Arriving in Berlin

The new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER) should have opened some years ago. But, following years of confusion and controversy, no-one seems to know exactly when it will open, with current estimates stretching to 2018 and beyond. Until then, Berlin remains served by two airports: Tegel and Schönefeld.

Information in English on all airports (including live departures and arrivals) can be found at Both Tegel and Schönefeld are likely to close as soon as BER opens, just south of the Schönefeld site.

Flughafen Tegel (TXL)

The more upmarket scheduled flights from the likes of BA and Lufthansa use the compact Tegel airport, just 8km (5 miles) north-west of Mitte.

Buses 109 and X9 (the express version) run via Luisenplatz and the Kurfürstendamm to Zoologischer Garten (also known as Zoo Station, Bahnof Zoo or just Zoo) in western Berlin. Buses run every 5-15 minutes, and the journey takes 30-40 minutes. Tickets cost €2.70 (and can also be used on U-Bahn and S-Bahn services). At Zoo you can connect to anywhere in the city.
From the airport, you can also take bus 109 to Jacob-Kaiser-Platz U-Bahn (U7), or bus 128 to Kurt-Schumacher-Platz U-Bahn (U6), and proceed on the underground from there. One ticket (€2.70) can be used for the combined journey.

The JetExpressBusTXL is the direct link to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Mitte. It runs from Tegel to Alexanderplatz, with useful stops at Beusselstrasse S-Bahn (connects with the Ringbahn), Berlin Hauptbahnhof (regional and inter-city train services as well as the S-Bahn), Unter den Linden S-Bahn (north and south trains on the S1 and S2 lines). The service runs every 10 or 20 minutes, 4.30am-12.30am (5.30am-12.30am at weekends) and takes 30-40 minutes; a ticket is €2.70.

A taxi to anywhere central will cost around €20-€25 and take 20-30 minutes.

Flughafen Schönefeld (SXF)

The former airport of East Berlin is 18km (11 miles) south-east of the city centre. It’s small, and much of the traffic is to eastern Europe and the Middle East. Budget airlines from the UK and Ireland also use it – EasyJet flies in from Bristol, Gatwick, Glasgow, Liverpool, Luton and Manchester; Ryanair from Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh and Stansted.

Train is the best means of reaching the city centre. S-Bahn Flughafen Schönefeld is a five-minute walk from the terminal (a free S-Bahn shuttle bus runs every ten minutes, 6am-10pm, from outside the terminal; at other times, bus 171 also runs to the station). From here, the Airport Express train runs to Mitte (25 minutes to Alexanderplatz), Berlin Hauptbahnhof (30 minutes) and Zoo (35 minutes) every half hour from 5am to 11.30pm. You can also take S-Bahn line S9, which runs into the centre every 20 minutes (40 minutes to Alexanderplatz, 50 minutes to Zoo), stopping at all stations along the way. The S45 line from Schönefeld connects with the Ringbahn, also running every 20 minutes.

Bus X7, every 10 or 20 minutes, 4.30am-8pm, runs non-stop from the airport to Rudow U-Bahn (U7), from where you can connect with the underground. This is a good option if you’re staying in Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Schöneberg. When it’s not running, bus 171 takes the same route.

Tickets from the airport to the city cost €3.30, and can be used on any combination of bus, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram.
A taxi to Zoo or Mitte is quite expensive (€30-€35) and takes around 45 minutes.

More information, please see this website:

Public transport in Berlin

The bus, tram, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and ferry services operate on an integrated three-zone system. Zone A covers central Berlin, zone B extends out to the edge of the suburbs and zone C stretches into Brandenburg.

The basic single ticket is the €2.70 Normaltarif (zones A and B). Unless going to Potsdam or Flughafen Schönefeld, few visitors are likely to travel beyond zone B, making this in effect a flat-fare system.

Apart from the longer-term Zeitkarten, tickets for Berlin's public transport system can be bought from the yellow or orange machines at U- or S-Bahn stations, and by some bus stops. These take coins and sometimes notes, give change and have a limited explanation of the ticket system in English.

You can often pay by card, but don’t count on it (if you do, don’t forget to collect your card – infuriatingly, the machines keep the card until all the tickets are printed, making it very easy to forget). An app, FahrInfo Plus, is also available for iOS and Android, which allows you to purchase and carry tickets on your smartphone; details on 

Once you've purchased your ticket, validate it in the small red or yellow box next to the machine, which stamps it with the time and date. (Tickets bought on trams or buses are usually already validated.)

More information, please see this website:

Schengen Visa

If you plan to travel to Germany and Europe, to visit relatives, participate in a summer school or work seminar then Schengen visa is the way to travel in Germany and all the European states that are part of the Schengen agreement.

Required documents:

1. Completed application form in English and German only
2. Passport size photographs (see visa photo requirements for details)
3. Valid national passport
4. Personal bank statements for the last three months
5. Confirmation letter from your health insurance stating coverage for emergency medical treatment with a minimum of €30,000
6. Leave letter of your company (if employed)
7. Proof of accommodation. Hotel bookings for your stay.
8. Proof of flight reservation. You can use the visa consultation services like this one or find one online.
9. No-objection certificate of school or university (if student)
10. Personal covering letter with entire travel plan (itinerary)
11. Proof of civil status: Marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, ration card (if applicable)
12. Your driver’s license or ID as proof of residence in the consular where you plan to apply for the visa

Invitation Letter

Some delegates may need an invitation letter, here is the important information regarding invitation letters (please read):

* The invitation letter will be issued after the successful registration
* Your name must be listed exactly as it appears on your passport. Any differences between the name on your passport and the name on your invitation letter or other documentation could lead to a delay and/or denial of your visa.
* Please note the organizing committee of the conference are not authorized to assist with the VISA process beyond providing the Invitation Letter issued by the conference committee. Should your application be denied, the organizing committee of the conference cannot change the decision of the visa officer, nor will the organizing committee engage in discussion or correspondence with the consular on behalf of the applicant.
* It takes around half a month for the Embassy to process the VISA application, for some countries, please register as early as you can to make sure you have enough time.