Embrace the splendor of Oeschinen Lake, a beautiful mountain lake with enchanting turquoise waters framed by dramatic jagged peaks. Get the most out of the area with our guide to visiting Oeschinensee Switzerland.

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 31 Aug 2023 | Last update: 21 Nov 2023

Oeschinen Lake has beautiful blue-green waters.

Like a massive cauldron of rock, jagged peaks rise 3,500 meters from the edges. When the sun is shining, the water takes on an incandescent glow. When the cloud is low, the whole area adopts a moody, mystical vibe.

Oeschinen Lake is a natural paradise in Switzerland with some of the most spectacular hiking.

Swim in the lake or picnic on the shore. Take out a rowboat or photograph one of the best scenes in the Swiss Alps.

The highlight is Panoramaweg – one of the best hikes in Switzerland.

Our guide for visiting Oeschinen Lake covers how to get there and what to do. We also provide detailed instructions for the panorama hike.

WHY IS OESCHINEN LAKE TURQUOISE?

Oeschinensee is fed by melting glaciers high up in the mountains. As a result, it contains fine silt particles (known as glacial flour) suspended in the water.

The lake’s silt absorbs short wavelengths of light, like purple and indigo. The water absorbs longer wavelengths, like red, orange, and yellow. When sunlight hits the lake, it absorbs most colors. Only blue-green light is reflected, so we see the lake as turquoise.

WHERE IS OESCHINEN LAKE, SWITZERLAND?

Oeschinensee (“see” means lake in German) is nestled in the mountains above the town of Kandersteg in the Berner Oberland section of the Swiss Alps. It is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Having spent a lot of time in the country, Oeschinensee is easily one of our favourite places in Switzerland.

oeschinensee hiking map

HOW TO GET TO KANDERSTEG?

The easiest way to get to Oeschinen Lake is via a cable car that leaves from the town of Kandersteg in the Berner Oberland. Kandersteg can be reached by train or car.

BY TRAIN

Kandersteg train station is on the Spiez to Brig train line. Here are some common journey times:

JourneyDurationChange
Brig to Kandersteg40 min       No change
Bern to Kandersteg1 hr, 5 minSpiez
Interlaken West to Kandersteg1 hr, 4 minSpiez
Zermatt to Kandersteg2 hr, 10 minBrig

Please note — It’s a 15-minute walk from the train station to the bottom of the Kandersteg – Oeschinen Cable Car.

oeschinen lake switzerland
OESCHINEN LAKE

BY CAR

There is a large car park (paid) at the bottom of the Kandersteg to Oeschinen cable car, although on busy days it can be full by mid-morning. There is also a smaller (free) parking lot at the beginning of the hiking trail to Oeschinensee. The map below marks both.

Here are some common journey times:

JourneyDurationTransporter
Interlaken to Kandersteg45 min       No
Bern to Kandersteg1 hrNo
Brig to Kandersteg1 hr, 10 minLötschberg Car Train
Zermatt to Kandersteg1 hr, 40 minLötschberg Car Train
oeschinin switzerland
ROWBOATS ON OESCHINEN LAKE

HOW TO GET TO OESCHINEN LAKE FROM KANDERSTEG

There are several ways to get to Oeschinen Lake from Kandersteg.

BY FOOT

The cheapest way is to walk. The trail between Kandersteg and the lake is 3 kilometres long and ascends 382 metres. It takes about 1 hour, but until you get to the lake the views are limited.

If you are going to Oeschinensee to hike, we recommend saving your energy for the Panoramaweg instead.

BY CABLE CAR

An easier way to Oeschinen Lake is to take the cable car from Kandersteg to Oeschinen. From the cable car station, you can either hike or take the shuttle to the lake.

The cable car costs 22 CHF for a single or 30 CHF for a return ticket. You can get a 50% discount with the Swiss Half Card.

It’s open from 8:30 am to 6 pm Mid-June to mid-September; and 8:30 am to 5 pm from mid-September to mid-October.

The full price list and hours are available on the official website.

SWISS SAVINGS

SWISS TRAVEL PASS

The Swiss Travel Pass provides unlimited access on trains, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland including panoramic trains.

The Swiss Museum Pass is also included which provides free access to over 500 museums.


SWISS HALF CARD

Purchase train, bus, boat, mountain railways and cable cars at half price with the Swiss Half Card. This is a great opinion if you are driving yourself but intend on using cable cars.

oeschinensee switzerland
HEUBERG VIEWPOINT

CABLE CAR STATION TO OESCHNIEN LAKE

The cable car station is 1.5 kilometres from Oeschinen Lake. There are 3 options to get down to the lake.

1 – Follow the hiking trail. An easy trail drops from the Oeschinen Cable Car Station to the lake, which should take around 25 minutes. You can return the same way you came or complete a small loop marked in orange on the map below. The loop takes about 1 hour round trip.

