This guide explains how to use trains, trams, buses and ride sharing in Berlin.

Bvg class hk train

Step 1: Buy a ticket

One ticket for everything

With a ticket, you can you use all public transit options: the S-Bahn, the U-Bahn, trams, buses, ferries, regional trains and some IC and ICE trains.

Your ticket is valid for 2 hours in one direction. You can take as many trains, buses and ferries as you want with the same ticket. You can even stop, do some shopping, and take the train again. Your ticket only works in one direction. If you want to go back, you must buy a new ticket.

Choose the right tariff zone

Berlin has 3 public transit zones: A, B and C:

  • Zone A includes everything inside the Ringbahn.
  • Zone B includes everything that's outside the Ringbahn, but inside Berlin.
  • Zone C includes parts of Brandenburg like the BER airport, Potsdam and Oranienburg.
Bvg tarifbereiche
Berlin public transit tariff zones

If you travel in zones A and B, you need an AB ticket. If you travel in zone C, you need an ABC ticket. For example, the BER airport is in zone C.

If you travel with the wrong ticket, you will get a 60€ fine.

If you already have an AB ticket, and you want to go to zone C, get a connection ticket (Anschlussfahrausweis). It's cheaper than an ABC ticket, and it lets you travel in zone C.

Choose the right tariff

There are cheaper tickets for certain situations:

  • Bring a friend for free
    If you have a weekly, monthly or yearly ticket, you can bring a friend for free in the evening, during the weekend, and on public holidays.
  • Short distances
    If you travel less than 4 train stops, or less than 7 bus or tram stops, you can get a short distance (Kurzstrecke) ticket. It's cheaper than the regular ticket.
  • Children
    If your child is between 6 and 14 years old, they need a reduced price (Ermäßigungstarif) ticket. Children under 6 years old ride for free1.
  • Students and apprentices
    Students and apprentices can get a free monthly pass (Schülerticket or Ausbildungsticket). You can apply for it here or here (in German).
  • Senior citizens
    Senior citizens pay the regular price for tickets. If you are over 64 years old, you can get, but there a cheaper yearly subscription: the VBB-Abo 65plus.
  • Dogs
    If your dog is bigger than a cat, you must buy a reduced tariff (Ermäßigungstarif) ticket for it. Guide dogs and smaller dogs don't need a ticket. If you have a daily, monthly or yearly ticket, your dog can ride for free. Information about dogs on public transit.
  • Bicycles
    You need a bicycle ticket (Fahrradkarte) for your bicycle. Information about bicycles on public transit.

Where to buy tickets

There are many ways to buy a public transit ticket:

  • In the BVG app
    The BVG app is the easiest way to buy train tickets, but if your phone runs out of battery, you don't have a valid ticket. The BVG app is in English.
  • In the VBB app
    The VBB app lets you buy tickets in Berlin and Brandenburg. It's a little harder to use, but the tickets are the same.
  • In the Jelbi app
    The Jelbi app lets you buy train tickets, but also rent cars, bicycles, scooters and mopeds. It's one app for everything.
  • At a ticket machine
    There are yellow or red ticket machines at every train station. They accept coins, bills, credit cards and EC cards. Most ticket machines work with Apple Pay and Google Pay. The machines are usually on the train platform. The machines also work in English.
  • In the tram
    There is a ticket machine in every tram. It's a big yellow box near the middle of the tram. The old machines only accept coins. The new machines only accept cards1.
  • In the bus
    You can buy tickets at the front of the bus, next to the driver. You must pay with a credit card, an EC Card, Android Pay or Apple Pay1. You can't pay with cash1.
  • At S-Bahn and BVG service points
    There are a few S-Bahn and BVG service points. You can buy tickets there.
VBB ticket machine
A VBB ticket machine (middle), and the machine that validates tickets (left)
Berlin bvg tram ticket machine
An old ticket machine in a BVG tram

Types of tickets

You can buy a single ticket. It's valid for 2 hours in 1 direction. You can also buy daily, weekly and monthly tickets. There are many more types of tickets.

List of ticket types — S-Bahn Berlin

If you get caught without a ticket

There are Kontrolleur who enter the train and check everyone's tickets. They wait until the doors close, so you can't run away. If your ticket is not valid, you will get a 60€ fine.

How to pay (or avoid paying) a BVG fine ➞

Step 2: Validate your ticket

When you buy a ticket, you must stamp it. If you don't stamp your ticket, it's not valid. If you are caught with an unstamped you will get a 60€ fine. It's like riding without a ticket.

You can validate your ticket at a stamping machine. These machines are on train platforms, and inside trams and buses. Look for a yellow or red metal box.

Validate german train ticket
Stamp your ticket to validate it

Step 3: Use public transport

This is the easy part: get on the bus, tram, train or ferry, and go where you want to go.

On the bus

When your stop is coming, you must request the bus to stop. Press the yellow or red button close to you. You will hear a "ding" sound. The "STOP" sign will appear on the information screen. The bus will stop at the next bus stop.

On the tram

At night, the tram does not stop at every station. You must request the tram to stop. Press the yellow or red button close to you. You will hear a "ding" sound. The "STOP" sign will appear on the information screen. The tram will stop at the next tram stop.

