Pricing on the Berlin system is quite easy and offers some cost savings for short trips. At a basic level there are single trip tickets, short trip tickets (less than 3 stops), day and multi-day passes. You can also purchase a welcome card booklet at about 20 euros for 3 days which provides a three-day pass plus discounts on local attractions. I did not find this to be worth the cost. It is also important that Berlin uses tariff zoning for their fares. There are 3 zones: A, B and C. Most of the major attractions and hotels are in A/B which is the default option for tickets.
The pricing is as follows as of December 30, 2010 - (these prices are for Zone AB which is the most popular for tourists (prices in Euro €):
- Short trip ticket — you will go less than 3 stops in one direction: €1.30
- Regular ticket — you will go in one direction as far as you like in Zone AB within one hour: €2.10
- Day ticket — use it as much as you like during one day: €6.10
Important note: whichever ticket you select, you MUST stamp it at the station in the yellow box you begin your journey from. Otherwise you may get a fine. Day tickets are only stamped once.
My suggestion is to wait to buy tickets until you get to the first train platform in Berlin. There are many companies that can sell you a Welcome Card booklet from outside Germany but they will wind up tacking on fees and so forth. The machines in Berlin are easy to use, take debit cards (no credit cards) and will give you whatever you need.