Berlin tips for tourists

Berlin tips for tourists

So last week I was in Berlin,
pointing my camera at lots of interesting things. It’s going to take a while to sort through
all 1400 shots to make a series of videos, so in the meantime I thought
I would just present a few tips for people intending to
visit the city as a tourist. You know: the tips the guide books
should have given you, but didn’t. If you’re confident about striking out on your own, a lot of the sights have information displays, many of them translated into English, and some of
them translated into other languages as well. You can learn a great deal
without even having to go into a museum. You may find some small exhibitions
in very unlikely places. Some of the U-Bahn stations, for example, are virtual museums or art galleries
in their own right. Some are worth looking at
just for the architecture. But Berlin is a big place, and driving is not easy.
Parking is nearly impossible. With so many attractions
scattered over such a wide area, you are going to need transport. Obviously, there are the sightseeing buses, and in many cases you can buy a ticket
that lasts for 24 hours that allows you to hop off and on as you wish. If your time is limited,
then one recommendation is to do the entire tour in one go, and then go back and revisit some of the
sights that seemed most interesting to you. A slightly more cost-effective alternative is
to use the ordinary buses. Routes 100 and 200 go past many of the major
tourist attractions in central Berlin; but they are very popular with tourists, and it’s very difficult to get a prized seat
near the front of the top deck unless you make a very early start
or are in Berlin out of season. So here’s what you do. Start at the zoo, but don’t get on at the main bus station. Instead, walk along the length
of the train station until the end, turn left, go under the bridge, and you should see the bus depot ahead of you. And opposite the bus depot is a bus stop
that almost nobody knows exists. And if you get on there, I can almost guarantee
that you’ll be first on the bus. So: public transport in Berlin
for those who think they may need it. There are buses, obviously; and in former
East Berlin there are also trams. Then there’s the U-Bahn, which is a metro system rather like the London Underground
or the New York Subway; and the S-Bahn, which is a mass-transit
commuter rail system. And you can also use other local trains. These services are all integrated into one system, so you can use the same ticket on all of them. This is what I had: it’s called a CityTourCard, and it came with a little map,
which was very useful, and some discounts on some attractions. There’s also the WelcomeCard, which is similar, slightly more expensive, but it has
more discounts on more attractions and a little guide book. These are the websites to go to
for further information about these tickets; and I’ve also put links in the video description,
if you’re watching this on YouTube. Before you start your first journey,
you need to validate your ticket by inserting it into a validation machine
like this one, which you’ll find in all stations
and on all buses and trams. There are no barriers,
but there are frequent spot checks. Obviously, there is a downside: there will be times when trains and buses
are going to be very full; and as excellent as Berlin’s public transportation
system is — and it is excellent — it’s not always a very pleasant experience. If you ever get lost in Berlin, look for
the nearest bus shelter or tram shelter. There’ll be a detailed street-map there,
showing you exactly where you are. Be prepared to be disappointed from time to time. 25 years after reunification,
Berlin is still rebuilding, so a lot of the attractions
may be behind scaffolding. This sometimes also affects public transport, so expect services to be
rerouted or even suspended. Berlin is relatively safe,
but obviously not risk-free. In crowded places you will have to
watch out for pickpockets. Going out at night is quite safe,
but still take care. Go with a friend — it’s usually more fun that way — and avoid confrontations with strangers. One thing I did notice is that the shell game
is alive and well in Berlin, so apparently enough people
are still being suckered into it. Don’t be one of them. Now, I didn’t actually want to be
caught out filming any of these people, because they’re not very pleasant. But basically, you see them playing a game where the object is to guess under which little
box a little ball is to be found. You see lots of people apparently winning
lots of money, but they are shills. If you have a go, you will lose. The Berliners themselves are famously rude,
and they are proud of it. You’re not supposed to take offence:
it’s just the way they are. I’ve heard people say that in that respect,
they’re quite similar to New Yorkers. People who work in the service industry
particularly are likely to be efficient, but they’re not going to bother to pretend
that they’re pleased to see you. Finally, Berlin sees a lot of protests
and demonstrations, especially around the Brandenburg Gate and the
Government Quarter, for obvious reasons. If you have to catch a train or a plane, make sure you give yourself plenty of time,
just in case you get held up. I was actually quite lucky
to catch my train back home, because the bus I was planning to take
to the station wasn’t running due to a demonstration right outside
the central train station itself, forcing me to take a much more complicated route
by U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Luckily, I had given myself 40 minutes’ leeway, so all that actually happened was, I missed lunch. And that’s it. Berlin is well worth visiting, and has a lot more to offer
than you could fit in an entire week. Really, just… have fun!

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67 Replies to “Berlin tips for tourists”

  1. You forgot to mention that you even can hop on the trains with your ticket. For example it is much faster to go from "Bahnhof Zoo" to "Ostbahnhof" with the train instead of the S-Bahn.
    The only problem here is, don't forget to exit the right time, because you will end up at in Frankfurth/Oder if you fell asleep.

