It’s no secret that Switzerland has some of the most beautiful landscapes, alpine lakes, and hiking trails in the world. Mix that in with tall mountain peaks, glaciers, and waterfalls and you’ve got a gold mine for outdoor enthusiasts.
If you don’t already, be sure to add Oeschinen Lake to the top of your must-do hiking list! Oeschinen Lake (also called Oeschinensee) is truly one of the best places to visit in Switzerland where you can enjoy dramatic mountain landscapes in the stunning Swiss Alps.
This place has it all – spectacular views, row boats, jaw-dropping hiking trails, and even a thrilling alpine slide that you can ride down from the mountain summit at a fast pace.
Have we convinced you yet?
In this post, we share details on how to visit Oeschinen Lake, pricing, opening hours, and tips for hiking the Oeschinen Lake Trail.
TIP: Before traveling to Switzerland we highly recommend getting the Swiss Travel Pass that offers unlimited travel on train, bus & boat in more than 41 cities. This will save you a lot of money in the long run. Get the pass here!
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Oeschinen Lake Location
Oeschinen Lake is located in the town of Kandersteg, a 45-minute drive from Interlaken and 1.5 hours from Zermatt. Many people visit Oeschinensee Lake while traveling between these two cities.
This alpine lake is situated high up on a mountain but you can reach it by taking a gondola. You can drive to the base of the mountain and park your car in a large visitor parking lot right next to the Oeschinensee cable car station. If you’re taking public transportation, it’s about a 15-minute walk from the Kandersteg train station.
From there, you will need to purchase tickets and hop on the Lake Oeschinen cable car which takes about 15 minutes to get to the summit. Once the gondola drops you off at the top, it’s about a 30-minute walk to reach the lake.
All in all, it takes about an hour to get to the lake from the parking lot, and an hour to get back. Plus, you’ll want to set aside enough time to explore the lake itself and go on some hiking trails.
We spent around 5 hours visiting this gorgeous lake so it’s an all-day type of activity. If you’re short on time, you can pay 8 CHF to take an electric bus from the gondola to the lake, which will save you a 30-minute walk each way. This shuttle bus runs every 30 minutes and gives preference to people with limited mobility.
While it looks like on Google Maps that you can drive up to the lake, you can’t. There is a road, but the road is closed to public traffic. We got to the gate and turned around to go find the gondola station.
Parking Location: Gondelbahn Oeschinensee Parkplatz
TRAVEL TIP: For traveling around Switzerland, we recommend getting a rental car because of how spread out everything is. While public transportation is reliable, you will be more limited in time and how much you can see, especially if you’re looking at going to some of the best hikes, waterfalls, and lookout destinations which tend to be far apart from each other.
Oeschinen Lake Ticket Prices & Opening Hours
Most people that come to visit Lake Oeschinen take a gondola up to the summit. There is also the Oeschinensee via Kandersteg Trail that you can hike to the lake from the parking lot, but this trail is 4.8 miles long and very steep with 1800 feet of elevation gain.
This adds extra distance to an already long day trip. Because of this, most people opt to take the gondola lift up and back down.
The gondola (gondelbahn) cable car costs:
- Adults – 22 Swiss Francs (CHF) one way
- Adults – 30 CHF for a round trip ticket
- Kids ages 6 to 16 – 11 CHF one way
- Kids ages 6 to 16 – 15 CHF for a round trip ticket
The gondola is open from May to October from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and runs every minute so there was no wait time to get on it. In the busier summer months (June to September) the gondola stays open a bit later until 6:00 pm.
Keep in mind that the gondola is closed from October to December until the start of the winter season.
For current information on pricing & opening hours be sure to check out the Oeschinensee website here.
If you’re looking for something fun to do, you can opt to take the mountain coaster (summer toboggan) at the summit. This is a great activity that we would have loved to try out, but the toboggan run was closed during our visit due to the rain.
The prices for the mountain coaster vary if you come before 11:30 am or after.
Before 11:30 am the price is:
- Adult 1 trip – 4 CHF
- Adult 5 trips – 18 CHF
- Kids ages 8 to 16 for 1 trip – 3 CHF
- Kids ages 8 to 16 for 5 trips – 13 CHF
After 11:30 am the price is:
- Adult 1 trip – 6 CHF
- Adult 5 trips – 27 CHF
- Kids ages 8 to 16 for 1 trip – 5 CHF
- Kids ages 8 to 16 for 5 trips – 22 CHF
The last mountain coaster runs until 4:30 pm but we’ve experienced that a lot of places start cutting people off from activities before posted closing times.
