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How to get from Berlin Brandenburg airport to city centre

How to get from Berlin Brandenburg airport to city centre

These are the different ways to reach Berlin city center from the airport – the new Brandenburg airport, including bus, express train, and taxi.

Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport is the new international airport for Berlin after Tegel and Schönefeld closed down. Note that the old Schönefeld has technically become an extension of the new airport, now called Terminal 5.

Berlin Brandenburg airport (or BER) is located in the southeastern end of Berlin, around 11 miles (18km) from the city center.

There are several ways to reach Berlin from the airport. Following our many trips to Berlin, we show you the best ways to get from the new Berlin airport to Berlin's city center including price options, map routes, and any other important tips – for example: always validate your ticket on the metro in Berlin to avoid getting a fine!

The quickest way to reach Berlin city center…

…is with the airport express train. It runs every 30 minutes from 4 am to 11 pm. Make sure you pre-order your Berlin Transport Card before you arrive to avoid queues at the airport. It includes unlimited travel in Berlin and a return journey from/to Berlin airport. Remember to purchase it for zones AB and C to ensure it includes the Berlin-Berlin Brandenburg airport station option.

Berlin Transport Card

We can't recommend pre-ordering one. Imagine arriving during rush hour, queues for the ticket machines can get pretty crowded. In addition, if you're planning on spending a few days in Berlin, you'll inevitably be using the public transport system (ie Metro, bus, and train) daily. And take it from us, Berlin's ticketing system is pretty confusing, particularly if you don't speak German!

This is why we always pre-order a Berlin Welcome card before we visit Berlin. It's good value for money: for us, we calculated it worked out much cheaper because we used the Metro at least twice daily, the value of which more than exceeded the amount we paid for the card.

Berlin welcome card allows you to travel for several days using the berlin metro system
The Berlin Welcome card, a great bargain and a must-have in Berlin

We recommend purchasing your Berlin Welcome card in advance. It will not only save you money, but you will also avoid any queues at ticket machines (a blessing at rush hour when queues are huge). The Berlin Welcome card gives you unlimited travel for a 48-hour, 72-hour, 4-day, 5-day, or 6-day period. Make sure you buy the card for ZONE ABC which includes Berlin Brandenburg Airport. On top of that, the Berlin Welcome card gives you up to 50% off from many attractions in Berlin. Find out more about the Berlin WelcomeCard here.

Travel advice for LGTBQ community

Advice for LGBTQ travelers to Berlin

Berlin is uber gay and we love it! It's one of our favorite gay cities in Europe with a large queer community and lots of LGBTQ hangouts, particularly in Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. For more, check out our detailed gay travel guide to Berlin and find out about gay life in Germany in our interview with cutie Marcel from Berlin.

Airport Express trains

The airport express trains (FEX, RE8, and RB23) are the fastest way to reach Berlin city center from the Flughafen BER station. They are located below Terminal 1 on level U2. RB24 and RB32 run to and from Terminal 5.

The trains run every 30 minutes between around 4 am to 11 pm. They cost €3.30 each way.

The metro tickets in Berlin are valid for a 2-hour period. On weekends there's a night train at 1:44 am.

The FEX train only stops at Berlin-Ostkreuz, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen, and Hauptbahnhof but there are two each hour. The RE8 and RB23 trains are technically regional but they are also referred to as ‘Express' trains because they travel fast.

The RE8 train runs hourly from Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) to Ostkreuz, Ostbanhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten, and Spandau. RB23 runs hourly from the airport to Ostkreuz, Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten, and Spandau.

If you're arriving at Terminal 5, take the RB24 or the RB32 train. Both run hourly to Schöneweide, Ostkreuz, Lichtenberg, and Berlin-Hohenschöhnhausen.

If you're going to be using the metro in Berlin a lot (we found this to be the case for us), we recommend buying a Berlin WelcomeCard.

TIP: remember to purchase it for zones AB and C. Normally you need only the AB ticket for most of the main tourist attractions in Berlin, but for the Flughafen Berlin station, you need to add Zone C.

Berlin Metro

How to get from Schoenefeld airport to Berlin city centre with U-Bahn
Sebastien bonding with the Berlin metro system- the U-Bahn

The metro in Berlin is referred to as the Bahn. The main ones are the U-Bahn which goes underground. The S-Bahn is suburban.

The S-Bahn runs to the airport. It's not as convenient as the airport express (or as fast) and costs the same. However, the advantage is that both the S-Bahn and U-Bahn run non-stop during weekends, so if your plane lands late on a weekend, this is a good option to reach Berlin city center.

If your flight is arriving at Berlin Terminal 5 then you will need to catch an S-Bahn train into the city or to Terminals 1 & 2 to switch to the airport express. Terminal 5 is now what used to be Schonefeld Airport so it's a bit further out from terminals 1 & 2.

