It might be most famous for its incredible Alps but Switzerland also has its fair share of beautiful lakes. Lake Oeschinen, located in the Bernese Oberland near Kandersteg, is considered one of the most stunning lakes in all of Switzerland. And rightly so.
Framed by the peaks of Bluemlisalp and Doldernhorn, Lake Oeschinen (Oeschinensee in German) is filled with exceptionally clear turquoise water.
The setting itself is picture-perfect, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Oeschinensee has been recognised as part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007.
It might take a bit of effort to reach Lake Oeschinen but it is definitely worth it. Your first sight of the lake will take your breathe away.
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Getting to Lake Oeschinen (Oeschinensee), Switzerland
First up, you’ll need to get to Kandersteg which is reasonably easy to reach from anywhere in the Bernese Oberland. It’s just 38 kilometres (24 miles) from Interlaken, and 64 kilometres (40 miles) from Bern.
Travelling time is around 45 minutes by car from Interlaken and 55 minutes by car from Bern. Our driving in Switzerland guide has useful tips for planning your journey.
If you happen to be travelling by car between Zermatt and the Jungfrau region, you will likely travel via Kandersteg and through the Lötschberg tunnel so it’s worth allowing extra time to stop off and visit Oeschinensee. This is a really interesting journey as cars drive onto a special train to travel through the tunnel between Goppenstein and Kandersteg.
If you prefer to travel on Switzerland’s excellent train network, allow around one hour to reach Kandersteg from both Interlaken West and Bern. You can buy your ticket at the station but if you hold either a Swiss Travel Pass or Regional Pass Berner Oberland, the journey is covered in full.
You can also join a private day tour to Oeschinensee and Blausee (the Blue Lake) from Interlaken. Click here to check details and prices.
How to get from Kandersteg to Lake Oeschinen
On arrival in Kandersteg, you will need to make your way to the Oeschinensee cable car station. Drivers can follow the signs and leave their vehicle in the large parking area adjacent to the cable car station. Parking costs CHF 5 per day.
If you’ve arrived in Kandersteg by train, it’s an easy walk – around 15 minutes – from the station to the cable car station.
The cable car will then whisk you to the top station in just 10 minutes.
Kandersteg – Oeschinensee Cable Car Timetable
The cable car timetable varies slightly during the summer months. From May to June the cable car runs from 8:30 to 17:00. From June to September 08:00 to 18:00, and from September to October it operates from 8.30 am to 17:30.
In winter, the cable car operates from just before Christmas until 22 March from 09:00 to 17:00. You can check cable car winter closure dates here.
Oeschinensee Cable Car Prices
- December to June : CHF 20 one way / CHF 26 return (adult fares)
- July to November : CHF 22 one way / CHF 30 return (adult fares)
Once you’ve arrived at the top station, it then takes around 30 minutes to walk to the lake.
Alternatively, you can catch an electric shuttle bus from the top station to the lake (summer only) for CHF 8 per adult. The shuttle departs every 30 minutes from 11:30 to 16:40 (17:40 from 13 June to 13 September).
Things to do at Oeschinen Lake
Oeschinen Lake covers an impressive 1.1147 square metres and, in places, sinks to a depth of 56 metres. The glacial lake draws water from underground and from the creeks nestling in the towering mountains all around.
As you might expect, the water is on the chilly side, even in summer, and for a few months of the year the whole lake usually freezes over.
Whatever the season, visitors to Lake Oeschinen are in for a treat. The scenery and activities on offer change depending on the time of year, but you will always receive a warm welcome and enjoy spectacular scenery.
No matter whether it’s winter or spring, summer or autumn (fall), the lake and surrounding area has plenty to see and do all year round.
Let’s explore Oeschinensee and find out exactly what it has to offer.
Summer at Oeschinen Lake
The transformation begins in spring when the frosty air begins to disperse and the waterfalls are illuminated by a sunlit backdrop. The alpine greenery comes to life, and the pleasant weather brings with it the opportunity to enjoy the many water-based activities on offer at the lake, and to explore further afield.
Just reaching the lake is an enjoyable experience. You’ll stroll along paths with open fields on either side with grazing cows, their bells ringing, for company.
Swimming and Boating
The lake itself offers plenty of opportunities to get active. Dip your toes in the translucent waters or plunge right in and swim, if you’re feeling energetic.
If you prefer to stay dry, you could always hire a rowing boat. Visitors have been taking rowing boats out onto Oeschinensee lake for over a century, and this age-old pastime proves to be a leisurely way to explore the lake.
Rowing boats are available for hire during the summer season, and you can expect to pay around CHF 26 for one hour. During busy periods, the boats are a popular attraction, so don’t leave it too late in the day to hire one.