2 – Take the electric shuttle to the lake. If you don’t want to hike or have restricted mobility, an electric shuttle bus runs from the cable car station to the lake and back. Tickets are 10 CHF for adults and 8 CHF for children up to 12. It runs from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm (until 5:30 pm in peak summer).

3 – Hike the Oeschinensee Panoramweg. The best and most challenging option is the Oeschinen Lake Panoramaweg. The trail heads high up above the lake then drops to the shore before returning to the cable car station. It’s a 7-kilometre hike with 400 metres of ascent and descent. All the details are below.

THINGS TO DO AT OESCHINEN LAKE

Admire the views – The views of the turquoise lake under the 3,500-metre-high mountains is remarkable. Grab a seat on the shore and stare across at waterfalls plunging over sheer sided walls of rock.

Go for a swim – Being a glacial lake at 1,578m, the water is never going to be warm, but in late summer temperatures can reach up to about 20°C. The turquoise waters look extremely inviting so, if you’re feeling brave, bring your swimming trunks and take the plunge.

Have a picnic – Oeschinensee is a great spot for a picnic. A rocky beach surrounds the edge of the lake and there are several great short hikes that run around its shores.

Take out a rowboat – Hiring a rowboat boat is one of the best things to do at Oeschinen Lake. Boats take a maximum of 4 people and cost 29 CHF for 1 hour or 18 CHF for 30 minutes (cards accepted). It is first come first served and a queue can build up in the afternoon, but it is well worth the wait.

Have lunch in a hutBerghotel Oeschinensee is a larger hut, with a wider international menu. Berghaus Arva has a small menu of local favourites like ravioli and rösti.

Take the Toboggan Run – The toboggan run, Mountain Coaster scoots past wonderful scenery on the 750-metre course. Children from the age of 8 can ride unaccompanied, and children above 3 if accompanied. A ride costs 6 CHF, 2 rides 11.50 CHF and 3 rides 17 CHF.

HOW LONG TO SPEND AT OESCHINEN LAKE

You can easily spend 3 to 4 hours exploring Oeschinen Lake.

The cable car between Kandersteg and Oeschinen takes about 15 minutes each way. The round-trip hike to the lake and back takes an hour.

Once at the lake, you can spend the day swimming, rowing and having a scenic lunch.

You’ll need longer if you are going to do the Panoramaweg hike.

RESTAURANTS AT OESCHINENSEE

BERGHAUS ARVA

Arva does simply prepared local dishes such as ravioli and rösti in a beautiful lakeside location. If the weather turns, unwind in their cosy Swiss Stùbli.

BERGHOTEL OESCHINENSEE

Berghotel Oeschinensee is a restaurant directly on the lake. They specialize in lamb from their family farm as well as homemade spaetzli dishes.

BERGHAUS OBERBÄRGLI

Obergärgli is a basic hut on the Panorama Hike. They do hearty homemade soups, sandwiches, and hot and cold drinks. It’s cash only and there are toilets available for customers. They can’t provide tap water, but you can buy bottled water if needed.

restaurants oeschinensee
BERGHAUS OBERBÄRGLI

BERGHAUS UNTERBÄRGLI

Also on the panoramic hike, this is a rustic alpine hut with chocolate bars, crisps, drinks, and toilets for guests. It’s cash only and they can’t provide tap water, but you can buy bottled water if needed.

BERGSTÜBLI

Run by the same family who own Untergárgli, Bergstübli is located at the cable car station with a large terrace overlooking the surrounding area. They also have a kiosk with snacks including pretzels and hot dogs.

ALPHÜSI

There are two food trucks directly in front of Berghotel which serve basic snacks, pretzels, hot dogs, and garlic bread. They also do pizza which you can take to the lake.

restaurants oeschinensee
BERGHOTEL OESCHINENSEE

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT OESCHINEN LAKE?

The best time to visit Oeschinen Lake is in summer, from July to mid-September. The hiking trails are generally clear of snow and the lake is at its warmest. The cable car has its longest hours during these months running from 8:30 am to 6 pm.

The cable car is also open in winter from early December to early March for the ski season. However, the hiking trails will be closed, and the lake will be under snow and ice.

WHERE TO STAY IN KANDERSTEG?

Kandersteg is in a remote valley in the Berner Oberland. It’s at least 45 minutes to 1 hour travel time from other tourist centres like Interlaken and Bern.

We recommend spending 1 or 2 nights at Kandersteg to complete the Panorama Hike and explore the lake. As an added bonus it is less expensive than other nearby destinations.

BUDGET

HOTEL ALPINA

2-star hotel offering clean and comfortable rooms just ten minutes’ walk from both the train station and the cable car station.


