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Train, Tram and Bus transport in Berlin, Germany- how to buy cheap travel pass and tickets

Updated on April 24, 2012
From inside a Berlin U-bahn
From inside a Berlin U-bahn

Me and family have been living in Berlinfor the last 3 years. When we first moved to Berlin, Germany, it was really difficult to adjust. Not just the language, but the culture, attitude of the people, bureaucratic works, finding an apartment and so many things. In this article I like to share with you the different options for transport in Berlin, Germany.

Long distance travel: If you want to travel a long distance (more than 30 miles) from Berlin, or anywhere in Germany, there are long distance trains. They are called ICE or RE trains. RE is a regional express. Usually for travelling within a state in Germany or between adjacent states. People travel in ICE when it is really long distance, say travelling for 3-8 hrs (eg. Munich to Berlin). There are non-stop ICE too, for instance from Berlin to Frankfurt and back. There are also Night trains, where you can travel in night and sleep comfortably.

Advantage of RE train is that there are lots of offers for group travel. For instance, if you travel in a week end, there is week end ticket (costs 35 Euro) and you can take 5 people along with you (This is only for RE trains). What poor people like me usually do is to go the platform and ask someone if they have week end ticket (skones wohnent ticket) or take the ticket and ask someone near the ticket machine if they like to share the cost of the skones wohnent ticket. (don't get embarrassed to do this, you will be surprised to see that Germans are even better than us in saving money). There are also other offers like Lander ticket . This ticket allow you to explore any state by train for one whole day. Ticket price is between 26 and 30 euro. There are also German Rail Pass, valid for 4 - 10 days and could be used in Austria and Switzerland. German railways often has special offers for travelling to other major cities in Europe like Amsterdam, Florence, Milan, Prague, or Zurich. Please go to a Railway counter and ask for any offers before booking any ticket ( DB counter is there in every big central station (Hauptbahnhof))

S-Bahn- It is the most popular means of transport in Berlin. Except in few places, S-bahn runs in the ground level as normal train. It is important to note that once you take a ticket for public transport in Berlin, you can use it for all all means of transport within Berlin including ICE.Most often you will have options to choose between differnt means of transport and people usually prefer S-Bahn, as it is faster and over the ground.

Caution: Never trust the time board. It gives wrong information. Always look at the train front board to look for its distination. Some time the time board says, the next train is the train to Pankow, but the train that comes will be the one that goes to somewhere else.

You cannot buy a ticket inside an S-Bahn. There will be ticket venting machine in every station and you can take a ticket from there. Remember to validate the ticket. There will be a small machine near the ticket venting machine for validating the ticket.

There is normal ticket, costing 2.30 Euro. It is valid for 2 hrs. There is short distance ticket, which you can use only for one direction travel only, that too only for 2-3 stops.

In Berlin, some S-Bahn travel in a ring. It is called ring bahn, S41 and S42. One travels in clockwise direction and other anti-clockwise.

U-Bahn - U-Bahn stations are underground, so as U-Bahn. However, there are also few U-bahn stops over the ground. For some people it is suffocating to travel underground for long time. So they prefer a combination of S-Bahn and Bus.

It is not really safe to travel by U-Bahn and S-Bahn during friday and saturday night. In the west part of Berlin, the main problem is the drinked teenagers and in the east drunken Nazis ( how to idenfify Nazis? Most often they wear army cloths and will have a beer in their hand). For the foreigners, it is adviced to travel by Bus in the night. If you are working in Berlin, you will hear this from your International office.

A ticket machine for trains in Berlin
A ticket machine for trains in Berlin

Tram - Tram looks like train, but run paralaly to the road. In some places, both tram and Bus share same stop. However, tram is very slow and it is adviced to travel in tram only for short distances.

Bus: There are buses for within Berlin travel and for long distance travel. For travelling within Berlin, you can use the train ticket to travel in bus too. Bus will be slower, go to every street and damp, it takes lots of time. However, during winter, buses are the fastest mode of transport as S-Bahn is always late (in all the 3 years we are in Germany), but buses runs on time even in Winter.

There are also long distance buses at amazingly lower prices. For instance you can travel from Berlin to London in 20 Euro (but takes several hours). Check the right side for the links to the buses and for booking train tickets.

Airports: There are two main airports in Berlin. Tegal and Schoenefeld airport. All the international flights arrive in Tegel airport. Schoenefeld airport is used mainly by flights travelling within Europe, cheap tickets, cheap airlines like Ryanair. Schonafeld airport is in the outskirts of the city. S-Bahn, S9 goes directly to the Schoenefeld airport. Remember that this airport is in zone C. So if your present location is in the north of Berlin, you need a 3 zone ticket to travel to Schoenefeld.

One main thing to remember is there are three zones in Berlin. A, B and C. Zones A and B are inside the city. Zone C is in the outside the Berlin city. When you take a ticket from the ticket venting machine, it will ask which zones you want to travel. If you are travelling within Berlin, take Zones A and B ticket. If you want to travel to Schoenefeld airport, take 3 zone ticket (A, B, C).

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      Sandi 4 years ago

      Does the S-Bahn accept the Eurail pass?

    • Berlin123 profile image
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      Berlin123 4 years ago

      Sandi: I don't know, but the chance is less as they are two private companies.

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