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Our Experience Hiking Lake Oeschinen
Lake Oeschinen is a gorgeous day hike in the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland. But we almost skipped this attraction due to bad weather (which would have been a shame since it turned out to be one of my favorite places in Switzerland!).
Upon arriving at the Oeschinensee gondola lift station, the top of the mountain was covered under a thick layer of fog. We asked at the ticket counter if the lake was visible and they said ‘Yes’.
It was hard to believe that since there was nothing but the fog all around us. Nerveless we took their advice and bought the gondola tickets up.
After taking the cable car ride to the top, we stepped off and were even more discouraged as the weather conditions kept getting worse and worse. We could not see anything in front of us beyond heavy mist and fog. It also started to rain so we contemplated whether we should cut our losses and head back to find a different activity to do in the area.
After talking to someone who was just coming back from the hike, they convinced us that there is some visibility once you get to the lake. So, we started the 30-minute trek in the pouring rain.
The path to the lake is wide and goes downhill (but that means it’s uphill on the way back). There is a shuttle that is available for an extra fee for those with limited mobility that can take you directly from the gondola to the lake.
On the way there, we saw people hovering under trees trying to wait out the downpour. We just put on our rain jackets and continued on.
Once we reached Lake Oeschinensee, it was still raining and we still couldn’t see much. A lot of the activities such as the rowing boat rentals and restaurants were closed due to pouring rain.
Most of the people upon arrival stay at the main visitor area by Berghotel Oeschinensee, but I highly recommend going on hiking trails for better views of the lake.
We started making our way around the lake shore, but even the lake’s typical sparking blue color had turned to a gloomy grey. We did see a layer of fog lifting off the lake giving it a very cool, moody setting.
We had planned to hike the 5.4-mile-long Lake Oeschinen Circular Trail (also known as the Panorama Hike) and decided to go as far as we could before we lost visibility. As soon as we started the climb up, our luck finally changed. The weather started to clear up and the higher we went, the better the views kept getting!
Once we passed the tree line, we had clear unobstructed views of Oeschinen Lake. We walked on the trail for a few miles to get different perspectives of the turquoise lake from various angles.
Lake Oeschinen Circular Trail is a very popular route but it is a long hike and gains around 1600 feet in elevation. Due to rain we only completed about half of it but I’m so glad we even got to do this much!
Despite the rainy weather, the views of the lake were still phenomenal. The stunning mountain scenery that surrounds Oeschinen Lake is just unreal!
Whichever way you look, you’ll get to enjoy great views of tall, peaky snow-covered mountains. There’s a reason why Oeschinensee is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world!
Along the trail, we spotted the Bärglifall flowing down the river and feeding into the lake below. After the waterfall, there is a small river crossing but a wooden bridge has been added to get across safely.
The Lake Oeschinen Circular Trail is steep in some parts so be sure to wear durable hiking shoes to prevent slips and falls, especially in rainy weather.
We walked towards the Berghaus Unterbärgli café where you can grab a refreshing beer during the hike. At this point it started raining again, so we turned around and started the hike back to the lake shore.
There are BBQ picnic areas scattered in the pine forest around the lake shore for those who want to make a firepit. We saw a few people making fires and having a picnic near the lakefront, even in the rainy weather.
In the main visitor area, you can also grab food and drinks at the Berghotel Oeschinensee. If you want something a bit quicker, there are food stands selling coffee and snacks including hot dogs, pretzels, and the best nussgipfel (nut croissants) in the mountains!
After finishing up the hike, we walked the 30 minutes back to the gondola and took it down to the bottom of the cable car station.
Overall, a visit to Oeschinen Lake is a great day trip from Interlaken or Zermatt that we highly recommend if you enjoy outdoor adventures!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about visiting Oeschinen Lake:
Can I Bring My Dog?
Oeschinensee gondola allows dogs so you can bring your furry friends along. We saw several dogs hiking around the lake with their owners and enjoying a swim in the water.
Overall, Switzerland is very pet friendly and there were dogs at most of the top attractions.
Can You Swim In Oeschinen Lake?
The water at Oeschinen Lake is freezing from the glacier runoff that feeds it but you can swim in the lake. While it was too cold for us to get in the water in September, in the summer season you can bring a bathing suit and jump in for a refreshing (but still icy) swim to cool down.
