What to do at Oeschinensee For a Day | Lake Oeschinen Day Trip
Oeschinensee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. This blog tells you everything you need to know to visit Oeschinensee as a day trip including the best things to do at Oeschinensee.
When I first started researching things to do in Switzerland especially in the Swiss Alps, I was particularly interested in seeing alpine lakes. I have an obsession with Alpine Lakes especially after seeing them in Banff and the Dolomites. After a little bit of research, I came across Oeschinensee, one of the best lakes in Switzerland and an easy day trip from Lauterbrunnen/ Interlaken.
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Where is Oeschinensee
Sitting at 1578m (5177ft), Oeschinensee is an alpine lake in the foot of the Blüemlisalp in the Bernese Highlands (Oberland). One prominent feature of the lake is the deep blue color of the water with its perfect reflection of the mountains surrounding it. This is actually what drew me to the lake in the first place.
Oeschinensee is only about an hour away from Lauterbrunnen by car (40 min driving from Interlaken and about an hour by train from Interlaken). It is located above the town of Kandersteg which is accessible by train.
How to Get to Oeschinensee
Driving to Kandersteg
Oeschinensee is located in the town of Kandersteg, which is about an hour drive from Lauterbrunnen (40 minutes from Interlaken). Google maps can give you the best direction and the drive is pretty easy.
The view along the drive to Oeschinensee is beautiful as you will drive by Thunersee, one of two lakes next to Interlaken before going over a hill to see the other side of Bernese Oberland.
There are parking lots near the Oeschinensee cable car station in Kandersteg. On the weekend there are people in orange vests directing parking since it can get quite busy there. Parking at Oeschinensee cable car is 5 CHF and you should remember to bring cash.
If you arrive early enough to park in the main parking lot at Oeschinensee cable car, you can collect a ticket to enter the lot and you may pay with credit card at the machines when you leave. However if you arrive late like we did, you will need to park off site and the parking people will collect cash from you directly.
Note on driving in Switzerland: if you are driving on the highway (which you will coming from Lauterbrunnen), you will need to purchase a high way pass from one of the gas stations.
Train to Kandersteg from Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken
If you are staying in Lauterbrunnen, it takes about 2 hours to get to Kandersteg by train and the train comes at the top of the hour. See below for the sample train route.
If you are traveling from Interlaken to Kandersteg, then the trip is a lot shorter, takes about an hour and 10 minutes. See below for the train route from Interlaken to Kandersteg.
If you want to check out the train schedules online, check the official Jungfrau website.
Cable Car to Oeschinensee
You can buy the Oeschinensee cable car ticket at the ticket machine outside of the station (or at the window counter). It’s 30 CHF round trip but you can also buy one way ticket and hike down from the top. It’s cheaper for children under 12.
When I was riding the cable car up, I saw people hiking up to the lake all the way from the bottom of the cable car station. If you are up for a challenge or simply want to save money this is a good opportunity.
However the trail did look a bit steep and I read there are a few areas that you are walking on the edge so if you are not fit or scared of heights you may just want to take the cable car up and down Oeschinensee.
Note that Owschinensee cable car generally closes around 5pm so if you miss the last cable car down you will need to hike down.
In addition, you should check the Oeschinensee webcam for weather conditions on top to avoid disappointments. The first time I went to Oeschinensee it was super cloudy and we couldn’t see the top of the mountain so we decided to not bother going up to the lake.
I also used this weather website to see the cloud coverage information at Oeschinensee since it does take a while to get there so you want to make sure by the time you are there you have the best visibility/ weather condition.
Things to Do at Oeschinensee
Hiking at Oeschinensee
Hiking is a great activity at Oeschinensee and there are 3 hikes you can do.
Hiking Directly to the Lake Shore (4)
After getting off the Oeschinensee cable car at the top, you still have to walk about 20 minutes to the actual lake. The direct path to the lake is wide and flat and pretty easy (suitable for strollers and young children) but there is also an option to take an electric bus which costs money. The route number is 4 on the map.
Hiking the Easy Trail (5) to Restaurant zur Sennhutte Above the Oeschinen Lake
After you get off the cable car, follow the wide and flat path towards the lake. After about 5 minutes walk the path splits. If you want to go directly to the lake without hiking, go towards the right (4) as mentioned above.
