Welcome to Berlin
Due to high demand, (affordable) accommodation in the city is scarce for WWWTF. Here are some tips on finding/offering accommodation in Berlin, courtesy of CSSconf EU.
Team up with other attendees
WWWTF is a week full of events dedicated to the web, and many people from the industry will flock to Berlin for the occasion. We encourage attendees to meet and help each other out. Have a free couch or a guest room? Don’t mind sharing a hotel room? Can offer a ride from another city to Berlin for a fellow attendee? Tweet at @wwwtfberlin and use the hashtag #wwwtfberlin and we will be happy to spread the word!
Hotels and Hostels
Other accommodation options
If you’re coming to Berlin via an airport, you’ll probably want to go to Alexanderplatz and then get your bearings from there. When in doubt, or if you’re not going to Alexanderplatz, The BVG journey planner is quite good, as are the route planning apps listed below.
When buying tickets on buses, for a single journey you can ask for a ‘one-way’ or ‘einzelfahrschein’. Beware that bus drivers will tend to refuse large cash notes/bills. If you have a large note, try to buy from a machine, before getting on the bus. It might be more cost effective to buy a ticket for a few days, if you know you will be needing the ticket a lot during your stay. You can buy Tages (Day Cards), 3-Tage (3-day) and Wochenkarte (weekly tickets) at ticket machines using cash, and EC/Maestro cards. Most ticket machines do not take credit cards.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket The ‘controllers’ are pretty unforgiving if you get caught without a validated ticket. Ticket validation machines can be found near ticket machines, before the steps to the U-Bahn or inside your tram/bus. They are small red/yellow machines on metal poles, where you stick in the end of your ticket and stamp it. Tickets that need validation will have a few arrows pointing to the end that needs validating. Note: you can buy tickets on Trams and Buses, but NOT on U-bahns/S-bahns so make sure to have a validated ticket before you get on.
Berlin has an excellent public transport system, consisting of:
- High speed long distance rail: ICE, IC, EC (not local!)
- Local rail: RE, RB
- S-Bahn (above ground)
- U-Bahn (below ground)
- Tram (streetcars)
- Fähren (ferries)
The tickets might not look the same, but they do cover all local systems and allows you to transfer from one to the other to complete your journey. You can find the different zones on the map, that helps you to decide whether you need an AB or ABC ticket.
There are also taxis. They’re reasonably priced (compared to Scandinavia at least) and drivers take the most direct route or even ask your preference if you show any German proficiency.
From Tegel Airport, the easiest way to get to the city center is to take the “TXL” bus route that goes directly there. You’ll need an AB ticket, which will cost €2.70 and is valid for the rest of your journey inside the AB zone, including transfers.
A taxi, should be about €25 to Alexanderplatz.
From Schönefeld Airport, you have the option of two different train connections. We recommend taking the regional train (not the S-bahn). You’ll need an ABC ticket, which will cost €3.30 and is valid for the rest of your one-way journey inside the ABC zone, including transfers to other transfer methods.
A taxi should be about €35 to Alexanderplatz.
Again, don’t forget to validate your ticket
Getting around - bicycles
Berlin is very bicycle friendly, and you can rent bicycles pretty much everywhere.
Fat Tire are well known, and also have some great tours around the city on bikes.
Don’t forget to buy a ticket for your bike, if you decide to take it with you on public transit.
Getting around - apps
Get one of the official apps to help planning your travel through the city, you can load these onto your phone even before you leave your home.
iOS — BVG FahrInfo Plus
Android — BVG FahrInfo Plus
If you provide the app with payment information, you can use them to buy tickets (if you have an internet connection). You can set this up ahead of time, so you’re ready to rock when you arrive in Berlin.
Idea: You can even buy an all-day ticket (AB for TXL, ABC for SXF) before you even leave your home, and be ready to just step on the train/bus/tram when you arrive in Berlin.
Also, Google has added Berlin public transit to the routing in the Maps apps on iOS, which hopefully means the same for Android.
BVG - tickets
You can buy tickets in all Rail, S-bahn, U-bahn stations as well as on trams and busses, and even using the official BVG apps (see above).
The Tickets & Fares page should have all the information you need.
Notice, that the ticket machines in stations only accept cash and EC (Maestro) cards, and that machines in trams only accept coins.
You can buy tickets ahead of time. Remember to validate your ticket when starting a journey.
If you’re exploring and not spending the day at a conference or working, a day ticket is well worth the price. There are also tickets that span 3-5 days.
If you can’t immediately find an available taxi, use the mytaxi app to hail a taxi.
Getting a data plan
First things first, you will probably want a data plan for one or more of your devices for your visit, right?
Obvious reminder: make sure you get the correct sim card size for your device!
Most prepaid sims sold over the counter are regular/micro, not nano sims (iPhone5+). However, the sales people at the large electronics (Saturn, Media Markt) stores have punches to cut sims down to nano size.
http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/Germany has a good overview of what is available.
Recommendation - blau.de
In Berlin, blau works fairly well, and is quite affordable. It’s easy enough to understand their website using just Google Translate in Chrome.
When buying a blau sim at Saturn (verified 2015-04-22), you do not need to show ID or proof of German address. Other vendors (O2) require this now, making it somewhat of a hassle to get a sim.
Using their data packages can save you money and annoyance of topping up all the time.
Top-ups for your blau sim can be bought in many, many shops and can even be done on their site using credit card, once the sim is activated.
A lot of places offer free wifi, usually you just have to ask for the password, or your can use http://4sqwifi.com to find free wifi. Germans use the term “WLAN”, (pronounced VEE-LAN), so use that when asking for the password.
Be a good sport and buy a coffee, meal, beer, whatever so cafes and bars will continue to supply this hospitality to everyone.
Berlin operates mostly on cash, so you’ll want some.
Luckily there are cash machines everywhere.
Beware of the fees when getting cash from cash machines. If it’s not free, you can expect to pay ~€5 per transaction.
You can find details of the fee structure on every cash machine. When in doubt, always get €200 or more to beat the minimum fee.
Some issuers of cards offer you to take out cash without fees from any machine, it’s probably worth checking if you have one of those.
While Berlin is quite a safe city, there are still pick-pockets. If you’re getting out a lot of money, be sure to keep your wallet not easily accessible to thieves.
I use the Geldautomat Suche app to find banks in CashGroup (which means I can take out cash without fees). The app also lists cash machines for non-CashGroup banks.
Caffeination is important.
There are a number of really good coffee places in Berlin. Your friendly resident geek will be more than happy to share their preferences with you.
A list of some great coffee places on Foursquare.
Food & Drink
Here are a few more lists that might be of interest to you
- Favourite restaurants
- Japanese food in Berlin
- Korean food in Berlin
- Chinese food in Berlin
- Berlin bars
The above foursquare lists and article are some awesome tips, tricks and places curated and recommended by the amazing @mrgnrdrck.