Most cheap flights to Berlin come into Berlin Schoenefeld Airport (SXF) . As compared with Tegel airport, Schoenefeld is a bit further out so getting there and back from central Berlin central takes a bit more time and effort.
Taxis from Schoenefeld Airport to Berlin
One option is obviously a taxi. But this is really expensive and a ride from Schoenefeld to the centre of Berlin will set you back a good €40 (depending on where you are going – a taxi from the airport to Kruzberg will be about €30. And it isn’t especially quick either. You should expect the journey to last about 30-45 minutes (give or take a bit depending on the traffic).
There are always plenty of taxis, so finding one is no problem. You’ll see them queued up outside the front of the airport terminal building.
Only about a quarter of Berlin’s taxi drivers speak English, but as long as you have an address or hotel name you’ll be fine. If you speak no German it might help to print out the hotel address, as your pronunciation may be completely unintelligible.
By train from Schoenefeld Airport to Berlin
The very much cheaper option than a taxi is to use the train (Bahn in German). A ticket that will get you anywhere in Berlin will set you back a mere €2.80. Choose the ‘ABC’ single journey ticket (Einzelfahrschein). It is hard to beat that on price.
Now here is the top tip for getting to/ from the airport quickly. A lot of visitors make the mistake of jumping onto the S-Bahn when they arrive. Now it is true that all the guide books advise this because the S-Bahn departs every 10 minutes or so. But it is a slow service that stops all the time and can, if you are travelling late at night, easily take you an hour to get to the middle of Berlin. A far better, quicker and more comfortable option is to use the Regional trains.
So…. make sure you are taking an Express Train (RB7) rather than the SBahn (S9 or S45).
These Express trains run to and from central Berlin (Mitte) every half hour from 5am-11.30pm and take approx 25 min to/from Alexanderplatz; 30 min to/from Berlin Hauptbahnhof and 35 Min to/from Zoologischer Garten.There are two of these every hour (look for the RB7 or RB14) and, as of the time of writing, they leave the airport station at 25 minutes and 55 minutes past the hour. The trains are big and comfortable and run a far quicker service.
After trying both the regional and S-Bahn trains many, many times and having been stuck on a slow S-Bahn at close to midnight for well over an hour (with me cursing all the way) I now only use the regional trains. If it so happens that I clear security and all of that and only get to the station at 30 minutes past I still avoid the S-Bahn and just grab a beer in the underground snack bar at the station. It is still quicker for me to get to Alexanderplatz even with a 25 minute wait then it would be for me to jump on the S-Bahn.
And if you do find yourself on either the S9 or the S45 in error, don’t panic, you’ll make it in the end. The S9 runs every 20 minutes and if all goes smoothly,it will take you approx 40 min to/from Alexander Platz and 50 minutes to/from Zoo, while the S45 connects to the Ringbahn and also runs every 20 minutes.
Be aware that the airport itself is a 5 minute walk away from its train station.
Check out timetables, platform numbers and fare prices on the BVG website, which has a convenient English option as well as the option to plan your onward journey once you’ve arrived in the city centre: http://www.bvg.de
Either way, when getting from Schoenefeld Airport into town it is hard to beat the train, whichever one you use, on cost or convenience.
By Train from Berlin to Schoenefeld Airport
Getting to Schoenefeld airpot by train is also really quick and easy. The regional trains stop at all of the main train stations (including Alexanderplatz, Hauptbahnhof and Ostbahnhof).
They also go twice an hour and are easy to spot. Just look for the signs showing an airplane (see picture).
What time do the trains to Schoenefeld start?
The trains start really early in the morning on weekdays and run pretty much all the way through.
The first train starts at 4:42 on weekdays. They run a little less regularly on the weekend with the first train usually at about 5:42 (leaving from Alexanderplatz).
I’ve posted an indicative timetable of the regional train which runs to the airport on the maps and other useful info page.