Berlin Bike Sharing Ultimate Guide: Which Is The Best?

  • Last Updated on July 30, 2020
a couple cycling in berlin with bike sharing
Discover the best of Berlin by bike – The Ultimate Bike Sharing Guide

Whether you’re renting a bike for short trips or day tours, we’ll help you pick the best bike share for your needs. Burn fat, not fuel with our Berlin Bike Sharing Comparison Guide.

There’s no better way to explore Berlin than cycling. It’s the best way to sightsee the main attractions of the city especially if you only have 2 or 3 days in Berlin. There’s no need to figure out how public transport works and you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint by burning fat, not fuel.

Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry! There are great bike sharing options in Berlin. This comprehensive guide will help you figure out which is the best bike share for you. Whether you’re planning short trips, day tours or even multi-day tours for normal pedal bicycles or e-bikes, we’ve got you covered.

If this is the first time you’re cycling in Berlin, make sure to familiarise yourself with the German cycling laws and etiquette.

If you’re already familiar with the drill, skip straight to our Berlin Bike Sharing Cost vs Value Comparison to find the best bike share for you.

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Exploring Berlin by Bike

Is Berlin Bike Friendly?

Yes, Berlin is a very bike friendly city. There are cycling paths throughout most of Berlin. When there isn’t, it’s pretty safe to cycle on the road. Motorists are pretty considerate to cyclists and generally give way.

You don’t need to be super fit to cycle in Berlin. The city is quite flat which makes for easy cycling. Besides burning fat and not fuel, you’ll also get around the city faster by cycling rather than taking public transport.

enjoying the parks during berlin summer with picnics and bicycle rides
Cycling is one of the top activities to do during summer in Berlin

Love exploring new cities by bike? Then make sure to read our 22 Best Things to Do in Rotterdam by bike. It’s a self cycling guide to see the top attractions of Rotterdam.

If you prefer cycling in beautiful natural landscapes, read our Kinderdijk Windmills in Netherlands travel guide to find out how to get there and see it for free.

Where Can I Bike in Berlin?

With over 620 kilometres of cycling paths in Berlin, you can just about bike everywhere.

A third of the city is made up of parks and green spaces. So even if you’re not confident on the bike, there are plenty of places to practice before you hit the road.

tempelhof field is the best place to watch sunsets in berlin
Cycle around Tempelhof Airport and enjoy the best sunsets in Berlin

Best Cycling Routes in Berlin

Here are some beautiful green places to cycle around in Berlin:

  • Tegel Forest
  • Schlachtensee
  • Tiefenwerder Wiesen
  • Grunewald Forest

Read our 15 best outdoor things to do in Berlin guide to discover more awesome cycling spots and must-do summer activities.

cycling in tegel forest in berlin with views of trees and nature trail
There are plenty of beautiful green places to cycle in Berlin

Berlin Guided Bike Tours

If you’re keen to explore Berlin by bike, but not feeling confident enough to cycle alone, then you should go on a guided bike tour.

Here are some of the most popular guided bike tours in Berlin:

If you prefer the DIY route (like we do), explore the city of Berlin by bike on our FREE self guided cycling tour of the Berlin Wall. You’ll see most of the main historical attractions of Berlin and follow the crumbs of the Berlin Wall story.

brandenburg gate in berlin in the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag
Berlin is incredibly LGBTQ friendly – discover more on the Gay Culture Bike Tour

Berlin Bike Routes App

If you’re not familiar with the city and looking for a Berlin bike route planner, try BikeMap.

Otherwise, just do what we do and use Google Maps. Make sure to click on directions and select the bicycle icon to get Google to direct you to the bike lanes.

If you follow our Berlin Wall by Bike cycling route, we’ve included a free map that has the route all planned out for you.

cycling around schlachtensee lake in berlin
Cycling around Schlachtensee Lake is another must-do during summer in Berlin

Berlin Bike Laws and Etiquette

Cycling in Berlin is pretty easy. There are bicycle lanes throughout most of the city. Just follow these simple cycling rules and you’ll have a safe and pleasant ride.

