Oeschinensee • Easy hike to this famous alpine lake

This gorgeous mountain lake is easily accessible by a cable car then an easy walk to the water, suitable for strollers and families. Enjoy the view from a restaurant or picnic area on the lakeshore. Plus a summer toboggan run to add a little adventure.

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It’s easy to visit the spectacular Oeschinensee lake, famous for it’s bright blue water and impressive mountain peaks. After riding a cable car up the mountain, it’s an easy walk on a wide, smooth dirt road to the lake, also suitable for strollers. They even have a shuttle if you prefer not to walk or have mobility issues.

At the lake, you can wander along the shore, enjoy the view from one of the restaurants, picnic at one of the many grill pits near the water or even rent a row boat to get out on the water. Before you return to the valley, make sure to ride the summer toboggan for a thrill with a view. It’s a lovely day out with very little work.

Location:   Bernese Oberland
Address: Kandersteg cable car: Öschistrasse 50, 3718 Kandersteg CH
Car: Parking GPS: 46°29’49.7″N 7°40’55.8″E
40 mins from Interlaken, 1hr from Bern, 2hr from Zurich
Train: Train station: Kandersteg then 1km walk to cable car
1hr30 from Interlaken or Bern, 2hr20 from Zurich HB
   
Trail: 2 km each way to lake, optional shuttle to skip hike
Condition: dirt road, strollers ok
Skill: easy
Open: May to October
Cost 2022: gondola round trip: Adult CHF 30, Child CHF 15
SBB Half-fare, GA and Junior Card accepted
Services: restaurant, mountain coaster, rowboats, fire pits
More info: www.oeschinensee.ch  – webcam  –  weather

Location of Oeschinensee

Oeschinensee is located in the middle of Switzerland, about a 40 mins drive southeast of Interlaken (see on Google Maps). You reach the lake by gondola then a short walk.

Overview of the Oeschinensee area

Here is the summer hiking map for the Oeschinensee area above Kandersteg. The 8-person gondola takes you from Kandersteg up the mountain, where you’ll find a restaurant with a view. The mountain coaster is directly behind the gondola station. To reach the lake, walk on the the dirt road, following signs to Oeschinensee. At the lake, you’ll find rocky beaches, picnic areas with fire pits, two restaurants/hotel and row boats to rent. You can swim in the lake but the water is very cold.

If you want to hike, we recommend the 8km panorama loop above the lake. Also this lake often freezes enough in winter that you can ice skate on it. It is usually open for skating in late December, early January. See website for news.

Getting to gondola

The easiest way to reach the Oeschinensee lake is by gondola, which is located in Kandersteg.

By car: Get yourself to Kandersteg and follow signs to the Oeschinensee cable car (Oeschistrasse 50, 3718 Kandersteg). There’s a parking lot by the cable car station (metered, about CHF5/day, bring coins) and some in town, but it can fill up fast on a busy summer weekend. So get there early.

By public transport: Take the train to Kandersteg, then a 1km walk through town to the cable car as shown on the map below. There is a bus stop next to the cable car (Kandersteg, Talstat. Oeschinen) but I can’t find a bus schedule for it.

Hiking map

At the top of the Kandersteg gondola, you’ll find the alpine slide, toilets and restaurant. To reach the lake, follow the trail signs, walking on a dirt road, about 2 km. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the lake with a 4 year old walking. At the lake shore, you will find a restaurant, row boats to rent, a picnic area with fire pits, a sculpture garden and lots of places to lounge. 

You can return the way you came or take a narrow trail through the forest that loops back to the cable car station (this part not suitable for strollers).

Shuttle to skip hike

If you prefer not to walk to the lake (good option for those with limited mobility), you can pay a small fee to ride a little shuttle bus to the lakeshore. You can purchase a one way or round trip ticket. Since the way back is mostly uphill, it makes sense to ride the shuttle on the way back. 

Skip the gondola and hike up

If you want to skip the gondola (or its not running), you can hike up to the lake as shown on this map. I’ve made it a loop, hiking up under the gondola and returning on the private road. Just a suggestion.

Opening times

The summer season is from early May through mid October. The cable car runs generally from 9:00 to 17:00, until 18:00 in high summer.

Ticket prices

In 2021, an return ticket cost 30 CHF/adult. They accept SBB Half-fare and Junior cards. See website for current information.

Mountain coaster

Before walking out to the lake, I suggest riding the alpine slide next to the gondola station. The slide is 750m long, descending 150m of elevation. One ride costs CHF 6/adult or buy a 5 pack for a small discount. Before 11:30 am, tickets are cheaper, only CHF 4/adult. You can buy tix online so you can skip the line.

See more mountain coasters in Switzerland

Photo story of trail to lake

Starting the trail

To access the lake, head out on the dirt road toward the mountains, following signs to Oeschinensee. 

You start on a dirt service road. If you have a stroller or have trouble walking on uneven surfaces, stay on the dirt road. 

Otherwise, you can take the footpath that branches off to your left, after a few minutes on the road. I like that path better because it has a little variety as shown here.

My children loved to climb on the boulders along the way, which helped distract them from walking.

When you reach the restaurant you see in the picture below, the trail splits again. There is a trail that goes straight down in front of the restaurant.

Or you can turn left at the sign shown here, direction Oeschinensee 5 mins. 

From this sign, you cross the little wooden bridge and walk on a narrow dirt path on switchbacks through the forest. But if you have a stroller, don’t take this trail – too difficult. We did it on our first trip there because we didn’t know what we were doing. 

From the narrow trail, the lake is especially pretty as seen through the forest.