    Btw. if you already have a Cityguide or Map I would recommend to go for a Dayticket instead of a Cityticket, the Dayticket is a bit more expensive (don't include the discounts but cost 36 € for 5 Days) but it is valid until 3 am the next day (not 12 PM) and more flexible (not every tourist need 5 Days here or want to stay longer than 5, no offence intended).

    There is also the "7-Tage-Karte VBB-Umweltkarte" which costs for ABC for 35,60 €, it includes no discounts, but is valid for 7 Days.

    You see there are plenty of Tickets in Berlin so planing in advance, is highly recommended.

  2. The thing about th secret bus stop at Hertzallee is that most bus drivers won't bother to stop there (or in fact react shocked if they see you standing there). Then again, taxi and bus drivers are as Berlin as it gets.

  3. Ah Berlin, best city in the world. Make sure you eat some street food while there. Döner, currywurst, chinabox etc. Also if you go to a restaurant, you might find the portions quite large so have a look around to see what other people are having before ordering a three meal course. Just a few notes from a foodie:).

  4. 1400 shots? Holy! I had a hard time going through 103 yesterday 😀 In my 2 years in Berlin I never got checked for a ticket on the subway but yeah, there ARE checks according to friends who did ran into some.

  5. Ich kenn eine Kneipe nahe des Brandenburger Tors, die ich sowas von feiere.
    Aber man sollte wirklich die Museen abklappern – mindestens eines der renomierten.

  6. @opl500 Yes, you can rent bicycles. I didn't think to mention that, but there were several shops in central Berlin where you could rent a bike for what seemed like a very reasonable rate.

  7. As part of the official public transport system, there are also taxicabs. This is worth mentioning, because compared to other major cities, the rates are rather cheap, so if you're an actual tourist (means: If you brought some money to spend) and do not want to hassle through overfilled busses or U-Bahns, but only want to make it to your next point of interest, you may want to check those out. Cabbies can tell you almost every time, how much a trip will cost when you ask them before getting on the cab. Also, if you wave a cab from the side of the street, instead of getting on one that waits at a taxi stand, you may ask for the "Kurzstrecke" (short trip), which is good for up to 2km and costs you only 4€ – this is something other cities don't have. But, in any case, don't forget the generous tip, because like everywhere, cab drivers are working minimum wage jobs. Also, please be prepared to pay cash, because most taxis are not equipped to accept electronic payment like credit cards or debit cards. If you ask, you can get a receipt though.

  8. In addition to the normal cabs (always colored the same:, there are so called "velo taxis", which are also ideal to give round trip tours for tourists. They look something like this: (they come in different colors) and often provide for a fun trip through the city.

  9. When a line of the S-Bahn, U-Bahn or Tram is suspended due to construction works, most of the time, there will be a substitution by busses that drive along that line, stopping at every stop the suspended line offers.

  10. "Avoid confrontations with strangers" – I resent that! To a tourist, I for example would be a stranger, but I always love to put my English skills to a good use and appreciate everyone who is for example asking me for directions or something like that. And of course, I am always as friendly as I can be.
    I also think that "rude" is the wrong term to describe the general mood of Berliners. I found several translations for the German word "mürrisch" though, among them were crotchety, crabby, grumbly/grumpily and so on.

  11. Interesting to see that the German "Fahrkarte entwerten" translates to "Validate your ticket", because "entwerten" would be "invalidate". So in English, you validate your ticket, while in German you invalidate it so you can't use it again.

  12. Zwei Dinge, die ich über den Umgang der Berliner mit der deutschen Sprache gehört habe:

    1. Ein Berliner sagt "mir" auch dann, wenn es richtig ist.
    2. Man sollte nicht meinen, ein Berliner meint etwas, wenn er was sagt. Reden gehört beim Berliner zum Stoffwechsel.

  13. 4:00 Berlin's city bird has been joked about as being the construction crane. I have been there 3 times (2004, 2009, & 2013). In each year at least one major attraction I wanted to see was under construction. I was there for a month in 2009 as part of a summer course at Humboldt Universität and still didn't see everything I wanted to see. I have been to several amazing museums there and I still have a ton on my list that I couldn't make it into during any of my trips. My personal suggestion is the Film Museum. It is amazing. If I could, I would go there every time I am in Berlin. Their website is here: 

  14. The Deutsches Historisches Museum on Unter den Linden is worth visiting if you are interested in art and it's a rainy day – an extraordinary collection of portraits.

  15. Thanks for the video. It would be so cool to learn more about your personal experience in Berlin when you lived there.

  16. Berliners are rude? I´m a Berliner and always friendly. Sometimes i feel like a foreigner when I´m driving in the S Bahn home. The tourists always talk so loudly in their own language. Or in the morning you see drunken young tourists who no longer know their way to the hotel.

  17. You get a new subscriber!Im a german, but your videos are great and there are some information with even im as a german people dont know!