‘Do’ Follow Rules When Cycling in Berlin

  • Cycle in the bicycle lane and when that is unavailable, on the road as close to the right side as possible.
  • Obey the bicycle traffic lights and if there aren’t any, yield before crossing intersections.
  • Keep to the right side of the bicycle lane and only move to the left when overtaking (i.e. ride in single file).
  • Use arm signals to indicate before turning left or right: point left with your left arm or point right with your right arm before turning.
  • When making an unexpected stop, raise one hand straight up to indicate that you will be stopping.

‘Don’t’ Rules When Cycling in Berlin

  • Don’t use your cellphone while cycling (use a cellphone holder if you need GPS).
  • Don’t wear earphones while cycling. It’s a fineable offence.
  • Don’t drink or be under the influence and cycle.
  • Don’t cycle on the Autobahn (Germany’s high speed highway). It’s illegal.

Are Bicycle Helmets Compulsory in Germany?

Short answer, no. Germany has no official legislation that requires cyclists to wear bicycle helmets. It’s all up to the discretion of the cyclist.

Berlin Bike Lights Laws

Your bicycle does require certain items to be considered roadworthy. These are:

  • White front light;
  • Red brake light;
  • Loud sounding bell.

All these items need to be in good working order for safety reasons.

When you’re bike sharing, all the bicycles will have these required items. Just double check that they are all working before hitting that unlock button.

different bike share options in berlin in front of tempelhof field
All bike sharing options have the required items to be considered roadworthy

Can You Take Your Bike On The Train in Berlin

There may be a few reasons why you’ll want to take your bicycle on the train. It’s raining, it’s too cold or you’re simply just too tired to cycle back.

Luckily you can bring your bike with you on the trains in Berlin. Whether this be the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram or regional trains. Just make sure to buy an additional train ticket for your bike and get on the designated carriage for bikes.

It should be quite easy to spot a huge bicycle sign on the sliding doors of the S-Bahn, tram or regional trains.

For the U-bahn, it’s not always obvious. If you don’t see the designated sign for bikes on the U-bahn, just get into any carriage except the first one. Try your best to find a relatively quiet carriage so that it is easier for you and other passengers.

If you’re bike sharing in Berlin, you can skip this whole exercise. Simply drop off your bike, get on the train and pick up another bike share if you need it again. VOILA!

Save Me For Later

pinterest image to save bike share in berlin guide
Pin me on Pinterest to read later!

How Do Bike Sharing Rentals Work?

It’s super easy to bike share and what’s awesome is that they generally all work the same way. Here’s how bike sharing rentals generally work:

  1. Download the bike sharing app you’re going to use
  2. Register an account with your mobile number
  3. Add payment method to verify your account (we use our Revolut and N26 bank cards)
  4. Find a bike
  5. Unlock the bike by scanning the QR code, via bluetooth or access code provided on the app
  6. Cycle from A to B
  7. Return and lock bike when you’re done
donkey republic and mobikes parked along the main road hermannstrasse in berlin
It’s really easy and convenient to rent a bicycle with bike sharing

Useful Tips To Know Before Bike Sharing

  • Bike sharing charges are calculated based on time intervals. That means that if you cycled for 32 minutes, you will be charged for two 30 minute intervals (i.e. 60 minutes).
  • Always adjust the seat and check all the lights before you unlock the bike. Save those few minutes for a beer later.
  • Make sure you return the bike at specified drop off zones. Don’t leave them in prohibited areas like in parks or outside the Berlin S-Bahn ring. Always check the relevant bike sharing app to see where you can drop off your bike. If you don’t, you might be surprised with a big fine.

