A How-To Guide: Affordable Sightseeing on the Berlin BVG

There are a surprising amount of the capital city's most popular attractions that you can see via public transportation routes.

Aside from operating Berlin’s public transportation, the BVG, short for Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, also doubles as an inexpensive tour guide to Berlin.

Whether your interest lies in the main sights or in places less commonly visited by tourists, with the BVG’s diverse forms of transportation, all is accessible for the price of a ticket. A day ticket will allow you to hop on and off as you like.

The Must-Stop Locations on the BVG

After the reunification of Germany, the BVG created the bus lines 100 and 200 to physically bring together and symbolize the unification of East and West.

Board either line at S+U Zoologischer Garten, making sure to snag a seat on the upper deck, where the views are best. The first stop is Gedächtniskirche—the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church—a half-bombed structure that symbolizes the destruction of war followed by Tiergarten, a former royal hunting area that's now the city's largest public park.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin (© Jenna Rose Robbins)

Continuing on, be sure to have all eyes peeled for the subsequent sights at the Kulturforum at Potsdamer Platz, including the Philharmonie, with its lively modernist architecture recalling a circus tent.

The bus makes a turn onto the famous tree-lined Unter den Linden boulevard, with the Brandenburg Gate filling the skyline, before passing the main building of Humboldt, the oldest university in Berlin.

Farther down is Museum IslandMuseuminsel—and the majestic Berlin CathedralBerliner Dom—both worthy of debarking for a more in-depth look.

At Alexanderplatz, Bus 100 reaches its terminal station, but the 200 continues on into Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, to Volkspark Friedrichshain.

The oldest public park in the former East Berlin features a skate park, beach volleyball courts, and a century-old Fairytale Fountain—Märchenbrunnen—lined with statues of characters from German lore.

The "Alex" TV Tower and world clock at Alexanderplatz
The "Alex" TV Tower and world clock at Alexanderplatz (© visitBerlin, photo by Wolfgang Scholvien)

Berlin's Many Facets, As Seen on The BVG 

Other bus routes offer different takes on Berlin.

Charming and Historic

The nostalgic Bus 218 offers a charming historic experience in itself and is recommended in conjunction with a visit to Peacock IslandPfaueninsel. These antique buses depart from U Theodor-Heuss-Platz and take a scenic route through Grunewald forest and along Wannsee lake.

The friendly bus drivers make personalized announcements at every stop, giving brief historical context along the way. Once there, take the short ferry ride across the water to the island itself, where you'll find a compact castle on the western side of the island, an English garden and, of course, the island's eponymous inhabitants.

Plan to leave by dinnertime, as the buses stop in the early evening.

Beautiful Berlin

Named by National Geographic as one of the top 10 most beautiful tram routes in the world, Tram 68, once named the Uferbahn, a waterside tram, offers a picturesque ride through the Köpenick forest and Dahme riverside.

Hop on at the Köpenick S-Bahn station for views of the densely green side of off-the-beaten-path Berlin, including the Rathaus Köpenick and the statue of the infamous imposter known as the Captain of Köpenick.

Passing through the locality of Grünau, famous for hosting water sports competitions during the 1936 Olympics, the tram meanders along the shore of the Langer See, beckoning a disembarkment for an idyllic afternoon spent at the lakeside. The tram terminates in Schmöckwitz, a village surrounded by forest and lakes.

Taking a Ferry

Speaking of waterways, the numerous rivers and tributaries that run through Berlin are also served by ferries under the BVG, with boarding only requiring a valid ticket. Most of the six ferry lines operate in the Treptow-Köpenick Bezirk, which Tram 68 also runs through, making the combination of the 68 and the ferries ideal.

Transferring from Tram 68 at its penultimate stop of Zum Seeblick gives access to the ferry line F21, which journeys across the Langer See every 30 minutes towards a historic waterside camping spot located on the peninsula of Krampenburg.

A trek through the Berlin state forest here will lead to the Müggelheim neighborhood, where the X69 bus can be caught for a glimpse of the large Müggelsee lake before making the return to the city.