Cheap and Fast Trains and Buses to Berlin’s Low-Cost Airline Flughafen
Trains and buses provide fast and cheap transportation to Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF) – a great way to save further with cheap tickets for flights on low-cost airlines.
The fastest and cheapest way to travel to Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF) from downtown Berlin is by train. The Airport Express and S-Bahn trains S9 are usually the best way for foreign travelers to get to Berlin. Buses are generally less convenient from Schönefeld Airport but a few are useful when traveling to less central areas of Berlin or during late-night and early-morning hours. Pre-booked airport shuttle services are useful for small groups or when not traveling to Berlin itself. Taxis are by the meter is generally less than €50 to central Berlin. Welcome and Suntransfers give online quotations for private airport transfers without first requiring personal details or flight numbers. Queues at check-in counters, baggage drops, and security at Schönefeld are often very long and slow-moving – it is sensible to arrive very early at the airport.
Berlin’s second airport – Tegel (TXL) – is to the north of the city. It is slightly closer to downtown but best reached on Jet Express Buses.
NOTE: Berlin Brandenburg International Willy Brandt Airport (BER / BBI) will replace Berlin Tegel (TXL) and Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) airports as the only airport serving the capital of Germany
from March 17, 2013 eventually (possibly 31 October 2020). Until BER actually opens, all existing transportation links to Schönefeld and Tegel will operate unaltered.
Check train timetables at Deutsche Bahn’s English website – (Berlin to SXF / SXF to Berlin). Online tickets are not available for short journeys inside cities such as the journey from Schönefeld to downtown Berlin but station vending machines work in English and are easy enough to use. Avoid schedules with more than one change, and it may often be easier to simply wait for the twice-hourly direct trains.
Transportation from Schönefeld Airport (SXF) to Central Berlin Mitte
Schönefeld Airport is to the south of Berlin and partly in the neighboring state Brandenburg. It is slightly less conveniently located than Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL) but transportation options are numerous and will increase in the future once the new airport – Berlin-Brandenburg International (BER) actually opens at Schönefeld (maybe 2020) to become the German capital’s only airport.
The railway station at Schönefeld Airport is called Station Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld – try SXF when searching in timetables. From here, it is a 400-m (1/4 mile) walk via a covered walkway to the airport.
- Transportation options listed below all use the same public transportation tickets. A ticket for zones ABC is needed – currently €3.60 and is valid for travel to virtually all parts of Berlin including transiting all the way across town to Berlin-Tegel Airport or to Potsdam.
- See also Berlin Transportation Tickets and Passes for savings options when using buses and trains in Berlin.
Cheap and Fast Airport Express Trains from Schönefeld (SXF) to Berlin
The Airport Express is the fastest and generally most convenient way to travel from Schönefeld Airport (SXF) to central Berlin. It is a special regional train (RE7 or RB14 but clearly marked as Airport Express). The Airport Express runs every half hour from S-Bahn Station Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld through central Berlin to Dessau (RE7) and to Nauen (via Spandau for RB14).
Maintenance work on the railway lines currently often requires a transfer from the regional bahn to the S-Bahn making it worth to always check the timetables prior to traveling. Traveling time usually only increases by a few minutes.
The Airport Express trains from Schönefeld Airport stop amongst others at Ostbahnhof (17 minutes), Alexanderplatz (21 minutes), Friedrichstraße (24 minutes), Hauptbahnhof (28 minutes), and Zoologischer Garten (32 minutes), and Charlottenburg (36 minutes). The Airport Express runs every half an hour from around 4 am to 11 pm – a few more trains during the middle of the night but the S-Bahn and U-Bahn provide more options during the night.
S-Bahn Trains from Schönefeld Airport (SXF) to Berlin
An alternative option is to use S-Bahn train S9 (every 20 minutes) that follows basically the same route as the Airport Express but with far more stops en route. Between Schönefeld Airport and Spandau, the S9 trains stop at amongst others Schöneweide, Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten and Charlottenburg. These S-Bahn trains are useful especially later at night when the Airport Express is no longer running but also during the day for travelers to smaller stations.
Also useful for destinations to the south of the center is S-Bahn S45 (every 20 minutes) that also offer easy access to the U-Bahn lines at various stations en route. It connects Schönefeld with Südkreuz via amongst other Neukölln (U7), Hermansstraße (U8) and Tempelhof (U6). Südkreuz has good S-Bahn connections to the ring network or trains going north through the center, e.g. Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburger Tor and Friedrichstraße.
Trains from Schönefeld Airport (SXF) to Potsdam, Germany
Travelers going to Potsdam with its lovely palaces, including Sans Souci from the time of Frederick the Great, can bypass traveling to downtown Berlin. Regional train RB22 goes directly from Schönefeld to Potsdam hourly in just less than an hour. Traveling through Berlin does not take much longer but do add the inconvenience of a train change.
Berlin Guidebook Recommendation:
Rick Steves Berlin Guide is a great choice for a first or short visit to Berlin. He does a good job of narrowing the huge city and wealth of attractions down to those generally of most interest to foreign travelers. The guide is easy to read, well organized, full of time and money saving tips with useful walking routes and self-guided tours to some of the top museums and best attractions.
Fast Buses from Schönefeld Airport (SXF) in Berlin
For foreign travelers, buses from Schönefeld Airport are generally less useful except to connect to the nearby S-Bahn and U-Bahn train stations. Traveling from Schönefeld to Berlin after midnight and before around 4 am often require using buses as well. The U-Bahn train is often more convenient when traveling from the southern and southwestern suburbs of Berlin and also has the advantage that the buses stop directly at the airport terminal and not a bit further away like the trains.
JetExpressBus X7 connects Flughafen Schönefeld and U-Bahn station Rudow (U-Bahn line U7) in 7 minutes. Night bus N7 and bus 171 do the same route but continue to amongst others U-Bahn station Hermannplatz with more bus connections at night.
The Deutsche Bahn’s English website includes these buses and U-Bahn train options when searching timetables for specific addresses in Berlin. Use SXF for the airport and B for Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Ignore suggestions with multiple transfers, except during the early hours of the morning.
Long-distance, intercity buses usually stop at Schönefeld Airport at car park P3 near terminal B. Although many of the buses travel to Berlin, passengers may not board inter-city buses from the airport to the city center. However, these intercity buses are a good option when traveling to for example Dresden, Prague, and many Polish destinations.
Low-cost airlines mostly fly to Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF) while most full-service airlines fly to Berlin-Tegel (TXL) airport, which can also be easily be reached by public bus from central Berlin. Passengers having to transit between SXF and TXL can do so in just over an hour using train and bus combinations. Note that since the demise of Air Berlin, EasyJet flights arrive both at SXF and Tegel.
For more on Berlin transportation passes see also:
- Top Cheap Berlin Public Transportation Tickets
- Tips on Public Transportation Tickets in Berlin
- Save with the Berlin Welcome or City Tour Card
- Cheap Public Transportation Bus Tours in Berlin
- Suntransfers and Welcome give online quotations for private airport transfers without first requiring personal details or flight numbers.