How to Master Public Transportation in Berlin? BVG App Is Your Simple, All-In-One Guide!

public transportation in berlin

Public transportation in Berlin is always a challenge to navigate. For you. For me. For the most seasoned city dwellers. For the newbies. It’s a universal phenomenon, nothing to be embarrassed about. The thing about Berlin (and Germany, in extension) is that the city has an impeccable public transportation system. You just need to figure out where and how to go and you are all set. 

The BVG application makes the whole process even more simple for you. Everything you need to know about public transportation in Berlin, starting from booking tickets to viewing route maps to scheduling a call with the authorities, the app allows you to do. 

Obviously, we have tried it, and we are a huge fan of the application, so we have made a simple, 101 guide on how to use the application for you below. 

Ticketing Practices When For Public Transportation in Berlin

In Germany, navigating public transportation efficiently requires understanding Fahrkarten, your ticket to ride. This section will equip you with the knowledge to purchase and use the correct ticket for your journey.

Types of Tickets for Public Transportation in Berlin

In Berlin, there are several types of tickets that you can opt for to suit your travel needs. These include single-journey tickets meant for a specific trip that lasts about 1-4 hours and day tickets for unlimited rides within a designated zone for an entire day. Long-term tickets include weekly and monthly passes, where you only need to book a ticket once for a long duration of travel. These are perfect for tourists and people commuting to work.

Similarly, you have the option of booking group tickets, which allows a group of travelers to travel together for a discounted fare. Two rather uncommon, less-known types of tickets are route and city tickets, specifically designed for visitors. The former runs within a specific route, regardless of the time taken to travel it and the latter ticket allows visitors to see cultural attractions within the city for a discounted rate.

Make sure to read: Everything You Must Know About the Social Security Number in Germany!

How to Purchase Tickets for Public Transportation in Berlin?

There are three convenient ways to purchase public transportation tickets in Berlin. The first one is the most obvious: go to a ticket machine, which is widely available at stations and stops. These machines have a friendly interface, are bilingual, and accept multiple modes of payment.

public transportation in berlin

Secondly, many transport authorities have dedicated apps where you can buy tickets, plan your journey, and receive real-time updates. In Berlin, the BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) application is the official governmental platform to book your tickets for all kinds of transportation. Tickets can also be purchased at service counters in train stations or local transport authority offices.

Validating Tickets and the Consequences of Not Doing So

Once you have your tickets, validating them is crucial. This activates your ticket and records the start of its validity period. Validation methods vary depending on the ticket type. So, look for validation machines (usually yellow boxes) at stations and onboard vehicles. Insert your ticket and hear a beep to confirm validation.

Pre-printed tickets usually come with printed validation fields. You need to stamp the date and time of your first journey in the designated area using validation machines available at stations or on board. Beware, if caught by a ticket inspector without a validated ticket, you will face a fine. It’s much cheaper to buy a ticket than pay the fine!

Getting Started with the BVG App: Your Pocket Guide to Public Transportation in Berlin

The BVG app is your one-stop shop for navigating Berlin’s extensive public transportation network. 

Conveniently named the BVG app or the BVG Fahrinfo, it is available to download on all mobile devices. Downloading the app is quite simple, just like downloading any application, either from the App Store for iOS or Play Store for Android.

It is not mandatory to create an account on the application to access most of its features, but we highly recommend it. By creating a personalised account, you can save your favourite and most frequented routes, purchase tickets directly from the app, access purchase history, and manage subscriptions. All you need to do is register using your phone number and email address.

The app allows you to set up your payment options to ake direct purchases through the application. You have the option of adding money into the BVG Wallet or you can link the app to your preferred online payment method.

public transportation in berlin

Also read: 20 Unbelievably Long German Words for Simple Things

BVG App Interface For Booking Your Tickets for Public Transportation in Berlin

The BVG Fahrinfo app’s interface is designed for a smooth user experience. The home screen features a prominent search bar for finding stations, addresses, or points of interest. It has a one-click access to purchase tickets for single trips, day tickets, or group tickets sits alongside a real-time map view of the Berlin transport network. 

You can track live departures from nearby stations by enabling location services on your device. The app functions as an all-inclusive guide with a dedicated menu, usually accessed through a hamburger icon, which offers a deeper dive into functionalities. Here you’ll also find the trip planner for route optimization, the tickets section for purchase and management, and the favorites list for saving frequently used locations.  

The settings option allows you to personalize the app with language preferences and notification controls, while service information keeps you updated on any disruptions or planned maintenance on the network.

Planning Your Trip with the BVG App

The BVG app’s trip planner is what you really know about! This feature allows you to seamlessly access and navigate Berlin’s efficient yet daunting public transportation system. You can start by inputting your start and end points in the Search bar. Additionally, choose your departure and arrival times. If you want to further narrow down your journey, add preferred transport types such as S-Bahn, U-Bahn, bus, cab), etc.

public transportation in berlin

Once you accept, the app will display several routes and transportation options with estimated arrival time, total duration of the journey, number of transfers (if any), and a visual representation of the route map.

