Buses, Bahns and bikes: A guide to getting around Berlin

Buses, Bahns and bikes: A guide to getting around Berlin

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Recently arrived in Berlin and wondering how you’ll get from place to place? Whatever your preferred mode of transport, Crown Relocations will help you get from A to B with this guide to getting around Germany’s capital city.

Transportation in Berlin is a well-choreographed web of buses, trams, U- and S-Bahns, bike rentals and e-scooters - allowing Berliners to proudly say that you can get anywhere in the capital in less than 45 minutes. 

Whether you’re planning a trip to Berlin or have recently touched down and are wondering how you’re going to get around, here’s a guide to some of the best forms of transport. 

Public transport in Berlin 

Berlin is well-served by an efficient, reliable and affordable public transport network of buses, trams and trains (S-Bahns and U-Bahns). Run by the BVG and S-Bahn Berlin, the whole network is integrated, meaning that you can switch from one form of transport to another on a single ticket, as long as it’s all part of the same journey. This makes it probably the most convenient way to get around the city. 


Every day, the yellow trains on the U-Bahn network shuttle millions of passengers to every corner of the city. The Berlin underground network (which sometimes also travels above ground) is dense, consisting of nine lines covering 175 stations and 155 kilometres of track, meaning you’ll never find yourself far away from a blue sign with a big, white "U" on it, denoting a U-Bahn station. 

Trains on the U-Bahn run every five to 10 minutes during the day and 15 to 20 minutes during the night. Most run from 4am to 1am on weekdays and 24 hours a day on the weekends. 


Where the U-Bahn can’t take you, the S-Bahn has probably got you. The red and yellow overground trains (which sometimes also go underground) cover huge distances across the city in a network of 15 lines. The most notable S-Bahn lines are the S41 and S42, the “Ringbahn”, which encircle central Berlin and represent the quickest way to cover longer distances. 

S-Bahn trains run every few minutes during the day and every 10-15 minutes at night. On weekdays, they generally run from 4.30am to 1.30am, and on weekends the service is 24 hours on most lines. 

Trams & Buses

While not necessarily the quickest way to get around (as they run on roads and so can get caught up in rush hour traffic), buses and trams in Berlin connect the dots between U- and S-Bahn stations. If you’re just getting your bearings in Berlin, taking street-level transportation can also be a nice way to watch the city go by. 

There is a massive network of 152 bus lines across Berlin, supplemented by scores of tram lines, which mostly operate in what was East Berlin. Some buses and trams also run 24 / 7, making them a good option for getting around at night. 

For city sightseers, a hot tip is to catch the 100 or 200 double-decker bus, which will take you past some of the city’s major landmarks, including Tiergarten, the Berliner Philharmonie, Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburg Gate and Alexanderplatz, for a fraction of the price of a city bus tour. 

Using public transport in Berlin

Berlin’s public transportation system is split into three fare zones - A, B and C. The price of a ticket depends on which zones you are travelling through, with tickets either covering zones A and B, B and C, or all three. Once purchased, single tickets are valid for 120 minutes. If buying from a machine, don’t forget to validate your ticket by pushing it into the validation machine just next to the ticket machine. 

Alongside single tickets, you can also buy 24-hour and seven-day passes for the transport network or one of the range of subscriptions (Abos) offered by BVG / S-Bahn Berlin. Alternatively, you could consider buying a Deutschlandticket, which gives you access to all local public transport across the whole of Germany (excluding fast intercity trains) for just 49 euros per month. 

If you’re enrolled at a university in Berlin, you’ll usually receive a semester ticket, which you pay for via your semester fees. This gives you unlimited transport on the Berlin network for a bargain price! 

All tickets can be bought at ticket machines on platforms and trams, from bus drivers and the service centres in stations, or via mobile app. 

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that the public transport system in Berlin runs on trust, so you won’t find ticket barriers at stations. However, make sure you have a ticket that’s valid for your whole journey, as inspectors operate throughout the network, and you risk getting a 60-euro fine if you’re caught without a ticket. 

