Some of the escalators that link the multiple levels in Berlin Hbf

Berlin Hbf (Berlin)

This guide to Berlin's main, central station, its hauptbahnhof, will take you through what to look out for when using the station to depart from or arrive in the German capital by train.
It also explains how to access other areas of the city from Berlin Hbf, how to transfer to and from both the new Brandenburg Airport and Potsdam by train; and suggests convenient places to stay near the station.


At a Glance


Left Luggage
Travel Information Desk
First Class Lounge
Local Tourism Information
Onward Travel

Car Hire
Taxi Rank

Step Free
All platforms/tracks in Berlin's main station have lift access All platforms/tracks in Berlin's main station have lift access
The upper level platforms/tracks The upper level platforms/tracks
The lower level platforms/tracks The lower level platforms/tracks
The U-Bahn station at Berlin Hbf The U-Bahn station at Berlin Hbf
An S-Bahn train arriving at the upper level, seen from the main concourse An S-Bahn train arriving at the upper level, seen from the main concourse
Escalators also connect the different levels Escalators also connect the different levels

An introduction:

The most casual of glances at a map of Germany, will reveal that Berlin is somewhat tucked away in the north-east corner of the country.
Therefore most other major cities in Germany are some distance from its capital.

But this is not a problem if you want to head to and from Berlin by train, as now there are now, not one, but two high speed rail lines which converge on the city!
So all other major cities in Germany are connected to Berlin by ICE trains, on journeys which take no more than five hours.

If you would like help with planning a train journey to or from Berlin, or want to include the city on a European train travel itinerary, take a look at ShowMeTheJourney's new Concierge Service.

Good to know:

Berlin Hauptbahnhof/Hbf definitely has the wow factor - but it can be easy to be intimidated when using the station for the first time, due to its huge scale.

Five Things Worth knowing about Berlin Hbf:

(1) Some trains depart from gleis (platforms/tracks) above street level, while others use gleis (platforms/tracks) below ground, in what is often referred to as the 'tief' part of the station.

(2) Elevators (aufzugs) and escalators connect the multiple levels in the station, so Berlin Hbf is a step-free station.

(3) Berlin Hbf is located in the geographical centre of the city, but when it was constructed it was in a sparsely occupied area of Berlin, because the Berlin Wall passed through the area now occupied by the city's central railway station.
Therefore most of the key destinations in the city are some distance away from Berlin Hbf.

(4) The long distance trains to/from the city don't now call at the main station in West Berlin - Zoologischer Garten, or at Alexanderplatz, the station in the heart of East Berlin.
So when heading to West Berlin from the west, the quickest option can be to change trains at Berlin Spandau station.
When heading to Alexanderplatz from the east, change trains at Ostkreuz/Berlin Ost.

(5) Like many other main city centre stations in Germany (the hauptbahnhofs) Berlin Hbf is a shopping mall that trains also happen to depart from and arrive at.
The three levels between the trains house numerous shops, restaurants and food/drink outlets.
So if you're following a holiday itinerary, Berlin Hbf is a very convenient location for picking up additional supplies at the pharmacy or clothing store.

What's where in the station:

The station's excellent signposting will help you navigate the station, but this summary of where the key facilities are located should hopefully be useful too:
Berlin's Hauptbahnhof (Berlin's Central Station) is on five levels; from top to bottom they are:

2 Obergeschoss = the location of gleis (platforms/tracks) 11 -16
All of the S-Bahn (local trains) use gleis (platforms/tracks) 15 and 16

1 Obergeschoss = The concourse below (one above street level) is the location of the main ticket desk and reservation office; the Reisezentrum.
The DB 1st class lounge, one of the Information desks at the station and some of the left luggage lockers are also located here.

Erdgeschoss = The street level concourse has exits (ausgangs) at each end - both of which have taxi ranks.
The main departure board at the station is located here, as well as information desks, the car hire desks and the restrooms, showers are available.

1 Untergeschoss = The concourse below street level is where the entrance to the U-Bahn (Metro) is located.
Other left luggage lockers are also on this concourse.

2 Untergeschoss = The lowest level in the station is the location of gleis (platforms/tracks) 1 - 8.
This part of the station can be referred to as 'Berlin Hbf (tief)'.

Departing By Train:

11 Things Which Are Good To Know About Departing From Berlin Hbf by train:

(1) The platforms/tracks/gleis that the trains depart from are located at the very top AND bottom levels of the station.

