf (de: Hauptbahnhof; en: Central Station), which is connected to S3, S5, S7, S9, and various tram and bus lines. This station is big, but in true German fashion, well signaled, so just keep your eyes open.


You will likely arrive at ZOB Berlin (de: Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof Berlin; en: Central Bus Station), which is located 400m away from U2/Kaiserdamm and Messe Nord/ICC (S41/42/46).


The transport network in Berlin is operated by BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) and served by S-Bahn (suburban trains), U-Bahn (underground), Straßenbahn (trams), and buses. It is divided into zones A, B and C. The furthest you travel, the more you pay. Tickets are available for zones AB, BC and ABC but for the regular tourist, the Inner Zone (AB) is more than enough — excluding the trip to Brandenburg Airport, which is in Zone C.

The time-based passes available are:

  • 24-hour ticket: €8.80 (AB) and €10.00 (ABC), valid from the time of validation;
  • 7-day ticket: €36 (AB) and €43 (ABC), valid for 7 consecutive days, starting from the date of validation.

If you want to keep the flexibility of using the subway as you wish, but without wasting money, you can follow this general arrangement:

  • day of arrival from + day of departure to airport: 24h ticket ABC
  • day of visit to outer areas (like Potsdam): 24h ticket ABC
  • days of touristing within the city: 24h ticket AB. For more than 4 days, consider getting the 7-day ticket.

If you believe this is still too much for your needs, you can also buy single — €3 (AB) and €3.80 (ABC) — or 4-trip tickets. And for short distances (3 stations on U/S-Bahn or 6 stops for trams/buses), you can buy a discounted fare (Kurzstrecke).


Group Ticket

Don’t forget to buy group tickets if you will be traveling in groups of 3-5 persons. The 24-hour group ticket costs €25.50 (AB) and €26.50 (ABC), also valid from the time of stamping. But remember, it’s one ticket, so you must be traveling together at all times.

Finally, there are the tickets aimed at tourists — Berlin CityTourCard and Berlin WelcomeCard — with more options between 24h and 7 days, with discounts on several attractions. But I always advise against this kind of ticket, unless you’ll really visit lots of those attractions. That’s the only way for these discounts to be worth the significantly higher price.

TIP: Pay attention to the monitors on the U- and S-Bahn platforms, as you can have more than one line using the same platform!


Read also:

Munich 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Amsterdam 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Brussels 101: Arriving & Getting Around

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  • Reply
    August 11, 2019 at 03:55

    Heya this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Reply
      August 11, 2019 at 15:04

      In my experience, mostly WYSIWYG but also a little but of coding… nothing you cannot easily find on google.
      HTML however is less and less used in favor of CSS, which is a bit more complex but much more versatile.
      Hope I was helpful 🙂

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