Getting Around Berlin
The best way to get around Berlin is via the U-Bahn underground trains or S-Bahn regional, elevated trains, which are both a part of the city's extensive BVG public transportation system. You can even take the U-Bahn from Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL), located a mere 5 miles from the city center, and from the secondary airport, Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF), about 13 miles southeast of the city center. Most visitors prefer flying into the more central Berlin Tegel Airport, but plenty of travelers choose to use the budget airlines that fly through Berlin Schönefeld.
The city also offers an extensive bus and tram lines. Although service is significantly slower, travelers can take advantage of the Berlin WelcomeCard, which offers unlimited rides on bus routes and rail lines.
As with every big metropolis, driving is discouraged: heavy traffic and scarce parking are the main culprits. For a bit of exercise, you can rent a bike and peddle along the city's bike lanes and through the parks. Metered taxis are also abundant; they can be hailed on the street or scheduled ahead of time.
|U-Bahn and S-Bahn||
Most tourists use the U-Bahn to get around. This underground rail system runs on 10 colored routes throughout the city and makes more than 173 stops. Note that prices are based on a zone system (A, B and C), but most of Berlin's attractions are situated in zones A and B, the cheapest price bracket. Schönefeld Airport is in zone C. The U-Bahn runs until 1 or 1:30 a.m. during the week and 24 hours on the weekends.
You can also take the S-Bahn, the commuter rail lines that run both east-to-west and north-to-south lines, as well as a circular line, throughout the city. Fares range from 1.70 to 3.40 euros (around $1.90 to $3.80), and trains run about every five minutes during rush hour and about every 20 minutes on nights and weekends. The S-Bahn runs until 1:30 a.m. during the week and 24 hours on the weekend.
A ticket is required for riding, and it must be validated with a stamp. If you're caught on the train without a validated ticket, you may be fined 60 euros.
|Bus and Tram||
An efficient bus system can also take you to most places in the city, though it's significantly slower than the rail system. A common bus route is Route 100, which departs from the Berlin Zoologischer Garten Station and drives through Tiergarten park and onto Alexanderplatz, allowing riders to see some of Berlin's most famous landmarks. Buses Nos. 216 and 218 are also popular since they travel outside of the city to the lake getaways of Wannsee Beach and Pfaueninsel (or Peacock Island). Bus lines marked with an "N" indicate routes that run 24 hours a day. Trams only operate in the eastern part of the city and incur the same fares as rail lines.
Metered taxis are available throughout Berlin. You can hail one on the street (an illuminated sign means it's free) or call one to pick you up (travler-approved companies include Quality Taxi, Taxi Berlin and Würfelfunk, and many also have apps). If you are only traveling about a mile or less, hail a cab on the street and ask for the Kurzstrecke (short distance tariff), which is just 5 euros. Regularly, base fares are 3.90 euros (or around $4.50), and each of the first 7 kilometers costs 2 euros (about $2.25). After that, every kilometer traveled costs 1.50 euros (around $1.70). All cabs in Berlin are required to accept major credit cards, and leaving a 10 percent tip is fairly standard.
Uber has seen some backlash in Germany (it was banned between 2015 and 2017), but it now operates in Berlin under RocVin Dienste GmbH, a local transportation service. Regardless, you will be able to order cars through the Uber smartphone app and should expect a similar experience to using the service in the U.S.
|Car||Driving is not a preferred mode of transportation. Along with many of the world's major cities, Berlin shares a penchant for traffic congestion and too few parking spots. Another very unique frustration is the inability to turn left on major thoroughfares; tram lines and other barriers block the way. However, if you're set on driving, you can rent a car from American companies at the Berlin Tegel Airport.|
Over the past year or two, bike-share programs have gained popularity in Berlin. Visitors may choose from seven or eight different companies, most of which embrace a "dockless" concept (meaning riders can leave their bikes at their destination when they are finished, versus returning the bikes to a docking station). Prices vary across the different services, so be sure to research each one ahead of time. Popular companies include Byke, Deezer Nextbike, Donkey Republic, Lime Bike and more.
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