Destination Information: Berlin, Germany (BER – TXL, SXF)

by Kerwin McKenzie on March 24, 2016

Ah, Berlin, Germany. One of my favorite cities in Germany; rich with history and lots to do. Plus I have a few friends who live there so its always fun to visit.

 

Havel River from Eiswerder Island near Spandau, Germany Havel River from Eiswerder Island near Spandau, Germany. Not too far from Berlin City Center.

 

Its located in the north western part of Germany. At the time of this writing, only two airlines airBerlin (AB) and United Airlines (UA) has nonstop flights to the U.S. However, you can get good connections to Lufthansa’s (LH) hubs in Munich (MUC) and Frankfurt (FRA) and then you have many choices to get to the U.S. You can typically get to any of the European hubs on an early flight and then get to the U.S. or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

 

The Berlin Wall A piece of the Berlin Wall, just outside the Berlin Nord Bahnhof station

 

The goal is to have just one airport which would be located close to the current Schonefeld airport and actually use the same runway systems. However there are some issues so its delayed. Stay tuned. It’s code will be BER.

 

As such, the city currently has two airports Schonefeld (SXF) and Tegel (TXL). There was also another airport Tempelhof (THF) but that has since closed. The cool thing is that its now a Park and you actually visit it. There are also paid tours of the interiors of the terminal and below the bowels of the airport. I once took a tour and you can see all about it here.

 

Entrance to Berlin-Tempelhof Airport (THF) Entrance to the now closed Berlin-Tempelhof Airport (THF)

 

Here are some initial facts about Berlin, Germany that you should find useful:

  • Airlines Serving Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL): Adria Airways (JP), Aegean Airlines (A3), Aeroflot (SU), Air Baltic (BT), Air France (AF), Air Malta (KM), Air Serbia (JU), airBerlin (AB) [home airline], Alitalia (AZ), Austrian Airlines (OS), Azerbaijan Airlines (J2), Blue Air (0B), brussels airlines (SN), British Airways (BA), Bulgaria Air (FB), Corendon Airlines (XC), Croatia Airlines (OU), EL (EL), Eurowings (EW), Finnair (AY), flybe. (BE), Germanwings (4U), Hainan Airlines (HU), Iberia Airlines (IB), IAW (IAW), Jetairfly (TB), KLM (KL), Links Air (W2), Lufthansa German Airlines (LH), Luxair (LG), Mongolian Airlines (OM), Onur Air (8Q), Qatar Airways (QR), R6 (R6), Royal Air Morac (AT), Royal Jordanian (RJ), S7 Airlines  (S7), SAS (SK), SkyWork Airlines (SX), Sun Express (XQ), Sun Express Germany (XG), Swiss Airlines (LX), Transavia (HV), Turkish Airlines (TK), Ukraine International (PS), United Airlines (UA), VLM Airlines (VG), Vueling (VY).
  • Airlines Serving Berlin-Schonefeld Airport (SXF): Aeroflot (SU), Arkia Israel (IZ), Belavia Belarusian Airlines (B2), Czech Airlines (OK), Condor (DE), EasyJet Airlines (U2), El Al Airlines (LY), Germania (ST), Germanwings (4U), Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY), Pegasus Airlines (PC), Ryanair (FR), TAP Portugal (TP), SunExpress Germany (XG), Transavia (HV), Wizz Air (W6), Wow Air (WW).
  • Airport Web sites: Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL)  | Berlin-Schonefeld Airport (SXF)
  • Airfare Tip: In case you can’t get there using passes, check out this post where I talk about how to find low fares or join my Travel Deals newsletter so you know when the deals are available.
  • Airport To The City (TXL):
    • Berlin does not really have a city center since it was a city divided at one point. So the best thing to do is to figure out where you want to go and use CityMapper of Google Maps to figure it out. The beautiful thing is that the transportation system is top notch. You can basically get everywhere by trams, buses or trains. You can purchase a day pass or just pay as you go. There service is not 24 hours but goes until pretty late. On weekends though there is 24 hour service.
    • Bus – There are several buses that will take you into the City or just to a train so you can get to your destination. They all park just outside of the airport terminal. By the way, Berlin is one of the easiest airport to navigate. You just walk from the plane to Immigration to Baggage Claim to the curb all on one level. Terminal C is a bit different, but most flights come into A, B and E. The buses are 109, 128, TXL and the X9. You can buy your bus ticket at the kiosks outside Terminal A/B or at the counter inside the airport. You can use a credit card or cash. It won’t accept your U.S. cards for some reason, but it may if it has the chip in it now. You can also buy a pass from the driver. At the time of this writing its 2.70 EUR for zones AB which is about where you will be. The airport is in Zone B. Zone C is where the other airport (SXF) is located. Just read the options on the kiosk once you select English since the default language of course is German. You can find more information about the buses at VBB.

