Oeschinensee: Hiking at One Of Europe’s Most Beautiful Lakes

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Oeschinensee: Hiking at One Of Europe’s Most Beautiful Lakes
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If there were a list of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, the Oeschinensee, or Lake Oeschinen, would rank high. Sure, there is Lago di Braies, Lake Bled or Lac Blanc, but there is something very special about this marvellous spot in Switzerland. And UNESCO agrees because the Oeschinensee is a World Heritage site.

We are not here to tell you which is the most beautiful lake in the Alps but the Swiss would probably tell you it’s the Oeschinensee. De Oeschinen Lake is not just a pretty picture for Instagram, it is also a top destination for hiking, rowing, and in winter even ice skating. Part of our beloved Bärentrek, we also have designed a mini hut-to-hut trek, including a stay at the Blüemlisalphütte. Let's go!

What and Where Is the Oeschinensee Lake?

A 4 kilometer hike east of the small Bernese Oberland town of Kandersteg you can find one of Europe's most beautiful mountain lakes: Oeschinensee or Oeschinen Lake. Created by a giant landslide a few thousand years ago, the Oeschinensee lies at an elevation of nearly 1600 meters and has a depth of 56 metres. The Oeschinensee is part of the Bärentrek, one of the most popular sections of the greater Via Alpina route. Read more about the Bärentrek here.

Oeschinensee is an hour’s drive South of Bern and is more or less in the middle of both Geneva and Zürich. This and its beauty make the Oeschinensee a popular stop for tourists who want to experience a great example of Alpine beauty. Locals also love to spend time at the lake. Here you can ice skate in winter, enjoy local cuisine, or even ride the toboggan. Hiking more your cup of tea? Around the lake are plenty of options for a day hike, an overnight trek, and, if you like a challenge, you can even try out a via ferrata.

What and Where Is the Oeschinensee Lake?

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When to Visit the Oeschinensee?

You can visit the Oeschinensee all year round. The way to get there, however, varies by season. Outside the Summer season, the lake is only accessible by foot. This is a 4 km hike which, depending on the conditions, can be done in under 1.5 hours. Outside the Summer season, especially between November and early May, snow can (still) be found at higher altitudes. There is cable car but it is serviced every year between mid-March and early May. Straight after, usually around the 9th of May, the Summer schedule will be active.

Winter: Mid-December - Mid March
Summer: Mid-May - Mid November

The cable car runs between 09:00 and 17:00 in winter, until 17:30 in Summer.

So when is then the best time to visit the Oeschinensee? That depends on what you want to do. The lake is famous for ice fishing in winter. This can be done from the 1st of January until late March. You need a fishing license for this. If you want to go hiking, you best get there in Summer, between early June and late September. This is also when the mountain huts around the Oeschinensee are opened. Want to row a boat? Definitely not in winter!

When to Visit the Oeschinensee?

What Is There to Do at the Oeschinensee?

The Oeschinensee isn’t your usual lake. At 1,578 metres, this Alpine lake is a meeting place for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Hiking, toboggan, cycling, rowing, ice fishing, mountain climbing. What’s your cup of tea?

Hiking: Just getting to the Oeschinensee, most beautiful already put their hiking boots on. Once there, you might as well keep going. There are a few different hiking trails and routes around the lake, and we can even recommend an overnight option. More about that later.

Eat and drink: There are a few restaurants around the lake. Most of these are only open in Summer season, from the 2nd of week of May onwards. All restaurants offer season, regional and homemade cuisine.

Mountain coaster: For adults and children aged 8 years and over, there is a fun toboggan right at the lake. It takes you from the mountain station to the Berghotel am See, directly by the lake. Adrenaline rush guaranteed.

Rowing: For about 30 CHF you can rent a rowing boat for an hour. If you are looking for a bit of romance or you just want to enjoy the lake from a different angle, this is definitely worth it. Reservation is not possible and you must stay clear from the rock faces.

BBQ: Went for a hike and feeling hungry? You can prebook a BBQ set and pick up your sausage, wood and everything else you need from the local restaurant.

Fishing: Oeschinensee is a paradise for anglers. In winter, the lake becomes a hotspot for ice fishing. You can catch Archtic char (seeibling), trout (Seeforelle), and rainbow trout (Regenbogenforelle).

Wintersports: Of course, the Oeschinensee is also a paradise for wintersports. Skiing, snowboarding, sledging, ice walking, and even ice skate on the actual lake. The area is known for it’s beginner-friendly slopes. Great learning possibilities for the little ones.

What Is There to Do at the Oeschinensee?

How Do I Best Get to Oeschinensee?

Oeschinensee is just East of the small town of Kandersteg, not far from another lake, a much bigger one, Lake Thun or Thunersee. Kandersteg is easily reached by car and public transport. Major airports are within 4 hours of traveling.

By plane: Both Geneva and Zürich are a 3-hour train ride away from Kandersteg and thus Oeschinensee. Most major (European) airlines serve both airports.

By car: Kandersteg is about one hour South of Bern, two hours from Geneva and, from the opposite direction, also two hours from Zürich. You will easily find parking in Kandersteg. Should you want the quickest way to the lake, then make sure to park Talstation Oeschinen. From here, you can then hop straight onto the cable car.

By public transport: The Oeschinenlake is just east of the small town of Kandersteg. About two hours from both Geneva and Zürich and an hour South of Bern, this town is easily reached by public transport. There is a train from Bern to Kandersteg via Thun. This can be extended to/from Zürich. The same goes for Geneva, which would mean a 3-hour train ride.

