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Oeschinen Lake
A Sparkling Gem in the Kander Valley

Dazzling Oeschinen Lake near Kandersteg
One of the loveliest spots in the Bernese Alps

The Oeschinen Lake near Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland is no doubt one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland. The turquoise lake competes for attention with the dramatic mountain scenery.

There's nothing quite like spending a beautiful day in the Swiss Alps. A sense of renewal and promise is in the air. Pristine nature and scenic beauty replenish the body's energy. Bliss out on this idyllic Lake at the foot of Mts. Blüemlisalp (3663 m/12,018 ft.), Oeschinenhorn (3486 m/11,437 ft.), Fründenhorn (3369 m/11,053 ft.) and Doldenhorn (3643 m/11,952 ft.) and you'll know what I mean.

Oeschinen Lake in Winter
Oeschinensee is not less beautiful in winter

Oeschinensee with a 'winter filter'. Although Kandersteg is better known for its excellent cross country ski trails and backcountry skiing than for its downhill slopes, visiting Oeaschinen Lake on skis is an exhilarating experience. Or take your sled with you and whiz down the hill to Kandersteg.

The lake is frozen in winter and popular with the locals for ice fishing.

My hiking buddy and I on the way to Oeschinen Lake

My hiking buddy and I visited Oeschinen Lake on a beautiful late September day. He spent many childhood summer holidays with his parents in the small wooden house with its white base up on the hill.

Kandersteg, at the foot of Mount Bl├╝emlisalp
The walk up from Kandersteg toward the Oeschinen Lake Gondola

The air was crisp as we walked up from the train station to the Gondola that took us lazies up the mountain. To the right the Marienkirche (built in 1927), the catholic church dedicated to Maria at the "Bundesrat Adolf Ogi" street 14. (Trivia: one of our most prominent and folksy federal councillors, Adolf Ogi, was born in Kandersteg and still lives here. Hence the street name in his honour.)

Gondola station Kandersteg
The Gondola station

We arrived at the Oeschinen Lake gondola station after a short walk of about 15 minutes from the train station through the village and along "Bundesrat Adolf Ogi street".

Toboggan at Oeschinensee
Summer fun for the whole family - Kandersteg at the bottom

The toboggan next to the gondola station on top promises fun, though we didn't race through the channel. We walked straight to the lake in anticipation of a late breakfast at the "Bergrestaurant". Isn't the mountain scenery inspiring?

Walk toward Oeschinensee

We arrived mid-morning, and the sun hadn't quite reached Oeschinen Lake. The small road leading from the gondola station to the lake is paved and suitable for wheelchairs.

Oeschinensee near Kandersteg
Magical moment on Oeschinen Lake

It didn't take long for the first sun rays to kiss the lake. Pure bliss and a moment to remember.

bicycle racks
Alpine bicycle rack :-)

Not only hikers love this area. The Kandersteg region offers plenty of challenging trails for mountain bikers.

Restaurant Oeschinensee
Restaurant and Berghaus Oeschinensee

A nice spot for weary hikers and leisure seekers alike. The terrace offers great views to lake and mountains. The "Berghaus Oeschinensee" also offers rooms to spend the night during the summer months.

A quiet moment on Oeschinen lake

A nicely groomed trail leads along the shore with plenty of resting places to enjoy quite moments on this idyllic lake.

Paddle boats on Oeschinensee
What about a paddle tour?
Hiking on Oeschinensee
Glimpses onto the Lake from the hiking path
KiK Sculptures Kandersteg
Sculptures along the trail

Sculptures by international wood carving artists can be found on the circle route, leading from the cable way station through the Oeschiwald forest down to the lake. The nature trail then follows the lake shore to the three restaurants and back to the gondola station.

Sculpture and Oeschinen Lake beach

The beach to the right is a popular spot for bathing and barbecuing. The location is about a 10 minute walk away from the Restaurants - an easy stroll on a well groomed trail. Don't expect an empty beach like this if you visit in July and August, the most popular tourist months.

The water is pleasant during the warm summer months, about 18 to 20 degree Celsius (64 to 68 Fahrenheit). Taking a dip is certainly pleasant after a long and strenuous hike, for example from Kiental via Griesalp, Hohtürli Pass and Blüemlisalp. After that hike, you don't even care if the water is a tad cooler than that.

View to Kandersteg

We ended our day at Oeschinen Lake and hiked down to Kandersteg. It's a nice hike of about one hour. However, there are some pretty steep sections. Make sure you wear suitable shoes.

Good to Know

Getting there

  • Kandersteg lies en route between the cantons Bern and Valais.
  • Trains from Spiez and the Lake Thun Region as well as from Visp and Sierre in the canton Valais arrive in frequent intervals. Check train and bus connections on the SBB/CFF/FFS website.
  • The cable car station to the Oeschinen Lake area can be reached on an easy 15 minute walk from the train station. Follow the brown signs "Oeschinensee"
  • If you arrive by car you can park it it right next to the cable way station. The lake itself is only reachable by gondola, on foot or by bike.
  • There's also a postal bus route that connects Kandersteg with Frutigen via Blausee, another popular destination in the Kander Valley. It can be easy combined with a visit to Oeschinensee.

Open

A visit to the Oeschinen Lake area with the gondola is possible year-round, though with some restrictions.

  • Summer season: Beginning of May (around May 10th) to last week in October every day
  • Winter season: Mid December (approx. December 21st) to last week in March every day.

Festivals

The Kander Valley is a favorite amongst serious hikers and mountain climbers. The Allmenalp Via Ferrata is probably the most spectacular one in the Alps. No wonder then, that Kandersteg celebrates it with an Ice Climbing Festival each January for three days; Another impressive event celebrating winter sports is the Alpine Splitfest; And then there's the Belle Epoque Week: people party and ski dressed up in Edwardian-ish garments. Here's the link to all events throughout the year.

Sleeps

  • Oeschinen Lake is easily reached on a day trip from where ever you stay in the Bernese Oberland.
  • Kandersteg itself offers plenty of hotels to stay overnight.
  • The "Berghotel Oeschinensee" right next to the lake offers dormitory style and regular rooms. Imagine, waking up next to this pristine lake at the foot of some of the highest peaks in the Bernese Alps. Overnights only possible in Summer. The Restaurant is open in winter too.

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