Tobogganing (rodelbahn) at Oeschinensee
Thrill-seekers are catered for too! There’s plenty of fun to be had on the summer toboggan (rodelbahn) run. Head to the mountain station (where the cable car arrives and departs) and prepare for an exhilarating ride!
The Alpine Slide is 750 metres long and is open every day during summer (unless the weather is poor). You can ride individually or as a pair.
Adult tickets for the Oeschinensee rodelbahn cost CHF 6 for 1 ride and CHF 27 for 5 rides. Children over the age of 6 are permitted to ride; the cost for a child age 6-15 years is CHF 5 for 1 ride, CHF 22 for 5 rides.
Lake Oeschinen appeals to hikers of all abilities, from families and novices to seasoned walkers with a sense of adventure.
There are plenty of trails to choose from, including a walk that takes you from Kandersteg via the Oeschinen creek to the lake itself. This route isn’t too steep – just go at your own pace and absorb the amazing scenery as you amble upwards – or downwards.
There are more challenging routes available too, including day-long hikes that will take you up into the mountains. Check the altitude before you head up so you know what to expect – some passages can be on the steep side.
Or just enjoy a gentle stroll around the lake, taking in the beautiful vistas.
A lazy afternoon of fishing will help you to relax and unwind. You can buy a fishing license at one of the restaurants surrounding the lake (it costs around CHF 28 per person). However, you will need to sort out your own fishing equipment to bring along as you can’t hire this at the lake.
It’s also possible to join a private fishing tour from Bern – click here for details and prices.
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Oeschinensee Winter Activities
Winter at Oeschinen Lake offers a different perspective of this glorious setting. There’s an unmistakable chill in the air, and the frozen lake is a sight to behold.
You can still enjoy some of the activities available during the summer, such as soaking up the spectacular scenery. However, others (such as swimming in the glacial waters) just won’t be possible!
Winter hiking is popular amongst visitors and you can still enjoy some of the trails around Oeschinensee during the colder months. When the ice covering the lake is thick enough, you can even follow one of two trails across the frozen surface of Oeschinensee.
It’s advisable to take care whatever time of year you go hiking, but during winter you should be even more vigilant. Look out for hazards and always stick close to the marked hiking paths.
It’s important to remember that skiers and toboggans will be out in force (the hiking trail from Oeschinen Lake to Kandersteg is closed during winter for this reason).
Keep your wits about you, wear appropriate footwear, and take essentials for the trip (water, snacks etc.).
Downhill and cross-country skiers will be in their element; Lake Oeschinen is renowned for its trails and ski runs. There’s something for everyone – from nervous newbies to experienced families who spend every winter traversing the snow.
Whizzing down a slippery, snowy slope might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but if you’re after a rousing experience, sledging here is an experience not to be missed. There’s a 3.5-kilometre run which takes you down the mountainside (ending ay the cable car station in the valley). You can expect to pay around CHF 12 for a day’s sledge hire.
Ice fishing is a popular winter pastime on Lake Oeschinen from the start of January through to mid or end of March. The ice is very thick (usually between 30cm and 50cm) during this period, so the lake is safe enough to walk and stand on.
If you visit at this time, you will see plenty of avid fishers trying for a catch. Many arrive and depart by sledge – which makes for a speedy downhill journey home after a hard day of fishing.
Dine at Lake Oeschinen
Whatever the season, if you’re feeling hungry and longing to enjoy a delicious meal at a restaurant, Oeschinensee has more than one option. They are open throughout winter and summer (to coincide with cable car operating times).
You’ll see the first restaurant as you disembark the cable car but if you’re keen to see the lake, follow the trail (30 minutes) to the Berghotel mountain restaurant, a warm and welcoming family-run eatery that overlooks the lake. Take in the views from the terrace as you enjoy the regional fare on offer, including home-made cake, fresh bread, and delicious strudel.
In the warmer summer months, why not put together a tasty picnic and find a pretty spot? Sit down, relax, enjoy the mountain air, and savour an outdoor feast.
Stay at Oeschinen Lake
You’ll probably find it hard to say goodbye to Lake Oeschinen so why not stay the night at the Oeschinensee hotel? Berghotel Oeschinensee (that I mentioned above) has been run by the same family for five generations.
What could be better than spending the night in a traditional mountain hotel, Oeschinensee or your doorstep and plenty of fresh mountain air to breathe in? Best of all, you’ll practically have the lake all to yourself after all the day trippers have gone home.
Before you visit
If you’d like to check the Oeschinensee weather before you head to the lake, you can easily do so at the official website. The Oeschinensee webcam shows live images from the mountain.
The lake is 1,578 metres above sea level so cloud cover that limits visibility at higher altitudes may not affect visibility at Oeschinensee.
A day trip to Oeschinen Lake definitely won’t disappoint. If you have at least half a day to spend around Kandersteg, I highly recommend you visit Oeschinensee. The colour of the water and the breathtaking scenery will create lasting memories.
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