Bike rentals

If they’re not getting on an S-Bahn or U-Bahn, many Berliners prefer to traverse the city by bike. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly, healthy, and - in many cases - the fastest way of getting from A to B. 

Berlin is blessed with over 620 kilometres of cycle paths, many of them completely separated from traffic. During rush hour, bike lines become packed with commuters zipping by on their way to and from work - although only the most dedicated tough it out during the long Berlin winter! 

If you’re staying for a while, it’s worth considering bringing your bike, or buying a new or second-hand one. eBay Kleinanzeigen or Facebook Marketplace are good places to hunt for a pre-loved ride.

Many hotels, hostels and bike shops offer bicycle rental services, and there are also several bike-sharing apps like Tier, DB, Lime and Donkey Republic. These apps usually charge an unlocking fee and then a set fee per minute. 


With the public transportation system running round the clock in Berlin, you’ll barely ever need to use anything else - and indeed, many Berliners rarely use private transportation - but sometimes you might find yourself in a tight spot and need a safe ride home. 

Taxi apps like Uber, Sixt, FREENOW and Bolt offer their services in the city and tend to be a bit cheaper than traditional taxi companies. It’s generally worth comparing price estimates across several different apps, as they can fluctuate wildly depending on the time of day and the weather! 

Traditional taxi companies also operate in Berlin. You can call a company like Taxi Berlin or Würfelfunk, or hail a ride from the taxi ranks at airports and stations. Make sure your driver is licenced by checking their Berlin number plate and concession number on the rear window. You can also flag down a taxi on the roadside, but note that this is only possible for short trips of less than two kilometres. The price for a short trip (Kurzstrecke) is 6 euros. 


Love them or hate them, e-scooters have descended on Berlin and can be found stationed on street corners across the city. For many people, they represent a convenient and fun way of getting around - but do take care on the roads! 

Ideally, you should only ride e-scooters on bike paths in Berlin, but if none are available you are allowed to use the main road. Keep as far right as possible. You are not allowed to ride e-scooters on the pavements or in bus lanes. Helmets are not obligatory but they do make the whole experience safer. 

Nine different companies offer e-scooters across Berlin, including Tier, Bird, Lime and Voi. You’ll need to download the app and create a user profile to get riding, but you don’t need a driving licence to get verified. Some companies offer a flat fee to unlock, then a fee per minute of riding. Others operate under a subscription model that gives you unlimited rides for a set monthly fee. 

Once you're done with your e-scooter ride, remember to park the scooter neatly at the side of the pavement, so as not to block the path for pedestrians. 


Especially if you want to travel further afield, sometimes nothing beats the ease and convenience of driving. There are plenty of car hire apps in Berlin that allow you to rent a car within seconds, including WeShare and Miles. 

Before you can hire a car, you’ll need to submit a photo of your driving licence and then confirm your identity. Once you’ve unlocked the car, you then pay for the distance driven. 

Note, however, that parking in Berlin can be tricky, especially in the more touristy areas, so this could work out as a pricier option.


The final option of getting around is the simplest - Berlin is a city that begs to be explored on foot, with pavements taking you from grand boulevards, across city parks and pedestrianised areas, to smaller alleyways with hidden-away gems. 

Walking in Berlin is the slowest option on this list, but it allows you to see and experience the most. Just be sure to wrap up warm in the winter months when that chilly wind bites. 

Now you’re ready to start your adventure in Berlin! If you’re looking to relocate to Germany, why not get more advice on getting your life started by consulting with the experts at Crown Relocations? They have 50+ years of experience in helping people relocate all over the world and offer a range of services to help make your move abroad as smooth and successful as possible. 

Daniela  Stoyanova


Daniela Stoyanova

Daniela Stoyanova is a Moving Consultant for Crown Relocations.

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