Car Hire in Berlin
This information is correct as of April 2015
Vast and vibrant, Berlin is a city that simply begs to be explored. If you hire a car in Berlin you can take the huge distances in your stride, without having to get your head around public transport. Get to grips with the punky east-side neighbourhoods of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, do some high end shopping in the gentrified west, or head out of the city and visit some truly beautiful parks, castles, and gardens. With Skyscanner you can always find the best deals on car rental, in Berlin and everywhere else.
Where to hire a car in Berlin
You can hire a car at both of Berlin’s airports, Schoenefeld and Tegel. Presumably car hire will also be available at Berlin Brandenburg, the new airport which is set to open within the next few years. There are six firms to choose from at Tegel: Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, and Terstappen/Buchbinder Rent-a-Car. At Schoenefeld you can rent a car from Avis, Europcar, Hertz/Dollar Thrifty, Sixt, and Terstappen/Buchbinder Rent-a-Car.
If you want to settle into your hotel first you’ll find plenty of car rental locations dotted throughout the city: for example Europcar have a base at Alexanderplatz, Enterprise have a base near Checkpoint Charlie, and Avis have an outpost at Berlin Ostbanhof.
Driving in Berlin
The roads in Berlin are very wide, usually with two lanes going in each direction. However, delivery vehicles often double park on the inside lane. It’s sometimes faster to stay in the left lane until you need to turn right.
Berlin has an Environmental Zone (Umweltzone), which falls roughly inside the lines of the S-bahn. This is most of central Berlin. If you want to drive in this zone you will need a green sticker on your windshield: your car hire company should have this covered. If not, ask for a different vehicle: you don’t want to be slapped with a fine.
There are a lot of cyclists in Berlin. Usually they stick to the cycle paths, which are separate from the road. Not everyone rides on the cycle paths, however, and sometimes you might encounter cyclists sharing the road with you. Try to be patient with them. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before making a turn as there might be a cyclist about to fly out in front of you.
Cars drive on the right in Germany, and your hire car will have its steering wheel to the left. It might take a bit of getting used to if you’re not used to driving abroad. Be extra cautious, especially when approaching roundabouts and T-junctions. Like all big cities, Berlin is always busy. If you’re planning on driving through the city centre you’re going to meet traffic at any time of day. It’s not as congested as London, however, and is generally a pleasant place to explore by car. Central Berlin isn’t badly affected by rush hour, but the motorway surrounding the city does get very congested in the mornings between 7:30am-9:30am and again in the evenings from 4:30pm until 7pm.
Parking in Berlin
If you’re visiting the centre of Berlin, where most of the historical attractions are, you will have to pay for parking. There are more than 94 thousand pay and display parking bays in the city centre. The area around Unter den Linden, Friedrichstrasse, Gendarmenmarkt and Alaxanderplatz are the most expensive, at €3 (about £2.20) an hour.
Parking is free in inner city neighbourhoods like Prenzlauer Berg, Neukoelln, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg, although it can be quite tricky to find a space. If you’re good at parallel parking it’s definitely a bonus. Supermarkets like Lidl, Aldi and Netto have car parks for their customers. Large shopping malls such as Park Center Treptow (near Treptower Park) have multi-storey car parks which are very cheap. The Mall of Berlin near Potsdamer Platz has a huge underground car park run by Apcoa.
Great day trips from Berlin
The City of Castles and capital of Brandenburg is just under an hour’s drive from central Berlin. With over a thousand years of history and an array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s an absolute must-visit. Arrive early to visit Sanssouci Castle: only two thousand people are allowed to enter the glamorous rococo palace each day.
Summer is the best time to visit Berlin, but when the sun is at its hottest everyone escapes the city for a day at the lake. The Strandbad Wannsee is the most popular, and the lido has been playing host to city folk for more than 100 years. Sunbathe on the beach, go for a dip, or join in a game of volleyball.
It takes just over an hour to drive from Berlin to the Polish border at Frankfurt an der Oder. Leave your car on the German side and walk across the bridge to add another European country to your trip itinerary. They don’t use the Euro in Poland, so if you want to buy any cut-price cigarettes or grab lunch you’ll need to exchange some money at the small booth on the bridge.
Prices subject to change