(2) Long distance trains depart from both of these levels.
The DB online timetable shows the station as 'Berlin Hbf tief' for trains that are departing from the lowest level.

(3) Trains that usually depart from the upper level (gleis 11 - 16) include:

(4) Trains that USUALLY depart from the lower 'tief' level (gleis 1 - 8) include:

(5) These platform levels are linked to each other and the street level main concourse by lifts (aufzugs) and escalators.
The lifts on the main concourse directly connect with specific pairs of (gleis) platforms/tracks - so take your time working out which lift you need to take.

(6) However, this is not a station in which to rush for a train – be prepared to use two sets of escalators when accessing and exiting from a platform (gleis).

(7) The majority of trains calling at Berlin hbf are passing through the station, so each gleis/platform has multiple departures per hour.
Your train may not be the next to depart.

(8) Double check that you’re waiting on the correct platform by looking at the poster (the Wagenreihungsplan) - which will list all the departures from each specific platform/gleis.

(9) If you have a reserved seat, you can also use this poster to check in which /zone of the platform you need to wait - for easy access to the coach you will be travelling in.

(10) If you haven’t reserved, the zone information on both the poster and the platform/departure screens, will show you where to wait for easy boarding into 1st and 2nd class.
(As long as the train doesn't arrive back-to-front)

(11) If you haven't reserved it is also a good idea to work which zones the train will be using which will be furthest from the main entrance(s) to each gleis/platform.
Getting away from the crowds will make boarding less stressful and can help maximise your chances of finding spare seats on busy trains.

Arriving By Train:

In the middle of each gleis (platform) there are multiple elevators In the middle of each gleis (platform) there are multiple elevators

No matter which gleis (platform/track) your train arrives at in Berlin Hbf, you will have to change levels in order to exit the station; when you step off the train, you will either be above OR below street level.

All of the gleis (platforms/tracks) are equipped with escalators and lifts (aufzugs) - there are three lifts on each of the gleis in the lower level of the station.
The lifts are located towards the centre of each gleis (platform/track), so it's likely that you will have to walk passed the escalators to reach them; look out for the tube-like structures.
The lifts are recommended if you have large items of luggage – you will have to use two flights of escalators to exit the station from any gleis (platform/track).

Changing trains:

Three things worth knowing when changing trains at Berlin Hbf:

(1) If you will be changing trains at Berlin hbf be sure to look for the yellow departure 'Abfarht' poster on the platform/gleis that your train will have arrived at.
It will show the details of all subsequent departures.
If you're fortunate you may be able to remain on the gleis/platform you have just arrived at.

(2) You definitely want to know if you can avoid having to move between the different levels to make a connection.
Ascending all the way up to the main concourse from the lower level and back down again will take at least 5 mins.

(3) Gleis (platforms/tracks) 1 - 8 and gleis (platforms/tracks) 11 -16 are five levels apart and many connections involve having to transfer between these levels.
So when planning connections allow a minimum of 10mins to change trains at Berlin Hbf.

Public transport connectons:

When Berlin Hbf was opened it was in a sparsely populated part of the city, in **a location**partially chosen because of its east meets west symbolism.
A new neighbourhood has formed around the station, but it's likely that your final destination in the city won't be within walking distance of Berlin Hbf.

But there is a railway line which runs across the heart of the city, which is used by local S-Bahn trains and they link Berlin Hbf to many of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

By metro:

A positive recent change is that U-Bahn line U5 now serves Berlin Hbf.
For the area around the Brandenberg Gate take its trains to Brandenburger Tor station.
From Mid 2021 the Museum Island will be also be served by line U5 trains at an aptly named new station.

This line U5 also now links Berlin HBF to Alexanderplatz station in the heart of East Berlin; meaning that taking the U-Bahn is now an alternative to taking the S-Bahn commuter trains from Berlin Hbf to Alexanderplatz.
So an easier option if your train arrives at the lowest level (tief) gleis/platforms and you'll be heading over to Alexanderplatz, is to go up just one level in the station, in order to access the U-Bahn-Metro.

Line U5 now connects at Unter den Linden station, on the main street in East Berlin, with line U6 which goes to Tempelhof.
Though if you'll be heading to Tempelhof on a train which also calls at Berlin Sudkreuz station, connect there for a one-station hop on a S-Bahn train.

