The BVG operates the public transport system in Berlin and it is an easy, efficient, and comfortable way to get around the city with very good system coverage. There are several options for tickets to get you around the three zones of the city, but we have rarely had need to venture out of the two central zones. Still, it’s a good idea to take a look at the zone map when considering the ticket you’ll need. After that, you’ll need to decide which ticket will give you the most bang for your buck, or euro as the case may be!
If we’re not planning on using any public transport and just need to get to and from the airport and our hotel then we’ll buy the “single ticket 4-trip-ticket.” While the name of this ticket is a bit confusing, it is actually just four, single trip tickets that are good anytime you need them for two hours of travel within their specified zones. You can share the four tickets–so one person could ride four different times, two people could ride two times, and four people could ride once. The two hours don’t start until you time stamp the ticket in the little yellow box at the entrance to the station (or on the bus or tram) You can get on and off, transfer, stop for a snack, as long as you finish your journey before the two hours is up, your good. But, and this is important, you can’t go back towards your starting point–it’s a one way ticket. The 4-trip-ticket for the Berlin Public Transport will save you nearly the cost of one ticket so it’s worth going that route if you know you’ll be making four trips spread out over a few days.
For those days when you’ll be on and off the trams, buses, and trains more often, a day pass is the way to go. With a day pass you can get on and off as many times as you’d like, in any direction you’d like, all day long until 3:00 AM the next day. If you are planning on taking more than three or more trips in a day then this is definitely a good way to go. The day ticket also needs to be time stamped before using it and only one person may travel on a ticket. You’ll need to buy one day ticket for each person in your party over the age of six, and remember to buy the reduced fare tickets for those between the ages of six and fourteen.
If there are three or more people in your group (over the age of six) then you have yet another option to save money. The small group day ticket is one ticket that covers a day of unlimited travel for up to five travelers. This isn’t just for families; it can be used by any small group. And you don’t have to always travel together. As long as the traveler(s) have the ticket with them they are OK. The kids can be hanging out in the hotel while mom and dad are out for the evening (or vice versa)! One small group day ticket costs less than three regular day tickets.
Of course, like any other big city, packed with tourist attractions, there are tourist tickets available to cover two, three, four, five, or six days of unlimited travel. These tickets are good for one adult and up to three children (6-14) and include reduced entry to a variety of attractions. For a single parent traveling with three or fewer children, this may be the way to go depending on how much travel you’ll be doing each day. Unlike many other cities we’ve been to, these cards are a real good deal if the conditions are right. The 48 hour Berlin WelcomeCard is only two euros more than one small group day pass and provides discounted entry to most of the major sights in Berlin on top of the unlimited travel for forty-eight hours.
Phew! You think the Berlin Public Transport is confusing? Wait till we tackle London’s tube next!