S-Bahn train lines are named S and a number (e.g. S1). The S9 and S45 lines are ideal if you're looking to reach West or East Berlin from Berlin airport. S9 leaves from Terminal 5 as well as Terminal 1-2 and goes all the way to Alexanderplatz. However, to go to the city center stops such as Potsdamer Platz or Stadtmitte, you will need to change at Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central Station) to the U-Bahn. The S45 line only travels between Terminals 1 and 2, and Südkreuz, where you'll need to change lines.

On weekdays, S-Bahn trains start running around 4.30 a.m. and stop at 1.30 a.m. Depending on the time of day the trains run every 5, 10, or 20 minutes. On weekends, S-Bahn trains run 24 hours, at night every 30 minutes.

The Berlin U-Bahn is open from 4 am to 1 am on weekdays. It also runs 24 hours on the weekends. During peak hours, U-Bahn trains run every 3 to 5 minutes. The rest of the day, they run every 10 minutes and at night every 15 minutes.

For a truly romantic experience take your loved one for a dinner cruise while in Berlin.

Go on a romantic dinner cruise

Take your loved one out for a romantic experience on a river dinner cruise during your stay in Berlin!

You'll see all the best sights of the city while dining on a yummy three-course meal.

Find out more

Public buses

Buses run from Berlin airport to the area of downtown Berlin. They cost the same as catching the train/metro but usually take longer. The night bus can be a godsend if you arrive too late to catch a train.

Express Bus

The Airport Shuttle BER2 travels between Potsdam Central Station and Berlin Airport Terminal 1 and Terminal 5 every hour. It takes about 55 minutes to get to Potsdam Central Station from the airport. Tickets cost €9.50. Tickets can only be purchased on the bus. Once at Potsdam, you'll be able to switch to the S-Bahn or walk a few steps to get to the U-Bahn and travel the rest of the way into central Berlin.

Bus X71

X71 is a new service that travels between the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (from both Terminals 1 and 2, and Terminal 5) to Rudow, Johannisthaler Chaussee, and Alt Mariendorf. It runs between 3:59 am and 10:11 pm seven days a week, departing every 20 minutes. From any of those stops, you can then transfer to the U-Bahn to reach the city center.

Bus X7

This bus travels between both terminals to Rudow, where you can switch to a U-Bahn train to get further into the city. It departs every 5 minutes.

Buses from Terminal 5

Bus lines 163, 164, and 171 all travel from (or to) Terminal 5 only and depart every 20 minutes. 163 stops at Grünau, Adlershof and S Schöneweide. 164 stops at Adlershof and Köpenick. 171 stops at Rudow, Grenzallee, Neukölln, Sonnenallee and Hermannplatz. All these stops then link up with either the S or U-Bahn lines for you to continue into Berlin.

Night Bus N60

The N60 night bus starts operating at 00.50 am and ends at 4.20 am, with about six journeys on weekdays, and more on weekends. It takes about an hour to get you as far as Alexanderplatz.

Uber or taxi?

If the night bus or public train does not appeal to you, you can use the public taxi. A metered taxi from Berlin Brandenburg airport to Alexanderplatz or Nollenderplatz (around 23km) will cost you around €45-50€ and you will find plenty of public taxis just outside the airport.

If you're more comfortable using an app, we recommend Uber. In Berlin, Uber is used as a taxi-hailing app so when you get a taxi on Uber you end up riding one of the public metered taxis. The difference is that payment is automatically managed in the app and you get the convenience of being able to hail your taxi directly from the app which is a godsend when your German is limited.

Uber will show a fare estimate and also lets you select your precise pickup and drop-off locations. Once the app has found your driver you never wait more than 3-5 minutes (although we've found this can vary a lot during peak periods).

If you have not signed up to Uber yet, download the app now, and type our invitation code sebastienc221ue which will get you your first ride for free.

Explore the alternative neighbourhoods of Berlin on a fun bike tour.

Explore the alternative side of Berlin by bike

Skip the regular tourist attractions in favor of discovering Berlin's more alternative neighborhoods on this fun bike tour. You'll get to explore the areas of Kreuzberg, Görlitzer Park, and the East Side Gallery with a local guide.

Find out more

Private transfer

If none of the options above suit you, you can always book a private transfer service from the airport to the city center (or vice versa). You will have the peace of mind of knowing that someone will wait for you at the airport and look after you until you reach your hotel. In the past, mainly for night flights, we booked our airport transfer with Welcome Pickups and have not been disappointed.

They are reliable, on time and you get a big car all to yourself with an English-speaking local driver who points out the most important points of the city… for the same price as a taxi from the airport line.

Getting around Berlin

While it's delightful to walk around and explore the many different neighborhoods of Berlin, the city is huge so you will inevitably be relying on public transport. Berlin's public transport system includes the U-Bahn (subway/underground), S-Bahn (light rail), buses and trams.

