BERLIN FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Berlin is serviced by two airports: Tegel Airport (TXL) and Schönefeld Airport (SFX).

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. From Tegel Airport, 5 miles northwest of the center, you can take the X9, 128, or 109 buses or the Jet Express TXL, which depart every 10 to 20 minutes from stops outside the terminal from 6am until 11pm. The journey takes between 15 and 40 minutes. Tickets (approximately 2.80€) can be purchased at the BVG kiosk near the airport exit or from the ticket machines at the bus station; and you must validate your ticket by stamping it in the machine on the bus. Alternately, a taxi (available outside the terminal) costs approximately 30€ and take 20-30 minutes.

If you're arriving at Schönefeld Airport, 11 miles southeast of the center, you can take the Airport Express train, departing every 30 minutes from 5am to 11:30pm, with a journey time of about 30 minutes, to reach Hauptbahnhof (Berlin's main train station), stopping en route at Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, and Friedrichstrasse. S-Bahn service (S45 and S9) departs from the airport and takes about 45 minutes to reach central Berlin. Tickets for either service cost 3.30€ and can be purchased from the machines on the platforms. Again, taxis are available and you can expect to pay around 40€ for the 45 minute ride into town.

Note: Berlin's new international airport, Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (BBI), is slated to open in late 2020. The new airport will have a rail station under the main terminal, so you can reach the center of Berlin in 20 minutes.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

All long-distance high-speed trains now arrive at and depart from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof (main train station), Europa Platz 1. On the main floor there is a BERLIN infostore, the city's tourist information centers. Getting to your hotel from the Hauptbahnhof is easy with the entrance to the S-Bahn (elevated train) located on the second floor of the station, the entrance to the U-Bahn (subway or underground train) on the first floor, and buses located right outside. Regional trains also stop at the Bahnhof Zoo (in the West) and Ostbahnhof (in the East), as well as at the central-eastern stations Friedrichstrasse and Alexanderplatz.

Additionally, taxis can be found outside Berlin's major hotels, stations and airports 24 hours a day. The base rate for taxis is about 3.90€, plus 1.65€ per kilometer.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

For such a large city, Berlin has an excellent and efficient public transportation network. The S-Bahn (elevated train), U-Bahn (underground), and/or bus will get you anywhere you want to go; and they all use the same fare system. Berlin is divided into three fare zones: AB (2.80€ for a single fare), BC (3€ for a single fare), and ABC (3.30€ for a single fare). Buy your tickets at any U-Bahn or S-Bahn station and validate them in the station machines before you board; tickets are good for 2 hours. The best deal if you plan to travel around the city extensively is the Tageskarte, which is good for unlimited transportation within the zones you purchase it for. The day pass for zones AB is 7.00€ and zones ABC is 7.60€.

S-Bahn train service is made up of 15 routes, which are part of three main lines going east–west, north–south, and circling around central Berlin. Some S-Bahn lines intersect with U-Bahn lines, so you can transfer from one to the other. The S-Bahn operates from 4:30am to 1:30am. Depending on the time of day the trains run in five-, ten- or 20-minute intervals. On weekends, S-Bahn trains run 24 hours, at night in 30 minute intervals. S-Bahn entrances are marked with an S in a green background. You must purchase and validate your ticket at one of the red or yellow ticket-validation machines on the platform before boarding. The S-Bahn is of particular use if you are traveling from Bahnhof Zoo in western Berlin to Mitte in eastern Berlin or southwest to Grunewald and the lakes.

U-Bahn underground trains have ten lines that run to more than 173 stations from 4am until 1am. During the day the U-Bahn travels in 5-minute intervals, at night in 10-minute intervals. On the weekend the U-Bahn runs 24 hours, in the daytime mainly in ten-minute intervals, during the night in 15-minute intervals. U-Bahn entrances are marked with a U in a blue background. Again, you must validate your ticket in one of the validation machines before boarding.

Berlin's buses are a great way to get around while enjoying the views, especially from the upper deck. Routes 100 and 200 are quite scenic and travel from Bahnhof Zoo east to Mitte, passing many Berlin landmarks along the way. Buy your ticket before boarding, not on the bus.

Please note: If you plan on staying out late, be advised that after 1am on weeknights (Sunday–Thursday), Berlin's U-bahn and S-bahn trains shut down. You'll have to catch one of the 24 hour trams or a night bus (designated by 'N' before the number, which often corresponds to the subway line it replaces).

Warning: Spot checks for validated tickets are common. Inspector's will fine violators 60€ to be paid on the spot whether you are a tourist or a local!

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis can be found outside major hotels, stations and airports 24 hours a day. The base rate for taxis is 3.90€, plus 1.65€ per kilometer. If you're going less than 2km (1 1/4 miles) and you've hailed a cab on the street, ask for the Kurzstreckentarif (short route fare), which costs no more than 4€. You can also call for a cab at no additional fee. U-bahn employees will call a taxi for passengers after 8pm. Reputable companies include TaxiFunk Berlin GmbH (tel. 030-44-33-22) and Funk Taxi Berlin (tel. 030-26-10-26). Most drivers speak some English.

Velotaxis are rickshaw type bicycle taxis that pedal along Kurfürstendamm, Friedrichstrasse, Unter den Linden, and in Tiergarten. The fare is €5 for up to 1 km (½ mile) and €3 for each additional kilometer, and €22.50 to €30 for longer tours. Although the prices are fixed, be sure to agree on the fare before starting the tour. Velotaxis operate daily from 12pm - 7pm, April through October.

Where can I rent a bicycle in Berlin?

