How to reach the center of Berlin from the new BER Airport, Berlin-Brandenburg "Willy Brandt."
After nearly 13 years of anticipation, on October 31, 2021, the new Berlin airport, Flughafen BER Berlin-Brandeburg “Willy Brandt,” finally became operational.
Named in honour of the German Chancellor Willy Brandt, the new airport has become the capital’s sole Airport following the closure of Berlin-Tegel, with the aim of streamlining transportation logistics.
Unfortunately, the proposed improvements have not been entirely successful, and many visitors arriving at the meeting point our guided tours in Berlin complain about the lack of clarity regarding transportation and tickets.
This article aims to help you arrive well-prepared and informed to avoid any stress and begin your stay in the best way possible. Let’s see how to get from Berlin-Brandeburg BER Airport to the centre of Berlin.
FROM BER AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF BERLIN USING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
If you decide to reach your destination from Berlin Airport using public transportation, the first thing to do is to obtain a ticket for public transportation in Berlin. You can find ticket machines both inside and outside the airport.
Berlin is divided into three zones: A, B, and C. You will mostly move within zones A and B because zone A covers the central area (approximately the size of the city of Milan), B is the urban area, and C is the outskirts, including the Brandenburg region where the airport is located. Additionally, two of our tour destinations are located there: the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial and the city of Potsdam.
So, to travel from Berlin Airport to the city center and vice versa, you will need a ticket covering all three zones, and you have various options:
– Purchase a single ticket for zones ABC.
– Buy a 24-hour ticket for zones ABC.
The tickets you purchase allow you to use all modes of transportation (U-bahn, S-bahn, Regional Trains, Buses, Trams, and FEX, the Airport Express train connecting the central station to the airport and vice versa).
FROM THE AIRPORT TERMINAL TO S-BAHN/RAILWAY PLATFORMS FOR THE CITY CENTER
The airport has three terminals: Terminal 1 (T1), Terminal 2 (T2), and Terminal 5 (T5), which is the old Schönefeld airport and is currently closed.
- If you arrive or depart from T1: Think of the arrivals section of Terminal 1 as a long strip. You can exit at either end of this strip and head to the centre to reach the platforms from which the transportation to the city centre departs. You’ll know you’ve reached the central part when you see stairs/escalators on both your right and left leading to the upper level (towards security checks, check-in area, and gates) and the lower level (-1), where you need to go. Once you arrive at the lower level, you’ll find ticket machines and other ramps leading to level -2, where the platforms are. Each ramp has a platform number written, along with a screen showing which train departs from there and its departure time.
- If you arrive or depart from T2: Upon leaving the airport, you’ll find a ramp on the right. If you follow it, you’ll reach a large area resembling a shopping mall parking lot. By crossing it, you’ll arrive in front of the entrance to Terminal 1, where you can follow the directions provided in the previous section.
- If you arrive or depart from T5 (when it reopens): The station is about a 10-minute walk from the airport exit. As soon as you exit, you’ll find a long corridor to follow, leading to an underpass connected to the platforms. It is recommended to take S-bahn S9 or S45, both for reaching the city and moving between Terminal 5 and Terminals T1-2.
HOW TO REACH THE CENTER OF BERLIN FROM THE AIRPORT: S-BAHN, U-BAHN, TRAIN, OR FEX?
There are several options for reaching Berlin from the airport. Considering that taxi fares are around 75 euros, we recommend using one of the available public transportation options:
- S-Bahn: From Terminal 1, the S9 S-Bahn departs approximately every 20 minutes and takes about 50 minutes to reach Hauptbahnhof (central station). It stops at all S-Bahn stations, including Schöneweide Bahnhof, Treptower Park, Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten.
- U-Bahn: If you’re headed to the southern part of the city (Neukölln and Kreuzberg neighbourhood’s), the best option is to take the U-Bahn subway. In this case, you should exit Terminal 1 and go to the bus stop directly in front of T1. Take one of the two buses that go to the “Rudow” U-Bahn station: X7 (departing every 5 minutes) or X71 (departing every 20 minutes). Get off at Rudow (approximately 18 minutes of travel), from there, you can take the U-Bahn “U7” towards Rathaus Spandau.
- Trains: Another option, faster than S-Bahn, is the regional train or Airport Express:
– Regional Trains: These are “RE8” and “RB23.” They don’t have a fixed frequency, but in both cases, about three trains depart every hour. They take less time than the S-Bahn because they make fewer stops. In Berlin, they only stop at Ostkreuz Bahnhof, Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten, and Charlottenburg.
– Airport Express: The “Airport Express” trains are identified with the code “FEX,” and they reach the central station in approximately 30 minutes. They connect the airport to the central station Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Hbf) and do not continue beyond it. Stops include Ostkreuz, Gesundbrunnen, and Hauptbahnhof.
For those who seek a more exclusive experience, we also offer a transfer service with a private driver who will pick you up directly from the airport exit and take you to your hotel.
For information and prices, including our private tour of Berlin in English, please contact us through the appropriate contact form.
USEFUL APPS WITH REAL-TIME CONNECTION
To keep track of departures and determine the best means of transportation to save time, we recommend downloading one of the following apps for Android/iOS:
- BVG: This app is in German but is very intuitive. Simply enter your starting point next to “Ab Jetz” and your destination in the “Wohin” section. It will show you real-time information on upcoming connections, let you choose the departure time by clicking the arrow next to “Ab Jetz,” and notify you of any delays or early departures. The app also provides real-time location and route information for the vehicle. You can also purchase transportation tickets online through this app by clicking on the menu in the top left corner (marked by three horizontal lines) and selecting “Tickets.” The ticket options will be displayed in English.
- JELBI: With this app, you have access to transport timetables, information about various modes of transportation, and the ability to rent electric scooters, scooters, cars, and more. Simply open the app and enter your destination in the “Wohin möchtest du?” search bar. Like the BVG app, it offers several options, allows you to choose the departure time, and provides various information.
- CITYMAPPER: This app is in English and is very intuitive. You can enter your destination in the search bar, and the app will provide information on which transportation to take, timings, connections, and options available. It also suggests the best entrances at stations and the most convenient train cars to board.
- GOOGLE MAPS: Google Maps also helps you find transportation options, timetables, and real-time information on delays or early departures, in addition to route planning.
(Note: Some of the information in this article may be subject to change, so it’s advisable to double-check transportation options and ticket details before your trip.)