What and Where is the Berlin S-Bahn Ring

The S-Bahn is the overground train that runs around the perimeter of Berlin. You can see the ring on Google maps but here is an easier illustration of the Berlin S-Bahn Ring.

map of berlin sbahn ring for bike sharing
Berlin S-Bahn Ring
© Von CellarDoor85 by Maximilian Dörrbecker

Leaving your bike share outside the S-Bahn ring is equivalent to taking the bike outside of Berlin. All the bike companies will fine you for this. The only difference is how much they’ll fine you.

How Does Payment Work For Bike Sharing

The payment method for each bike sharing company is slightly different.

When using bike sharing for the first time, most companies will reserve or take an initial fee from your credit or debit card.

Donkey Republic reserves an initial fee of €10 and then deducts your actual fee at the end. NextBike immediately deducts €1 from your account but this becomes a credit amount that goes towards the cost of your first ride.

Other companies (like Mobike) use the top-up method where you have to first load money before riding.

Bike Rental vs Bike Sharing

We’ve tried both traditional bike renting and now bike sharing too. There are a few reasons why we prefer bike sharing to renting a bike.

Advantages of Bike Sharing to Traditional Bike Rental

  • You don’t need to leave your passport or copies of your passport with the bike provider when bike sharing
  • There is no need to pay a lump sum deposit to rent a bike
  • You can pick up and drop off the bike whenever you like
  • You won’t need to take your bike on the train
  • Chances of bike theft is lower
remains of a bicycle without tires due to bike theft in berlin
Bike theft is common in Berlin – stress less with bike share

Can A Rider Hire More Than 1 Bike At A Time?

That depends on the bike share company. Some yes, others not.

Use these bike share companies if you want to hire more than 1 bike at a time:

group of friends on bicycles
What’s better than cycling in Berlin? Cycling with friends of course!

Berlin Bike Sharing Cost VS Value Comparison

We’ve compared 5 of the most popular bike sharing companies in Berlin. They all rent out pedal or city bikes, but some also have e-bikes (electric bikes).

Check out the table below for our side-by-side comparison. Read further to find out which one we think is the best bike share in Berlin.

Pedal Bicycles (City Bikes)

table that compares prices costs and value for different bike sharing in berlin
Cost vs Value Comparison of Bike Sharing Options in Berlin

Donkey Republic Berlin

Just the name ‘Donkey Republic’ alone tells you they have a fun brand, right? From their story, their bright orange bikes, right down to giving each ‘donkey’ a unique name, everything is sprinkled with a good dose of fun and quirkiness. Maybe we’re just nerds, but we love this type of attention to detail and thoughtfulness.

bright orange donkey republic bicycles in berlin
When in Berlin, ride an orange ‘donkey’

On first glance, Donkey bikes seem to be the most expensive. But that’s only true if you’re bike sharing for less than an hour. It’s actually the most affordable bike share option if you’re cycling for more than an hour.

If you don’t believe us, you can double check our maths in our bike sharing comparison table.

Price of Donkey Bikes in Berlin

The ‘donkeys’ are designed to work out cheaper, the longer you cycle. That’s why riding ‘donkeys’ are your best option for exploring and touring around Berlin. That’s what we rode on our self guided cycling tour of the Berlin Wall. It only cost us €6 to hire our bikes for 3 hours.

prices and costs of donkey bikes in berlin
Price of Donkey Republic pedal bikes in Berlin

Donkey Republic Bike Pros

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some other things we love about these orange ‘donkeys’:

  • It’s the only bike share that has built-in cellphone holders. This is a necessity if you want to avoid holding your phone while cycling and risking a big fat fine.
  • You can make as many stops as you like. Simply lock and unlock your bike as you please.
  • Drop-off is super convenient. When you’re ready to say goodbye to your ‘donkey’, open your app and it will show you the closest drop off point.
  • The quality of the bikes are great! Plus the size of the bikes are comfortable whether you’re 1.6 meters (aka Chloe) or 1.92 meters tall (Michael).
  • All their bikes have 3 gears. This comes in handy when you find that occasional uphill in Berlin.
  • Best option for cycling with friends. You can rent up to 5 bikes from one account!
  • There are plenty of orange donkeys around, so finding a bike is easy.
  • The best bike sharing option for touring and exploring Berlin.

