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Travel Guide: How to Travel to Berlin on Your Own | Elena Kazantseva's travel blog 2btraveler.ru

 

In this guide, I will summarize all the information about preparing for a trip to Berlin, what you should pay attention to, as well as provide some prices to guide you on making up your trip budget.

Contents of the article:
Why visit Berlin
Visa and insurance for Germany
German currency 
Mobile connection in Germany
How to get to Berlin
How to get to the city from the airport 
Car rent in Berlin
Places of interest in Berlin
Guided tours in Berlin
Transport in Berlin 
Prices in Berlin
Where to go from Berlin for 1 -2 days
Useful services 

Berlin is the capital of Germany. Why visit berlin.

Berlin travel guide

Tourists often ignore Berlin, preferring to visit Munich and Bavaria, Cologne, Dresden. But in fact, Berlin is a great destination both for a weekend trip and for a week-long journey. I could mention at least 6 reasons why Berlin is worth visiting:

  1. Numerous places of attraction to suit every taste and budget. Despite the fact that there are no old yards and cozy medieval streets here, but there are wide avenues, a modern TV tower, plenty of museums and huge shopping centers. Visiting the main attractions will take 1-2 days, but you won’t get bored spending even a week here, since there will always be something else to see.
  2. Well-developed public transport. Buy a travel card for as many days as you need and travel from district to district without any problems.
  3. Here it is interesting not only in summer but in winter as well. Especially in December, when Christmas markets open (according to some sources, there are more than 60 of them in Berlin!)
  4. There are many free attractions, so even a tourist on the budget will always find something to do.
  5. Cheap air tickets. Also, thanks to flights to Berlin Tegel and Leipzig airport (about 200 km).
  6. Relatively affordable food prices (you can have a filling meal with beer for two for 20 euros), a lot of fast food such as traditional currywurst sausages (1.5-2 euros one) and traditional Turkish shawarma (3.5 euros).

Visa and insurance for Germany

Germany is a member of the Schengen agreement, so you can visit the country using any Schengen visa (I have a five-year-long French one). If you don’t have a multi-visa yet, you will have to apply for a German Schengen visa. You can do it at the Consulate or through the visa center (it is a little more expensive in the visa center, but usually easier).

Now, you need to turn to the visa center VISAMETRIC. You can find contacts and detailed information (including instructions for applying for a visa) on the website https://www.visametric.com/

I always have my own insurance issued online. The price starts from 5 euros per week (the minimum set of options and the minimum insurance amount of 30,000 euros).

German currency

The currency in Germany is the euro, so you should face no difficulties. Exchange your currency to euros at home and bring them to Germany. You can withdraw money from your card at ATMs or pay with any card (Visa or MasterCard).

Mobile connection in Germany

Currently, there are 3 operators providing mobile connection services in Germany:

  1. Deutsche telekom (formely known as T-mobile)
  2. Vodafonе
  3. О2

All the above-mentioned operators provide not only high-quality mobile connection, but high-speed Internet as well. Tourists can also select the most suitable package: a single-day package (from 500 MB to 1 GB per day) or a monthly package (from 100 MB to 20 GB for 28-30 days). Prices correspondingly vary depending on the package type. The price for a single-day package starts from 3 euros, the monthly package price – from 9 euros.

The majority of Germans use services by Deutsche telekom, but at the same time they say: “If you don’t set a goal to purchase the most favorable package, you can use services provided by any operator.”

You can buy SIM cards in the providers salons right in Germany (be sure to have your passport). I remind you that in Europe roaming has been canceled, so you can use a single SIM card all over the EU.

How to get to Berlin

You can take direct flights to Berlin from Moscow, Istanbul, Rome, Madrid, London, New York and other cities.

A flight to Berlin from Helsinki will cost from 70 euros, and from 35 euros (Ryanair) from Riga and Vilnius. All prices are for the round-trip.

You can get to Berlin from Leipzig airport as well. The distance between Leipzig and Berlin is about 200 km.

