Visit Bannalpsee (Lake Bannalp) – A Hidden Gem in the Swiss Mountains
If you are looking for a stunning mountain lake, a hidden gem that is not crowded – not even on sunny summer days – you will find it here. Above Engelberg Valley lies the pretty – very pretty – Lake Bannalp (Bannalpsee).
Bannalpsee (or Lake Bannalpsee) is a reservoir in the Swiss canton (state) of Nidwalden and was built in the 1930s. Though it is a reservoir, it is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Nestled within the Swiss Alps, it offers stunning views!
The lake can be reached by cable car from Oberrickenbach – or via a hike – and makes a perfect half-day trip for anyone looking for a quiet day in the mountains. Add some hiking (shorter, easy ones or longer, more challenging ones) and some time in and at the lake, and voila! You can spend a full day on a trip to Bannalpsee.
Here, you will find how to get to Bannalpsee, the prices for the cable car, what to do at Lake Bannalp, and more important tips for your excursion.
TIPS FOR A DAY TRIP TO LAKE BANNALPSEE
Lake Bannalp is situated on the Bannalp, which is in a side valley of the Engelberg Valley near Lucerne, at 1586 meters above sea level.
WHICH CABLE CAR FOR LAKE BANNALP
Before I explain how to get to Lake Bannalp, I want to let you know very quickly why there are two different cable car stations and what that means for your journey.
You could hike to the lake and skip the cable car altogether. However, if you want to use the cable car (either going one way or for your return journey), you need to think about which cable car you want to take. No worries, it sounds more complicated than it is.
You can take one cable car one way and the other another way – the starting and end points are slightly different in each case.
I suggest starting your trip at the Fell cable car station and going to the Chrüzhütte. For the return journey, you can get down via the Bannalspee to the Fellboden station.
In the valley, both cable car stations are just about 200 meters apart.
The tickets are valid for both cable cars.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE BANNALPSEE
First, you have to get to Wolfenschiessen by car or public transportation, and then go to one of the cable car stations, which are in Oberrickenbach.
- The drive up to Wolfenschiessen and then to the cable car valley stations is extremely scenic and pretty. It is a drive in the mountains – so, not everyone´s cup of tea, but I loved it.
- I suggest parking your car at the Fell – Chrüzhütte cable car station. There is plenty of free parking.
- You can also drive another 200 meters to the other cable car station -Fellboden – Bannalpsee – where you also have free parking.
- Get to Wolfenschiessen by train (e.g. from Lucerne) and then take the bus, Postauto No.331 to Oberrickenbach, Talstation.
- The bus stop is just a minute’s walk from the Fell cable car station. If you want to go to the lake directly, just walk to the Fellenbach cable car station (about 200 meters away) and take the cable car from there because from the mountain station to the lake, it will be just another 2-minute walk.
CABLE CAR RIDE
The ride is short and yet scenic. The views will give you a good idea of what to expect at the lake. It just takes about eight minutes – so a rather short ride – but the views are great.
The cable cars run every 30 minutes, but if it gets busy, they run more often. The cable cars are really small (and can take only 5-8 people), so they ran more frequently when I visited.
Though it was not busy when I visited, it somehow got busy when I wanted to get back down – I have absolutely, absolutely no idea where all those people came from. Either way, it might get busy on a Sunday afternoon, so plan enough time (long lines might happen).
PRICES FOR THE CABLE CAR
- Adults: 21 CHF (return) – 12 CHF (one way)
- Children: 10,5 CHF (return) – 6 CHF (one way)
- Dogs: 9 CHF (return) – 6 CHF (one way)
- There is no discount for any Swiss Travel Pass holders, GA, etc.
- You can pay by credit card.
- TIP: The tickets are valid for both cable cars, so you can use one to go up and one cable car to get down.
CABLE CAR OPENING HOURS
- Shoulder season: 08:30 am to 12 pm (lunchbreak) and then 1 pm to 4:30 pm
- High season (11. June to 18. September 2022): 08:30 am to 12 pm (lunchbreak) and then 1 pm to 5:30 pm
- Closed: 30th October to 16th December 2022
- Please double-check the opening hours before your visit.
You will find toilets at the cable car stations as well as in the restaurants at the lake. There are two restaurants at the lake. At the cable car stations, you will also find maps with hiking suggestions and more.
WALK TO THE LAKE
If you get out at Chrüzhütte Mountain station (a hut where you can also get food and drinks), you have to walk about 15-20 minutes downhill to get to the lake.
Getting out at Bannalpsee Mountain station means you just have to do a 2-minute walk to get to the shores of the lake.
If you get out at Chrüzhütte Mountain station, you can either go for a first drink/snack at the Chruzhütte, or you can keep right and follow the sign to Bergst. Bannalpsee.
At the lake, you will find a chapel, a playground for kids, and another restaurant – my tip is to wait with the drink/snack and first hike around the lake.
HIKING AROUND LAKE BANNALPSEE – ZWÄRGLIWEG
Known as the Zwärgliweg (Dwarf Trail), you just follow the dwarfs you see along the way (but it is also almost impossible to get lost).
The complete walk around the lake is about 5 km. It took me about 90 minutes since I took a lot of pictures, but one can do it in about an hour.
It is an easy and scenic walk – even if you are “lazy,” I highly suggest walking around the lake to see it from different angles, as well as pass some smaller waterfalls and streams.
There is some up and downhill walking, but it is a wide dirt path, with minor uneven terrain, which makes it an easy hike even if you are not very fit, but at least mobile.
Follow the dwarfs and you will first have an elevated view of the lake (after about 15 minutes walk) and the chapel in the foreground and then you see the restaurant at the lake.
At some point, there is an upper and lower path. For the easy hike, stay on the lower path.
Along the way, you will find plenty of opportunities to rest, get water, picnic, and even barbecue (there are fire pits and even wood is provided). Also, there is another playground for the kids.
But apart from the lake and its pretty, pretty color (it was quite cloudy the day I visited and yet the water color was striking), there are some unique mountains that were really mesmerizing. Bannalp is not only about the lake – so make sure to keep an eye out for the stunning scenery.
You can then head up to the Churuzhütte – there are some fun photo ops – can you spot my doggy Puppygak in the picture below?
You can rest at the hut here or walk down again – to the other restaurant where you also have easy lake access.
Voila – you have now completed one of the easiest (yet absolutely gorgeous) hikes – that no one knows about.
For those interested in more challenging hikes, you can take the upper path and walk that. You can also hike to Engelberg (4-6 hours, depending on which route you take). Make sure to wear appropriate shoes and take walking poles in that case. Here are some more hiking tips for Switzerland.
IS LAKE BANNALPSEE WORTH VISITING?
Bannalpsee is a pretty alpine lake that is well worth a visit. The water might be cold. but after a hot day, it might be amazing to take a dip – I did. But even if you do not, it makes a great day trip. the unique scenery, the pretty lake color, and the easy hiking paths…all these are reasons enough for me to recommend visiting Lake Bannalpsee.
And the best – it’s a fun day for people of all ages.