Public transportation in Berlin, like the city itself, is not always pretty, but it is expansive and it works. Increasingly, however, environmentally-conscious Berliners are turning to cycles. BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetrieb) is the umbrella organization in charge of public transportation in Berlin. The city runs on a fairly simple zone system; Zone A is the inner city, Zone B the far suburbs up to the city limits, and Zone C the commuter area in the surrounding province of Brandenburg.
A single ticket for zones A and B costs 2.70 euro and is valid for two hours on any transport mode in the system and with unlimited changes. A monthly ticket is 79 euro for zones A and B. Weekly and annual tickets are also available.
The U-Bahn is the city’s subway system (although there are many above-ground sections), which connects most of the city’s districts. The U-Bahn runs until 1 am on weekdays and all night on the weeknights. During the day the trains come every five minutes and every ten at night on weekdays, changing to every ten minutes during the day and fifteen at night on the weekends. Night buses running parallel to the metro run every half hour after the trains stop running for weekday revelers. Technically no ticket is required to enter the trains, but if you are caught by one of the undercover controllers you will be subject to a hefty fine.
The S-Bahn is the most effective way to get to outlying areas. These trains stop less frequently and move faster than the U-Bahn, but the wait times between them can be greater.
Trams are almost exclusively an East Berlin phenomenon and provide one of the more charming modes of transportation. The tram network covers huge parts of East Berlin, making that part of the city, which is also well connected by U- and S-bahn trains, a bit more user friendly for people without cars. There are some night trams as well after 1 am and run these run at half-hour intervals.
There are legions of double decker buses plying the streets of Berlin that will take you anywhere the trains or trams won’t. You may buy single tickets from bus drivers, but regular tickets work here too. There are also night buses (Nachtliniennetz) and night trams that come every half hour between 12:30 and 4 in the morning.
Taxis start at 3 euros then cost 2 euro per kilometer. After the first 7km each further kilometer should only be an additional 1.30 euro. If you’re only going 2km however it should be a special price of 3.50 euro. You can ask for a Combi (station wagon) or Grossraum Taxi (up to 7 person van).
Berlin, like many other German cities, is currently undergoing a bicycle renaissance. Bike lanes are appearing everywhere, from congested Mitte to hitherto neglected social housing estates outside of the center. Deutsche Bahn (the national railway company) provides an efficient Call-a-Bike service, renting bikes for .8 euros a minute or 15 euro for 24 hours. Bikes are also allowed on the U-Bahn except during rush hour and on the S-Bahn all the time, with an extra ticket.
Walking is a great way to make Berlin feel a whole lot smaller than it really is. Because of the radial layout of the city, it is often possible (though not recommended) to get into the center from some of the more popular suburbs in under an hour on foot (“zu Fuß”). To get a sense of scale, crossing the Mitte district from the Brandenburg Gate to Alexanderplatz takes about half an hour walking, and to get to the Brandenburg Gate from Oranienplatz (in Kreuzberg) takes about 45 minutes.
There are several lakes in Berlin’s outskirts that are extremely popular in the summer and BVG (the city-wide public transport company) operates ferries to and from various destinations along their shores.