Go in the right direction

Bvg daisy display

The display shows a train's last stop, not its direction. For example, if an S2 train goes north, its last stop could be in Bernau, Buch or Blankenburg. These trains all go in the same direction, and they stop at the same stations, but their last stops are different.

Public transport options

Inside Berlin

  • S-Bahn trains
    The red and yellow S-Bahn trains are run by the Deutsche Bahn. They travel everywhere in Berlin, and in some parts of Brandenburg. S-Bahn line names start with an S (S1, S2, …).
  • U-Bahn trains
    The yellow U-Bahn trains use their own rail network. They travel everywhere in Berlin. They are run by the BVG. U-Bahn line names start with a U (U1, U2, …). The "U" is for "underground", but U-Bahn lines are not always underground. At night, U-Bahn trains are replaced by night buses.
  • Trams (Straßenbahn)
    Some tram lines start with an M (M1, M2…), and others have just a number (50, 68…). Most trams are in the east. Before the reunification, there were no trams in West Berlin. At night, some tram lines are replaced by night buses. Other tram lines also at night.
  • Buses
    Bus stops have an "H" sign or post. There are night buses that replace U-Bahn and tram lines1. Night bus lines start with the letter N (N6, N7, …). Their number is the same as the bus or train line they replace (U6 and N6, 50 and N50…).
  • Ferries
    There are a few ferries in Berlin1. Ferry lines start with an F (F12, F24, …).

Outside of Berlin

  • Regional trains
    The Regio trains travel from Berlin to Brandenburg and other parts of Germany. The express lines start with RE (RE1, RE2…) and the other lines start with RB (RB10, RB49…). There is also the FEX line, which goes to the BER airport1.
  • S-Bahn trains
    Most S-Bahn lines end in zone C. Zone C is outside of Berlin, in Brandenburg.
  • Long distance trains
    These trains travel to other German cities. The express line names start with ICE. The other lines start with IC. You can board some IC and ICE trains with a regular ticket. Use Omio or Bahn.de to find train tickets.

Other ways to get around

Rent a bicycle

How to ride a bicycle in Berlin ➞ Renting a bicycle

Rent a scooter

You can rent electric scooters (🛴) with the Jelbi, Bolt, Lime, Tier or Voi apps. You do not need a driving licence.

Rent a moped

You can rent motor scooters (🛵) with the Jelbi, Emmy, Felyx, Lime or Tier apps. There are also scooter rental businesses. You need a valid driving licence. Scooter rental services don't always accept non-EU driving licences, because they're only valid for 6 months after you move to Germany.

Rent a car

You can rent a car from Sixt, Avis, Budget or Europcar. RentalCars.com can help you find a rental car. You can also use car sharing services like Miles and Share Now. The Jelbi app lets you use different car sharing services. Car sharing services let you rent a car for just one trip, and park it when you are finished.

You need a valid driving licence to use those services. Car sharing services don't always accept non-EU licences, because they're only valid for 6 months after you move to Germany.

Call a taxi

People rarely use taxis in Berlin, because they are very expensive1. You can get a taxi from BerlKönig, Bolt, FreeNow, Uber, and standard taxi services. The Jelbi app also lets you book a taxi.

German taxis must accept cash and credit cards1. The Jelbi app also accepts PayPal.

Ride sharing

BlaBlaCar lets you ride with drivers who travel to Berlin. You meet them in one place, and drive together to another city. It's usually the cheapest way to travel between cities.

Bicycles on public transit

You can bring your bicycle on the train (S-Bahn and U-Bahn), and on the N1 to N9 night buses1. You can't bring your bicycle in the tram, or in other buses. On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in the first carriage. Some carriages also have a "no bicycles" sign near the door.1 On the S-Bahn, only use the carriages with a bicycle sign near the door.1

Bicycle trailers, bicycles with more than two wheels, scooters and motorcycles are not allowed on the train. Electric bicycles are allowed.1

Bicycle tickets

You must buy a bicycle ticket (Fahrradticket) for your bicycle.

If you have a student ticket (Schülerticket) or an apprentice ticket (Ausbildungsticket), you don't need a bicycle ticket.

If you have a folding bike, you don't need a bicycle ticket, but your bike must be folded when you are on the train. You can also bring your folded bike on the bus and tram.

S bahn bicycle carriage sign
On the S-Bahn, only bring your bicycle in carriages with a bicycle sign.
Bvg train bicycle sign
On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in carriages with this sticker.
Bvg first train bicycles sign
On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in the first carriage.

Dogs on public transit

In Berlin, you can take your dog with you in trains, trams and buses. They can't go on the seats. They must be in a closed container. If they don't fit in a container, they must wear a muzzle and be on a leash.

Normally, you must buy a reduced tariff ticket for your dog, but there are exceptions. You can bring your dog on the train, tram or bus for free if…1, 2, 3

  • It's not bigger than a house cat, and you carry it in a closed container
  • or you have a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly pass
  • or your dog is a guide dog
  • or you have a student ticket
  • or you have an apprentice ticket

Having a dog in Berlin ➞

Bring other people for free

If you have a weekly, monthly or yearly ticket, you can also bring a friend for free during certain times:

  • Monday to Friday from 8PM to 3AM the next day.
  • Saturday and Sunday
  • On public holidays

Children under 6 years old can always travel for free.