Berlin Travel and City Guide
May 4 – May 6, 2018
Almost every airline comes to Berlin. For the best flight deals, we suggest searching the many websites that provide access to the cheapest flights.
There are two main airports in the city: Berlin Tegel (TXL), located in the northwest and Berlin Schoenefeld (SXF), located in the southeast. Both are international airports, but Schoenefeld mostly caters to charter flights and low-budget carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair. Tegel is closer (about five miles from the city center) but Schoenefeld has a train connection - Tegel just has a bus.
There are two express buses going to main hubs of the east and west: Bus X9 to the Zoologischer Garten in City West, and Bus TXL to Alexanderplatz in the East. In practice, it’s easier to get to Alexanderplatz by taking the X9 bus to Hauptbahnhof and changing to the S-Bahn train. You don’t have to pay for a new ticket, and this makes the journey only half an hour, instead of 45 minutes on the ‘express’ bus. The journey to Zoologischer Garten is about 20 minutes long. In order to check your best connection, you can check the Berlin public transportation website (or Google maps).
A taxi journey from the airport to Mitte (Alexanderplatz) or Charlottenburg (Kurfürstendamm) costs around 45 Euro. The taxi rank is situated in front of Terminal A. If you would like to have an estimate of the Taxi fare you can use TaxiFareFinder or the fare finder Taxi in Berlin (in German only) to calculate
The airport express train is the fastest way to reach Berlin city centre from Flughafen Berlin-Schoenefeld Station, which is walking distance from the airport terminal. The train runs every 30 minutes between around 4:00 - 23:00 and costs €3.30 each way. On weekends there's a night train at 1:44.
Transportation within Berlin
We strongly recommend that you obtain a Berlin Welcome Card online in advance or at either airport upon arrival. It will serve as your ticket for all local trains and buses, and it also includes a city guidebook/map and grants you discounts for local attractions and restaurants. You may select a ticket valid for 48 hours up to 6 days. Online tickets do not have to be validated before being used the first time; however, if you purchase your card at the airport, be sure to validate your ticket at a designated machine prior to starting your journey. Remember to have your ticket with you whenever taking public transit. Berlin's public transit runs on the honor system, but tickets are checked periodically and you will incur a fine if found traveling without a valid ticket.
Most, if not all, Berlin Taxi drivers will appreciate cash, even if they take credit cards. And paying cash is actually cheaper: you'll have to pay an extra fee of 1.50 Euro for credit card payments. Additionally, My Taxi is an app that allows you to request a driver, track his or her progress and pay via smartphone. Uber is also available in Berlin.
We have chosen venues in a very central part of Berlin, so shared cabs should be very reasonable price-wise, and there are also easy train and bus options for getting back and forth. We are not organizing transportation between venues.
Map of all Event locations.
There are a huge number of hotels in Berlin, enabling people to visit on any kind of a budget. Please note that the City of Berlin applies a city tax of an additional 5% on the net room rate on all guests travelling on leisure. For your convenience, Tufts has secured a special rate at two centrally located hotels, the Regent Berlin and Motel One Berlin - Potsdamer Platz. Please see our accommodations page for more details on the reserved room blocks at these hotels.
The German currency is the Euro. ATMs are found throughout the center of Berlin, and are the most convenient way of obtaining cash. Most major credit cards are accepted, as well as debit cards that are part of the Cirrus, Plus, Star or Maestro systems. You will normally be charged a fee for withdrawing cash.
Foreign currency can be exchanged in most banks. Wechselstuben (bureaux de change) are open outside normal banking hours and give better rates than banks, where changing money often involves long lines.
Non-EU citizens can claim back German value-added tax (Mehrwertsteuer or MwSt) on goods purchased in the country (it's only worth the hassle on sizeable purchases). Ask the shop to provide a Tax-Free Shopping Cheque for the amount of the refund and present this, with the receipt, at the airport's refund office before checking in bags.
We highly recommend carrying some cash on you in Berlin as many restaurants and cafes will not accept credit cards. Also, as stated above, you will incur additional fees if not using cash to pay for taxis.
Other Important info
In case of emergency: Police 110; Ambulance/Fire Brigade 112.
Electricity in Germany runs on 230v, the same as British appliances. You will require an adapter (G to F) to change the shape of the plug. US appliances (120V) require a voltage converter.
There is a left luggage office at Tegel (4101 2315; open 5am-10.30pm daily) and lockers at Schönefeld (in the Multi Parking Garage P4). There are left luggage lockers at Bahnhof Zoo, Friedrichstrasse, Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, Ostbahnhof and Hauptbahnhof. In addition, Zentraler Omnibus Bahnhof (ZOB) also provides left-luggage facilities.
Many cafés, bars and restaurants will offer free wi-fi, though the networks are usually password- protected. For longer stays, a number of local mobile networks offer affordable data plans. Check with your service provider before departure about service while you’re in Germany and to check their mobile’s compatibility with GSM bands. WiFi is also available free of charge in most subway (U-Bahn) stations.
Germany is on Central European Time - one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. When Daylight Savings Time is in effect, London is one hour behind Berlin, Boston is six hours behind, San Francisco is nine hours behind, and Sydney is nine hours ahead. Germany uses a 24-hour system.
A small service charge will already be part of your restaurant bill, but it's common to leave a small tip too. A good general rule is to add 5-10%, rounding up to a full euro amount. If paying cash, you need to tell the server the total amount you would like to pay including tip.
A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay is all that is required for UK, EU, US, Canadian and Australian citizens for a stay in Germany of up to three months. Citizens of EU countries with valid national ID cards need only show their ID cards. Citizens of other countries should check with their local German embassy or consulate whether a visa is required. As with any trip, confirm visa requirements well before you plan to travel.
For non-German speakers, while English translations and menus are fairly common, learning a few basic phrases, e.g. hello, thank you, how to order in a restaurant, is recommended and will go a long way.