Oeschinen Lake is what Swiss daydreams are made of.
Sure, you might have heard of the endless waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen or the infamous blue Lake Blausee. And then, there’s the breathtaking Matterhorn. But what if I told you that there is another Swiss gem right around the corner?
This Swiss mountain lake has a divine touch
At an elevation of 1578 meters above sea level, the air is crisp and refreshing. Oeschinen Lake is tucked away in Kandersteg here in the Bernese Alps. The color of the 56-meter deep lake changes between blue, green, and turquoise - and all the above. The shade depends on the location of the sun, the brightness, and the particular vantage point.
There are times when you have to tell your friends that no, your photos are not photoshopped. The colors of Lake Oeschinen really are that astounding.
My wife and I stayed overnight to get a proper grasp of the lake and its surroundings. Lake Oeschinen can attract lots of day tourists. But because there are only two hotels, and since camping is not allowed, nights and mornings can give you that extra seclusion you might seek.
Speaking of those peaceful moments without anyone else around: get out of here! I was waiting for fairies to fly out of the forest. And for mermaids to greet me by the shore!
The best time to visit Oeschinen Lake
Kandersteg is a small but lovely ski resort popular among the locals. Hence, the winter months from December to March are the busiest. Due to the popularity of Oeschinen Lake, summer months (and especially weekends) can get rather crowded.
Your best bet to visit Oeschinen Lake is during the shoulder season in early summer.
How to get to Oeschinen Lake
Coming from Zurich, it will take you about 2.5 hours by train. For us coming from Luzern, it took three hours. Plan appropriately, especially if you plan on hiking the loop. We stayed overnight, so we never felt rushed.
A short ride on the Lake Oeschinen cable car takes you from Kandersteg in the valley to the Oeschinen mountain terminal. At this point, do not get too excited about the lake just yet because you have to work for it. Sometimes the best things in life you have to work for.
A two-kilometer stroll through the valley will get you to your destination - every step is worth it. On our little walk to the lake, some goats were greeting us. I thought to myself: "Let the goats lead the way; what could go wrong?"
How to do the panoramic Lake Oeschinen hike
The 8.5 km panoramic hike around Lake Oeschinen offers majestic views of the lake and the Bernese mountains. This loop may be lengthy for inexperienced hikers but still manageable for moderate hikers like us.
For the Swiss, it is probably a walk in the park. (This is considering that I have seen a lady carrying her baby on her back as she walked along a cliff. I got anxious just by watching her.)
They say it takes around three hours to hike the loop. But due to ever more gorgeous panoramic views and picnic spots, it may take you longer.
The loop offers many look-out points - you might have seen them on your social media feeds. Think of a lone tree or two overlooking the emerald lake. It is a one-of-a-kind backdrop.
We choose to hike the trail clockwise: goats, panorama views, a picnic break, sheep grazing, birds singing, and small waterfalls.
And of course, there has to be a big waterfall. At this point, Oeschinen Lake is just showing off.
Seasonal activities at Lake Oeschinen
Each season offers a different look and feel. Here are some of the top things to do at Oeschinen Lake during summer and winter:
- Wild swimming (water temperatures of up to 20 degrees Celsius)
- Rowing a boat (rentals at Berghaus Arva)
- Downhill mountain biking from the upper Oeschinen station to Kandersteg
- Toboggan run next to the Oeschinen upper cable car station
- Alphorntage is a traditional Swiss festival in the village of Kandersteg
- Snowshoe hiking
- Ice skating on Oeschinen Lake
- Ice fishing
- Skiing in the small winter sports area
All you need to know about visiting Oeschinen Lake
Altitude: 1578 meters above sea
How to get there: Take the BLS Lötschberger train from Bern/Thun/Spiez directly to Kandersteg, then use the cable car to Oeschinen. Electric car transfers are available between the terminal and the lake.
Accommodation: Berghotel Oeschinensee: 30 beds in rustic rooms, 20 sleeping spaces in dormitories. Berghaus Arva Oeschinensee: single, double, and multi-bed rooms - groups by arrangement.
Food and drinks: pack some BBQ and picnic foods as there are several open firepits along the lake. Alternatively, eat at one of the restaurants: Restaurant Bergstübli (also offers picnic baskets), Restaurant am Oeschinensee, Berghaus Arva (grilled cheese sandwiches, barbecue area), Restaurant Sennhütte (Swiss food with a view), Alphüsi by Berghotel Oeschinensee (food trucks with simple snacks)
Views: From the Oeschinen station, you will see the Oeschinen Lake valley basin with the Blüemlisalphorn, Fründenhorn, and Dolderhorn. Across the valley, views extend from Kandersteg to the Wildstrubel and Lohner mountains.
Lake Oeschinen webcam: these live webcams are helpful for planning a spontaneous trip.
Weather: consult search.ch for the weather at Lake Oeschinen
Interesting fact: Oeschinen Lake is the western gateway to the Jungfrau Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage site.