Travel blogger Craig Crowther from My Gay Globe knows all the tricks to navigating Berlin like a local. Take his expert advice on getting to grips with public transport in the German capital…
While other countries wrestle with overpriced, crowded and persistently late public transport, Berlin is famed for its affordability, ease and punctuality. Put simply, it's one of the best systems in the world and, without question, the best way to travel around the city. Despite this, first-time visitors to the city often grapple to navigate the admittedly complicated map system, tickets and rules. Here are seven top tips for using public transport in Berlin...
If you need somewhere to stay in Berlin, check out St Christopher's Berlin hostel
1 Don't Forget to Validate
Before you board a train in Berlin, make sure you go and get your ticket stamped - otherwise it's not valid for travel. If you forget and get caught by one of the pesky inspectors, who peruse the trains in plain clothes, you'll have to pay a hefty fine. And it's unlikely they'll let you off because you're a tourist.
2 The Difference Between the U-Bahn and S-Bahn
Looking at a map of Berlin's extensive public transport system can be mind-boggling at first glance – though apps have undoubtedly made the task of planning a journey less complicated. The point to remember is that U-Bahn trains are underground and the S-Bahn runs at street level. As a rule of thumb, if you need a U-Bahn train go down the stairs and if you're hopping on an S-Bahn train head up to the raised platforms.
3 Taking Night Trains
If you're visiting Berlin on a Friday and Saturday night you're in luck. Not just because these are the premier party days but the trains also operate at 15-minute intervals throughout the night. If you need to get home during the week between 1am and 4am then Berlin has an extensive night bus or 'nachtbus' service. Day tickets are valid until 3 am the next day.
4 One Size Fits All Ticket
Despite what can appear like a complicated system, the tickets are delightfully simple. Once you've purchased and (of course) validated your 'fahrkarte' you can use it on the trains, buses or trams for the duration of 2 hours in one direction.
5 You Need Cash
While Germany is the economic epicentre of Europe, they're surprisingly reliant on cash with very few places accepting card payment. When it comes to transport, and many bars too, cash is king so always make sure you are carrying enough dollar on you.
6 Three Stop Ticket
It's likely that you'll mostly use the €2.70 tickets which are valid anywhere within the AB zone – with the exception of journeys to and from the airport. However, if you want to save your legs hopping from Alexanderplatz to Kreuzberg then the short-distance ticket known as a 'Kurzstreckentarif' is valid for three stops and only costs €1.60.
7 Go Digital
If you want to avoid the traditional way of travel, and plan and purchase your tickets online, then the FahrInfo Plus is just the ticket (or should I say e-ticket). It's available for both iOS and Android, though beware of potential roaming chargers and your battery life before waving farewell to the paper ticket.
Article by Craig Crowther
Follow Craig's blog My Gay Globe for more amazing travel advice!
Latest Travel Articles
10 Tips for First-Time Backpackers in Europe
The ‘German Backpacker’ gives us his best backpacking tips…