Berlin is a great city for biking with an extensive network of cycling trails, usually indicated by red bricks on the pavement or white markings on the sidewalks. Fahrradstation (tel. 030/2151566) rents bikes for €15 per day or €35 for three days and €50 per week; ID is required. And be sure to pick up the Berlin biker's atlas, which is available at many bike rental stores. The same traffic laws apply to bicyclists as motorists, and the police will issue tickets to violators. Also note, you can take bikes on most S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains, but you must board the correct carriage (look for the bike sign on the doors) and buy an extra bike ticket (1.50€ within zones AB, 2.10€ within zones ABC).

I will have a car in Berlin, where can I park?

There's no need for a car in central Berlin since the city's public transportation network is so efficient and affordable. If you must have a car in Berlin, then be aware that all cars entering downtown Berlin inside the S-bahn ring need to have an environmental certificate. Failure to have one can result in a fine of about €40. You should park your car in a secure lot or garage; daily parking fees at hotels can run up to €18 per day. Vending machines in the city center dispense pay-and-display parking tickets that cost approximately 2.50€ per hour from 9am to 6pm or 8pm. Clearly display your ticket on the dash.

That being said you may wish to make some day trips outside the city. Driving in Germany may seem a daunting prospect when you think about the autobahn, but provided you take appropriate care your trips will be safe and result in enormous pleasure. Germany is a country that takes its driving very seriously and German drivers tend to drive fast and aggressively. Roads are generally excellent and there are almost no toll roads in Germany, other than a few Alpine mountain passes. Germany has over 80 themed highways for tourists. The most well-known is the Romantic Road (RomantischeStraße), a 180-mile route through small, picturesque Bavarian villages from Würzburg to the foothills of the Alps at Füssen. Other popular routes are the Castle Road (Burgenstraße) from Heidelberg to Nürnberg and the Fairy Tale Road (Märchenstraße) from Frankfurt to Hannover.

Please note: The blood-alcohol limit for driving in Germany is very low (.05%). Seatbelts must be worn at all times by both front and back seat passengers; and you may not use a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Is Berlin a walking city?

Berlin is one of the largest and most complex cities in Europe, covering some 60 square miles. For visitors, this sprawling metropolis can be difficult to navigate and you'll definitely need to depend on public transportation. Despite the Wall being down for more than 20 years, the simplest way to understand Berlin is still to think in terms of the old boundaries of West and East. That being said, individual neighborhoods, with their grand avenues, leafy green parks and riverside promenades, are best explored on foot.

Note: When walking, try to avoid bike paths (indicated by red bricks on the pavement or white sidewalk markings) unless you want to have Berlin cyclists, known for their high speeds, ringing their bells at you.

Is Berlin a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Berlin, like all big cities, has its fair share of crime, especially pickpocketing and purse/camera snatching. Most thefts occur in the tourist areas and on public transportation. Use caution and common sense to avoid becoming a victim. Don't walk alone at night in parks or on dimly lit streets. If you are the victim of a crime, report the incident to local police and contact the nearest embassy or consulate for assistance. For the police, phone tel. 110. For emergency medical aid or an ambulance, phone tel. 112.

A Note on Demonstrations: Germany has a number of political and economic demonstrations every year. Unfortunately, these demonstrations have a tendency to spread and turn violent. Police oversee demonstrations to provide adequate security for participants and passersby; however, situations may develop that could pose a threat to public safety. Foreign visitors are advised to avoid the area around protests and demonstrations and to monitor local media for updates on the situation.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Germany is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATM's can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I don't speak German. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What are the drinking laws in Germany?

As in many European countries, the application of drinking laws is flexible. Laws are enforced only if a problem develops or if decorum is broken. Drinking and driving, however, is treated as a very serious offense. Officially, someone must be 18 to consume any kind of alcoholic beverage in Germany, but it is rare for a bar or cafe to request proof of age.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Berlin is a great shopping city where you can find anything you want, including German porcelain, crystal and cutlery, all prized for their quality. The main shopping boulevard in the western part of Berlin is the famous Ku'Damm (short for Kurfürstendamm). Quality stores as well as stores carrying souvenirs and T-shirts, line the street. The specialty stores on the side streets around the Ku'Damm, especially between Breitscheidplatz and Olivaer Platz, are good shopping areas. Another good shopping street in western Berlin, close to Ku'Damm, is Tauentzienstrasse and its intersecting streets: MarburgerStrasse, RankeStrasse, and NürnbergerStrasse. Friedrichstrasse was the main shopping street in eastern Berlin (now Mitte) before World War II and is once again an upscale shopping destination. Flea markets in Germany are called Trödelmarkt or Flohmarkt and are a popular place to stroll on a Sunday afternoon. There are over 50 of them scattered around the city selling everything from books and antiques to clothes and kitsch.

Berlin hosts over 60 Christmas Markets, or Christkindlmarkt annually, which take place from late November through December. Visitors will find ice skating, snow tubing, curling, a ferris wheel, nativities and stalls selling toys, ornaments and handicrafts as well as a delicious array of traditional snacks and sweets, including gingerbread, sugarcoated almonds, roasted chestnuts, fruitcakes, smoked meats and burnt punch.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

You`ll find a list of Berlin hospitals and English-speaking doctors at www.doctorberlin.de. In case of a medical emergency, call tel. 030/310031. To call the police, dial tel. 110. To summon an ambulance, dial tel. 112.

How do I make local telephone calls in Berlin?

To make a local call, dial 030 (the three-digit city prefix in Berlin) followed by the number.