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By Lisa Gibson, http://misswissbliss.wordpress.com/

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful locations in Switzerland, this magnificent turquoise lake, tucked away in a forested area and entirely surrounded by sheer mountain cliffs, makes for an amazing day or weekend trip. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the outdoors – both in summer and winter.  The landscape changes with the seasons and can look completely different depending on when you visit –– from pristine alpine greenery to a magical white wonderland.

Situated in Kandersteg, a region of the Berner Oberland, the travel time from Lausanne/Geneva is around 2.5 to 3 hours by either car or train.

During the summer time, Oeschinensee is a hikers paradise, a place to picnic, boat, swim, fish or simply relax and take in the natural beauty. It can be reached via a gondola, which takes you to the upper station. It is also possible to hike up from the lower station (during summer months only), taking around 1 ½ hours with a 400m incline. Once at the upper station, it’s just a 30 minute walk to reach the lake.

You can even rent a boat for a relaxed row across the lake while you admire the impressive surroundings or indulge in a spot of fishing. Enjoy lunch at the lakeside restaurant, or alternatively, bring your own picnic or BBQ to enjoy on the lakeshore. It’s a great place for the whole family, as both adults and kids alike will enjoy splashing in the cool, clear waters.


Exploring the lake and surrounding forest and meadows is best done on foot. Discover the most amazing vantage points and panoramic views of Oeschinensee by following the walking paths. Hiking trails range from relatively flat (for the elderly or those with children, with a duration of one hour) to the more challenging Circular Hike, which leads to the magnificent Heuberg viewpoint (slightly longer at 3,5 hours). There are longer hikes available for those who want to spend more time up in the mountains. The hotel restaurant is open daily during the summer months for lazy lunches on the terrace overlooking the lake and also offers accommodation for overnight stays.

Come wintertime, the scenery changes drastically. A blanket of white covers the shoreline and the towering cliff faces. As winter progresses and the temperature drops, the lake eventually freezes over. The area is transformed into a winter sport enthusiasts’ delight, complete with a 3.5 km long sled run. Starting from the upper station, the run takes around an hour from beginning to end. Sleds from plastic, wood as well as the legendary Oeschi fast sled can be rented from the Intersport shop next to the lower cable car station.

It is also possible to do skiing, snowboarding and even ice fishing (until mid-March).

For hiking enthusiasts, winter trails are also available. A prepared path starting at the frozen lakeshore leads to the Ice Tower – a frozen waterfall. The path, which starts at the lake and continues to the upper cable car station, takes about an hour.  Although the restaurant is open, overnight stays are not possible due to the colder temperatures.

Best time to visit:
To appreciate Oeschinensee in all its beauty, it’s best to visit during the summer months. However winter is also special if you like the idea of walking in a white wonderland, just bear in mind, you may not see the lake once it freezes over! We visited in mid October and it was absolutely breath-taking. According to websites, the lake is frozen for 5 months of the year (from December to May). Note that the gondola stops operating towards the end of October and only re-opens again in mid December. Always check the website before visiting to check gondola operating times, conditions and prices. http://www.oeschinensee.ch/en/

How to get there:
By car: from Kandersteg village or tourist office, follow the signs marked “Oeschinensee”. There is a large parking area near the lower station to leave your vehicle as it is not possible to reach the lake by car but only via the gondola or on foot (summer only).

By train: From Lausanne/Geneva, travel to Bern, then change here for the train to Kandersteg. From the station, it’s a 15 minute walk or an 8 minute bus ride to reach the lower cable car station where you can take the gondola up.

Author's bio

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Originally from South Africa, Lisa Gibson moved to Switzerland in 2011 with her fiancé and has enjoyed every minute of this adventure. Currently based in Lausanne, she's a freelance and feature writer. She started her personal blog as a means of documenting her travels (both in Switzerland and around the rest of Europe) and as a way to share the expat experience with friends and family back home.
Lisa's love for Switzerland goes back to when she first visited as a teenager more than 15 years ago - so living here has been like a childhood dream come true! As an adult, her love affair with Switzerland continues… she loves exploring the region and discovering the lesser-known gems, often not mentioned in the tourism brochures.
The saying “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” could not be more true for her.