VISIT & HIKE TO LAKE OESCHINEN – TRAVEL GUIDE
Switzerland has many stunning lakes – and one of them is Lake Oeschinen or Oeschinensee. It is an incredible mountain lake that reminds me a bit of the Canadian lakes – just smaller.
Its color and the hiking options make it one of the best places to visit and is a perfect day trip from many places in Switzerland.
I have visited Lake Oeschinen twice. Once, there was bad hail, and I just did the easy hike to the lake. The second time, I visited on a sunny day and did the more difficult hike. Or, as the Swiss call it, the “moderate“ hike (that comes with stunning views).
So, I am happy to share both experiences with you. Here is what you need to know about visiting Oeschinenee.
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FAQ: LAKE OESCHINENSEE
You’ll find useful information on how to get there, different hiking options (from very easy to challenging), and much more here.
LOCATION OF OESCHINENSEE
Lake Oeschinen is located in Kandersteg, Bernese Oberland in Switzerland – in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch”.
Kandersteg is home to Oeschinensee and Blausee (another beautiful lake with a unique color), and it is quite close to places like Thun, Interlaken, and Lauterbrunnen.
LAKE OESCHINEN FACTS
- Lake Oeschinen lies at the foot of the Blüemlisalp mountain
- Altitude: 1,578 meters above sea level
- Surface area: 1.1147 square kilometers
- Maximum depth: 56 meters (184 ft)
- Fed by the glacial brooks of the three-thousand-meter peaks of Blüemlisalp, Oeschinenhorn, Fründenhorn, and Doldenhorn.
- Camping, tenting, or biwaking is forbidden by law
- Dogs are allowed (at the lake as well as in the gondola)
WHAT TO BRING TO LAKE OESCHINEN?
Bring sunscreen on sunny days, and a water bottle and just refill it with fresh glacier water. You can have wonderful picnics at Lake Oeschinen, so bring blankets and everything else you need for a chilly day at the “beach”. However, if you also want to do a stunning hike, keep in mind that you have to carry around all the items, so you might want to travel light. Also, bring swimsuits and other items you want to use in the water.
Wear good shoes (especially if you hike) and bring poles – for the first time, I used them (borrowed from a friend I just made), and they were lifesavers (who would have thought?) because uphill hiking is much easier.
EXTRA TIP: Keep your toenails short (yes, those downhill hikes can be painful with longish toenails)
BEST TIME TO VISIT LAKE OESCHINENSEE
I have bad news for you: I have visited Switzerland many, many times and always wanted to visit Lake Oeschinensee. But even in the summer months, the weather forecast predicted rain. So, eventually, I went on a day with strong hail.
That is the problem with Kandersteg – the weather is not your friend here. But either way, the best time to visit is between late May and October, to be sure that the gondola is also open. Lake Oeschinen presents itself best on sunny days (if you are flexible, keep an eye on the weather forecast).
However, keep in mind that the gondola does not operate from:
NOT OPERATING FROM: 20.03.2023 – 12.05.2023 and 23.10.2023- 21.12.2023
IS HIKING OESCHINENSEE WORTH IT?
Without question, Oeschinensee is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. Especially on a sunny day, Lake Oeschinensee looks incredible.
The best views are from above – then Lake Oeschinen really looks spectacular. I believe it is worth doing the hike. Even if the hike is exhausting, especially if you are not an experienced hiker, it is worth it because it is one of the best Swiss hikes.
Whether you choose to do the easy hike or do a full-day hike tour around Lake Oeschinen – add it to your Interlaken bucket list!
HOW TO GET TO LAKE OESCHINEN
There are several options to get to Kandersteg.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE OESCHINEN BY CAR:
Getting to Lake Oeschinen by car is probably the most convenient way. It includes a mountain drive but the roads are not as narrow and windy as in some other parts of Switzerland. However, drive carefully to make it safely to the lake.
There are parking slots in Kandersteg near Oeschinensee. One is about a 10-minute walk from the cable car station and one is just at the cable car station (which is a bit more expensive and might be full if you arrive late on a sunny day).