      109 Bus at Berlin-Tegel, Germany (TXL) 109 Bus at Berlin-Tegel, Germany (TXL)

    • Train – There are no train service from the airport. It is necessary to take a bus to the train. The closest one is about 5 minutes by bus away. All the airport buses go to the S and U Bahn trains. For more information head over to the BVG Web site as they manage the system.
    • My Driver – This is a private service offered by SixT. You are picked up in a very fancy car with a uniformed chauffeur and taken to your destination. Cars come with newspapers and bottled water. This is traveling in style.
    • Taxi – Of course you can always take a taxi from the taxi rank. Don’t take a taxi from anyone who walks up to you and offer you one. There are plenty of taxis at this airport.
    • Uber – Download the Uber App (IOS | Android). Here’s my code to use to get $15 off your first ride – kerwinm20ue.
  • Airport To The City (SXF):
    • Bus – There are several buses that serve the airport such as the X7 (N7 at night), 171 and 735 that will connect you to the S-Bahn or the U-Bahn trains.
    • Train – The S Bahn (S9, S45) and the Regional Express trains (RE7, RE14, RRE22) serves the airport. This is Zone C, so the fare is a little higher to get into Zones A and B. The train station is located a very short covered walk from the main airport terminal.
    • My Driver – This is a private service offered by SixT. You are picked up in a very fancy car with a uniformed chauffeur and taken to your destination. Cars come with newspapers and bottled water. This is traveling in style.
    • Taxi – Of course you can always take a taxi from the taxi rank. Don’t take a taxi from anyone who walks up to you and offer you one.
    • Uber – Download the Uber App (IOS | Android). Here’s my code to use to get $15 off your first ride – kerwinm20ue.
  • Airport Hotels (TXL): Not too many hotels at the airport itself. There is a Holiday Inn close by to consider. It’s a bus and train ride away or a 0:45 walk.
  • Airport Hotels (SXF): Like Tegel, there are not too many hotels around. Just head into the city. You can use this search box to help you though.
  • Currency: Euro  (EUR). You can chance money at the airport or use ATMs. I recommend using an ATM.
  • Language:German; widely spoken in Berlin except when you get deep into the city subsurbs.
  • Visa Information: U.S. citizens do not require a visa for stays less than 90 days. Alternatively, you can use the IATA Web site for visa/health requirements to see what are the requirements for your citizenship.
  • Social Media Information: Facebook, Instagramtwitter
  • Visit Berlin Tourism Boardhttp://www.visitberlin.de/en.

 

 

Ground Transportation

The transportation system is very efficient here. There is the S and the U-Bahn trains, the buses and the trams. They are all part of the same system, so your ticket works on all of them. Ensure that you validate your ticket once its purchased at the kiosk. Some kiosks take credit cards, but all take cash and will give change.

 

Berlin Tram

 

They use the honor system and you will get ticketed and fined if you fail the random checks.

 

Things to See/Do

The city is packed with things to see and do. I mean you could just take a casual walk and find local History. Before you set out though I recommend getting a Berlin Welcome Card as it gives you transportation on the buses and the trains and trams. The cards are valid for 48 hours to 6 days and can be bought for Zones ABC or Zones AB.

 

Berlin Molecule Man Sculpture Berlin Molecule Man Sculpture

 

In Germany they use the honor system, so don’t forget to validate the card before you use it. They do have occasional checks on the trains so ensure you are validated. There are validators at every station to keep you compliant.

Here are some of the more common things to see/do though.

You can find much more information here as well lots of other places to see.

 

Berlin Hotels

As this is a major European city, you can find almost all the major hotel chains with a presence. The pricing is very competitive of course. In addition to hotels, you have some other options as well. Pick the one that suits you the best:

  • Airbnb – If you sign up for AirBnb using my link, you will get a $25 credit which you can use when you book. Sign up today.
  • Hostels – Don’t worry they are not always bad. Berlin actually have a few nice ones, plus they have single rooms with your own toilets and bathrooms
  • Hotel Tonight – Perfect for last minute hotel bookings. If you sign up with HotelTonight and use my code kmckenzie15, you get $25 off your first hotel booking and I will get a $25 credit as well. So we both win.
  • Use our partner Homestay.com and stay with a fellow Passrider.

 

Food

Currywurst and pomme frites is a must have while you are here. It’s everywhere and priced differently. Ensure that you say what you want on it as well. They also make good pizza if you can find a shop. Oh and there are a lot Turkish immigrants in Berlin so you can find kebabs and Turkish pizzas all over the place.

 

Currywurst, pomme frites and Beer Berlin, Germany Currywurst, pomme frites and Beer Berlin, Germany

 

Fritz & Co in Berlin, Germany Wittenbergplatz Fritz & Co in Berlin, Germany Wittenbergplatz. A little pricey, but the best curry wurst in town

 

It’s Germany so you must have beer and its in abundance and quite cheap. But Germany is lesser known for wines, which is also available locally made and quite good at very cheap prices too.

 

If you go to the grocery store, ensure you bring your own bag otherwise you will have to either pay for a bag or take the items in your hands which is not uncommon by the way.

 

Have you been to Berlin? What do you think?

Please leave a comment below and let me know your findings.

 

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gary March 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Excellent Job, Kerwin!.     You cover much, both “practicality-wise” and “worth seeing”.  It makes me want to get on an airplane right now!  Keep up the good work.  “Danke”

Gary

Reply

avatar Kerwin McKenzie March 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Thank you Gary.
I appreciate the comment.

It really is a fine city and so many undiscovered parts as well.

Kerwin.
http://www.Passrider.com
http://www.Facebook.com/Passrider

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