Berlin

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

Do you need a car in Berlin > Should you rent a car in Berlin Germany > Berlin ( SXF ) Do you need a car in Berlin? Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin? Should you rent a car in Berlin?

Berlin Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

30%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Berlin but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€110

 #118/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Berlin during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €140

74/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 889 - of which 63 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

7%

#285/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Berlin, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Berlin public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

90%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Berlin

30%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

100%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Berlin good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Berlin because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Berlin. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

80%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Berlin, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Berlin Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Berlin", "is it worth hiring a car in Berlin", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Berlin?

Do you need a car in Berlin?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Berlin " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Berlin" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Berlin?

Should you rent a car in Berlin?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Berlin, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Berlin compares with other destinations in  Germany or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Berlin?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

60%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

1

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Berlin if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Berlin for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Berlin for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Berlin if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Berlin if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Berlin if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Berlin, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Berlin if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Berlin if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Berlin if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Berlin, or are there good reasons not to?

Or are you better off using the city’s excellent public transport, combined with walking and maybe a bit of cycling?

Do you need a car in Berlin? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Berlin?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Berlin as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Berlin?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Since reunification, the German government, the state of Brandenburg and private investors have poured in billions of euros in investment, both to create a reunited city, and to move the majority of the German government buildings.

There’s also been substantial investment in transport infrastructure, so is there any need to get a hire car for a visit to Berlin?

Why should you rent a car in Berlin?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

  • Hire a Trabant!
  • Tropical islands paradise — for something completely different, head out to Brand, where a never-used blimp factory has been converted into Europe’s largest indoor leisure complex, complete with sandy beaches and palm trees.
    Forget about the Caribbean, you can have it all under one roof just outside Berlin for a fraction of the price, and with no cramped long haul flights needed!
    Although there is a shuttle bus linking Tropical Islands with a nearby railway station, it is easier to get here if you already have a hire car in the first place.

Beyond Berlin by car

  • Neustrelitz – There are also numerous parks around Neustrelitz, to the north of Berlin, although again there are several train routes heading through this area as well. Taking advantage if car hire in Berlin simply gives you a gew more options.
  • North-east coast – Heading towards Poland is the highly scenic, but often overlooked north-east coast. There are several different national parks on and around the island of Rugen. However, even this can be done by train — several lines around Germany’s answer to the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen are particularly scenic.
  • Car City — car lovers will want to head towards Volkswagen’s Autostadt (car city) in Wolfsburg, which features the dramatic Phaeno cultural centre, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, as featured in the film The International.
    However, even this most auto-friendly facility is still actually very easy to get to by train, as it is on the only dedicated high-speed rail route out of the German capital. Yet as with anywhere, car hire in Berlin will let you take the scenic route to Wolfsburg, and explore it in your own time.

Why not? Visiting Berlin without a car

What is public transport like in Berlin? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 2?
Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin? Clearly there's just no need for getting around the city, or to anywhere nearby.

The fantastic Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)

  • Outstanding public transport — an extensive network of underground, local and regional trains operates both within Berlin and out to surrounding towns and cities. This is supplemented by a comprehensive bus network, together with a circular ring network that makes it just as easy to get around between different suburban locations as it is to get in and out of the city centre.
    In fact, I would rate Berlin has having the best public transport network of any European city of its size – only cities like London or Paris, which are both notably larger, have more extensive underground and suburban networks. For anywhere within around an hour regional train journey, car hire in Berlin is just not needed.
  • Superlative station — stations don’t get any better than Berlin’s stunning new Hauptbahnhof, or Grand Central Station. This isn’t just somewhere to change trains, it is firstly a stunning engineering feat with upper-level tracks flying over the lower level in true Metropolis style, and secondly it is also a major shopping and eating destination in its own right.
    Appreciating Berlin Hauptbahnhof isn’t just about the structure, the station used to be in no man’s land, and a new underground link has been built through to Potsdammer Platz, making the station a true representation of reunification core from east to west and north to south.

Berlin’s unique transport history

  • Berlin Hauptbahnhof also right next to Germany’s impressive new government buildings, and the Reichstag building, with its stunning new dome, designed by British architect Norman Foster.
  • Light and dark — Berlin’s renaissance means that there are plenty of impressive new buildings to look at, even if they aren’t all occupied. Berlin also has an equally impressive collection of imposing historical buildings, but this is also a city with a dark past. You will undoubtedly find that there is much more to Berlin than the glossy postcard pictures, and it is easy to spend more time in the city than you might have otherwise had budgeted for. Whereas there are many places which offer a good mix of places to see within in the city, together with places worth visiting outside, but which are best to drive to, in my opinion, Berlin has much more to offer within.
  • Trabant / U2 tour –U2’s iconic album Achtung Baby, which was the starting point for the Zoo TV tour, was recorded in Berlin, and it sums up much of the mood at the time of reunification. Starting with the title track Zoo Station (which has since lost its main station buzz to the new Hauptbahnhof), you are already on the rail network, although of course the best way of exploring the Berlin of this time must surely be to take a tour in one of East Berlin’s famous Trabant cars, although this isn’t the sort of thing you pick up at the car rental desk at Schoenfeld airport.
  • Elevation — between Berlin’s Zoo Station and Ostbahnhof, the railway line runs on an elevated viaduct, giving you extensive views of the city, new and old. As introductions go, this one is a must.

Beyond Berlin by train

  • Dresden – Coventry’s twin city did exactly the opposite of her British counterpart, rebuilding the historic centre brick by brick, and it looks superb. However, one building that has been modernised is the city’s central station, which has been re-modelled by Norman Foster (see above). Whilst Dresden is well worth a visit in its own right, there are also a number of scenic routes available from the city, including the Labe Valley towards Prague and tourist routes to Dippoldiswalde and Radeburg.
  • Poland — Berlin is also the gateway to western Poland, and cities such as Poznan and Szczecin are both within easy reach of the German capital by train.

Practicalities

  • Car hire costs. Car hire in Germany can be quite good value in the summer, but it’s rare to find any kind of bargain here.
  • Parking costs – if your hotel is in a remotely central location, then car hire in Berlin is going to be accompanied by some hefty car parking charges. Stay further out and you might get free parking, but it will take you an age to get in and out of the city centre.

 Car hire in Berlin – Verdict

Conclusion — Is it worth hiring a car in Berllin? Berlin is so much more of a city to stay in than it is a base to get out and explore other areas, and even if you do want to get out of the city, it might well be just as easy to get out and about by train, especially as the network of local, regional and long-distance train services from Berlin really is excellent, even when compared to other German cities.

This leaves little reason to justify getting a hire car in Berlin, unless you want to head towards the scenic coastal areas to the north-east.

 Verdict — strong no

 Car hire in Berlin – notes

  • Note — flights to Berlin currently operate into Tegel and Schoenfeld airports. These were supposed to have united on one single site, the new Berlin Brandt airport, which now might  finally open in 2018. This brand-new facility, which is on a site adjacent to Schoenfeld airport, was supposed to open up more flights into Berlin, and offer local and regional rail connections from a station underneath the terminal building.
  • Car hire in Berlin is available from both airports and a range of city centre locations, including the main Grand Central (Hauptbahnhof) Station.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Berlin on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

1


Would you hire a car in Berlin?

Have you driven in Berlin? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Berlin}? Do you need a car in Berlin? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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