- From Interlaken to Kandersteg: about 80 minutes
- From Thun to Kandersteg: about 40 minutes
- From Bern to Kandersteg: about 80 minutes
TIP: Have cash for parking ready.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE OESCHINEN BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:
Are you planning to get to Lake Oeschinen by public transport? No problem! To get to Lake Oeschinen by public transport, you can take the following steps:
- Take a train to Kandersteg station from any major Swiss city. Trains run regularly from major Swiss cities like Bern, Zurich, and Geneva (you might have to change trains)
- From the Kandersteg train station, take the PostBus or the local shuttle bus (Kanderbus) to Oeschinen Talstation (the cable car valley station). Note that the local shuttle bus may not be running during certain times of the year. You can also walk from the train station, it is an easy 10-minute walk.
- From Oeschinen Talstation, take the gondola up to the lake (more on that below).
- From Interlaken Ost to Kandersteg: about 70 minutes
- From Bern to Kandersteg: about 1 hour
It’s worth noting that public transport in Switzerland can be expensive, so it’s often more cost-effective to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, which offers unlimited travel on public transportation throughout Switzerland for a set period.
Additionally, although public transport is generally reliable in Switzerland, it’s always a good idea to check timetables in advance, especially during peak periods or ski season, when the frequency of buses and trains may be reduced.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE OESCHINEN
Now, that we are in Kandersteg and at Oeschinen Talstation (valley mountain station), we need to get up to Lake Oeschinen. There are several ways to get to Lake Oeschinen.
- You could just hike to the lake and skip the cable car altogether. This option is for very fit people (or average Swiss people).
- I recommend taking the cable car (at least to get up) and then saving your energy for hiking later. Do not worry, you will have enough hiking time once you get out of the cable car.
CABLE CAR/GONDOLA TO LAKE OESCHINEN
So, let´s get up with the cable car. Of course, you need a ticket for it.
How to buy tickets for the cable car to Lake Oeschinen? That is easy. You can buy tickets for the cable car online or on the spot.
- ONLINE: If you buy it online, you can use the QR code by mobile phone (or printed) directly at the turnstile to the gondola.
- ON THE SPOT: Or get your ticket at the station’s self-service ticket machines. With the tickets from the machines, you can go directly to the gondola. But you can also buy your ticket from an actual person at the cash desk at the valley station.
It may sound confusing but it is not.
I took the cable car both times. However, now I know that I would only get a ticket for getting up, and I would not buy a ticket for going down.
TICKET PRICES FOR GONDOLA TO LAKE OESCHINEN:
- Return/Round trip: about 30 CHF
- One-way ticket: about 22 CHF
- 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass
IS THERE A DISCOUNT FOR THE GONDOLA TO LAKE OESCHINEN?
Yes, there is a 50% discount for Swiss Travel Pass holders, but there is also a discount for GA, etc.
The summer season starts in mid-May, and the earliest cable car leaves at 8:30 am (please check for the exact day as it does change each year). If you arrive late, keep in mind that cable cars only run until about 5 pm.
Once at the top of the mountain station, you have several options for seeing Oeschinensee.
GET TO LAKE OESCHINENSEE WITHOUT A HIKE
OPTION 1: The easiest way to see Lake Oeschinen is quite popular (not only amongst the older ones). Get up by cable car. Once you are out of the cable car, just hop on the electro shuttle that drives you to the lake. It includes minimal walking, and you still get to see the amazing lake.
This option is good for those who really do not like exercise.Prices are about CHF 8 Francs ($9) one-way. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes (or whenever the shuttle is full), but only from mid-June to September.
I used the shuttle on my way back the day it hailed so badly, and I was really thankful for it. Otherwise, I suggest doing at least the easy hike (it actually is a downhill walk).
This way, you will see Lake Oeschinen, not from the top – it still looks pretty, but the best views are from above.
GETTING TO LAKE OESCHINENSEE WITHOUT MUCH HIKING
OPTION 2: An easy way to see Lake Oeschinen includes little physical exercise. Once you get out of the cable car, walk about 20-25 minutes to the lake. Once you pass the restaurant, you are at the lake.
