Berlin is one of the major European capitals and as such is served by flights from all over the world. Berlin's air traffic is handled by two airports: Tegel and Schönefeld.
1. The best transfers between Berlin's airports and the city center
Both airports are well connected to the center and you can choose between several ways to get there. I explain all of them so that you can decide which one suits your trip best:
- Private van transfer from Tegel to your hotel
- Private transfer by van from your hotel to Tegel Airport
- Private transfer from Tegel airport to your hotel
- Private transfer from your hotel to Tegel airport
- Shared airport transfer from Schönefeld airport to your hotel in Berlin
2. Private van transfer from Tegel airport to your hotel in Berlin
When I talk about private van transfer from Tegel airport, I don't mean a bus full of people but a comfortable air-conditioned van or transfer that you will share exclusively with your group (maximum seven travelers) and that will transfer you from door to door.
Advantages of the shared transfer
This is an ideal option to get directly to your hotel and save the money you would spend on a group trip in several cabs. The approximate total cost of this service is about 45 euros and the time it will take you to get to your hotel in the center of Berlin will be about 35 minutes. You will have plenty of space for your luggage, but if you are carrying several suitcases or any bulky items it is best to let the company know in advance so that they can take it into account.
With this option you will not have to be aware of public transport schedules, with the ease of having enough space for luggage and, above all, with the speed and convenience of a transfer to the door of your hotel.
How it works
When you confirm your booking, you will need to provide your flight details to Berlin so that the company can arrange your pick-up. The driver will be waiting for you at the terminal and will drop you off at the door of your hotel.
Private transfer by van back to Tegel airport
If you want to use this private van transfer service from your hotel to Tegel airport at the end of your trip in the German capital, you can book it in the same way: you will have to give your flight details so that they can arrange to pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport in time for you to arrive safely.
3. Private transfer by car from Tegel to your hotel
This is a door-to-door service with the same features as the shared transfer, but with the difference that the transfer will be a private vehicle from Tegel to your hotel. You will have all the trunk space available for your luggage, the cost will be 36 euros and it will take about 35 minutes to get to your hotel in the center of Berlin.
How it works
The hiring method for both options is the same: just book online by providing your flight details and your hotel address and a professional driver will be waiting for you upon your arrival at Tegel airport in Berlin with a name badge and will take into account possible delays that your flight may suffer and the time it takes to get to the departures terminal.
Getting from your hotel in Berlin to Tegel airport by private transport
The services are the same as on the outward journey: a private car for you and your companions with a professional driver will pick you up at the hotel you specify. Again, you will have enough space for your luggage, WIFI connection during the trip and door-to-door transfer.
When booking online (you can do it either before your trip to make it ready or during the trip until the day before your flight departure) in addition to the address of your hotel or accommodation in the center of Berlin, you have to provide your flight details for the driver to pick you up early enough to arrive on time at the airport (you will be informed of the pick-up time via email).
4. Other options from Tegel to downtown
Although Tegel airport receives a lot of air traffic, it has no subway or train connection, so the way to get to the center of Berlin from Tegel by public transport is by bus. There are two different bus lines that take you directly to the city center for about 3 euros; depending on where your accommodation is located in Berlin (the city center is quite large) one or the other line will be more convenient.
If the area of your hotel or accommodation is near Alexanderplatz, the bus line that suits you is the JetExpressBus TXL. If you will be staying closer to Zoologischer Garten during your trip to Berlin, it is better to choose bus line X9 JetExpressBus to get from Tegel Airport to your hotel. These same lines are available in reverse to return to the airport at the end of your trip with the main departures being Alexanderplatz and Zoologischer Garten.
These bus lines are specifically designed to transport travelers from the airport, so you will have room for your luggage as long as you do not carry more than one or two suitcases. Once you arrive at the Berlin airport, the departure area for the buses is easy to find through signs.
Finally, you should know that the city bus lines 128 and 109 are also connected to Tegel airport, so you can check the route if you are staying far from the center of Berlin.
If you have not booked a transfer to your hotel in advance and you arrive outside the hours when buses are available, you always have the option of taking a cab to your hotel. The approximate cost of a taxi ride to the center of Berlin will be 35 euros and will take you on average 20 minutes. You will find the cab queue signposted around the arrivals terminal.
