Berlin transportation guide
Berlin's city centre is conveniently compact and most of the major sights and venues can be accessed easily enough on foot. Failing that, or in case of bad weather or little time, traveller can make use of the excellent bus and train services to get around. Taxi services are also easy to use, if much more expensive. You can hail a cab (the yellow light on the top shows the cab is free), or find a taxi stand (Taxistelle). Be sure you get the driver's attention before you get in at a taxi stand; he or she may be asleep.
Check the Berlin route planner ÃƒÅ (http://www.fahrinfo-berlin.de/fahrinfo/bin/query.exe/en?ld=bvg&) (in English) to get excellent maps and schedules for U-Bahn, Bus, S-Bahn and Tram or to print your personal journey planner. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) have a detailed fare list on their web site ÃƒÅ (http://bvg.de/index.php/en/Bvg/Start). There are vending machines selling all ticket types on the platforms at every station of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. They offer instructions in many languages including English, but if you need assistance most larger stations have staffed ticket counters where you can ask questions and buy tickets. Before you get on the train you need to validate your ticket using the yellow machines on the platform (or in the bus). If you don't do this and get checked you probably will have to pay a fine. A ticket is valid on all the different types of transportation, with unlimited changes. If you don't know how to get somewhere, or how to get home at night call 030 (for Berlin) 19449 , the 24 hour Customer Service from the BVG. There are also facilities in most U-Bahn stations to contact the Customer Service directly. In some places like Zoologischer Garten and Eberswalderstrasse people will try to sell used tickets to you. It is not legal, but generally save to use (check the validation stamp!) and widely accepted. Don't pay more than half price. You might as well want to give your used tickets if not needed to those poor people. Other will have the pleasure to be offered a cheaper trip.
The Berlin U-Bahn (subway) is something to behold. It is so charmingly precise! There are no turnstiles to limit access, although trying to scam rides can lead to a ticket that can easily be more than 50 euros (and most residents claim to see ticket checkers once a month; if you're determined to scam, the morning papers print the lines with controllers for the day -- but this is not really helpful as a lot of "undercover" patrols check other lines as well). In addition, all U-bahn stations now have electronic signs that give a time of the next train, and its direction based on sensors along the lines.
Detailed maps can be found in every U-bahn station on the trains. Don't be confused by the alternative tram maps. U-Bahn stations can be seen from afar by their big, friendly blue U signs. Together with the S-Bahn (which is administered by Deutsche Bahn and mostly runs aboveground), the U-Bahn provides a transportation network throughout the greater Berlin that is extremely efficient and fast. On Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during the Christmas and New Year holidays, many U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines run all night, so returning from late night outings is easy, especially given the average start time of most 'parties' in Berlin (11pm?).
For a single journey you can buy a cheap Kurzstrecke for 1.20 EUR, but this is only for travelling 3 stops. For a longer single journey you must pay 2.10 EUR. This is valid for anywhere in zone A & B. Alternatively spend 5.80 EUR on a zone A & B day travelcard (Tageskarte). This is valid on trams and S-bahn's too. You are unlikely to need to go beyond zone A & B. This is a very large area, even including Schonfeld airport. A pass for one week for all trains and buses in the city costs around 25 euros and can be purchased near most stations.
The trams are mostly in East Berlin, as in the West the tram lines were removed to facilitate more vehicular traffic. If you don't have a ticket already, you can buy one inside the tram.
Buses are the easiest way to see the city.
Bus 100 leaves from Zoo Station ("Berlin Zoologischer Garten") or U-Bahn station Alexanderplatz and crosses most of historic Berlin, including many of the sites listed here. For the price of a city bus ticket or daily pass it's possible to see much of the city from one of these double-decker tour buses. Sit up top - it's easier to see the Reichstag, as well as the many historic buildings on Unter den Linden. If you're lucky, you'll get the legendary bus-driver who delivers a commentary (in Berlin-accented German) on the trip. Bus 200 takes nearly the same route, but through Potsdamer Platz.
Click on the map for an enlargement.