Once you choose a route, the app provides a detailed breakdown of your journey ahead. A few features you can access include stop-by-stop breakdown of all the stations or stops along the way, ththe estimated travel time, whether transfers or stops are within walking distances, transfer points you need to keep in mind and an alternative map view (similar to Google Maps).

We think you’ll love this: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Ruhezeit’ or the German Quiet Hours

Booking and Purchasing Tickets: Your Ticket to Ride

The BVG app allows you to conveniently purchase tickets for your journey directly from your phone. 

Understanding Fare Zones for Public Transportation in Berlin

Berlin is divided into three fare zones: A (city center), B (outer districts), and C (including airports). The ticket you purchase needs to cover all the zones you’ll travel through during your journey. Most tourist destinations are located within zones A and B.

How to Purchase Tickets on the BVG App

Purchasing your tickets on the BVG application is a hundred percent easier than getting them from the stops or the station, especially if you are a tourist or unfamiliar with ticketing practices in Germany. One of the key features of the application is the multiple language accessibility.

The user-friendly interface of the application will guide you the first few times you try to book tickets. You need to choose the type of ticket that best suits your travel requirements from the options displayed on the app’s home screen or the ‘Tickets’ section. This section will also indicate the zones your journey will cover and the zone-specific fare.

Once you have selected your ticket particulars and how many of them you are booking, you will be redirected to the payment page, following which you will receive confirmation on your purchase.

public transportation in berlin

Don’t forget to read: How to Apply for Scholarships to Study in Germany?

How to Use Your Pre-Booked Tickets for Public Transportation in Berlin?

Before you board your chosen mode of transport, remember to activate your ticket within the BVG app. This crucial step validates your purchase and marks the start of your ticket’s validity period. The app usually activates your ticket automatically 60 seconds after purchase. However, it’s recommended to double-check the activation status, especially for immediate travel.

Presenting Your Ticket to the Inspectors 

Ticket inspectors conduct random checks on board public transport. When approached by an inspector, simply open the BVG app and navigate to your purchased tickets section. You can then display the ticket on your phone screen, ensuring the barcode and activation details are clearly visible.

Having a charged phone is essential for using your BVG app ticket. If you have to get your online ticket verified mid-journey, ensure your phone is easily accessible during your journey to avoid any delays or inconveniences during inspections. If your phone battery is low, consider purchasing a portable charger for peace of mind, and the avoid any travel related hassles for you or your co-passengers.

More Features and Tips on the BVG App For Public Transportation in Berlin

The BVG app goes beyond just ticket purchases and trip planning. Here are some additional features and tips to optimize your experience:

  • Real-Time Updates: Stay informed about any disruptions! The app provides real-time updates on delays, cancellations, and alternative routes which allows you to adjust your travel plans accordingly and avoid unexpected delays.
  • Favorites and Frequent Routes: Create a personalized travel experience and save time and effort by adding frequently used stations and routes to your “Favorites” list, which you can access with a single tap.
public transportation in berlin
  • Language Settings: If you are traveling to Berlin and don’t speak German, the BVG app allows you to change the language settings to a more comfortable option, facilitating a smoother navigation experience.
  • Customer Support: The BVG app has an in-built customer support system that you can access directly through the support section for any issues or inquiries you might encounter while using the app.

Your recommended post for the week: The Essential Role of ‘Ordnungsamt’ in Local Neighborhoods

Cultural Insights and Unspoken Expectations: Riding with Etiquette

Understanding how to use the BVG app is just one piece of the puzzle for a smooth public transport experience in Berlin. There are also some unspoken cultural norms to be aware of, following which will not only ensure a pleasant ride but also demonstrate respect for your fellow passengers.

Etiquette in Action:

  • Silence is Golden: Public transport in Berlin is generally considered a quiet zone. Avoid loud phone calls or conversations, and keep music at a low volume if using headphones, but feel free to use the time to read a book, catch a few Zs, or even study.
  • Respect Personal Space: Always maintain the practice of keeping a public distance from fellow passengers. Opt for standing shoulder-width apart and avoid sprawling onto other seats, especially during rush hour.
  • Priority Seating: Look out for designated priority seating for those with disabilities, pregnant women, or passengers with young children, and offer your seat if you see someone who might need it more.
  • Giving Way is Giving Respect: When entering or exiting a train or bus, allow passengers to disembark fully before boarding which ensures a smooth flow of traffic and shows consideration for others. This is not just a practice in Germany, but common courtesy and etiquette.
  • Acknowledge Your Surroundings: Be mindful of those around you especially, if you’re carrying a large backpack. Consider taking it off during peak hours, placing it on your lap or folding it to minimize space usage.

By familiarizing yourself with the BVG app’s functionalities and following these cultural norms, you can navigate Berlin’s public transportation system with confidence, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable journey throughout your time in the city.

Featured Post


Latest Post


Follow Us