Public Transport

= S-Bahn

= U-Bahn

= Bus and Tram
Getting about on Berlin's excellent public transport system is a breeze. Berlin Transport has an excellent web site with loads of useful information. There are three very useful maps that it's worth printing and taking with you; firstly, the U-Bahn and S-Bahn networks, secondly the tram system and thirdly the 24 hour network. The latter is a composite map showing all forms of transport that run throughout the night.

Do be aware that all public transport, even buses, runs precisely to timetable - it's very impressive!

There are four main forms of public transport, as follows:
  • S-Bahn  The S-Bahn ('Schnellbahn', literally 'fast railway') is a rapid transit system in and around Berlin. It consists of 15 lines and is integrated with the mostly underground U-Bahn to form the backbone of Berlin's rapid transport system. Unlike the U-Bahn, the S-Bahn crosses the Berlin city and state border into the surrounding state of Brandenburg, e. g. to Potsdam.

  • U-Bahn  The U-Bahn (from 'Untergrundbahn', meaning 'underground railway') is a rapid transit railway, and is a major part of the public transport system of the city. It serves 173 stations spread across ten lines, with a total track length of 146.3 kilometres (90.9 mi), about 80% of which is underground. Trains run every two to five minutes during peak hours, every five minutes for the rest of the day and every ten minutes in the evening.

  • Trams  The tram network (Straßenbahn, or 'street railway') has 22 lines 382 stops and measuring 191.6 kilometres in length. Nine of the lines are operated 24 hours per day, identified with the letter 'M' before their number. Almost all of the tram network is within the confines of the former East Berlin—tram lines within West Berlin having been replaced by buses during the division of Berlin.
  • Bus  Normal bus routes make up most of the network and consist of around 300 lines, numbered from 100 to 399. The most famous line is the 100, which serves the tourist route from Alexanderplatz to the Zoological Garden passing many of Berlin's sights. The 200 takes a slightly diferent route between the two places and is also worth trying. There are also Express buses (X) - 13 rapid lines, mainly used to reach the airports or linking the suburbs to the city centre, with far fewer stops - and Night buses (N) - 45 lines, substituting for the U-Bahn (except at weekends).

Öffi (Android app)
There's a fabulous Android app that's been invaluable to us when travelling around and outside Berlin. It's called Öffi, and you can download it free of charge - see full details here . You just type in your 'from' and 'to' locations and Öffi will give you the route. You can even leave out 'from' and let Öffi work out where you are.

Tickets for public transport

It's a good idea to buy whatever tickets you've decided upon at Schönefeld before leaving the terminal building. Whilst there are ticket machines at every station they can be a bit confusing, especially if you're in a hurry, so it's best to deal with a human!

So, after collecting your luggage you go through automatic doors into the public arrivals area. Turn immediately to your right and not far along is an Information Desk. If there's only two of you I’d suggest buying a Day Ticket for Zones A B and C at €6.80 for each of you for each day you're there. Both Schönefeld and Potsdam are in Zone C, so an ABC ticket means that you can travel anywhere on the Berlin network.

If there are four or more of you then it's better to buy a Small Goup Ticket for each day - this costs €16 per day and covers up to five people. The only problem is that all members of the group have to travel together.

These tickets, (Day or Small Group) cover all forms of transport except the specialist sightseeing buses, meaning that you can travel without further payment by S-Bahn, U-Bahn (Underground) tram and bus, making life really simple. On your first journey with each ticket you have to validate it. You do this by popping a fresh ticket into a machine on the platform/bus/tram to validate it. This stamps the date and time on it and your allowed time runs from that point until the very early hours of the next day

Getting into Berlin from Schönefeld - S-Bahn

Schönefeld airport map

Getting into Berlin from
Schönefeld - regional rail

Getting into Berlin from

Map of Tegel
Our favourite way to get from Schönefeld airport to central Berlin is by S-Bahn. Schönefeld was originally in East Germany, not even in East Berlin. The journey from Schönefeld to Alexanderplatz (Alex to the locals) takes about 40 minutes as it the train wanders through the south-eastern suburbs of Berlin heading for the centre and, although much work has been done to improve everything you still get a feel for how it must all have been before the fall of the Wall.

Armed with your tickets you exit the terminal building, turn left and keep walking towards the glass walkway that leads to the S-Bahn station – see the ‘Flughafen Schönefeld’ map.

At the end of the walkway you go down steps and along a subway under the platforms. On reaching the platform validate your ticket(s) for that day in the red machine on the platform. Travel north on the S9 train directly into the city centre.
You're now on the main East-West S-Bahn route that passes through the heart of the city, connecting with just about every other S-Bahn or U-bahn route as it goes, or so it seems. Wherever you're staying, East or West, this is probably the best route to take on your way.

An alternative means of reaching the centre, which is also a bit faster, is to use mainline trains. These go fast from Schönefeld into the city centre, stopping on the way only at Karlshorst and Ostbahnhof. The trains are:
  • RE7 heading for Bad Belzig
  • RB14 heading for Nauen
They stop only at the larger stations, i.e. Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Hauptbahnhof and Zoologischer Garten before going on into the western suburbs. If you need to get off at one of the smaller stops, e.g. Hackescher Markt, change at Alexanderplatz and board any west-bound S-Bahn train.

The two Berlin airports in Berlin are due to be reduced to one by the closure of Tegel and the opening of a brand new airport next to Schönefeld called Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt. Originally due to open in 2010 its inauguration has been put back many times, and will not now open before November 2020. It makes the initial problems with Heathrow's Terminal 5 look petty.

So, Tegel will remain open pending the inauguration of Berlin Brandenburg. To get into the heart of Berlin you could make it simple by hiring a taxi, but public transport is always to be recommended in this remarkable city. The simplest route is by taking the TXL bus all the way to Unter den Linden and on to Alexanderplatz if necessary. An alternative is to take the X9 bus to Zoologischer Garten where you can switch to the S-Bahn network if this suits you better.

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