- It starts at the mountain station at 1684 meters above sea level
- Lake Oeschinen is 1593 meters above sea level
- Back to the Mountain station at 1684 meters above sea level
It is a beautiful and easy downhill walk that you do not really need good shoes for (closed shoes, however, would not be bad).
Even without the tedious hike, you’ll have a good idea about this lake and can enjoy some of the activities at Lake Oeschinen.
MODERATE TO DIFFICULT HIKE – LAKE OESCHINEN TO HEUBERG
Swiss people are not “normal“ when it comes to hiking. Some Swiss might hate hiking (very few, though), but you will be surprised by how fit many Swiss people are. They easily overtake you – and I do not mean young Swiss. I mean older, and actually old, people.
So, I would not really rely on Swiss people’s opinions regarding hiking (unless you are also such a super hiker). This info comes from a semi-fit person who enjoys hiking but keeps cursing while hiking because it really kind of sucks (aka me). I mean, I really hate hiking. But I also really love it. But I also really hate it. It is a weird relationship I have with hiking. So, long story short: my tips are for everyone but if you are very fit – or very unfit – take my words with a grain of salt.
This hike is considered moderate – and it is kind of moderate, but also a bit difficult for me.
OPTION 3: There are many different hiking options, and this is not the only “moderate“ hike – but a popular one that offers fantastic views of the lake. It is known as Hike Route no.8 (Oeschinensee to Heuberg) and is a scenic circular hike. Heuberg is a perfect vantage point for Lake Oeschinensee.
It will take between 3-6 hours.
- It starts at the mountain station at 1684 meters above sea level
- Heuberg vantage point is at 1948 meters above sea level
- Restaurant Oberbergli at 1978 meters above sea level
- Lake Oeschinen at 1593 meters above sea level
- Ends at Mountain station at 1684 meters above sea level
I did it this way, but you could also do it the other way around, or you can continue your hike.
TIP: In the beginning, there aren’t waterfalls, but later on, you will find some. I refilled my water bottle there. Is that a good idea? I do not know, but it tasted good, and I did not feel sick (it is fresh snow water, so it should be fine, but go with your own gut).
If you get out of the cable car, follow Hiking Trail 5 for about 15-30 minutes. Then turn left and follow Hiking Path 8 (towards Heuberg)You will not see anything from the lake and have to hike for around 20-60 minutes before you get to see a glimpse of the lake. But that is a pretty damn good first glimpse. Keep hiking and plan in enough time for all the spots. The further you hike, the better the views get, and there are enough options to sit down and just enjoy the views. Some paths are very narrow, and it is quite steep. There are a lot of uphill and then downhill hikes. There are waterfalls along the way, cows, flowers…and of course, all the views.
After about 2-3 hours of hiking, you will reach Oberbärgli. It is a restaurant that has outdoor seating and where you can buy snacks and drinks. Take a long(ish) break here before continuing your hike.
It is a hike straight towards the lake – the gravel path is not particularly challenging, but it is quite steep, and it wasn’t so much fun at certain parts. But most of the part you have great views of Lake Oeschinen.Then it will take another 30-50 minutes to reach the lake and the “beach section.“ Once you are here, most of your hiking is done. If you are like me, you will be exhausted but happy.
How to Get Back to Kandersteg From Oeschinensee
TIP: So, I bought my return ticket beforehand. And I am sure that there is a reason why a single ticket is almost as expensive as a return ticket.
Why? Well, from the restaurants, you either walk back to the car park, which is about a 45-minute downhill hike (but apparently steep), or you do an uphill hike to the cable car station, which takes about 25 minutes, and then take the cable car to get back to Kandersteg.
So, if I had known that the hike from the restaurant to the car park/valley station is only 45 minutes (and not 45 minutes from the mountain station), I would have only gotten a one-way ticket and hiked down, too.
The hike took me about 5-6 hours, but that includes all the breaks. If you take fewer breaks, it will probably take 4 hours.
