Berlin public transit tickets: Getting the most for your money

Which ticket is right for you? The Berlin U-Bahn arriving underground. Photo: Dennis AB
Which ticket is right for you? The Berlin U-Bahn arriving underground. Photo: Dennis AB

In a previous post, we described the conditions, rules, and customs of public transportation in Berlin. This time, we’ll focus on the best ways for travelers to save using the day and tourist tickets on offer, and help break down each option, so you can save your Euros for an extra bier or two.

Tips for solo travelers and couples

If you plan more than three rides on public transit in the AB zone per day, you’ll start saving money on your fourth trip with a day ticket purchase. Three rides or under, and you’ll want to purchase the 4-single trips ticket for 8.80€, which saves you 1.60€ over the price of buying four separate single trips.

If you plan a trip out to Potsdam and back, the ABC day ticket will save you money on your third trip of the day.

If you are staying anywhere between four and seven days, the 7-day AB ticket is your best option. Even if you are flying in and out of Schönefeld and planning a daytrip to Potsdam, it is cheaper to buy four zone extension tickets for your 7-day AB ticket than a 7-day ABC ticket.

A 48h CityTourCard is 3.50€ more expensive than two AB day tickets and 4.50€ more than two ABC day tickets; the same WelcomeCard is 5.10€ more expensive for AB, 6.10€ more for ABC!

Best tickets for small groups and families

If you and two to four of your friends or family members are attached at the hip while visiting Berlin, the small group day ticket provides an even cheaper alternative to individual day tickets. Savings begin after adding the third person; a group of five will save 17.30€ over the price of five AB day tickets!

Three friends will save 18.30€ purchasing two small group tickets vs. three 48h CityTourCards, or 23.10€ vs. three WelcomeCards; bump that up to five, and the savings go to 52.10€ and 60.10€, respectively!

Will the CityTourCard or WelcomeCard ever be worth the extra charge?

In order to understand whether these cards may save you money in the end, you need to know which sites you’re planning to visit, then subtract the 15-50% rebate at any partners (while also remembering to calculate in the deficit from the higher price of these cards) for each entry price before you’ll know the answer. I believe that most such “discount cards” offered by tourist information services  are sometimes meant to squeeze more money out of you rather than truly save you money, and for this reason they are purposefully obtuse.

The only clear exception to this supposition would be for visitors planning to visit at least two museums on Berlin’s Museum Island. The WelcomeCard Museumsinsel costs 34€ euros for 72h AB, 36€ for ABC.

Your a la carte alternative is to purchase three day tickets (20.10€/21.60€) and 3-day entry to the museums with a Museumspass (valid in nearly 60 museums for three days) for 24€, or a one-day Bereichskarte for Museumsinsel for 18€.

Depending upon your interest and the length of your stay, this may in fact be one instance where a WelcomeCard saves you money; however, if you plan to visit any other museums in the same period of time, you are likely better off spending just 10€ more (i.e., the equivalent of one museum entry) for a Museumspass, considering all the other institutions you will also be able to visit at no extra charge. Alternatively, you can buy a year-long basic membership to the SMB museums (including all of Museum Island) for just 1 additional euro; museum lovers should check out this EuroCheapo post for more information.

Ticket Type AB ABC
Single trip 2.60€ 3.60€
4 Single trip discount 8.80€
Zone extension 1.60€
1-day 6.70€ 7.20€
7-day 28.80€ 35.60€
Small group (up to 5 people) 16.20€ 16.70€
CityTourCard 48h 16.90€ 18.90€
WelcomeCard 48h 18.50€ 20.50€
CityTourCard 72h 22.90€ 24.90€
WelcomeCard 72h 24.50€ 26.50€
WelcomeCard 72h Museumsinsel 34€ 36€
CityTourCard 5-day 29.90€ 34.90€
WelcomeCard 5-day 31.50€ 36.50€

prices as of September 2013

 

About the author

Hilary Bown
An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.
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