Donkey Republic Bikes Cons

  • Expensive for short trips (less than an hour).
  • Bikes don’t have baskets, only a strap to hold down your bags.

Nextbike Berlin (previously Deezer Nextbike)

You’ve probably seen these blue bikes before if you’ve travelled a lot around Europe. They operate in more than 60 German and 25 European cities. You can usually find them standing in neat rows at docking stations outside of train stations or along main roads.

These blue bikes have been getting a slight makeover with the change from Deezer Nextbike, to just Nextbike.

Previously if you had a Deezer account, your first 30 minutes rental is free of charge. Now it seems it’s no longer the case. Other than that, everything else is pretty much the same.

deezer nextbikes standing in docking stations in berlin
Deezer Nextbike is now just Nextbike

Nextbikes are great for short trips. It’s one of the cheapest bike shares for less than an hour, and even better yet, less than 30 minutes.

But dropping off a Nextbike is a bit more inconvenient compared to other bike shares in Berlin. You have to drop the bike off at a Nextbike docking station. If you drop it off in their flexible zones, there is an additional charge of €0.50. It’s not much, but if you go this route then it will no longer be the cheapest bike share option.

Price of Nextbikes in Berlin

Nextbikes have the best pricing structure for short trips (i.e. less then 30 minutes). It costs €1 for your first 30 minutes and €1.50 for every 30 minutes thereafter.

deezer nextbike docking stations in kreuzberg and neukolln berlin
Return your Nextbikes to docking stations so you don’t have to pay an extra €0.50

They also have great packages for daily, weekly and annual passes.

The daily pass is €3. For the next 24 hours the first 30 minutes per rental are free. Every additional 30 minutes thereafter is €1 and the maximum charge is €12 per 24 hours.

This is a great option if you’re making a number of short trips under 30 minutes in the next 24 hours. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to lock and return the bike within those 30 minutes for that to count towards one rental session.

Great if you’re doing short trips from train station to train station. Not so great for touring the city because you’ll need to keep hunting down docking stations to return your bike.

price and costs for nextbike in berlin daily weekly and annual pass
Nextbike daily, weekly and annual passes are great for short rides.

The weekly and annual pass follow the same rules mentioned above. Just a different price over different time periods.

Tip: Adjust the height of your bike seat and check that all your lights are working before hitting that unlock button. The countdown starts immediately after unlocking your Nextbike. You don’t want to waste your 30 minutes doing this after the bike is unlocked.

Nextbike Pros

  • You can make as many stops as you like. Simply lock and unlock your bike as you please.
  • The quality of the bikes are usually great.
  • All their bikes have 3 gears.
  • You can rent up to 4 bikes, but each rider needs to register their own account. If you want to pay on the same card, you can register the same credit/debit card for up to 4 accounts.
  • There are plenty of Nextbikes around, so finding a bike is easy. You can also rent bikes in other cities where Nextbikes are available with your existing account.
  • Cheapest bike sharing option for less than one hour.

Nextbike Cons

  • Bikes don’t have baskets, only a strap to hold down your bags.
  • No cellphone holder
  • Drop-off is less convenient than other bike sharing companies. If you drop the bike off in flex zones like other bike shares, an additional €0.50 is charged.
  • Customer care and support don’t respond to incorrect charges.

Mobike Berlin

Mobikes are the most common bike share you’ll see around Berlin. They have one of the largest bike fleets in the city, which makes it one of the most accessible.

mobikes parked on the pavement in berlin
Mobike has the largest fleet of bikes in Berlin

These bikes are designed for short trips only. You’ll notice that the size of the bikes are smaller than the other bike sharing companies in Berlin. Perfect if you’re a shortie (like Chloe) but if you’re taller, you’re going to have to adjust that seat way up.

We have seen some newer versions of the Mobikes which seem a bit bigger, but they’re still few and far between. The newer versions also tend to have gears, while most of the old ones don’t.