The city is divided into three different fare zones: A, B, and C. The A zone covers the area within the circle line of the Ringbahn (the inner city), while the B zone covers the area between the inner city and city limits. The C zone is the area outside of Berlin proper, which includes Potsdam and the Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Tickets can be bought at metro stations, on trams, from bus drivers, and at BVG sales offices, but often only with cash or the correct change. We recommend you pre-purchase the Berlin Welcome Card as it gives you unlimited travel in the zones you choose for the whole duration of your stay. This will save you a lot of time and avoid unnecessary stress trying to figure out the German ticketing system!

Save time and money on public transport in Berlin with the Berlin Welcome Card

Save time and money on transport in Berlin

Public transport in Berlin can be confusing, especially if you don't speak the language. With the Berlin Welcome Card, you'll have access to all modes of transport within the city.

Make sure you purchase your card for zones AB and C to include your return trip to Berlin Brandenburg Airport!

Find out more

Where to stay in Berlin

As we've mentioned, Berlin is large, which means you have a lot of different choices for accommodation based on the area you'd like to stay in and your budget. These are our favorite areas to stay in Berlin:

  • Mitte: if it's your first time in Berlin, Mitte is the perfect location to stay as this is where the majority of the ‘must-see' tourist locations can be found. Because of its central location and popularity, hotels in Mitte can be quite expensive, so make sure you book your accommodation well ahead of time. Check for some of the top hotels to stay in Mitte.
  • Schöneberg: This is the place to stay if you want to be close to the main Berlin gay scene! Schöneberg is the historical heart of the city's LGBTQ community and has been since the 1920s when it became the first-ever gay village in the world. Here is where the majority of Berlin's gay bars, clubs, and other venues are located. Have a look at hotels in Schöneberg here.
  • Kreuzberg: Next to the main gay neighborhood of Schöneberg is Kreuzberg, known as the best part of Berlin for nightlife and is also home to a more alternative gay nightlife. Also known as Xberg, Kreuzberg is full of clubs, hipster restaurants, and cool street art. It's close to the center of Berlin, so it is a good option if you want to be near the tourist sights as well as the best parties. Check out the top hotels to stay in Kreuzberg.
  • Neukölln: If you'd prefer a quieter location to sleep then we recommend Neukölln. You'll still be able to get into the city center by public transport but will be staying in a more budget-friendly area with lots of funky art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Find the best hotels in Neukölln now.
  • Friedrichshain: Located in East Berlin, Friedrichshain is now an alternative neighborhood with a fantastic arts scene. There are a lot of events at night and while it's still a relatively up-and-coming area it's also a good choice if you're travelling on a budget. Check out the top hotels to stay in Friedrichshain.
  • Prenzlauer Berg: Often called the ‘coolest' neighborhood in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg has a young and hip vibe, with lots of old breweries or factories that have been transformed into very unique hotels. There are also a lot of art galleries, designer shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy. Have a look at the top hotels to stay in Prenzlauer Berg.

Things to do in Berlin

Once you've made your way from the airport to your accommodation, it's time to have fun and explore Berlin. These are some of our favorite things to do in Berlin, a mix of the must-see tourist spots and a few more alternative ideas to inspire you:

See Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall

Learn about the history of the Cold War and Berlin Wall during an informative walking tour

Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most famous spots in Berlin and one we recommend visiting, but while you're at why not also learn more about the history of the Berlin Wall? We found this walking tour about the Cold War to be a fascinating way to learn about the history of the Berlin Wall. We also visite significant historic sites like the exact place where the infamous Wall fell in 1989.

Explore Museum Island

For some culture and art make sure you spend time exploring the museums of Museum Island in Berlin

Lovers of art, history, and culture need to check out the famous Museum Island of Berlin. On the northern half of this island located on the Spree River is six different and fascinating museums, which display exhibits from around the world. You can even get a special Berlin WelcomeCard which includes entrance to all the museums for a bit extra! If you don't have time to see them all then we recommend the Pergamon Museum where you can see the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate from Babylon, or the Neues Museum for the famous bust of Nefertiti.

Visit Potsdam and Sanssouci Palace

While you're in Berlin, head out of the city to explore nearby Potsdam and the stunning Sanssouci Palace

Just a bit outside of Berlin is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Potsdam. This is a fascinating spot for a day trip, especially if you visit the Sanssouci Palace, one-time summer home of Frederick the Great, former King of Prussia. Rivalling Paris' Versailles for its incredible gardens and interiors, Sanssouci Palace is a must-visit in our books! While you're in Potsdam don't miss out on exploring the many other palaces as well, like the Orangery Palace, New Palace, and Charlottenhof Palace.

