Oeschinen Lake or Oeschinensee as the Swiss call it, is one of the best lakes in Switzerland, if not on the earth. Oeschinen Lake lies in the Kandertal valley in Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. If you love swimming, rowing, fishing and a barbeque by the lake, or just the breathtaking Alpine views, then this place must be on top of your Switzerland Bucketlist. Moreover, The mountains and valleys around here are an open invitation to serious hikers!
Oeschinen Lake or Oeschinensee or Lago di Oeschinen, with pristine nature and turquoise blue waters, is literally heaven on earth. High mountains rise on all sides of the lake. And Oeschinensee is like a sparkling gem in the centre. The lake is at the foot of Mountains – Blüemlisalp, Oeschinenhorn, Fründenhorn and Doldenhorn. Osechinen Lake is fed by underwater streams as well as glacial waterfalls falling from the top of these mountains. Make sure to check the webcam for weather conditions before you go here. And by the way, Oeschinen Lake is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
How to reach Oeschinen Lake
Oeschinen Lake is near the charming town of Kandersteg. Oeschinen Lake day trip can be done if you are staying anywhere in the Bernese Oberland region. If you are coming from Zurich to Oeschinen Lake it will take 2 hours to reach Kandersteg train station. The train journey from Interlaken or Bern to Kandersteg is around an hour each.
Kandersteg is a charming little high-altitude village in Switzerland. It is the nearest train station to Osechinensee. Kandersteg village will provide you with the most picturesque alpine scene. And it is also a starting point for numerous other hiking trails, mountain climbing as well as downhill and cross-country ski trails. Kandersteg also has a beautiful alpine garden called the Ricola herb garden. You can slow down and enjoy nature here. Some other popular places near Kandersteg are Sunnbüel and Blausee (Lake Blue).
Kandersteg village is hardly known by the crowds. If you want to stay in the Bernese Oberland region, then Kandersteg will help you save your francs. The nearby places of Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Wengen are high on every tourist’s list. It is so much better to stay here and explore around.
Oeschinensee from Kandersteg
The walk from Kandersteg train station to the cable car station is about 10-20 minutes. You can get your car and park it at the parking spots near the cable car station or some other in the village. Once you reach the Kandersteg cable car station you can go up in a cable car to a point where Oeschinen Lake hike starts.
Alternatively, you can hike up the mountain for an hour and save some francs. But if you are Asian and hate hiking like me or you are just lazy, then take the cable car to the top. For serious hikers, I would say, save your energy for the Oeschinensee Panorama hike (More on that later) and take the cable car. And you can hike down to Kandersteg when you return.
Fare: 20-30 CHF depending on one-way/ return, adult/child and weather conditions. Make sure to check the updated fare and timings schedule.
Things to do at Oeschinensee
Following are the various things you can do at Oeschinensee.
Oeschinensee slide / Toboggan Run
When you get down from the Oeschinensee gondola, on your stop for Oeschinen Lake, you will see the wonderful huge slide on your left. There are also free washrooms available at this point. You can choose to toboggan down the Oeschinensee Slide in the lap of the most scenic Swiss views or head straight towards the lake and do this when you come back. Either way, you have to swoosh down the Oeschinen Lake slide at least once, if not ten times. The scenery and natural beauty around is unbeatable. And thankfully adults are also allowed. Oeschinensee Slide operates only in Summer – May to October and as long as it’s not raining. It is called as Rodelbahn in German by the locals.
Fare: 4 CHF for adults / 3 CHF for kids.
The Oeschinensee hike from the cable car to the lake is around 30 minutes. That is if you are slow and lazy or take 1000 selfies at any stop like me! If you are even lazier, then you can take the electric taxi/ bus (at extra cost) which runs from the cable car station to the lake. There is a paved path and it is also accessible for wheelchairs and kid’s strollers. The incredible views have started now if they hadn’t at Kandersteg itself.
Electric Taxi Fare: 30 CHF
Swimming, Fishing and Rowing at Oeschinen Lake
There is a beach along the left side of the lake. You can bathe here in the summers. The water temperature is around 18-20 °C. After all, it is a glacial lake. There are boats available which you can rent and take out on the lake. If you like fishing then take a permit from one of the restaurants. Fishes found at Oeschinensee Lake include – Lake trout, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char.
