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It is difficult to image that only a few years ago, Berlin was the centre of the world’s political attention. This city, now considered one of the most modern and exciting locations on the European continent, has had somewhat of a makeover. While exploring the historic city’s sites is magical indeed, the surrounding areas can be just as appealing. A few hours away by road lay some charming villages and great landmarks. Car rental agencies in the city and at the airport are available to help make these trips happen.
Who to Book With
Travellers have a choice of a few car rental firms, including the popular Avis and Europcar. The offices of most rental agencies can be found at the airport and in Berlin city centre. For the best deals and price comparisons, customers should consider online booking.
Best time to go
While travellers can be seen at all times of the year in Berlin, summer is when the crowds descend. The months of May and June are particularly packed. The prices of flights, car rental and accommodation tend to rise steeply during this time, so advanced booking is recommended. August marks the arrival of autumn, which is a pleasant time in the city, as the temperatures have cooled but the hues are as vibrant as ever.
Need to Know Essentials
The following documents are required on arrival when collecting your rental car:
- A valid national driving licence or an International Driving Permit
- A photo ID in the form of an ID card or a passport
- The credit card with which the online booking was made
Driving in Berlin city centre is not always necessary, as much of it is walkable and the rest is taken care of but the city’s extensive public transport system. Travellers who are intent on navigating their way around the city centre should, however, keep in mind that all vehicles are required to be in possession an ‘Environment Friendly’ badge. The city centre is known as a ‘Green Zone’, and all cars found without a badge will be fined €40.
Parking in Berlin is one of the factors deterring most from hiring a car in the first place. Parking on the street is almost impossible to find, and, if there is a spot, there is also likely to be a small fee. There are, however, also a few large car parks in the city known as Parkhausers, which stay open at all hours and charge a rate of about €2 an hour. Car rental does come in handy when travelling to the outskirts of the city. Berlin’s well-developed highways and autobahn make driving a breeze. New drivers should take care on the autobahn, however, as some sections do not to have any speed limits. The highways are also quite nifty, spreading in all directions. These are probably the roads you will use most when taking daytrips to nearby areas.
Getting around Berlin is extremely easy with the city’s top-notch integrated public transport system. Whether by train, metro, bus or tram, travellers will certainly find a way to get from point A to point B. While the city centre is not the ideal place for a car, the outskirts certainly are, as most of the public transport options do not extend that far.
Berlin’s train system is comprised of the S-Bahn, an above-ground commuter rail line, and the U-Bahn, an underground metro. The U-Bahn boasts nine lines, while the S-Bahn boasts 15, but is significantly faster than its compatriot. Tickets for both lines can be bought from the respective Bahn platforms with cash or debit cards. There are no turnstiles, so many people take the risk of not buying a ticket, but be aware that the fine for such an infraction is €40. The system is operated by Berlin Transport Services (BVG), which provides information about ticketing and scheduling.
Another popular public transport option is the local bus system. Although slower than the train and underground, the bus often reaches areas and locations that the trains simply cannot. There are three types of buses in the city, including the traditional yellow double-decker, the faster metros and the even faster express buses, which can be recognised by the ‘X’ in the windscreens. Tickets are priced according to zones, but tourists can opt for a City Tour Card, which covers most of the main attractions and combines zones at a reduced price.
For a more private travel experience, make use of one of the many taxi services available in the city. Taxis are everywhere and can be waved down from the side of the road. There are, however, also a few companies where you can book a vehicle in advance. These include Würfelfunk and Taxi-Funk Berlin.
Berlin is a huge city and is home to many interesting sites, both within and outside of the city boundaries. Whether you are looking for an historical tour or simply want to appreciate the city’s remarkably well-developed art and culture scene, Berlin will not disappoint. Berlin is also well placed to explore some of central Germany’s more remote regions, a task for which only a rental car will suffice.
The Museums of Dahlem - The museum provides a great excursion for art and history lovers. Dahlem, a district of Berlin, is home to three impressive museums, including the Museum of Asian Art, the Museum of European Cultures and the Ethnologisches Museum.
Berliner Dom - This is one of the most famous and impressive churches in the country. The church is one of superlatives as well, also owning the title of the biggest in the city. While many tourists visit the building to take in the stunning Renaissance architecture, many also visit to simply climb to the top and admire the view of Berlin below.
Königs Wusterhausen Palace - This is another architectural gem, located just on the outskirts of the city in Brandenburg. What is known today as a palace was once a castle, where many noble families lived. Over the centuries, the castle was remodelled many times; at its height, it was used as a hunting lodge.