See Berlin from the Sky

See Berlin from a unique perspective on the World Balloon

For an unforgettable experience, we recommend a World Balloon hot air balloon. It is one of the largest hot air balloons in the world, which takes you 492 feet (150 meters) above the city. The views are EPIC! When we did it we had a clear day and spotted most of the city's famous sights including Checkpoint Charlie and Brandenburg Gate. Don't worry about feeling unsafe up there either as the balloon is tethered to the ground by a steel cable. For a touch of extra romance, we recommend booking your ticket for the evening ride so you can watch the sunset over the Berlin skyline.

Go Inside the Reichstag Dome

Explore the inside of the cool dome on top of the Reichstag Building in Berlin, for great views over the city

Another way to enjoy the city skyline is by visiting the glass dome on the Reichstag. The historic building used to be the headquarters of the Imperial Government in Germany. It was damaged during WWII, fell into disuse, and was restored in the 1990s. The glass dome on top offers 360-degree views over the city making it ideal for spotting sights like Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, and the Berlin Cathedral. You can also visit in the evening for the extra-magical experience of seeing the city's twinkling lights.

Try some Typical Berliner food!

Explore Berlin's culinary scene on a neighbourhood food tour

A delicious way to explore some of Berlin's most vibrant neighborhoods is via a food tour, something we always love doing when visiting a new city. This Berlin food tour is an excellent way to learn about the local culture through dishes that have come from all over the world to make up the Berlin foodie scene. You'll get to sample delicacies like Pilsner beers, currywurst, and fusion Austrian Dumplings and find out where the best street food spots are located with a passionate local guide. Pro-tip: do this tour at the beginning of your time in Berlin as you'll be finding out all the best places to eat throughout your visit!

Learn about the Rise and Fall of Hitler

If you want to learn more about the rise and fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany, a visit to the Berlin Story Bunker is very informative

We think everyone who travels to Berlin should take some time to truly understand how and why Adolf Hitler was able to come to power during the period of Nazi rule. Visiting the Berlin Story Bunker is one of the best ways to learn about the period of National Socialism that brought about the Second World War. It's a full-scale replica of Hitler's bunker with exhibitions and informational details that aren't widely known. This is quite a sobering experience, but absolutely worthwhile to help us understand how such terrible things happened and how we can prevent them from ever happening again.

Explore the neighbourhood of Neukölln

Neukolln is one of Berlin's most creative neighbourhoods, perfect for getting off the beaten track and exploring a contemporary hotspot

Since we're talking about getting to the Berlin city centre from Schoenefeld airport, it's worth mentioning the up-and-coming area of Neukölln, which is located between the airport and the Kreuzberg neighbourhood. This is a contemporary part of the city, perfect if you like to get off the beaten track to explore places with plenty of street art and markets where creative types live. If you join a local walking tour of Neukölln you'll find out all the best local spots for street art, markets, bakeries, cafes, bookstores, restaurants and bars. And hey, if you stay in this area then you won't have as far to travel to get back to the airport!

Have a Meal with a View in the TV Tower

The Sphere Restaurant in Berlin's TV Tower is a very romantic spot for a meal with incredible views over the city

The Fernsehturm Berlin is a tower which houses several radio and television broadcasting stations, an observation deck including a bar, as well as a rotating restaurant. As the tallest structure in Germany (and third tallest in the EU), it's a very popular attraction for enjoying views over the city and a romantic meal in the Sphere Restaurant. We recommend that you book your TV Tower tickets online ahead of time, so you can skip the queues to ascend to the panorama floor and guarantee a window seat in the revolving restaurant. The menu offers a delectable array of German classical dishes and international favourites.

Experience the Breathtaking ARISE Grand Show!

The ARISE Grand Show is an incredible and unmissable experience to have in Berlin!

Ok, we've saved the best 'til last, because ARISE is one of our absolute favourite experiences in Berlin! Taking place at the Friedrichstadt-Palast, which is the biggest and most famous theatre in Berlin, ARISE is a top-class revue with over 100 performers. Prepare to be absolutely dazzled by acrobatics, music, dance and incredible costumes in, well, vivid colours! The show is a declaration of a love for life which will leave you feeling empowered, inspired and filled with child-like wonderment. We don't want to give it away, so just trust us, and go see it!

For more inspiration:

Use our guide to plan your trip from the Berlin Brandenburg Airport to the Berlin city centre

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out a reputable travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft, or a cancellation? Many travelers forget about it and regret it when something happens. Better to pay a small price and have the peace of mind and not worry.

Sebastien Chaneac

Hey everyone, I'm Seby, the co-founder, editor, and know-it-all IT guru behind the Nomadic Boys gay travel least that's how Stefan describes me! I'm also a total travel nerd and food enthusiast. Over the past 10 years, I've travelled to over 80 countries with my partner in crime and the love of my life, Stefan. I've written for a wide range of publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Want to know more about me? Check my full bio here.