The breathtaking Oeschinen Lake, nestled among the spectacular peaks of the Bernese Highlands, is a true Swiss gem. It’s a favorite destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers in the Swiss Alps.
Switzerland is renowned for its rich natural beauty, and Oeschinen Lake truly stands out as an enchanting destination, showcasing the best of what Switzerland has to offer to tourists. For good reason, the lake is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The mountain lake is referred to by three names interchangeably: Oeschinensee, Lake Oeschinen, or Oeschinen Lake. To enhance clarity and understanding, we will use all three versions throughout our article.
Oeschinen Lake is an ideal getaway for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers, nestled in the picturesque Swiss Alps. Whether you seek a tranquil retreat, wish to embark on a memorable summer hike, or plan to capture content for social media, Oeschinen Lake is considered one of the best places in Switzerland for these activities.
Our article was inspired by, among other things, our opinion that the Oeschinen Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. The stunning scenery of Oeschinen Lake and its surroundings is truly breathtaking, and we’re not alone in thinking so. Oeschinen Lake has become increasingly popular, especially on social media in recent years.
Through this guide, we aim to provide comprehensive information about Oeschinensee. We will cover what is essential to know about the lake, how to reach it, the activities available at the lake, and highlight the best spots for photography. Our goal is to compile all necessary information to ensure that your excursion to Oeschinensee is as complete and fulfilling as possible.
So let’s see what you need to know about visiting Lake Oeschinen:
Where exactly is Lake Oeschinen located?
Lake Oeschinen is located in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. Specifically, it is situated near the village of Kandersteg in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. The lake is surrounded by stunning mountain peaks, providing a picturesque and breathtaking setting for visitors. The coordinates for Lake Oeschinen are approximately 46.4879° N latitude and 7.6761° E longitude.
How to get to Oeschinen Lake
As Kandersteg is a dead-end village with only one road leading to it, there are not many options for getting there. The route is mainly determined by your starting point, whether you are coming from Bern or perhaps from the direction of Interlaken/Brienz.
Basically, you need to reach Kandersteg either by car or public transportation, from where you can ascend to the lake either by cable car or through a steep hike.
How to get to Kandersteg
Getting there by car shouldn’t be difficult, as Swiss roads are of excellent quality, and the route to Kandersteg is not challenging at all.
Regardless of your direction, your first destination is Spiez. From the Road 8 near Spiez, take the exit towards Kandersteg at junction 19. Afterward, turn towards Kandersteg from Road 11, passing by Outlet King.
The road then takes you through the valley, passing by several villages, and ultimately, you will reach Kandersteg.
Finding the cable car parking lot might be a bit tricky, it is labeled as “Gondelbahn Oeschinensee Parkplatz” on Google Maps.
From the parking lot, you can then ascend to the lake either by a steep hike or by taking the cable car.
By public transport
If you prefer public transport, your first destination is usually the town of Spiez.
Whether you’re traveling from Bern or Interlaken, you can generally reach Spiez by train, and occasionally there is a bus service. From Spiez, you will often need to transfer, and there are regular train services to Kandersteg.
The train journey (with a transfer) takes a little over 1 hour from both Bern and Interlaken. From the Kandersteg train station, you can walk to the cable car, which takes you up to the vicinity of the lake.
From Kandersteg to Oeschinensee
As mentioned, from the parking lot in Kandersteg, you have two options to reach the lake: a steep hike on foot or by taking the cable car.
We recommend the cable car, not because we particularly enjoy it (for example, I am afraid of them), but because it’s worth saving your energy for the lake.
The walking trail between the parking lot and the lake is approximately 3.5 km, but it’s not the length that makes it challenging but the steep elevation gain of around 400 meters.
Therefore, it is recommended to choose the cable car, which takes you closer to the lake but not directly to its shores. From the mountain station of the cable car, you still need to walk approximately 1.6 km, mostly downhill, as the lake is situated about 100 meters lower.
Here, it’s worth noting that during the summer, there is an electric shuttle bus operating between the mountain station and the restaurant next to the lake. Although it comes with a fee, it can be very convenient at times.
Where to stay in Kandersteg
In Kandersteg, there’s a limited availability of accommodations, and they often get fully booked weeks in advance. Therefore, always make early reservations, even months ahead.
Due to the unpredictable weather, it’s a bit risky, but unfortunately, finding good accommodation in Switzerland during the peak summer season can be challenging.
We recommend the following accommodations in Kandersteg:
- Typically Swiss Hotel Ermitage: A three-star hotel in a true Swiss Alpine style, located next to the Oeschinensee mountain cable car valley station.
- Bernerhof Swiss Quality Hotel: Another three-star hotel in Kandersteg, close to the train station, highly rated in its category.
Recommended hotels near Kandersteg, in other settlements:
- BEATUS Wellness- & Spa-Hotel: A five-star hotel in Merligen, on the shores of Lake Thun, offering stunning views of the mountains and Lake Thun.
- The Cambrian: A four-star hotel in Adelboden, a short drive from Kandersteg. Enjoy exceptional views of the surrounding Alpine landscape from its pool.
- la belle vue Boutique Hotel & Café: A three-star hotel in the town of Spiez.
Best time to visit Oeschinensee
You can visit Oeschinen Lake throughout the year, but it offers the fullest experience during the summer months and early autumn. So, the best time to visit is from July to early October.
Oeschinen Lake is accessible during other times as well. In the winter season, popular ski slopes operate nearby, and activities such as ice fishing or taking a walk on the possibly frozen lake, locally known as the “Ice Walk”, are available.