OUR PICK

LOCATION

HOTEL ERMITAGE

Situated right next to Kandersteg cable car station, this hotel has 16 rooms including one in a train carriage. It’s sympathetically designed with traditional Swiss touches. There’s a fitness centre, sauna, and hot tub on site.


APARTMENT

BÜELBAD APARTMENT

A well-equipped two-bedroom apartment with secure covered parking and a lovely terrace overlooking the valley. It’s a 20-minute walk from the train station and 10 minutes to the cable car station.


oeschinen switzerland

OESCHINENSEE HIKE | PANORAMAWEG

The Oeschinen Lake Panoramaweg is one of the most impressive hikes in Switzerland.

Tracking a course high above the lake, an interesting narrow path curves along the mountain side with stunning views of the lake dropping off to one side.

Forested sections give way to openings where the majesty of the lake is revealed.

In clear weather, the hike provides the best view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. But in misty conditions with the tops under clouds, the scene is even more mesmerising.

We highly recommend completing the Panorama Hike while you’re at Oeschinensee. Here’s what you need to know.

panorama hike oeschinensee switzerland

OESCHINEN LAKE DETAILS


  • Distance – 8.5 kilometres (5.25 miles)
  • Time – 3.5 to 4 hours
  • Elevation – 420 metres (1,375 feet) ascent and descent
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Start & End – Oeschinen Cable Car Station

HOW DIFFICULT IS THE HIKE?

The hike can be undertaken by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. The trail is easy to follow and well-signed.

During the first half of the hike, there is often a steep drop on one side of the path. However, the path is in good condition and doesn’t feel particularly dangerous.

Although the hike is quite long at 3 to 4 hours, there are mountain huts along the way to stop and have a rest.

OESCHINEN PANORAMA HIKE MAP

The Oeschinen Panorama Hike offers breathtaking views of the Oeschinensee lake, alpine meadows, and surrounding peaks. This map includes the route, plus the other main attractions at Oeschinensee.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


PANORAMA HIKE INSTRUCTIONS

The panorama hike begins at the Oeschinen Cable Car Station (1,682m) and follows the paths signed towards the lake. After five minutes, when the path splits (marked 1 on map), take the left-hand fork following signs for route 5.

Ten minutes further the path splits again (marked 2 on the map). Take the left turn following signs to Heuberg on route 8.

The path heads up into the trees and steadily climbs requiring a bit of effort. It then rises out of the forest, flattens, and contours under a vertiginous cliff face.

It’s a lovely narrow mountain trail, and although it has a steep drop on one side, it never feels too exposed. 

panorama hike oeschinensee switzerland

HEUBERG VIEWPOINT

About 1 hour after leaving the cable car station the path reaches the Ausspichtpunkt Heuberg (1,950m). From here, the Bärgli Waterfall and the cauldron of mountains that surround the lake make a spectacular viewpoint. (Marked 3 on the map).

The trail continues to contour above the green slopes with the steep rock face to your left and the lake below.

BERGHAUS OBERBÄRGLI

Next, stop off at the short detour framed by two picturesque pine trees. It’s one of the best views of the lake with a short outcrop that gives you an uninterrupted panorama.

Soon you’ll reach Berghaus Oberbärgli, a remote mountain hut (marked 4 on the map).

After the hut, the path splits. The left-hand fork heads higher up into the mountains to Blümlisalphütte and the glacier at Hohtürli.

To stick to the Panoramaweg turn right, following signs to Oeschinensee (1 hour) and head downhill towards the lake. The descent zigzags as it makes its way down but is never too steep. 

BERGHAUS UNTERGÄRGLI

Shortly you arrive at Berghaus Unterbärgli (marked 5 on the map), another cute mountain hut. When the path splits, turn right, and continue to descend towards the lake.

From here the path flattens to an easy wide gravel trail that runs alongside the northern shore of the lake.

BERGHOTEL OESCHINENSEE

The path slowly descends to meet the lake (marked 6 on the map). Ignore the path signed back to the cable car station and follow the trail around the lake till you reach Berghotel Oeschinensee (marked 7 on the map).

From here take the wide track (which the electric shuttle uses) that climbs the 100 metres of ascent back to the Oeschinen Cable Car.

TIPS FOR HIKING OESCHINEN LAKE PANORAMAWEG

Leave Early – The Panorama hikes takes 3 to 4 hours. If you decide to spend longer at the lake, you’ll need 5 to 6 hours. The final cable car from Oeschinen to Kandersteg leaves at 5 pm or 6 pm depending on the time of year.

Hike clockwise – We recommend hiking the Panoramaweg clockwise because it gets the steepest section completed first and you can relax at the lake at the end.

Food & Water – None of the huts on the hike have drinking water, so make sure you take plenty with you.

Photography – You stay close to the lake on the Panorama Hike so a wide lens will allow you to get everything in. Drones are permitted but as always be considerate of other people around you.

oeschinen switzerland

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