19 years had to pass for people in Switzerland to once again enjoy the natural miracle of snow-free ice on Oeschinensee in Kandersteg.
Newly Swissed went to see what all the fuss is about. We quickly came to the conclusion that this is a must-see spot for the sunny days before the big snow. The spectacular surroundings with high mountain walls make this natural ice skating rink one of the most impressive in the world. Skating here is the experience of a lifetime.
A miniature world on Oeschinensee
When approaching the lake after a short walk, people there appeared as tiny, miniature figurines against the massive cliffs. Am I really so small as well?
On this splendid day, many others came here to skate, toboggan, play ice-hockey or seek other ways of enjoying the mountain winter. There are families, small groups of friends or co-workers, couples holding hands and some individuals who are silently gazing at this enormous, lively playground.
Enough wondering, it is time for action! The next moment, we are by the lake and with a touch of luck, we find a pair of skates to fit our shoe size. You have to be quick if you arrive in the afternoon when it is the busiest.
There are hundreds of people coming to the lake now every day. But once you move a bit further away from the shore, even the shiest of skaters can find plenty of private space to swirl around.
The quality of ice is quite good, and even though you skate on white ice tracks instead of much-lauded deep blue ice, you can still see the beautiful color of the lake if you polish a small fracture of the surface.
Skate rentals at the lake are available from 9:30 AM to 4 PM with an affordable daily fee of 8 francs for adults and 6 francs for children. On average, the ice is 15 cm thick, which is more than enough to hold your weight.
How to get there: It takes around 1 hour to get from Kandersteg to the lake, and the last descent with the gondola is at 5 PM. Be ready to wait in line, but the queues shorten quite fast.
Don't miss your chance
While the ice is still uncovered and thick enough, we recommend you bundle up and head to the scenic Oeschinensee - whether you skate or not. The spectacle is wonderful: You could skate in the middle of the lake, twisting your head around to soak in the scenery. Or you could take a warm cup of Glühwein at the restaurant and just observe all the “little people” skating and having a good time.
Who knows when this will be possible again? In two, five or maybe 25 years?