What's the Deal on Transportation in Berlin?
If you’re in the part of town you want to be and stay in, you’ll be fine on foot. But it’s not uncommon for a day or night in Berlin to start one place and end on the opposite side of town.
That can mean up to 10 kilometres between where you are and where you want to go. Thank goodness public transportation is decent, with an elaborate network that operates more or less 24/7. There are day tickets and group schemes (max. five people) available to fit your needs, all of which you can buy either at the station or in the vehicle, and cost between €8 and €9 or €24 and €25. Don’t be caught without a ticket or you’ll lose a chunk of money. Validate the ticket manually at one of the check-in posts or, if you’re on a tram or bus, inside the vehicle, or purchase a digital ticket via app before(!) boarding. If you’re intending to hop more generously through town, take the Ring Bahn. It travels circularly around the greater peripheries of the city with stops either already within or well connected to the epicentres of the neighbourhoods you’re interested in.
Though arguably your best, cheapest bet, there are alternatives if you prefer more independence. Consider the many sharing options for (e-)bikes, scooters and cars. Note they're more of a day trippin’ option, since for most you’ll have to download an app and create a profile which may or may not be worth the effort, and you won’t want to use them once you’ve had a beer or other substances. Taxis work similarly. They’re best summoned digitally, fairly affordable and not known to rip you off, especially not if you can monitor your travels through an app, like Uber or the local BerlKönig. The latter takes a little longer than average cab rides and is not as precise but that’s because you’ll usually share with other passengers and the drivers have to strategize to everyone’s benefit – but that makes it inexpensive and more sustainable. If you do wave one over sans phone and you happen to want to travel no more than about 2 kilometres, be sure to ask for the "Kurzstrecke" fare for shorter journeys to save a few Euros. Regardless of what service, if you can and they’re nice, it’s common to tip drivers a little.
I want to give a heads up on Berlin’s homeless and/or addiction-battling residents, which you will likely notice at many of the city's busier locations. If you do have some spare change buy their newspaper, and don’t make a spectacle of the interaction. If you cannot make a donation, that’s okay, and avoid it altogether if it makes you uncomfortable or concerned for your safety. But don’t be dismissive or ignore them if you do get approached – dignify them with a decline and go about your day.