  18. Well I had to travel from Munich-East (train station) to Munich main station.

    There is no connection between the two biggest train stations in Germany but one single underground train (because the river Isar crosses the line). Well it was an experience I would never miss…

  19. You should also have mentioned the differnce between ordinary trams and buses and the MetroBuses and MetroTrams (run 24/7, mostly every 5 to 10 minutes, etc.) and that there are some Expressbuses (e.g. X7, X9, etc.)

  20. Ah, the validation thingy. I missed that on my first trip to Berlin and surprise, surprise, a checker asked for my ticket. I managed to bring forth my puppy eyes and bad German and I was let go with a warning. 🙂 I found the Berliners helpful, especially when I presented myself as a Swedish tourist on rather bad German. I compensate my bad German with talking loud, with eye-contact and confident. 

  21. Nach Berlin mit dem Auto zu fahren ist wirklich die Hölle! Dann lieber mit Bahn oder Fernbus! Und noch ein Tipp: Statt mit dem Touri-Bus durch Berlin zu fahren, kann man die öffentlichen nehmen, denn zwei Buslinien fahren dieselben Strecken!

  22. HI am going to berlin first time travelling alone next week, do you recommend city tourcard over welcome card if you just want to go on the bus, train (u bahn and s bahn) and tram for travelling around the city? Thanks

  23. Some people (including me until I went there) assume that Berlin will be expensive as are many capital cities. The opposite is true: it's very cheap. For example: we stayed in an excellent hotel near the Zoo that cost less than half what a dingy little hole in Paris cost only two weeks before. We thought we'd got lucky but found it was pretty much the going rate. Similar story for eating out. AT prices like that we wished we'd stayed longer and taken more time to look at things slowly.

  24. If you are on a budget, you may want to get the VBB Umweltkarte, valid for 7 days in Berlin (tariff zone AB) or in Berlin plus its direct surroundings (including Potsdam; tariff zone ABC), on ALL public transport (Bus, Tram, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and trains). The prices are comparable to the CityTourCard, but instead of a map full of touristy mass market balderdash you get two extra days of travel!

  25. I absolutely loved Berlin. I was there from nov 1968-Nov1972 U S Air Force at Templehof. I also went back for about 12 days in 1981. too bad about the Schengen 90 days ruling or I would go back there to live forever!. (maybe some day Schengen will cease to exist and I can return "home". I can only dream. lol

  26. A really useful tip when buying public transport tickets in BErlin: If you know exactly what kind of ticket you need (e.g. a day pass, or a single ticket), and there are long queues at the ticket machines, with other tourists taking ages to figure out what ticket they need, and how to use the machines:
    Watch out for a Kiosk nearby! Most of the kiosks selling newspapers and snacks also sell BVG tickets. That's very fast, and you dont need to fiddle with the ticket machines. Has saved me so much time already!

  27. Hlo tommorrow i am going to berlin and i want to travel to city sightning bus so how can i get bus ticket and how much its cost and were i can take bus

  28. Fit it all in in a week? We have been there for just on four weeks spread over three visits and there is much we have not seen! Fatigue is your enemy.

  29. To get tickets like a day or a single ticket simply download the BVG app and buy your ticket shortly before you enter the train, bus or tram. Most of the trams also have a ticket machine on board. This ticket is already validated.

  30. If you are visiting Berlin, or sightseeing, do not miss the opportunity to have the best memory of this magical city.
    Watching your professional photos will allow you to relive the moment and treasure of a memory that lasts a lifetime and you will be able to share with your loved ones for generations.

  31. Berlin conseils pour les touristes
    Quelques conseils pour ceux qui prévoient de visiter Berlin: visites à bas prix, transports publics et sécurité personnelle.
    Si vous visitez Berlin ou faites du tourisme, ne manquez pas l'occasion d'avoir le meilleur souvenir de cette ville magique.
    Regarder vos photos professionnelles vous permettra de revivre le moment et le trésor d'un souvenir qui durera toute une vie et que vous pourrez partager avec vos proches depuis des générations.

  32. Here today. The 100 bus driver kicked us off shortly after the Tiergarten and stated that it is not possible to continue. The 200 driver said something to the same effect sadly.

  33. Well we all can't get on the bus first if you're telling everyone about it! A bit like ryanairs old policy of cattle herding before they realised they had people as pasengers not animals!

  34. Japanese love Germany. Germany is the most beautiful country in the world. And Germany is the wonderful country in the world.

  35. I often play a little game with the Hütchenspielern myself. I take a lot of pictures, as I do a lot of "street photography in my town, and I always have a camera with me. When I see that tourists gather again around a Hütchenspieler, I go there and start to take pictures. This of course gives trouble immediately. Then comes from Him, and the buddies around it protests and threats. It is forbidden to just take pictures of people, etc. I then offer to call the police to clarify this. None has accepted the offer so far 🙂

  36. may I know.. to which Bahnhoff is near the Berlin Central Bus Station? So i could just walk along to Berlin Central Bus Station.

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