This guide explains how to use trains, trams, buses and ride sharing in Berlin.
Step 1: Buy a ticket
Where to buy a ticket
- In the app
Buy a digital ticket on your phone. Pay with a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Your ticket is valid 1 minute after you buy it. You need internet access to buy tickets. There is Wi-Fi at most train stations.
- Jelbi app
You can also rent cars, bicycles, scooters and mopeds with this app. It’s in English and German. You must create an account.
- BVG app
It’s in English and German. You must create an account.
- VBB app
You can buy tickets for Berlin and Brandenburg. It’s a little harder to use. You must create an account.
- Jelbi app
- At a ticket machine
Find a yellow or red ticket machine at the train station. The machines are on the train platforms, near the exits. You can pay with coins, bills, credit cards and Girocards. You can sometimes pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay. The ticket machines speak many languages.
- On the tram
Find a yellow ticket machine near the middle of the tram. The old machines only accept coins. The new machines only accept cards.1
- On the bus
Enter at the front of the bus, and buy a ticket from the driver. Tap your card or phone on the payment terminal near the driver.15 If you pay cash, ask the driver for a ticket.14
- At S-Bahn and BVG service points
Buy tickets at S-Bahn and BVG service points. There is often a queue.
If you arrive at BER airport, there are ticket machines on the way to the train platforms. You can also install the BVG ticket app before you arrive in Berlin.
What ticket to buy
The buy the correct ticket…
- Choose the tariff zone
Berlin has 3 tariff zones: A, B and C. Buy an AB, BC or ABC ticket, depending on the zones you travel in.
- Choose the duration of the ticket
Single tickets are valid for 2 hours in one direction. Short trip tickets are only valid for a few stops. There are also daily, weekly and monthly passes.
- Choose the type of ticket
There are cheaper tickets for children, students, apprentices and dogs. You need a ticket for your bicycle. Daily, weekly and monthly passes sometimes let you bring people for free.
Berlin has 3 public transit zones: A, B and C:
- Zone A is everything inside the Ringbahn.
- Zone B is everything outside the Ringbahn, but inside Berlin.
- Zone C includes parts of Brandenburg like the BER airport, Potsdam and Oranienburg.
Buy an AB, BC or ABC ticket, depending on the zones you travel in.
If you already have an AB ticket, and you want to go to zone C, get an extention ticket (Anschlussfahrausweis). It’s cheaper than an ABC ticket.
If you have a Deutschland Ticket, you can travel in all zones.
Short trip tickets let you travel 3 train tops, or 6 bus or tram stops. If you buy them in the app, they are valid for 20 minutes.13
Single tickets are 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 stop, do some shopping, and take the train again. Your ticket only works in one direction. To go back, you must buy a new ticket.
Daily, monthly and weekly passes are cheaper. They usually let you bring other people for free.
The Deutschland Ticket is a monthly subscription. You can use all public transit in Germany for 49€ per month.
- Standard ticket
This is the ticket most people need.
- Reduced price ticket (Ermäßigungstarif)
Children between 6 and 15 years old need a reduced price ticket. Dogs too. Most tickets let you bring children for free. Some tickets let you bring a dog for free.
- Student ticket (Schülerticket, Ausbildungsticket)
Students and apprentices get a free monthly pass. Apply for it here or here.
- Bicycle ticket (Fahrradkarte)
You need a bicycle ticket for your bicycle. – How to bring bikes on public transit.
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 get a 60€ fine.
If you have the wrong ticket, you still get a fine.
Step 2: Validate your ticket
Stamp your ticket before you use it. If your ticket is not stamped, it’s not valid. There are stamping machines on train platforms, and inside trams and buses. Look for a yellow or red metal box, and put your ticket in the slit.
If you buy a ticket on the bus or tram, it’s already stamped. Monthly passes are already stamped.3
Digital tickets are valid 1 minute after you buy them.2 Buy your ticket before you get on the train.
Step 3: Use public transport
Go in the right direction
The display shows a train’s last stop, not its direction. For example, the S2’s last stop could be in Bernau, Buch or Blankenburg. These trains all go in the same direction, but they have different last stops.
Take the bus or tram
When you get on the bus, you can use any door. You don’t need to show your ticket to the driver.16
When your bus or tram arrives, let other people exit before you enter.
Before your stop, press the yellow or red “STOP” button near you. You will hear a “ding” sound. You will see “STOP” in the corner of the information screen. The bus will stop at the next bus stop.
To open the doors, you might need to press a button near the doors.
Public transport options
- 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.
Bus stops have an “H” sign or post. There are night buses that replace U-Bahn and tram lines.4 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…).
There are a few ferries in Berlin.5 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 airport.6
- 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
Rent a scooter
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
German taxis must accept cash and credit cards.7 The Jelbi app also accepts PayPal.
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), on the tram, on ferries, and on the N1 to N9 night buses.8 You can’t bring your bicycle on 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.9 On the S-Bahn, only use the carriages with a bicycle sign near the door.9
Bicycle trailers, bicycles with more than two wheels, scooters and motorcycles are not allowed. Electric bicycles are allowed.9
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.
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 price (Ermäßigungstarif) ticket for your dog, but there are exceptions. You can bring your dog on the train, tram or bus for free if…10
- 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
If you have a Deutschland Ticket, you can bring a dog with you for free, but only in zones A, B and C. In the rest of Germany, the rules can be different.
Bring other people for free
All tickets let you bring children under 6 years old for free.
Most weekly, monthly and yearly tickets let you bring children under 15 years old for free.
Most weekly, monthly and yearly tickets, let you bring other people for free during certain times:12
- Monday to Friday from 8PM to 3AM the next day.
- Saturday and Sunday
- On public holidays
These tickets do not let you bring children and other people with you:11
- The Deutschland Ticket
- The student ticket (Schülerticket)
- The FlexTicket
- The 10AM card (10-Uhr-Karte)
- The 65 Plus ticket.