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Public Transport - getting around Berlin

Berlin has an excellent public transport network (even if the locals love to complain about it) - it's fast, largely reliable and good value for money. It also runs all night, every day of the week.

The public transport network's backbone are the S-Bahn and U-Bahn. If you're only in Berlin for a short time, these are the easiest to navigate - the only buses you might need are the 100 and 200 "sightseeing" routes.


Short for "Schnell-Bahn" (fast train), the S-Bahn is a mainly above-ground network of local trains run by state rail operator DB. Lines run from the suburbs on to three main routes through the city center:

  • the Stadtbahn: this east-west route runs through the middle of Berlin, linking its eastern and western centers and all the main stations, includingZoo, Berlin-Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstrasse (Station), Alexanderplatz andOstbahnhof
  • the Nord-Süd-Bahn: this north-south route links the area around Friedrichstrasse,Unter den Linden and Potsdamer Platz with theBerlin-Gesundbrunnen and Südkreuz intercity stations.
  • the Ringbahn: this is Berlin's circle line, running in a continuous loop around the outside of the city center. Convenient if you know where you are going, but not much use for sightseeing.

All S-Bahn lines are numbered, but the trains and signs on stations only show the destination and possibly some of the important stations en route, so sometimes it's difficult to tell which way a train is going. The S-Bahn's symbol is a stylised "S" on a green background.


U-Bahn means "Untergrund-Bahn" or underground train (subway / metro) - as the name implies, it runs largely below ground, although there are some elevated sections. The U-Bahn is run by the BVG, Berlin's transport company. There are 9 lines, all numbered; as with the S-Bahn trains only show the destination, but there are line maps on the platforms and on trains to help navigation. The U-Bahn's logo - as in other German cities - is a white "U" on a blue background.

We've put together a list ofBerlin's U-Bahn lines.


Berlin has a complex bus network. For short-term visitors the most important lines are 100 and 200 between Zoo Station and Alexanderplatz which take in the important sites.


Berlin's tram network is concentrated in the former East Berlin: West Berlin got rid of its trams in the 1960s, and they are only slowly making a comeback.


The BVG also runs a few ferries crossing the city's lakes and rivers (including one rowboat ferry!) These are all way outside the city center.

Tickets and Fares

Public transport within Berlin and the surrounding region is integrated, and tickets can be used on almost all forms of transport (except long-distance trains). Berlin is divided into three zones: A, B and C. Zone A is the city center within the S-Bahn's ring line; Zone B is the rest of Berlin surrounding the ring line; and Zone C is the area immediately outside Berlin (including Potsdam). Most tickets are valid for two or three zones (e.g. A and B, or A, B and C). Tickets are usually valid for a set period of time (from two hours up to one month) and can be used at any time of the day or night within their validity period.

Tickets can be bought from machines on station platforms, from station ticket offices (increasingly rare except at terminii and major interchange stations), from some station kiosks on U-Bahn stations, from the tourist information offices and from some newsagents.

Tickets usually need to be stamped after purchase (look for a red or yellow box on the platform called an "Entwerter"). If caught traveling without a ticket you'll be subject to a EUR 40 fine / penalty.

The basic ticket (Einzelfahrschein) for zones A and B costs €2.10 (reduced: €1.40) and is valid for two hours for a journey anywhere as long as you do not return from the station you stamped the ticket at. Until 2004 it used to be valid for the entire network with no restrictions, but is now supposed to be a one-way ticket - this catches a lot of people out.

If making more than two journeys on the same day, a day ticket (Zone A/B, €5.80; reduced: €4.20) is better value for money. There is a weekly ticket (7-Tages-Karte) for €25.40 (Zone A/B, which works out at EUR 3.62 a day).

For visitors there are also the following special tickets:

  • Kleingruppenkarte: day ticket for up to 5 people for just €14.80 (Zone A/B) or €15 (Zone A-C)
  • WelcomeCard 48 hours: this ticket costs €16.00 and is valid in zones A and B (€17.50 for zone C as well, which includes Potsdam). The WelcomeCard comes with coupon booklet providing discounts of up to 50% on over 120 attractions (including tours, museums, theaters, restaurants, shopping and fitness facilities), including many in Potsdam.
  • WelcomeCard 72 hours: this ticket costs €21.00 (A/B) or €24 (A/B/C) and has the same coverage as the 48 hour version.
  • CityTourCard 48 hours: this ticket costs €14.90 (Zone A/B) or €16.90 (A/B/C) and entitles the holder to discounts on entry to about 50 of Berlin's tourist attractions.
  • CityTourCard 72 hours: like the CityTourCard 48; this ticket costs €19.90 (Zone A/B) or €21.90 (Zone A/B/C)
  • CityTourCard Premium: costing EUR 39.90 (Zone A/B), this ticket gives the holder free entry to a number of different tourist and cultural attractions.

A PDF file with a list of attractions offering discounts with the WelcomeCard is available for download here.

More information about the CityTourCards is available at and for the Premium version.

If you're not sure about the difference between the WelcomeCards and the CityTourCards: the WelcomeCards provide slightly more in the way of discounts. If you only want to use public transports and aren't in the discounts, normal day tickets work out slightly cheaper.