You can find the flight price from your city for the next few months in the low price calendar

It is convenient to travel around Germany by train or by bus. You can buy tickets for your destination at omio.com.

How to get to the city from the airport 

Those who arrive in the country by plane wonder how to get from the airport to the city center. You can always get there by public transport or by taxi/transfer. I order a personal transfer on kiwitaxi (my review): they meet you with a name plate, help with luggage, bring to the door at the fixed price.

There are articles about 2 Berlin airports in the blog:

 

Tegel AirportSchönefeld Airport

 

In the articles, you will find detailed information on each of the ways to get to the city and travel between the airports.

Car rent in Berlin

Renting a car in Berlin (it doesn’t matter, at the airport or in the city) is no more difficult than in any other large European city. If you have never rented a car in Europe, I recommend that you should start with my article:

 

Renting a car on a trip: what to pay attention to

 

To rent a car in Germany, you will need a standard package of documents:

  • Document of identification (passport)
  • International driver’s license
  • Credit card in the main driver’s name
  • Voucher if you book online.

I usually book through a broker; it is cheaper, more convenient (you can compare many options at once), there is international support service and sometimes they offer a kind of bonuses (for example, the second driver free of charge). Here are 2 services that I have personally used and can recommend:

 

Rentalcars.com (my review about renting a car in Prague)

Autoeurope.com (my review about renting a car in Valencia).

 

As of 2020, roads in Germany are free and very good. There is no maximum speed limit on highways. But please be careful!

Petrol in Germany is slightly more expensive than in the Czech Republic and Austria, but lower than in Italy and Portugal. As of March 2020, it is 1.24 euros.

If you have not decided on your travel route yet, you can see my route around Central Europe.

Places of interest in Berlin

Berlin sights

 

As I have already said, there are plenty of places of interest in Berlin. It will take 1-2 days to see the main ones; 5 days will be enough to get the full picture of the city.

In my blog, there is an article about 46(!) places of interest in Berlin.

Be sure to visit Alexanderplatz, the TV tower (at least from outside), the Red City Hall, the Cathedral, and visit one of museums. You can also take a free tour to Reichstag. Here I wrote about booking it online.

Guided tours in Berlin

 

excursions in berlin

Andrey with the guide on the beer tour

 

I recommend going on a couple of guided tours. You can choose a sightseeing tour to get the lay of the city at once.

Hotels in berlin: where a tourist can stay

 

Berlin hotels

 

In Belin, the central district is Mitte, I recommend staying here. Here, you will be in the center of all the places of interest, which you can reach on foot or by public transport. Alexanderplatz and Berlin Central Station will within reach as well, which is a huge advantage if you plan to travel around Germany by railway.

There are plenty of 5-star hotels in the city center; the average price per night starts from 200 euros.

A night in a good 4-star hotel will cost you 100-150 euros. Three-star hotels are only a bit cheaper: it is almost impossible to find less than 100 euros per night. If you are looking for a good but affordable option, consider H+ Hotel for Youth; in December 2018 we paid 78 euros per night with a decent breakfast. My review of the hotel.

If you prefer apartments, Airbnb offers a wide selection of them. The average price starts from 69 euros. If you haven’t used the service yet, study my article and get a 25 euro discount on your first booking.

 

Further reading «16 Berlin hotels: where can a tourist stay»

Transport in Berlin

Transport in Berlin is represented by buses, trams, U-bahn metro and S-bahn city commuter rails. Metro and commuter rails often repeat some of each other’s routes, so you can use both. In Berlin, just as in many other cities, a single transport ticket is available. This means that you can use the single ticket to change from one means of transport to another, and in the case of a travel ticket – take unlimited number of trips on all types of transport.

Berlin is divided into zones A, B, and C. Zone A is limited by S-bahn ring. It includes the whole center part (including Charlottenburg castle and the East Side Gallery). Zone B covers Tegel airport, Spandau, Pankow and Rudow districts. You will need a ticket to zone C if you want to get to Schonefeld airport, Potsdam, Oranienburg (Sachsenhausen camp).

