When I knew I’d be spending 72 hours in Berlin and that I’d be on a budget, I knew that I wanted to do as much by Berlin public transport as I could. When I contacted Visit Berlin for some hints and tips to help me make the most of the city, they offered to send me a Berlin Welcome Card in return for mentioning it in a post. I thought I’d do a specific public transport post as I got a little bit confused at times, and so wanted to share what I’ve learnt, so that if you’re visiting the city you’ll find things easier.
If you’re planning to use public transport a lot, you can get a Welcome Card for a set price (from 19.90 euros for a 48 hour zone A and B pass) which can really save you money, and definitely saves you queuing for a new ticket each time you start a new journey. You MUST validate your ticket before you start (if that’s a Welcome Card you only need to do it before your first journey, if you’re buying single tickets you must validate each one) and the penalty for not doing so, if you’re caught by the plain clothes ticket inspectors, is a 60 euros fine. I was taken off my last train of the weekend by them, and told off, because my ticket was validated by hand by the conductor on my first train, and the inspector said I shouldn’t have written on it. Luckily his colleague was more understanding and when I repeated that I hadn’t, it was the conductor, they didn’t fine me. The train went without me though and I had to figure out a brand new route to the airport, so that wasn’t fun, and there were some young British students who were also taken off the train who WERE fined.
German public transport consists of buses, the U Bahn and the S Bahn. Both ‘Bahns’ are very similar to London’s tube system (which meant I struggled as I can’t get my head round the tube either) and just as efficient. I never had to wait long for the next train, if I got on the wrong direction (frequently!) I could jump off at the next stop and go back on myself, and there were usually seats free. You’re able to look at the route map and see how many stops until yours, so I never missed my stop. The yellow trains are quite cute, if a little dated, and I enjoyed seeing them around the city. I also never felt unsafe as a lone female traveller, not even at night.
Collecting my Welcome Card was easy, I had to go to tourist information at the airport (who were open until 10:30pm) they gave me my card and a little guide book, which had a map of the city as well as a list of the attractions I could get a discount at with the card. If I’d paid for the more expensive 72 hour card (100 euros) this would have given me free entry to lots of attractions but because I had a free card anyway, and most of what I wanted to do was free, I stuck to just the travel card. I do have a friend visiting the city soon and she’s planning on the more expensive card as she’s planning on doing more paid things than I did-she will save a fortune.
If I go to Berlin again I will definitely be buying a Welcome Card. I used mine for every single journey, apart from one-on Sunday evening, when the train I needed seemed to be cancelled from the station I was at, and I couldn’t find another station nearby, my feet were hurting, so I got a taxi. The card saved me a lot of money through the weekend, as that 10 minute taxi ride cost 25 euros, and it would have been at least 50 euros from the airport and the same back-I did both those trips with my Welcome Card.
*This post has been written in collaboration with Visit Berlin, who provided me with a free 72 hour zone A-C Berlin Welcome Card in return. All thoughts, words, opinions and photographs are my own.