How To Navigate Your Way Around Berlin

How To Navigate Your Way Around Berlin

Big statement coming up: I am one of the queens of the U-Bahn in Berlin. Whether this is classy or something to be proud of or not, is beside the point.

When I visit a city, I really want to understand its underground and find out the best way to get everywhere. In Bangkok I cheated and simply took GrabTaxi everywhere; this made me feel like I had missed an important part of the culture.

In the U-Bahn in Berlin you see the locals, the sights, have to navigate your way to reach the destination. You get a better feel of the city, its culture, its people. This is part of the exploration.


Getting around

It is natural to set some sort of budget aside for a city trip. That does not mean, however, that you have to walk everywhere. In my opinion, the U-Bahn in Berlin is one of the cheapest and the most reliable. Delays do happen, but not nearly on the same scale as other cities. The U-Bahn is reasonably clean, not too hot or cold and runs throughout the night, every single weekend.

– Get a digital map
– Get a ticket
– Get a backpack (mine is similar to this)
– Keep your clothes comfortable, but don’t look like you’re about to climb Everest (not necessary, darling).


If you live here, short term

Unless you live right next door to your workplace, or you have your own personal Blacklane driver (heaven), then most likely you will need to take the U-Bahn in Berlin at some point. The downside is that buying a day ticket for 7€ every day can add up quickly, especially if you don’t travel as much as you’d like. The good news is a single ticket is 2,80€ and a beer costs 1,50€. Combine the two along with the unusual sights and characters you come across in Berlin; be entertained, for free.

To start saving money right away, the best thing is to pick up a monthly pass. Lots of people sell them on Facebook communities such as Sell Your Stuff Berlin which is a great way to save some € if you don’t need a ticket for the full month. If you’re lucky you might even get one for free on Free Your Stuff Berlin. Check out how to navigate around Berlin with this video:



If you live here, long term

Check out the BVG shop for prices on the monthly passes. If you get a Spar-Abo, you can get it for around 60€ instead of 80€. If you can foot the bill for the year in advance, it’ll be even cheaper. But not everyone has that kind of paper at once.

You will be sent a card that is valid forever, unless you cancel it (really important to know, in Germany contracts renew themselves unless you cancel in writing!). You can scan on the bus (no one does it, though, as time is precious) and ticket controllers will scan it on their device to make sure you’re paying for it.

I actually have a VBB Umwelt Karte im Abo with the S-Bahn Berlin, which gives me U-Bahn, bus, S-Bahn,
tram and regional trains within the AB zones in Berlin for 63,42€/month. In fairness, this price is excellent considering you can take the tram, bus, train, underground and overground as any time of day. There is no peak time or price hike during uncomfortable rush hour times. The added extra I particularly like: “Mitnahme mehrere Personen möglich” which means:

I can bring 1 person with me on my ticket at the weekend (all weekend) and after 8pm until 3am weekdays. For free. Schwarzfahren, or fare dodging, simply isn’t worth it when the service is really quite efficient.

Wait times for the U-Bahn in Berlin are 2-4 mins during peak times, you can change platforms in a few seconds if you go the wrong way (sorry, London but you are awful for this). Remember to download the BVG app on your phone for a digital map and live train times.


Girl standung under Ober-Baum-Brücke

Alternatives to taking the U-Bahn in Berlin

If it is -10 degrees Celsius, like in February, I wouldn’t dream of attempting to walk anywhere; I would without a doubt recommend taking public transport. However, in summer you should really think of renting a Lidl bike or borrowing one from a friend; it’s the best way to get around the city, especially in summer. Getting public transport is packed at the best of times; when the heat turns up it can be an utter disaster for your makeup, your stress levels and also your general comfort.

Take a bike: you will feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. I would highly recommend cycling along the river Spree from West to East and picking out nice places to go for food along the way or finishing in Neukölln for some coffee.

As the tech scene in Berlin is bursting with start-ups, slowly more and more companies are coming up with innovative ideas to solve day-to-day problems. Take a look at these lot:

eScooter sharing company COUP which offer rides for 30 minutes for just 3€.
Car2go which offer Smart cars to park easily and whizz through the city
DriveNow from BWM giving you a chance to drive German whips you always wanted to (0,30 – 0,45 cents/minute)


Feel the gust of wind through the U-Bahn in Berlin

If having a regular ticket was so 2017…

Then cop a pair of BVG x adidas trainers or crêpes in this interesting yet rather stiff collaboration of a rail company that most people love to dislike and a brand that Germans love: Adidas.

An annual ticket for just the U-Bahn in Berlin (worth 700€) is sewn into the shoe. I haven’t seen anyone wear these, though.
Have you seen anyone wear these since the queues in Overkill over winter? Think it turned into more of a collectors’ item.

If you want to see what the underground is like in different cities, see my post here.

Have you been to Berlin? Did you take the underground or did you Über your way to Berghain? Let me know in the comments!

Facebook Comments

The Secret Linguist was created in 2016 to inspire everyone to become a linguist. Written by a 20-something living in Berlin, with a love for languages, gays and espresso. Often with a splash of British humour or peppered in sarcasm, The Secret Linguist creates light-hearted articles to motivate you to ditch your mono-lingual life.


  1. John
    6. March 2018 / 21:11

    Excellent article with some important tips on looking cool which most travel websites fail to take account of.

    • 7. March 2018 / 16:50

      Thanks, John! Looking cool, at the end of the day, could be closely tied to integration – so therefore, why not!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.