If you want to continue the hike to the restaurant with a good view of the Oeschinen lake from above, follow the trail to the left. The trail splits again after 2 min, follow the sign to 5 (the baby blue route on the map).
As you continue the path goes into the woods and eventually leads to a view point next to the restaurant. This is a great view point of Oeschinensee since you are above the lake so you can appreciate the entire lake being surrounded by the vertical cliffs. This view is actually one of the main reasons that drew me to visit Oeschinensee.
After the restaurant, you can follow the trail down to the lake shore. The trail goes through a forest with some switchbacks but nothing too crazy.
The Oeschinensee Panorama Trail
If you want to challenge yourself and get an even better view of Lake Oeschinen then you should do the Panorama Trail.
To do the panorama loop trial simply follow the sign to Heuberg – Ober Bärgli up the mountain (this is the baby blue trail although you can do the dark blue one also). The Oeschinensee Panorama trail is a 3 hour (8.5km) loop trail that wraps around one side of the lake.
The reason the Oeschinensee Panorama trail is so popular is because you get the most panoramic view of Oeschinen Lake from the top. However the trail can be steep at parts and a bit slippery since it’s all loose gravel. As you go up more you will also be near the edge of the cliff, so you should not hike this with small children. You will also hike pass a few small waterfalls along the trail.
There are even longer trails to alpine huts at the top of the mountain that takes about 6 hours (trail 7 on the map).
Renting a Boat at Oeschinensee
Summer is the perfect time to row a boat at Oeschinensee and the boat rental process is easy. As you walk towards the main lake front area (you will see a few restaurants), there is a small booth by the lake.
The boats do run out in the summer early afternoon so I recommend you rent earlier rather than later. You cannot row the boats too close to the cliff walls and waterfalls due to danger of falling rocks. After you are back from rowing, you have to park the boat yourself (guy at the booth is probably too busy dealing with other customers).
You don’t need to wear a life vest to ride on the boat (very different from rowing a boat on Moraine Lake in Banff) and the boat can fit 3-4 people.
BBQ At Oeschinensee
You can grill at the lake front of Oeschinensee and you don’t even need to bring your own food/ supplies. The Berghotel Oeschinensee has a “basket” with BBQ kit including eco-grill bag, fried sausage, baguette, mixed salad, chips, vegetables, butter, matches, cutting board/ knife, etc.
You will have to purchase the BBQ bag which cost CHF35 per person with minimum of 2 person (with CHF 20 for deposit). You can also purchase a bag of firewood for CHF10 from Berghotel.
The BBQ fire pit is first come first serve and cannot be reserved ahead of time.
Fishing at Oeschinensee
Fishing is a wonderful activity at Oeschinensee especially if you have a lot of time and just want to chill by the lake.
You will need to purchase a fishing license at the restaurants at Oeschinen Lake. The Oeschinensee fishing license cost CHF 32 per person for adults. You will need to bring your own supplies with you as these are not on sale or for rent.
You can also do ice fishing in the winter from January 1st to mid March when the ice thickness is between 30cm to 50cm to ensure safety.
You can also do a fishing boat rental for CHF 75 (full day) and CHF 40 (half day). The boats have fish boxes and anchors.
Oeschinensee Toboggan Run
One really fun activity for both kids and adults at Oeschinensee is the Toboggan Run, which is located near the cable car station.
The summer toboggan run has a 750m long track that goes down hill from the cable car station. It costs about CHF4-6 per run depending on the time and it is only open in dry weather from mid May to mid October. Hours of operation is generally from 9 (or 9:30) to 4:30 or 5:30 (longer hour during June to mid September).
You cannot use a mobile phone or take selfies during the ride for safety reasons.
Eating at Oeschinesee
There are a number of restaurants at Lake Oeschinen with a couple of them right by the lake. I thought the food was decent and reasonably priced (cheaper than the restaurant we tried in Kandersteg actually).
If you are there on a nice day be sure to eat outside with the lake view. There is also a soft serve ice cream vendor near the Electric bus stop by the lake that is popular with both kids and adults.
Winter Activities at Oeschinensee
Winter is also a good time to visit Oeschinensee although you won’t see the deep blue lake unfortunately. Instead you can do ice walking, skiing, sledging, ice skating and winter hiking at Oeschinensee.
Oeschinensee is a wonderful alpine lake to visit in Switzerland and I truly think it is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. You won’t see bus tour or hordes of tourists there in general especially if you go early during the day.
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