This option is convenient, but not the cheapest, so if you want to get directly to your hotel, I recommend that you consider booking in advance the private transport whose driver will also wait for you on arrival without having to queue.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you are going by bus from Tegel airport to your hotel, look carefully which of the two lines is best for you depending on the area of the center where you are staying.
5. Shared Transfer from Schönefeld to Berlin
Schönefeld airport is the farthest airport from the center of Berlin, so transfers tend to be more expensive and longer. However, you can find a shared transfer for an affordable price and get a private driver to pick you up at the arrivals terminal and take you to the door of your hotel.
You have a multitude of options, but I recommend hiring a shared transfer in a shared van with a maximum of eight seats for about 60 euros, a price that is quite good considering that the distance from Schönefeld airport to the center is more than 20 km.
You will share the van with a maximum of seven other travelers, you will have enough space for your luggage (remember to notify by email when making your reservation if you have special or extra luggage), WIFI connection during the trip, air conditioning, WIFI, bottled water and a driver who will understand you in English.
How it works
- You book online specifying your flight number and hotel address.
- A professional driver waits for you at the airport with an identification badge, taking into account possible delays in your flight.
- He takes you to your hotel in approximately 35 minutes.
6. Other transportation options from Schönefeld to the city center
Schönefeld Airport is also connected to the center of Berlin by public transportation. You have two options: the train and the bus; I will explain both, but I will warn you that, generally speaking, the train is more practical and faster.
The Airport Express train
This service has three different lines (depending on the area of the center where you go one or the other will be more convenient): the RE 7, RB 14 and RB 22. The first two have a frequency of 30 minutes and the last one an hour and all are active from 4.30 am to 00.30 pm.
The ticket costs about 3.40 euros and the journey takes between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the downtown stop you choose. Some of the main stops are: Zoologischer Garten, Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstrasse, Alexanderplatz, Berlin Ostbahnhof and Karlhorst.
These are a kind of commuter trains and there are two lines that pass through the airport, the S9 and the S45. Although the S9 stops in the center, these lines will suit you if your accommodation is further away as both, for the same price, have many more stops than the Airport Express and take considerably longer (about an hour).
As for the bus, it has the same price as the train, about 3'40 euros, but it does not leave you directly in the center, but you will probably have to transfer between several lines and it will take you more than an hour, generally speaking, to get to the center of Berlin.
The lines are 163, 164 and 171 and the night buses are N7 and N60. The latter can be a good option if you arrive at Schönefeld airport outside the train schedule and do not want to hire a private transport, but remember to check the route and the connections with your accommodation.
Cabs, of course, are also available at Schönefeld Airport and you will easily spot them on arrival thanks to the identification signs. However, if you are going to use them, prepare your wallet because the average price of the trip is 50 euros to the center of Berlin. Of course, in about 40 minutes you will be at your hotel.
Cabs can be a good option if you have not hired a private transfer in advance or if unforeseen events arise with the train or bus; otherwise I recommend that you try to avoid it.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you arrive at Schönefeld, choose the Airport Express train or a door-to-door transfer; cabs are very expensive and the rest of the public transport takes a long time to get to the center.
7. Some interesting activities in Berlin
Once you have organized your arrival at the hotel, it's time to start planning your trip. If you don't know yet what you want to do when you are there, I recommend you to consider taking a guided tour or an excursion to discover the city and its surroundings. I have made a selection of the best ones here: Berlin Tours.
Taking a tour of the city by tourist bus is also not a bad option if you do not have much time or if you prefer to opt for the most comfortable option when going from one place to another. I tell you here everything you need to know about Berlin Hop on Hop off Bus Tours.
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to get to Berlin from the airport?
It depends on which airport you are flying into. If you fly into Tegel airport, it will take approximately 14 minutes to reach the city center by cab or transfer, and 20 minutes if you take a bus. If, on the other hand, your plane lands at Schönefeld, it will take about 30 minutes by cab and around 50 minutes by bus to reach Berlin.
Which Berlin airport should I choose?
In short, Tegel airport is more expensive, but it is a bit closer to the city, so if you want to make the most of your time in the city you should choose this airport. Otherwise, choose the airport that offers better prices as the city is quite accessible from both airports.
How early should I be at the Berlin airport before my flight?
The official recommendation from Tegel airport is to arrive two hours before your flight departure, which also works if you are flying from Schönefeld. Although, truth be told, security at both airports doesn't take too long so being 90 minutes early should also suffice.