That’s okay if you’re game for a leg workout. No gears plus plastic tires (in comparison to air filled tires) makes cycling harder and more strenuous.

Price of Mobike in Berlin

It costs €1 for every 20 minute interval.

It’s the only bike share that charges in 20 minute intervals instead of 30. Perfect for short trips less than 40 minutes. After that, the other bike sharing options are cheaper and more importantly, easier on your legs.

Payment also works differently to the other bike share companies. You have to top up your account with €5, €10 or €20 first before you can ride.

This can be annoying if you’re not planning to ride Mobikes frequently. The remaining credit can’t be transferred or donated to another user. But the good news is that the amount will not expire.

The account balance is refundable but you’ll need to e-mail them at support.de@mobike.com with your registered mobile number and full name. The website says it takes 7 business days to process. We can’t share our personal experience on this because we haven’t gone through the refund process before.

Mobike Pros

  • One of the few bike shares with a proper basket.
  • The quality of the bikes are not as great as the other bike share options, but it’s okay.
  • Drop off is super convenient, just drop it off anywhere within the Berlin S-Bahn ring (your Mobike app will guide you).
  • There are plenty of Mobikes around, so finding a bike is easy.
  • Cheapest bike sharing option for less than 40 minutes.

Mobike Cons

  • You can’t park and lock the bike for later. When you lock, your session ends and you’ll have to find a new Mobike.
  • No cellphone holder.
  • Some Mobikes have gears, others don’t.
  • Plastic tires makes cycling relatively more strenuous compared to other bike share options which use air-filled tires.
  • You can only rent 1 bike at a time. Not a family or group-friendly option.

Lidl Bike Berlin

If you haven’t guessed it by now, these bikes are owned by the German global discount supermarket, Lidl.

Lidl Bike is a great bike sharing option if you live in Berlin. But if you’re only in the city for the weekend, it’s not. Why? You have to pay a €3 annual subscription fee first before renting these bicycles. If you live in Berlin, it’s worth it because these are the only bikes with 7 gears instead of 3.

Once you’ve paid that, it’s the cheapest bike sharing option for less than 2 hours.

lidl bike bicycle in berlin has 7 gears
Lidl Bikes are the only bike sharing option with 7 gears

Price of Lidl Bike in Berlin

After paying the €3 subscription fee, it’s €1.50 for every 30 minutes and €1 for every 30 minutes thereafter.

For the exact price breakdown for different hours, check our bike sharing comparison table above.

Lidl Bike Pros

  • Quality of the bikes are great.
  • The only bikes with 7 gears instead of 3.
  • One of the cheapest bike share option if you live in Berlin and happy to pay the €3 subscription fee for the year.
  • Drop off is super convenient, just drop it off anywhere within the Berlin S-Bahn ring. You get a €0.50 discount if you leave your bike close to any S-Bahn or U-Bahn train station.
  • You can rent up to 2 bikes on the same account.

Lidl Bike Cons

  • €3 subscription fee doesn’t make sense if you’re a tourist in Berlin.
  • More difficult to rent Lidl Bikes since there aren’t as many of them around (depends on the area).
  • Bikes don’t have baskets, only a strap to hold down your bags.
  • No cellphone holder.
  • Their website is only available in German, so their support and customer care will likely be in German too. We hope you can speak better German than we can.

Limebike Berlin

It’s hard not to notice these bright lime green bikes. They just look so cheerful and inviting.

It was quite easy to spot them during the summer of 2019. Sadly, we haven’t seen any around since then. We’re not exactly sure why. We’ve tried asking Lime on their Facebook page but we just got a standard bot message referring us to their website.

limebike ebike parked in berlin
The last time we saw a Limebike in Berlin

Maybe they are replacing Lime Bikes with Lime Scooters? But they haven’t exactly removed the bike option from their website or app yet, so we have no idea at this point.

We thought we would add Limebikes in our comparison anyway. Just in case they make a comeback in summer 2020. When they do, we’ll make sure to update this.