By local (S-Bahn) train:

S-Bahn lines S5, S7 and S75, which depart from the upper level platforms 15 -16, link Berlin hbf with:

(1) Zoologischer Garten station - the main station West Berlin is at the eastern end of Kurfurstendam - from gleis (platform/track) 16.

(2) Friedrichstrabe station, for the city’s primary shopping area and (until mid 2021 when the U-Bahn will provide an alternative) the nearest station to the Museum Island - from gleis (platform/track) 15.

(3) Alexanderplatz station, the nearest station to the TV Tower - from gleis (platform/track) 15.

(4) For The Olympic Stadium - take a line S5 train or a line S9 train heading to Spandau from gleis (platform/track) 16.

(5) Warschauer StraBe is the nearest station to the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall - take trains from gleis (platform/track) 15

By tram:

The easiest access between Berlin Hbf and many areas of East Berlin, is now by tram as Berlin's tram network has been extended to the Hauptbahnhof.
For The Berlin Wall Memorial Museum take lines M8 or M10 to the Nordbahnhof.

Central Berlin to Brandenburg Airport by train:

Dedicated 'FEX' Airport Express trains and Regio trains on lines RE7 and RB14 link Berlin Hbf directly with the new main Berlin-Brandenburg Airport; where they all call at the new station which serves Terminals 1 and 2, but not Terminal 5.

Combined the three services provide four trains per hour from Berlin Hbf to Brandenburg Airport and the journey time will be 31 - 34 minutes
However, something to watch out for is that at Berlin Hbf the FEX trains will depart from the lowest level (tief) part of the station, but the trains on routes RE7 and RB14 will depart from the upper level platforms/gleis 11 or 12.

The RE7 trains will be heading to a final destination of Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, but the FEX trains and those on lines RB14 will be terminating at the Brandenburg Terminal 1-2 station.

The trains on routes RE7 and RB 14 also call at other stations in Berlin city centre including Alexanderplatz, FriedrichstraBe and Zoologischer Garten stations.

In addition to these faster RE and RB trains, local S-Bahn trains on route S9 now also link Berlin Hbf and  Alexanderplatz, FriedrichstraBe and Zoologischer Garten stations to the new Terminal 1 and 2 station.
They depart every 20 mins from the upper level at Berlin hbf, but the journey time from Berlin Hbf is 51 minutes, as they make additional station calls.

However, unlike the FEX, and RE/RB trains, they DO call at the station linked to Terminal 5 at Brandenburg Airport.
So if your flight is leaving from Terminal 5, taking these line/route S9 trains direct is a quicker option than making connections at the Terminal 1-2 station.

From other stations to Brandenburg Airport:

From Sudkreuz station in Berlin to Brandenburg Airport

S-Bahn line/route S45 also now calls at both the Terminal 5 and Terminal 1 and 2 stations at Brandenburg Airport, so it provides a direct link to the airport from Berlin Sudkreuz station.
So if you'll be heading to the airport from a train which calls at Berlin Sudkreuz before it calls at Berlin Hbf, the quickest and easiest option will be to make a connection to the airport at Sudkreuz station.

From Gesundbrunnen station in Berlin to Brandenburg Airport

Berlin-Gesundbrunnen station is now linked to Brandenburg Airport every 30mins as the new FEX services will call there.
So if you'll be heading to the airport on a train which, before it calls at Berlin Hbf, also calls at Gesundbrunnen, connect there instead of at Berlin Hbf.

By IC train to Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Hourly IC trains now operate now provide a direct link between Brandenburg airport and both Dresden and Rostock.
These IC trains also call at Berlin Hbf as well as Gesundbrunnen and Sudkreuz stations, but the tickets for journeys between central Berlin and Brandenburg Airport will be more expensive than taking the other train services - despite the IC trains not having a faster journey time.

But if you book a train journey to Brandenburg Airport on the DB website which requires making a transfer, the connection could be into these IC trains.

The Other Main Line Stations in Berlin

Virtually all long distance trains to/from Berlin call at other stations in the city in addition to Berlin Hbf.

Connections from Berlin Spandau station:

If your final destination is in WEST Berlin and your train to the city is calling at Berlin-Spandau station, before Berlin Hbf -  it can be a faster overall journey to change trains at Berlin-Spandau.

Zoologischer Garten (Berlin-Zoo) is the main station in West Berlin, but IC and ICE trains pass through it without calling.

However, frequent Regio and S-Bahn trains (line S5) link Berlin-Spandau with Zoologischer Garten  - the Regio trains are 10mins faster than the S-Bahn trains.

