Tips for getting around Berlin from our man on the ground Philipp Zeiss.
Surprisingly, Berlin has become one of Europe’s top touristic hot spots with new hotels opening all the time. It is Europe’s youngest metropolitan city.
As well as there being East and West Berlin, in each area you have many districts with their own individual characteristics. Each district has its own infrastructure with shopping malls, schools, kindergartens, restaurants and clubs. This means that many locals will not venture in to the centre.
The three main centres are:
Potsdamer Platz (East and West) and The Sony Centre, where they regularly hold concerts and events.
Friedrichstrasse area (the old East) – a great shopping area, very beautiful with nice restaurants.
Kurfusterden and Zoo (The Centre in the West).
Whilst Hackeschermarkt is a trendy, fashionable and up and coming area.
Berlin is rich in history and culture and has 153 museums, 50 live theatres as well as its famous Zoo. There are also more 5 star hotels in Berlin than any other city.
The main shopping streets are Kurfurstendam and Tarentzienstr. Kadwe is the biggest and most famous shopping department store in Germany and has a great food hall and selection of restaurants. Potsdamer Arkaden is the largest shopping mall, with all the big name shops.
Berlin has two commercial airports. Tegel Airport (TXL) the largest (inside Berlin), and Schönefeld Airport (SXF) outside of Berlin. Tegel Airport is scheduled to close in 2012 and Schönefeld Airport will be renamed Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in 2011 and will handle all commercial flights to and from Berlin.
You can purchase a City Rover Card in bookshops at the airports for either 48 or 72 hours, giving you complete access to all of Berlin’s public transport systems.
Schönefeld Airport is located 20 km from the city centre. An information desk is located in Terminal A.
There are metered taxis available outside each of the terminals. It takes about forty minutes to the city centre and costs about €28-€35.
A bus service operates from outside each of the terminals to Berlin.
The Airport Express train stops at a station close to the airport, which is connected by a shuttle bus. It runs every 30 minutes from 5a.m. to 11p.m. and takes 30 minutes and costs just €2. All railway stations in Berlin are linked by Tramline 7. Note that not all trains are marked Airport Express as the service isn’t dedicated solely for the airport.
The airport is easily reached from Berlin by road and is well signposted. All motorways link up with Berlin’s ring road.
Tegel Airport is located 8km northwest of Berlin city centre.
Taxis are available at the taxi rank outside the terminal building. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre and costs around €15-€20.
Jet Express Bus numbers 128, 109, and X9 run to underground stations in Berlin. They run every 10 to 15 minutes from about 5:30a.m. to about 11p.m. and take about 40 minutes to reach the city centre. There is also a service that runs to city centre destinations, including Unter den Linten and Franzosische Strasse. Information is available from the BVG office in the main hall of the terminal. BVG (Berlin Transport).
The airport is connected to the Berlin city motorway. The A100 or the A111 north both have well signposted exits to the airport.
It is easy to rent a car and collect it at either of the two airports. All the major rental companies have desks once you have cleared passport control.
Tipping tends to be left to your discretion, but the average would be around 10%. You would tip a hotel doorman anything up to €5 for bringing your bags up to your room.
Areas to avoid
Whilst Berlin has a long tradition of multicultural self-perception the outskirts of Eastern Berlin has some areas that could be considered not a good place to go for foreigners.
Getting around Berlin
Berlin has an integrated public transport system run by the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB). The U-Bahn, S-Bahn, regional trains, trams and buses. Ticket fares will depend on which zones you are travelling in. A one-day ticket for zone A+B is priced at €6.10, a zone B+C one-day travel ticket is €6.30, and for all three zones A+B+C, the price is €6.50.
Berlin encourages cycling and has a comprehensive bike lane system, so be careful when walking on pavements that you are in the right lane! There are around 620 km (390 miles) of bike paths including some 150 kilometres (93 miles) of mandatory bike paths, combined pedestrian/bike paths and marked bike lanes on pavements. Riders are also allowed to carry their bicycles on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains, trams and on night buses.
If you are only going 2-3 km, you can hail a taxi (don’t take one on a taxi rank) and ask for a kurz strecke (short journey) and you will only be charged €3. Good local tip!
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