BEST THINGS TO DO AT OESCHINENSEE
So, now that you know how to get to Lake Oeschinen, you most likely are also wondering what to do at Lake Oeschinen. I have your back – here are the most popular activities for/at Lake Oeschinen.
Hiking is the best activity – whether you choose one of the options I mentioned here or pick another route, you will love that lake.
After a long hike, there is nothing better than jumping into a lake with fresh water. Well, it sounds kind of fun, but keep in mind that Lake Oeschinen is a glacier lake with cold water. However, swimming is allowed in Lake Oeschinen should you choose.
Either you bring your own paddle, an inflatable boat, or rent a boat and row on Lake Oeschinen. It is definitely a popular thing to do at Lake Oeschinen and apparently, rowing boats have been popular on Lake Oeschinen for more than 120 years!
In case, you do not have your own boat with you (I mean), you can rent the boats just at the lake.
RENT A ROW BOAT AT LAKE OESCHINEN
- 1 hour is 29 CHF
- 1/2 hour is 18 CHF
- Max. of 4 people in one boat
- Renting boats is not possible when it is foggy or stormy
Are you feeling exhausted after a long hike and in need of a little downtime?Take a breather by the lake or stretch out on the grass, towel in hand. You could also indulge in some delicious refreshments from the array of restaurants and stalls, perfect for a well-deserved break. Rest up and recharge, you’ve earned it!
And if you have not hiked? You also have earned some relaxing time at gorgeous Lake Oeschinen!
Alpine slides are very popular in Switzerland, and at the mountain station, you can also get tickets and slide down.
Ready for a thrilling adventure? Imagine racing up a 750-meter course with an elevation change of around 150 meters at breakneck speed, when you overcome a height difference of approx. 150 meters.
You can buy tickets online and use the QR code (on your phone or printed out) to slide down.
This thrilling ride is suitable for both young and old, but make sure to check the weather conditions before heading out.
If it rains, it is closed. After the raining, the run will be dried out and opened as soon as possible.
Children from the age of 3 can ride, but only with a responsible accompanying person who is at least 8 years old. 8 years is the minimum age required to ride on their own, provided they’ve gone through the necessary safety training. Remember to always listen to the staff’s instructions for a safe and enjoyable experience.
And while you’ll want to capture your excitement on camera, keep in mind that filming or taking selfies during the ride is not allowed.
The slide is only open from mid-June to mid-October, and it is closed in the winter months.
HOW MUCH IS A TICKET FOR TOBOGGANING AT LAKE OESCHINEN
Ticket prices for adults: 1 ride is about 6 CHF, and 5 rides are about 28 CHF.
LAKE OESCHINEN IN THE WINTER
You might be wondering if you can visit Lake Oeschinen also in the winter months, right? The good news is that Lake Oeschinen, despite being a mountain lake, is also easily accessible in the winter months.
And while the famous Heuberg hike is not possible, you can do some other amazing winter activities, including sledding, skiing, and snow-shoe hiking. While the amazing color of Lake Oeschinen is hidden under the cover of snow and ice, it is still a wonderful place to visit and enjoy!
WHERE TO STAY NEAR LAKE OESCHINEN
There are several accommodation options around Lake Oeschinen in Kandersteg, Switzerland.
Bernerhof Swiss Quality Hotel is nestled in the charming town of Kandersteg. Get ready for breathtaking mountain views, a delightful restaurant, and a cozy spa area to unwind after a long day of hiking. This idyllic location is the perfect retreat for those seeking adventure and relaxation in one spot.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO VISIT LAKE OESCHINEN
Lake Oeschinen is definitely worth a visit! Located in the beautiful Swiss Alps, it’s surrounded by breathtaking scenery and offers plenty of activities for both nature lovers and adventure seekers. You can go swimming in the crystal clear (yet cold) waters, take a boat ride to explore the lake, or even enjoy some skiing or snowshoeing in the winter months. And let´s not forget the amazing hiking options around Lake Oeschinen.
Spending time at Lake Oeschinen is a great way to relax and explore the stunning Swiss landscape.
STAY SAFE AND ENJOY! ARZO