Connections from Berlin-Ost  station:

If your final destination is in the Alexanderplatz, FriedrichstraBe or Hackescher Markt areas, and your train is calling at Berlin Ostbahnhof before Berlin Hbf, - it will be quicker to make the transfer to the S-Bahn at Ostbahnhof/Ostkreuz rather than changing trains at Berlin Hbf

Connections from Berlin-Gesundbrunnen and Berlin-Sudkreuz stations:

If your final destination is in the FriedrichstraBe area and your train is calling at Berlin Gesundbrunnen or Berlin Sudkreuz stations before Berlin Hbf - your quickest and easiest option will be to transfer to a S-Bahn train at either of those other stations.

Convenient Hotels/Hostels for Berlin Hbf

Before Berlin’s Central Railway Station/Berlin Hauptbahnhof opened in 2006 there were no hotels in the area, but in recent years a clutch of hotels have appeared, primarily to cater for rail travellers.

As these hotels inevitably share with the station, in isolation from the main tourist and leisure attractions in Berlin, room rates at the hotels by the station can be comparatively reasonable.

Hotels within 5 min walk of Berlin Central Railway station/Berlin Hbf:

Steinberger Hotel Am Kanzleramt

Intercity Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Ibis Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Amano Grand Central

Motel One Hotel Hauptbahnhof

Meininger Berlin Central Station Hotel/Hostel

Berlin Central Station Hostel

A&O Hostel Berlin Hauptbahnhof (as featured in this guide to Europe's best hostels with easy access to stations).

Money saving options with direct public transport links to/from Berlin Hauptbahnhof:

Monbijou Hotel (near Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station)

The Circus Hotel (tram M8 to Rosenthaler Platz)

Mani Hotel (tram M8 to Rosenthaler Platz)

St Christopher's Hostel Berlin Mitte (near FriedrichstraBe station)

To The Potsdam Palaces By Train from central Berlin

The quickest route between Berlin Hbf and central Potsdam is to take a Regional (Regio) train and not a S-Bahn (local train).
These Regio trains all depart from the upper level platforms at Berlin Hbf and they also call at Alexanderplatz, Freidrichstrasse and Zoologischer Garten stations.

The big plus of taking a Regio train (aside from the fact that they are faster than the S-Bahn trains to Potsdam) is that they also call at call at Potsdam Park Sanssouci station.
That station is adjacent to the palaces in palaces in Potsdam - and the S-Bahn trains don't call at Potsdam Park Sanssouci.

Trains on these lines/routes:

  • RB1 (heading to Brandenburg and NOT those heading to Magdeburg) – 1 x train per hour
  • RB 22 (trains heading to Konigs Wusterhausen) – 1 x train per hour
  • RB 21 (trains heading to Wustermark) – certain hours only
    all call at Potsdam Park Sanssouci station.

These trains also call at Potsdam Charlottenhof station,  but this station is no nearer to the Charlottenburg Palace than Potsdam Park Sanssouci station.

S-Bahn line S7 also links Berlin Hbf with Potsdam Hbf station in the city centre, but not only are the Regio trains around 10mins faster, the S-Bahn trains terminate at Potsdam Hbf.
The easiest public transport access between Potsdam Hbf sration and the palaces, is to take a Regio train between Potsdam Hbf and Potsdam Park Sanssouci station -  hence the Regio trains from Berlin being the best option, if you're heading to the palaces from the city centre.

Our Pick of Guides to Berlin

Now you've arrived in Berlin by train, you'll want to experience the best of the city and the surrounding area.

These travel guides will help you see and expererience the best of Berlin - btw nobody has paid to be on this list, ShowMeTheJourney has simply taken the time to curate a list of relevant and current articles.

Berlin On A Budget (On The Luce)

Berlin on A Budget (The Savvy BackPackers)

Things To Do in Berlin (y Travel)

A recent travel guide from Nomadic Matt

22 TopThings to Do in Berlin (Miss Tourist)

A Top 5 Guide from a Student (Travelling Tom)

Best Things To Do In Berlin (Just One Way Ticket)

73 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Berlin (Atlas Obscura)

20 Free Things To Do In Berlin (Lonely Planet)

64 Things to Do In Berlin (livelikealocal)

The Best Things To Do at Night (Elite Traveller)

Day Trips By Train From Berlin (The Guardian)


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This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.