Fare: Rowing – 15-20 CHF depending on time, Fishing permit: starting at 36 CHF.
Oeschinensee Sculpture Garden
There is a beautiful sculpture garden on the shores of the lake. International woodcarvers have carved beautiful figurines which stand at various places in the Oeschinenwald Forest around the lake.
Oeschinensee panorama hike
If you want to feast your eyes on the most panoramic view of the Alps and the Oeschinensee in Switzerland, then you have to go hiking up and down this panoramic hiking trail near the Oeschinensee Lake. The Oeschinensee panoramic hike route is Oeschinensee – Unterbargli – Oberbargli. After you reach Oberbargli, you can take the trail on the right to Bluemlisalphutte. With this, you continue the amazing views of the glacier towards a small lake. Alternatively, you can take the left trail to go back to the cable car station. Do check the weather before you come here. Hiking will be risky if it is raining.
Oeschinensee panorama hike starts at the trail that goes into the forest from near the sculpture garden. The hike is simple but gets steep at places. At numerous places, you have to cross the streams/waterfalls. If you are carrying a bathing suit you can enjoy the clean pristine bath. Moreover, you should carry your lunch and have a picnic with one of the best views here. And you need proper hiking shoes, as the route has loose gravel at most of the places. There are a few mountain huts at various points selling food and drinks. There are many difficult more trails, leading to some more mountain huts in the area.
- Oeschinensee Panorama Hike Route: Oeschinen Lake – Unterbargli -Oberbargli – Cable Car station, alternatively you can also go the other way round ie. Cable Car – Oberbargli – Unterbargli – Oeschinen Lake. The later is more difficult because it is a steep climb.
- Oeschinensee Panorama Hike Time: The walk is described as 3.5-hour walk. But it may take around 5-6 hours, with proper stops for photographs and views, or for people with kids (although I think it is risky, at least they should have some prior hiking experience). If you hate hikes but would do them anyway just for views, like me then count aside some 6 hours.
- Oeschinensee Panorama Hike Distance and Difficulty: 8 km – Medium.
- Highest elevation: 2000 meters
- What to bring: Lunch basket, hiking shoes, sunhats and sunscreen, bathing suit if you like waterfalls and a good camera of course.
- Accessibility: Not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs
Oeschinen Lake is nature, plant protection and wildlife reserve. So camping is prohibited around the lake. But you can set up your tent in a beautiful campground called Rendez-Vous campsite. This is just 50 meters from the gondola – Kandersteg cable car. You can find more information about the prices here. In the summer, hiking trails pass through the campsite. While in winters, you will have the ski slopes. The area has the most scenic views of the Kandersteg mountains. Alternatively, you can stay at the hotels near the Lake – Berghaus Oeschinensee or Berghotel Oeschinensee.
Restaurants and BBQ at Oeschinensee
There are a few restaurants along the edge of the Oeschinen lake. You can order a lunch/ brunch on the terrace or the front of the Oeschinensee restaurant facing the lake. Alternatively, if you are in the mood for a barbeque, you should place an order for a picnic meal (before 10.30 am) at the restaurant. There are fire pits and grilling stations all along the lakeshore. The picnic basket is packed with fruit, bread, meat, juice, beer, wine, sandwiches, dried sausage and coffee. You can put this into one of the grilling stations and enjoy. For more information visit here.
Best time to visit Oeschinen Lake
In Summers (May-Oct), find a sunny day with very few clouds. There is no point in visiting on a cloudy rainy day. All the views will be obscured by the fog. Check the live webcam beforehand. Summer at Oeschinensee is a lot of fun with rowing, swimming and BBQs at the lake. Hiking on a clear sunny day is a great idea.
In Winters (Nov – Apr), the lake is frozen. You cannot go rowing and swimming here. But if you are into ice fishing, ice skating, skiing and winter hikes, then Oeschinensee is a winter wonderland of your dreams. The hotels and restaurants mentioned above are closed in winters. But the campsite is open.
Come on weekdays and Come early: Oeschinensee Lake is crowded on weekends, so it is best to visit on a weekday. You should reach here early in the morning, as after 11 am the lake has many visitors. The parking lot fills fast on the weekends and if you are bringing your car reach first. Moreover, if you come early, you can watch the first sunrays of the day, kissing the lake. A moment that you will savour and recall throughout your lifetime.