How Do I Best Get to Oeschinensee?

Hiking at Oeschinensee

Switzerland = hiking = Switzerland. Of course, you can go hiking at Oeschinensee. As a matter of fact, it’s quite a hiking paradise. You can go a short hike to the lake and back, you can make it even shorter by taking the cable car out and back, you can make it a bit longer by taking a detour, you can make it a bit more challenging by adding via ferrata to the mix, or you can make the absolute most of it by doing a mini hut-to-hut trek. Not enough? You can even do the Via Alpina and keep hiking for hundreds of hours! No jokes, the possibilities really are endless. Before we get to our mini-hut-to-hut trek, we’ve listed three options for “just” spending the day at Oeschinensee:

Out and back from the cable car station:
Short in time or fitness? Take the cable car up to the top station and hike in just an hour out and back to the lake. This hike will take you straight to the boat rentals.

Hike to Doldenhornhütte:
We have not listed the option to the Fründenhütte, as it includes some serious T4 technical sections. The hike to the Doldenhornhütte is fortunately doable by most hikers. Some experience and sure-footedness will be a plus though.

Circular Oeschinensee Day-Hike:
If you just have the day, it doesn’t really get better than this. It first takes you all the way up to the Heuberg from which you can enjoy an epic view over the lake. Then it circles down to the lake for a more touristy experience. Eventually it will take you all the way back to Kandersteg again. Can be shorted by simply taking the cable car.

SAC Mountain Huts at Oeschinensee

In the vicinity of the Oeschinensee, you can find three different Swiss Alpine Club mountain huts. SAC huts, operated by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), are an integral part of Switzerland's alpine landscape and outdoor culture. These mountain huts serve as essential shelters and gathering points for mountaineers, hikers, and climbers exploring the Swiss Alps. They vary in size and facilities, ranging from simple unstaffed shelters to larger serviced huts offering meals and accommodations. At Bookatrekking.com we maintain long-standing relationships with some of Switzerland’s finest mountain huts. Although you might just want to visit Oeschinensee for a day hike, we must also offer you the opportunity to make more of your visit. Combine your visit with a stay at a SAC hut. More about that later.

Doldenhornhütte SAC
Easiest access and thus a popular mountain hut. Sits on a rocky outcrop above the village of Kandersteg. Built in the original style with traditional, simple, homely furnishings. Washroom outside the hut. Family-friendly alpine environment, known for its diverse flora and impressive views of the Kandertal valley and, next to the hut, Lake Oeschinen. Combined alpine tours, in summer and in good conditions also in winter/spring.

Fründenhütte SAC
Not for the inexperienced and faint-hearted: Located a thousand metres directly above Oeschinensee, this hut is surrounded by rock and ice. Fründengletscher, formerly flowing around the cabin, has receded so that its tongue has stopped right behind the cabin, leaving behind a charming landscape with small moraine lakes. The access trail has exposed passages. Fründschnuer, a trail behind Oeschinensee, is a special attraction for sure-footed mountaineers unafraid of heights.

Blüemlisalphütte SAC
The Blüemlisalphütte lies just above the Hohtürli, the pass between Kandersteg and the Kiental, at 2840 m.a.s.l. The magnificent view makes an overnight stay in the Blüemlisalphütte an unforgettable experience. The hut is also the starting point for high-altitude tours in the Blüemlisalp group. There is a well-equipped climbing garden below the hut.

SAC Mountain Huts at Oeschinensee

Mini Hut-to-Hut Trek at Oeschinensee

Want to do something unique? As you now know, there are a few different SAC mountain huts in the vicinity of Oeschinen Lake. The easiest to reach is the Doldernhornhütte, the most difficult one to reach is the Fründenhütte but the most rewarding one is definitely the Blüemlisalphütte. We have designed a mini hut-to-hut trek that will take you along the Oeschinensee to the Blüemlisalphütte, on the, you’ve guessed it, Blüemlisalp. Lots of climbing on the first day but also lots of descending on the second. Your hut will be booked and it includes half board!
Day
1

Kandersteg - Blüemlisalphütte SAC

Duration: 04:45 h
Distance: 10.1 km
Ascent: 1640 m
Descent: 40 m
Your trek to the Blüemlisalphütte starts right at the lower cable car station. If you want to save time and legs, you can take the cable car. This will save you a few hundred vertical metres. You will follow a single track hiking path to one of the absolute highlights on this hike. The view point at Heuberg allows you take in all the turquoise magic from a bird’s eye view. Don’t hang around for too long as this is only halfway. There is another 700 metres of vertical ascent waiting for you. Dündehore, Bundstock and Schwarzhorn peaks are towering over you as gradually see the terrain changing to rock and scree and you start getting closer to your accommodation for tonight: The Blüemlisalphütte. Cheers!

Blüemlisalphütte SAC (Oeschinensee)

Info
Blüemlisalphütte SAC (Oeschinensee)
Day
2

Blüemlisalphütte SAC - Kanderseg

Duration: 03:30 h
Distance: 10.1 km
Descent: 1600 m
What goes up, must come down. The way down is same-same but different. Today, you will have more time to take in the views and where you came up via the upper trail, you will now descend straight to the lake. Use this opportunity, when weather allows it, to take a quick dip. Grab something to eat at one of the restaurants on the way and then slowly make your way back to Kandersteg. Did this taste like more? Then come back for our Bärentrek!
Via Alpina 1 6601

Where Can I Book the Oeschinensee Mini Hut-to-Hut Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Oeschinensee Mini Hut-to-Hut trek and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

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