See the scheme below:

 

Munich transportation scheme

 

A ticket for a short trip in Berlin (3 stops by U-bahn metro or S-bahn train, or 6 stops on the bus or tram) costs 1.70 euros. A single trip ticket valid for 2 hours costs from 2.80 euros for AB zone (includes the whole center + Tegel airport) to 3.40 euros for ABC zone (you can get to Schonefeld airport and Potsdam).

In is beneficial to buy travel tickets in Berlin. For 1 day, a one for AB zone costs 7 euros and 7.70 euros for ABC zone; the 7-day travel card is 30 euros for AB zone and 37.50 for ABC.

Even when coming for 5-6 days, it is easy to calculate that it is more profitable to buy a weekly travel ticket than 5 or 6 daily ones. We bought a weekly one for zones A and B and used it to get to Tegel airport. It was really worth its price.

You can’t buy a ticket covering zone A only

 

Berlin buses

 

If you are traveling with a large company (up to 5 people), it may be more profitable to buy a group travel card. A daily ticket for AB zone costs 19.90, for ABC zone 20.80.

Another option – Berlin Welcome Card or Berlin Pass.

If you have Berlin Welcome Card, you will get free fare in the selected zone + discounts for visiting attractions and museums; the price starts from 20 euros (48 hours, АВ zone).

Berlin WelcomeCard: the Museum island and public transport. In this case, the cost starts from 46 euros; it is valid for 72 hours, discounts on attractions + free entrance to museums of the Museum island. Berlin Pass: free access to 60+ attractions + public transport + hop-on-hop-of bus. Valid for 3 days. Costs 123 euros.

You should decide for your case, whether these cards are worth their price!

You must validate the ticket the first time you take on a means of transport. After that, put away your tickets and always carry them with you. There are no turnstiles in metro or buses. It seems that there are no inspectors either. However, after spending 5 days in Berlin, we managed to meet these inspectors. So, there is a chance.

Prices in Berlin

We didn’t visit many of grocery stores in Berlin, but in general, the price level in supermarkets is similar to prices in Munich.

As for restaurants, the average lunch cost us 20-25 euros for two, dinner 25-35 euros. We always took beer and the portions were huge (you can take 1 appetizer/salad and 1 main dish for two). About Berlin restaurants you can also read in:

 

20 Berlin restaurants where you can have a delicious meal.

 

prices in berlin

An extremely filling lunch that costs less than 30 euros

 

I have written about hotel prices above: but for hostels, get ready to pay for accommodation from 70 euros per night.

You can find prices for public transport in Berlin (and other useful information) on the official website https://www.vbb.de/tickets. The ticket price in March 2019, I have already mentiones above in the “Transport +” section.

About prices at Berlin Christmas markets you can read in the article:

 

Christmas markets in Berlin: advice,photos and my impressions 

 

Where to go from Berlin

If you have got bored in Berlin, you can go to neighboring cities. I would like to mention 5 most popular single-day destinations:

  • Magdeburg
  • Leipzig
  • Potsdam
  • Dresden
  • Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen

Information on how to get there and what to see you can find in a separate article:

 

5 to go to from Berlin for 1 day 

 

If you have more time than a day, you will have more places to choose from, for example, you can go to:

Etc.

Useful services to plan free time in Berlin:

Getyourguide.com – the largest international service for booking guided tours and tickets around the world. The majority of tours are in English, but sometimes you can find something special.

Tiqets.com – a service for purchasing tickets for popular attractions all around the globe online. Prices are sometimes the same as on the official site, sometimes with a they charge of 1-3 euros. But if you can save at least half an hour or an hour without having to queue in a crowd, then it is worth it.

Omio.com – a service for searching and purchasing bus and train tickets around Germany and the whole Europ.

Flixbus.com – a low-cost bus carrier with an extremely wide coverage. Ticket prices start at 5 euros, and from 1 euro during promotion campaigns.

That’s all for now. If you have something to add, feel free to leave your comments. I also answer questions in the comments. Don’t forget to bookmark the article and share it on social networks! May your Berlin be interesting!

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