We arrived to Berlin pretty clueless. We had a couple of itineraries worked out of a Lonely Planet, a beautiful crumpled map, and a couple of reservations. Nothing more. Let’s call it a good half way between a perfectly scheduled holiday and a wild break. So, we roughly knew what to do but we didn’t know how to do it.
After my second visit I wrote a simple and clear guide to the best solutions for travel cards in Berlin. But here’s some useful info that we would have loved to know after landing in Berlin:
How to reach Berlin form Schönefeld
The RE7 train from Schönefeld Airport goes directly to Ostbanhof in little more than 20 minutes, the train platform can be reached leaving the airport building and following the covered path to the left hand side (Berlin Schönefeld Airport Map). More info on tickets and rates can be found on the vbb.de website. Alternatively the lines S45 and S9 reach other strategical part of town… check the Berlin Transport Network Map (PDF) for more details.
Right outside the airport building there’s a bus stop, the line 171 goes to Neukölln all the way to Hermannstrasse (S47, S41/42, U8).
Buying a pass for the AB areas will require the purchase of an extension ticket for zone C (where the airport is).
U-Bahn and S-Bahn
Public transport in Berlin is ridiculously efficient, which is not too surprising knowing we’re in Germany. U-Bahn, S-Bahn, busses and tram quickly connect virtually every corner of the city. The U-Bahn is the classic underground line while S-Bahn is the overground train. The underground looks like it’s a bit overkill for the amount of people using it, at least compared to the London Tube, so you are quite unlikely to travel with your face smashed on the window. But if you’re not in a hurry is better to choose overground transport and look around, as we learnt that Berlin is plenty of little details to offer, amusing eyes and heart of the visitor, from the ubiquitous street art to the fascinating architecture… it’s impossible to list them all so sit back and enjoy the show.
Bus and tram lines however can be sometimes more efficient than the underground trains, cutting lots of time for walking to the metro station and eventually changing line. For this I always check the journey planner before leaving home. If your smartphone is better than mine and you can actually use it, then you might be interested in Öffi, the public transport app, available for android.
Obviously there are convenient options for visitors (which they’re kind enough not to call “tourists”). Despite being usually averse to this kind of offers we opted for the “CityTourCard” that can be easily purchased form the automatic vending machines at any station. For less than €30.00 we got 5 days of unlimited travel, discounts on museums and other attractions, and peace of mind. It also comes in the 48 and 72 hours versions. This is what you get: CityTourCard Discounts (PDF)
With some careful calculations and some extra walking we could have probably saved money, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth it, unless you rent a bike… which was not an option when we visited the city in December!