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How to Visit Oeschinensee (Oeschinen Lake) in Kandersteg Switzerland


Kandersteg, in the Bernese Highlands, is a dramatic resort village, facing the amazing Bluemlisalp Massif. This wonderful mountain village in the heart of Swiss Alps is a destination worth visiting throughout the calendar year. No doubt, its picture-perfect mountains and wooden chalets seem to cast a spell on you. But, it is considered a true paradise for skiers and hikers from all over the world.

In winter, it offers more than 50 km of skiing tracks, whereas, in summer, a number of visually stunning and not so difficult hiking and walking trails are sure to make your experience a lifelong memorable one.

One of the most exciting things about Kandersteg that attract visitors from all over the world is the marvellous Lake Oeschinen or the Oeschinensee. Please follow this blog for a detailed guideline on how to visit the alpine jewel of Oeschinensee.

Kandersteg Town
Kandersteg Town

How to Get to Kandersteg 

By Train 

If you are planning to reach Kandersteg from Zurich by train, it's a little more than 2-hour journey from Zurich HBF or Zurich main station and a train leaves for Kandersteg every hour. The ticket costs about 37 CHF. The journey includes a change over at Bern. For a detailed itinerary and more info about timings and ticket pricing, please visit the Swiss Railways website.

If you are already in Interlaken and planning to have a day trip to Kandersteg, then the train can take you to Kandersteg in about 1h 10minutes. The train leaves from Interlaken Ost and the journey costs around 13 CHF.

By Car 

If you are planning to reach Kandersteg from Zurich by car, it's an almost 2-hour journey. The road is good and you can reach even earlier depending on the weather and time of year. 

If you are already in Interlaken, and planning to have a day trip to Kandersteg and you are travelling in your car, it's only 40 km away and the journey will take at most 40 minutes. You can enjoy the view while you are driving as the scenery is absolutely stunning.

Aerial view of Kandersteg Valley (Taken with Drone)

How to Visit Oeschinensee (Oeschinen Lake) 

Oeschinensee is one of the top-ranked Swiss destinations. Guarded by the sentinel peaks of Bluemlisalp and Dolderhorn, the deep blue water of Oeschinensee appears as a turquoise fabric, that has been spread in the whole valley. It was included in the Jungfrau Aletsch Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2007.

There is a lot that you can do while you are visiting Oeschinensee. There are a number of incredible hiking options. Then you can always rent a boat and have some relaxed time floating on the blue lake. Even during winter, when the lake is frozen, you can have a walk over the frozen lake.

Park your car at the Oeschinensee cable car station. It is a paid parking and costs about 5 CHF/day 

This mesmerizing Alpine lake was love at first sight for me and hiking to Oeschinensee and spending a night of wild camping with its blue waters in view, had been in my bucket list for some time until I was finally able to fulfil this dream in 2019. 

Oeschinensee Cable Car

Oeschinensee (Oeschinen Lake) Cable Car 

To reach the Oeschinensee by cable car, you simply need to visit the cable car office, purchase a ticket and you are good to go. You can also purchase the tickets online from this website. The cable car operates both in summer and winter every day, from morning till evening and a single ride for one person can cost you around 22 CHF, whereas, a two-way ride can cost you 30 CHF. For more detailed info on the ticket price and time table, you can visit the official website of Oeschinensee.

(Oeschinen Lake) Hiking 

As you notice from the above information, the one-way journey by cable car is a bit expensive. That is probably because many people would want to do the return journey on foot as it is not too difficult. I would say the hiking to the lake is a lot richer experience as compared to the cable car and it is very doable for children and families alike.

Oeschinensee lies at an altitude of 1578 m whereas the altitude of Kandersteg is 1174 m. This makes the overall elevation of the lake to be around 400 m. There are many hiking trails from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee varying in distance and routes. 

I will write below the most common trails among the tourists and the details which should help you to choose the trail according to your physical abilities. 

Oeschinensee Map (courtesy of oeschinensee.ch)

Trail No. 1 & 4 Kandersteg to Oeschinensee (via Cable Car Station)

  • Distance: 4.5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 500m (approx)
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours

From Kandersteg cable car station to Oeshinensee are two trails one is via Oeschinensee cable car station and the other is direct to the lake. I took the trail to Oeschinensee cable car station (trail no. 1) and then hiked to the lake. It is an easy trail with stunning views of the valley.  

The trail is easy to follow and Swiss cows will give you some company
Kandersteg Valley is seen from Oeschinensee Cable Car Station

The trail from the Oeschinensee cable car station to the lake is another 25 minutes easy hike. There are also electric cars if you are not in a physical condition to do it.

Electric cars for visitors from Oeschinensee Cable Car Station to the lake
Trail # 4 from Oeschinensee Cable Car Station to the Lake

Trail No. 2 Kandersteg to Oeschinensee

  • Distance: 3 km
  • Elevation Gain: 400m (approx)
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Duration: 1 hour
Start of Trail 1 & 2 to Oeschinensee from Kandersteg
First glimpses of the Oeschinensee from Trail 2 & 4

Trail No. 8 Oeschinensee Panorama Trail  

  • Distance: 7.5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 425m (approx)
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours

Well this is probably the best trail with absolutely jaw-dropping views of the lake and the surrounding mountains and shouldn't be missed. It is a loop that starts from the lake and first goes along the lake before gaining altitude. The trail is well marked and quite popular among the tourists.

Oeschinensee Map (courtesy of oeschinensee.ch)

I absolutely loved it and here are some of the pictures of the trail:

Oeschinensee Panorama Trail No. 8
Oeschinensee Panorama Trail No. 8
Oeschinensee Panorama Trail No. 8
Looking down at Oeschinensee from the Panorama trail

Where to Stay in Kandersteg 

Although Kandersteg is not a very huge place, yet it presents a number of options to pick the most suitable accommodation. It includes 4-start hotels, apartments as well as mountain guesthouses and huts, available in a range of luxury to budget pricing.

Other than that, there is an International Scout Center, KISC, present in Kandersteg which welcome scouts from all over the world. They also offer accommodation in their dormitories which can work well for you, if you are trying to keep it in the budget. More can be explored about KISC on their website. You can also go for the camping option in Kandersteg. KISC also offers camping whereas there's very good camping provided by Swiss Alpine Club.

However, I had already decided to go for wild camping as part of my visit plan. Therefore, I put my tent by a viewing spot near the Oeschinensee from where I could see the magical lake from inside my camp. And it turned out to be a great experience despite the fact that it was a cold night and it rained all night. I was fully prepared and equipped against bad weather so it didn't really spoil my plan. There is another universal rule of wild camping that I follow very strictly. "Your camping spot in the morning should look like as if no one stayed there in the night."

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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