Berlin’s comprehensive public transport system is administered by BVG and consists of the U-Bahn (subway, underground), the S-Bahn (light rail), buses and trams. U-Bahn and S-Bahn are the most efficient methods of transport. For full information about routes and timetables as well as delays, go to their official website.
Network maps are posted in stations (usually on platforms), on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, and on trams.
Tickets are available from vending machines at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations and on trams, from bus drivers and from BVG sales offices.
Tickets must be validated (stamped) before boarding the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Those bought from bus drivers and on the tram are prevalidated.
Vending machines in U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations accept cash and debit cards but not credit cards. Bus and tram tickets must be paid for in cash. Tram vending machines only take coins; sometimes exact change is required. Bus drivers carry only a small amount of change.
The network comprises fare zones A, B and C with tickets available for zones AB, BC or ABC, the prices for tickets differ slightly. For most rides you need an AB ticket; if taking more than two trips per day, get a Tageskarte (day pass). You will only usually need the ABC ticket if you’re travelling to/from the Schönefeld airport.
One ticket is valid for all forms of public transport. You don’t need to buy separate tickets for different types of transportation. Berlin is divided by zones and travelling time (2 hours), not by kinds of transport.
Kids under 14 get a discount. AB ticket costs 2.90 EUR (reduced price is 1.7 EUR), ABC ticket costs 3.40 EUR (2.5 EUR reduced). There’s also a short distance ticket (Kurzstrecke) that costs 1.90 EUR (1.40 reduced), it’s valid for 3 S-Bahn or U-Bahn stops (changes are allowed) or 6 bus or tram stops (no changes are allowed).
If you’re taking more than two trips in a day, a Tageskarte (day pass) will save you money. It’s valid for unlimited rides on all forms of public transport until 3 a.m. the following day. For zones AB, the price is 8.60 EUR (5.50 EUR reduced), for zones ABC, it’s 9.60 EUR (6 EUR).The Kleingruppen-Tageskarte (group day pass) is valid for up to five people travelling together.
When boarding a bus or a tram with a ticket you already bought, board through the first door and show your validated ticket to the driver, there’s usually no other ticket control present.
There are no turnstiles in the S- or U-Bahn stations, so it might be tempting to take a train without paying as prices are high. However, there are regular ticket control rides. If you get caught without a valid ticket, you will get a fine of 60 EUR and no amount of begging and saying you’re a tourist will save you! Controllers are wearing normal clothes, you won’t be able to distinguish them in a crowd.
Don’t test your luck and think you can get away with riding public transport in Berlin for free!