All students in higher education in Berlin are provided with a semester ticket that covers travel in all zones in Berlin. Of zones A, B, and C, zone C is not actually in the city limits of Berlin so it encompasses nearby towns and cities as well. I've been on a lot of excellent budget day trips that all of you can enjoy with the train and a bicycle. Occasionally, I will include towns and cities not within zone C but a reasonably close distance from Berlin with regional trains in the 'All Aboard' section.
Join me as I fight through rainstorms, weave in between narrow cobblestone streets, and ride alongside fierce highways to bring you the best of Berlin-Brandenburg and beyond!
There's a lack of visitor information out there for the less well-known towns around Berlin. I know there are government mandated tourist offices in each and every town, but they usually only open two to four days a week for a few hours a day not making them very helpful. On my travels, I had to either look up information for one town on several different sites or had no information at all.
Being a student in an architecture course here also inspired me to look at buildings with a different light. The architecture course instructor Frau Paluch also encouraged me to share the information and history I find to others. I also have a number of friends who are visiting Berlin for the second or third time and have run out of ideas to keep themselves busy here, so I figured this would be a good resource for them. Here's to my 6-month adventure!
I will ask and answer four main questions for each place so you know whether or not you are interested in paying that place a visit. I will tell you where it is and how to get there, what points of interest there are to see or experience, how I planned my day trip, and who it may be suitable for.
Tip: use the search bar at the top of the page to search keywords such as 'kids' or 'children' or 'family' for more family-oriented tours and keywords like 'bike' and 'cycling' to look for more outdoor oriented areas.
Deutsche Bahn runs the S-Bahn and regional trains RE/RB, inter-regional trains IRE, long distance EC/CNL trains , as well as the high speed IC/ICE network. The BVG runs the Bus, MetroBus, MetroTram, Tram, and U-Bahn network. A lot of my trips depend on the regional trains and they typically run on an hourly schedule, you can use the links below to help plan your trip.
Deutsche Bahn: http://www.s-bahn-berlin.de/en
Use this link to get a personal timetable to plan trips or just to find out when the hourly regional trains will arrive: http://fahrinfo.vbb.de/bin/help.exe/en?tpl=p2w_overview
1. Is my ticket valid for the S-Bahn/Bus/Tram/IRE/RE/RB in Berlin?
Yes, in the zones A,B, and C of Berlin, your ticket is valid for all modes of transport in the zones stated on the ticket except long-distance trains. Remember to stamp your tickets!
2. Should I buy the Berlin WelcomeCard?
No, to my experience, any 'Welcome Card' or '24hr Card' or 'Tourist Card' offered by the government of any city is basically a scam if you don't have to pay full price for museum entry. Typically, students, children, the elderly, and servicemen are allowed a half-price concession to museums so it doesn't make sense to buy it. That said, if you have to pay full price, find out how many valid attractions you will visit and see if the premium is worth the discounts.
3. If not the WelcomeCard, then what?
For the 19 state-run museums in Berlin, you can buy a 1-day ticket or 3-day ticket which grants you unlimited access to all 19 of their museums. Check out which ones you will go to and see if it's worth it.
4. Double-decker tour buses any good?
If you're lazy and won't do your own research, I really can't help you out here. The public transportation is more than adequate and comes more frequently than the tour buses. The double-decker 'effect' is eliminated when you consider buses number 100 (usually double-deck) and 200 (sometimes double-deck) that overlap the tour bus routes (Brandeburg Gate, Tiergarten, Victory Column, Alexanderplatz, TV Tower, Zoo, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Kulturforum...) and are included in the price of your regular transport ticket since it is run by the BVG. They run every 5-10mins during normal hours, save yourself some grief.
5. I like the idea of horse-drawn carts, look cute, are they any good?
If you just want to be on a horse-drawn cart, go ahead. If you like to see the city without walking, take the tram, rent a bicycle, or rent a scooter. All are more cost-effective methods of seeing the city with flexibility. As a motorist, I don't like horse drawn carts because the coachmen don't clean up the faeces and they're slow and unscrupulous. They park in the middle of pedestrian zones just to get tourists to have a ride, it is illegal to park there and sometimes you will see them getting ticketed, but with the prices they charge, the tickets are peanuts.
6. Is the tram slow?
No, it it is only about 20% slower when going in zone A and quite fast (up to 70km/h) in zone B. It's basically an overground metro. If you board one of the newer trams be sure to sit at the back where there's a large 180 degree panorama window.
7. Is it safe to cycle in Berlin?
Yes, even for beginners. In much of the city centre cyclists can use the cycling lanes, bus lanes, or red areas of the sidewalk dedicated to bicycles. In some areas there are cyclist road crossing buttons. There are, in many cases, traffic lights specifically for cyclists and some one-way roads allow cyclists to go the wrong way, but otherwise follow regular traffic rules.
8. What ticket should I use for zone C?
Usually, I'd recommend the ABC ticket since you don't have to worry about accidentally being in the invalid zones and ending up having to pay fines. I've been inspected 33 times in 6 months, you do the math for the risk. If you live in zone B, you can buy the BC ticket as long as you don't go through zone A. If you already have an AB ticket, get a zone C extension, which is only available on the DB ticket machines, not the BVG since it does not serve zone C.
9. What are the red Regio trains?
These trains are state-based and run between cities and towns in a particular state. They are effective as express trains for longer distances in Berlin city, but remember to get off before your fare zone ends, they do skip stops and sleeping in will mean you're a long way away. Each of the routes usually run an hourly service from 6am to 9pm, check schedules and plan ahead!
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