Price of Limebike in Berlin

It costs €1 for every 30 minutes. Yup! That makes Limebikes even cheaper than Mobikes and their bike quality is better too. It’s the cheapest bike share in Berlin if you’re cycling for less than 2 hours.

Limebike Pros

  • One of the few bike shares with a proper basket.
  • Quality of the bikes are great.
  • Drop off is super convenient, just drop it off anywhere within the Berlin S-Bahn ring (your Lime app will guide you).
  • The cheapest bike sharing option in Berlin if you’re cycling for less than 2 hours.

Limebike Cons

  • Haven’t seen any Limebikes around Berlin since autumn 2019. Not sure if they will return or if they’ll only have Lime Scooters from now.
  • No cellphone holder.
  • You can only rent 1 bike at a time. Not a family or group-friendly option.
a row of lime electric scooters in berlin
We see you Lime scooters, but where are the Lime bikes?

E Bikes (Electric Bikes) Rental in Berlin

Like we mentioned earlier, some bike sharing companies also offer e-bike or electric bike options.

What is an e-bike? E-bikes are basically bicycles with a built-in electric motor. It’s different to electric motorcycles in that you have to pedal for the bike to move.

E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph). The high-powered versions can even do more than 45 km/h (28 mph).

Before you get too excited, the e-bikes that bike sharing companies rent out are usually the lighter ones that travel up to 25 km/h. That’s still pretty fast for cycling!

E Bike Cost Comparison

table that compares prices costs and value for electric bike or bike sharing in berlin
Cost vs Value Comparison of Electric Bike (E bike) Sharing in Berlin

Donkey Republic EBike vs Uber Jump Bike

Since Lime e-bikes are nowhere to be found. We’re left with only Donkey Republic and Uber Jump e-bikes to compare.

The biggest differences between the two are:

DifferenceDonkey RepublicUber Jump
Unlock feeFREE€1
PaymentFixed amount depending on time€0.15 per minute
No. of bikesRent a maximum of 5Only 1

Uber Jump Bike Prices in Berlin

Uber Jump Bikes cost €1 to unlock plus €0.15 per minute.

For the same €4 you’ll get for 30 minutes with Donkey Republic, you’ll only get 20 minutes of ride time with Uber Jump. That means that it is cheaper to rent e-bikes from Donkey Republic rather than Uber Jump.

Only downside is that there aren’t as many Donkey Republic e-bikes as there are Jump bikes. Jump bikes also have a much better and bigger basket.

uber jump ebike parked in front of a red church in berlin
Uber Jump Bikes are eye-catching in their Ferrari red colour

Summary of Best Bike Sharing Options in Berlin

This was a super long and detailed post. So if you didn’t make it all the way to the end, we don’t blame you. Here’s a quick summary for those that don’t enjoy reading.

Best Bike Sharing for Day Tours and Touring in Berlin

Donkey Republic.

Best Bike Sharing for Short Trips in Berlin

Nextbike and Mobike.

Cheapest Bike Share in Berlin

  • Short trips less than 20 minutes: Mobike
  • Short trips less than 30 minutes: Nextbike
  • Trips less than 1 hour: Nextbike
  • Trips from 1 – 24 hours: Donkey Republic
donkey republic bike named steinfurt
Meet Steinfurt, my ‘donkey’ for the day

Cheapest Monthly Bike Rentals for Expats in Berlin

  • Donkey Republic (€14 or €19 per month depending on membership)
  • Swapfiets (€16.50 or €19.50 per month depending on bike)

We personally used Swapfiets and have been loving the freedom of getting around Berlin by bike! If you want to try Swapfiets out for yourself, use our Swapfiets discount code and save €7.50 on your Swapfiets subscription (discount code: MICHAEL92524).

Resources for Expats Moving to Berlin

Are you also an expat in Berlin? If you are or busy planning the big move, here are some useful resources to help you (all written based on our personal experiences):


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