However, we would particularly highlight the summer season for hikers, when the area around the lake is at its most beautiful and enjoyable.
Best things to do at Oeschinen Lake
Oeschinensee and its surroundings offer wonderful outdoor activities, especially in the summer. You can engage in almost any lake-related activity, whether it’s swimming, boating, fishing, or other popular activities like hiking or trying local cuisine. You won’t be bored at Oeschinen Lake.
The most popular activities at the lake and its vicinity include:
Hiking on the Oeschinensee panorama trail
On the northern side of Oeschinensee, there is a circular panorama trail that offers the best views of the lake. This hiking trail is about 9 km long, of variable difficulty (there are difficult, medium and easy sections), and includes several hundred meters of elevation gain and loss. Therefore, basic hiking equipment (shoes and poles) is recommended.
Along the way, you’ll encounter marvelous vantage points like Aussichtspunkt Heuberg (Heuberg Viewpoint), and numerous other spots where you can capture breathtaking photos of the blue lake and the surrounding rocky peaks.
During your hike, you may also come across some cows as well as waterfalls, such as Oberbärglibach Waterfall and Bärgfall Waterfall.
In terms of direction, we suggest starting with the upper (northern part) and heading east, so that the challenging sections come first, and you can finish the last stretches along the lake.
Is there a hiking trail that circles Lake Oeschinen?
No, on the southern side of the lake, there are no continuous hiking trails due to steep cliffs. There are some challenging sections leading to the high mountain huts (such as Blüemlisalphütte SAC and Fründenhütte SAC), but there is no continuous hiking trail that circumnavigates the lake.
Boating on the lake
You can rent blue rowing boats at the lake, allowing you to paddle around and explore the surroundings from a new perspective on the water.
Picnic or grill by the lake
On the southwestern side of the lake, you’ll find a rest area called Rastplatz Blüemlisalp. This is an ideal spot for a picnic or even grilling by the lake, while enjoying the magnificent view.
Swim in the Lake Oeschinen
The water of Lake Oeschinen is quite cold (even in summer, it rarely goes above 20°C), so swimming at the lake is recommended only for those who enjoy cold water.
Swimming, like other activities, is possible on the western shore of the lake.
Sledding on the mountain coaster
When at Oeschinen Lake, don’t miss the mountain coaster experience. This summer toboggan run, located at the Oeschinen mountain station, offers a fast and thrilling descent over 750 meters, covering a height difference of approximately 150 meters. It’s a real adventure that complements your day trip to the lake.
Restaurants at Oeschinensee
Several places are available on the shore of Lake Oeschinen where you can sit down for a bite or a drink. These include:
- Oberbärgli: A hut along the panorama loop with a limited offering if you need to rest during your hike
- Berghaus Unterbärgli: Similar to the previous one, a spot to stop for a break during your hike
- Restaurant Zur Sennhütte: A restaurant offering simpler local dishes with a wonderful view from its terrace
- Arva – Berghaus am Oeschinensee: Primarily an accommodation but also has a restaurant with a terrace offering excellent views
- Restaurant by Berghotel Oeschinensee: The largest restaurant near Oeschinensee, providing a great view of the lake, and offering an allergen information menu (ensuring options for those with dietary restrictions)
Pro tip: When traveling to Oeschinensee, it’s advisable to carry some cash, as not all places accept card payments. It’s best to have at least 100-200 CHF (due to high prices) in cash.
Other nearby attractions in Switzerland
Blausee, or the Blue Lake, is a stunning natural attraction near the road to Kandersteg. This small, clear lake is famous for its greenish-blue color, surrounded by lush forests and walking trails.
If you feel like it, take a quick stop at Blausee on your way to or from Oeschinensee and enjoy the beauty of this small lake. It’s just a short walk from the parking area.
Next to the lake, you’ll also find the Blausee Hotel & Spa, boasting a restaurant terrace with a view of the lake.
Lauterbrunnen is a captivating village nestled in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, situated amidst towering cliffs and adorned with numerous waterfalls.
In recent times, it has become one of Switzerland’s most famous destinations, thanks to its picturesque landscapes gaining popularity on social media.
Located just about an hour’s drive from Kandersteg, Lauterbrunnen boasts iconic waterfalls like Staubbach Waterfall and Trümmelbach Waterfall. The village offers scenic hikes, charming villages, and views of the majestic peaks in the Jungfrau region. If you’re in the area and have time, consider trying out Jungfraubahn (train) for an unforgettable mountain railway experience.
Grindelwald, a charming alpine village, is another gem near Lauterbrunnen. The village is a paradise for nature lovers, offering numerous hiking opportunities, winter skiing, and breathtaking panoramas throughout the year.
Additionally, Grindelwald also provides access to the popular Jungfraubahn (train).
Moreover, if you have time, you can take cable cars to the unique First Cliff Walk for stunning views.
For hiking enthusiasts, the Lake Bachalpsee is also a recommended attraction.
So, this was our comprehensive guide to Oeschinensee in Switzerland. With our article, we hope we’ve provided enough information for your visit to Oeschinen Lake.
Lake Oeschinen is a beautiful mountain lake in the Bernese Oberland, which we believe is one of the most beautiful places in the Swiss Alps. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk or a more difficult hike, boating on the lake or experiencing the thrill of summer tobogganing, or you’re looking for authentic Swiss cuisine with fantastic views, Lake Oeschinen is an unmissable destination for all of these.
So, plan your visit, and don’t hesitate to experience the tranquility, natural beauty, and outdoor delights offered by Oeschinensee.