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