There are also boat rentals for those who wish to rent a boat and paddle around the lake.
Lake Oeschinen Weather
Late spring, summer, and early fall is the best time to visit Lake Oeschinen. In the summer months, the weather is at its best for hiking and enjoying the outdoors in Switzerland. If you want to see the stunning blue water that this lake is known for, preferably go on a sunny day!
We were traveling through Switzerland in late September and it was raining the entire day. In the fall weather is chilly and cloudy so come prepared with plenty of waterproof layers and warm clothing.
The great part about visiting outdoor attractions during the shoulder season is the lack of crowds. There were times when we were the only people on the Oeschinen Lake trail which was pretty unreal for such a popular spot!
VISITOR TIP: If you’re unsure of the weather conditions, be sure to check out the Lake Oeschinen webcam. If we had known of this webcam beforehand, we could have seen how rainy and foggy it was out there!
What To Bring
The weather in Switzerland can change drastically without much notice, especially in the shoulder season. Here are a few things that we recommend bringing for outdoor adventures in Switzerland:
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. I always bring an insulated puff jacket in my backpack in case it starts raining or the temperatures start dropping. With a windproof and moisture-repelling shell, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket will keep you warm by trapping your body heat and blocking the cold.
- Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes. A good pair of hiking shoes can make all the difference in outdoor adventures! I recommend getting a pair that are tough and have lots of traction so you don’t slip and fall, especially on steep hikes like this. The Danner 2650 shoes are lightweight, durable, and made with Vibram 460 outsoles for traction on wet surfaces.
- We visited Oeschinen Lake on a rainy day so I also wore a beanie, gloves, and an outer shell jacket to stay dry in the pouring rain.
- Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles. If you plan to do any hiking, trekking poles can come in handy as parts of the Oeschinen Lake Trail are very steep and travel across loose rocks and gravel. The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are light, easy to use, and are made with an ergonomic design that offers stability and comfort on longer day hikes.
- REI Co-op Nalgene Water Bottle. Bring plenty of water for day hikes as there are limited amenities once you head into any of the trails. I love my reusable REI Co-op Nalgene bottle which is leakproof and so easy to clean.
- Anker Portable phone charger. I always bring a battery pack when going on international trips. A portable phone charger can come in handy in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to use it to look up directions, pull up the AllTrails hiking app, or Google Translate.
- Gregory NanoDay Pack. I have a small lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. The Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put small things like hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a headlamp, and a small medical kit.
Where To Stay Nearby
For visiting Oeschinensee, we recommend booking a hotel in Interlaken, about a 45-minute drive from the lake. Interlaken is the best place to stay if you plan to explore other attractions in this region such as Jungfraujoch, Grindelwald, and Lauterbrunnen. There are paved roads that lead from Interlaken to all the major attractions and nearby cities.
Interlaken is a good size city with great hotels and tons of restaurant options to choose from. Here are a few top-rated hotels in Interlaken if you’re looking for a place to stay before or after visiting Oeschinen Lake:
For an upscale experience or a romantic trip for two, we recommend staying at the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. This is one of the highest-rated hotels in Interlaken that offers luxurious amenities including a pool, sauna, and steam room.
The rooms are decorated in a beautiful design with classic and contemporary furniture. The hotel also features two onsite restaurants and a terrace where you can enjoy views of the stunning Jungfrau summit.
Hotel Bernerhof is a modern hotel in a prime location right next to the Interlaken West train station. This three-star hotel offers excellent value to its guests and is situated near the city center a short walking distance to local restaurants and shops.
Hotel Bernerhof has modern, updated rooms with a light and bright color theme. Views of the mountains can be enjoyed from the charming yellow balconies that come with all of the rooms.
During our time in Interlaken we stayed at Annex Alpine Inn that’s part of the Jungfrau Hotel. This Inn is budget-friendly, recently renovated on the inside, and offers complimentary breakfast along with free parking. Plus, the views from the room were just phenomenal!
We hope this post has helped you prepare for a wonderful visit to Oeschinen Lake in Switzerland! Here are a few other popular travel posts that you may enjoy:
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- Visiting Gorner Gorge (Gornerschlucht) In Zermatt
- Best Places To Stay In Zermatt For a Trip To The Swiss Alps
- 12 Marvelous Things To Do In Aosta Valley, Italy
- Best Hotels In Aosta Valley, Italy For a Wonderful Stay
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