Arriving at the lake

When you reach the lake, you’ll pass through a sculpture garden. Last time I was there I didn’t see many sculptures. So maybe they have taken them down.

Here’s the lake shore, lots of room to spread out. It’s rocky and dusty, so I recommend bringing a soft blanket to sit on. Depending on what time you come, the water level may be higher or lower than shown here.

One time we went the first week of June and the water level way very low as shown here. We could walk over to the waterfall, which is not usually possibly by July.

Here’s a view of the lake in mid-November when we had a spell of warm weather.

You can fish there, if that’s your thing. Ask at the restaurant for a permit.

There’s a huge empty riverbed, with mud and rocks to jump around on, endless entertainment for my boy.

Eating at the lake

For food, there are three restaurants overlooking the lake. If you have a large group, best to reserve a table as the wait can be quite long on weekends.

There are also lots of fire pits along the lake shore, some with grills and wood to burn. 

 

When you are ready to leave, follow the service road back to the gondola. It’s always more uphill than I remember and we are all huffing and puffing on our way back up. If you are too tired, you can ride the shuttle back to the gondola. It runs every 30 mins and costs CHF 8/adult.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Oeschinensee!

See also my 24 Tips for Visiting Oeschinensee

Read also

The prettiest lakes in Switzerland, most not on the tourist trail. You'll need to hike to these lakes, but most are relatively easy, suitable for families.
The prettiest lakes in Switzerland, most not on the tourist trail. You’ll need to hike to these lakes, but most are relatively easy, suitable for families.

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23 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for this site!
    I saw that the hike without the cable car is 1.5 hours, is it only one way? And return the same way?

    1. Hi. I included a trail map for hiking up to the lake without the gondola. It’s about 2.2 km to hike from the bottom to the top of the gondola. Then another 1.5 km to the lake. Total time about 90-120 mins depending on how fast you hike. You could return the way you came or follow the loop in my trail map: https://www.komoot.com/tour/196994800

  2. Hey Tanya,

    It is written that the opening day is May 14th. Could it change? we are going to be in the area, just few days before. Is it possible to get there without the funicolor?

    1. Sorry for my late reply. Yes, sometimes the opening dates change based on the weather conditions. Best to check the website for current status.

  3. Hi, do you know if it is possible to get by car to Rodelbahn? Or you can only take cable car there(except from walk of course)?

    1. No, it’s a private road leading up to the rodelbahn, only allowed for residents and service vehicles. You have to take the gondola.

    1. The gondola is open for winter season through 22 March 2020. You can see the schedule here: https://www.oeschinensee.ch/gondelbahn/

  4. Great article!

    Where would you recommend we stay for 3 nights with good access to this day hike? Is the Interlaken area a good home base? FYI: We are family with 3 small children and grandparents in-tow. 🙂

    1. Yes, Interlaken would be a good base, as you would have quick access to other mountains as well. Oeschinensee is about a 45 min drive from Interlaken, 1hr10 by train.

  5. Hi,
    I can see from the photo you have posted is that there are 3 things,
    1. Alphine Swing
    2. Path to the lake
    3. Panorama loop
    can you please let me know what is the panorama loop and is it enough to do all 3 things in 4 hours.

    1. The panorama trail is detailed in a separate post: https://swissfamilyfun.com/oeschinensee-panorama-hike/ This includes the path to the lake, just a longer hike. The Panorama trail took us about 3 hours. So I think in 4 hours you can probably do the alpine slide and the hike.

  6. Hi
    I know in November the cable-car is closed, but do you know if I am still able to get to the lake from Kandersteg by walking?

    Thank you.

    1. Yes, you can walk up the road from Kandersteg to the lake, its about 3 km with about 400m elevation descent. My friend walked down it last week and said it was quite steep and rather unpleasant. But I know lots of people do it. The trails seem clear at the moment. All restaurants and services will be closed.

    1. Yes, unless there is a fire ban for dryness, which would be indicated by signs. Of course, you should make a fire pit to safety. You’ll find lots of fire pits all around this area so use one of those if you can.

  7. Hi Tanya,
    I discovered your website few weeks ago and I took your advice for a trip to Lauterburnnen. I must say it was splendid!!! The tips and the details you have put on your webiste are so good, it makes the whole planning stuff piece of cake 🙂 Thank you so much for this good work.
    I am planning this small hike (probably extend it the panorama trail if my wife agrees to walk :P) to Öschinensee. I was wondering if one could skip the cable car and walk the way up to the lake?

    1. So happy I could help! Yes, you can walk up from Kandersteg to the lake instead of riding the cable car. I think it’s on a dirt road and not nearly as scenic as above, but it’s certainly a good way to save some francs. If possible I would spend your energy on the panorama hike instead. It’s really special! But whatever you do, it will be beautiful and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  8. Pingback: Wandering and Swimming along Lake Oeschinen in Canton Bern • Family Matters Switzerland
  9. This looks wonderful. We have a day to drive from Colmar to Chamonix….would you recommend this hike as a stop along the way. The drive is approx. 5 hours and I wonder if this would be a worthwhile stop. Assuming the hike and whole trip can be completed under 2 hours? Or would you have another recommendation. Thanks. Mona

    1. It would be a long day but it looks like Kandersteg is on the way to Chamonix, so it would be convenient. If you do just the short walk to the lake, it shouldn’t take that long. But you have to factor in riding up the cable car, picture taking time, etc. If you are on a very tight schedule, I’d skip it. But if you are a little flexible, I think it would be worth a visit.

  10. Thanks a lot for your wonderful website!

    It’s just great!

    We will try one of your trip soon!

    Letizia Jung and little Leonardo

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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