About Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF)
Address: Car Rental Pavilion, Berlin, 12529
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF) is the smaller of two international airports serving Berlin, the capital of Germany. Located 18 km (11 mi) southeast of central Berlin, (SXF) offers a full buffet of airport car rentals from the big time providers — Avis, Alamo, National, Dollar, Sixt, Europcar, etc. — directly across from Terminal A.
So you’ve decided to rent a car for your trip to Berlin. Conventional wisdom holds that driving in central Berlin is unpleasant, at best, and parking is difficult to find and expensive. Unfortunately, Berlin’s beleaguered public transit situation only adds to the woe of getting around town. Throw in some narrow, one-way streets marked by German signage, and foreign drivers may wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. But take a deep breath, switch on the GPS, and relax. It’s really not as bad as it sounds.
Germans love driving, so you’ll find the main roads and highways in impeccable condition, with rules and regulations fairly observed and rigorously enforced. The A100 Berliner Ring Road anchors a well-developed network of routes, particularly away from the urban core of the city — where parking is also more accessible. Speed limits within central Berlin generally don’t exceed 50 km/h, so it’s a very safe environment to navigate. Take note: German police are notoriously rigid about excessive speed — even 2-3 km/h over the limit is cause for a citation.
Meanwhile, Berlin is within easy striking range of woodlands and nature reserves including Naturpark Nuthe-Nieplitz (65 km / 39 mi) and Königswald mit Havelseen und Seeburger Agrarlandschaft (29 km /17 mi) — perfect for day trips out of the city.
Choosing your car
Berlin Schönefeld Airport is a strategic entry point to Berlin and the surrounding area, with an airport car rental selection to match any other major city in Europe. If you’re determined to roll down to the Mitte, Toyota and Fiat minicars are ideal for tight spaces and quick maneuvering. If you need a bit more space for passengers and gear, Opel compact and estate wagons seat five — with extra legroom for all. Meanwhile, if you’re headed on out on the Autobahn, Volkswagen intermediate, Mercedes standard, and BWM fullsize sedans are German cars — engineered for German roads. And Ford 7-9 seater minivans are some of the most reliable people carriers on the road today.
Tips and advice
Most intersections in Berlin are equipped with a yellow diamond-shaped sign that indicates right-of-way.
Berlin’s low-emission environmental zone (Umweltzone) applies to all vehicles traveling within the S-bahn (train) boundaries — roughly equivalent to the A100 Berliner Ring Road. If planning to drive in central Berlin, your car hire must be equipped with a green emissions sticker (Feinstaubplakette).
It wouldn’t hurt to learn a few useful German traffic terms. Ausfahrt (highway exit), Tankstelle (gas station), Einbahnstraße (one-way street) and Parken verboten (no parking zone) are likely to pop up on your radar.
Bicycle commuters have it good in Berlin, with dedicated bike lanes and share-the-road rules that many foreign visitors may envy. You’ll want to look for red brick lanes on the pavement — and stay out of those paths.
Street parking is to be avoided in central Berlin. Just don’t do it. Find a Parkhaus (parking garage) instead.
A few words about gas stations in Berlin: First, almost every petrol station is self-serve. Second, regular unleaded — the cheap stuff — is very hard to find. Third, diesel fuel is technically the cheap stuff, but beware. You’re car hire may not use diesel fuel. Look for the green pump handle (unleaded) and black (diesel) before filling up.