Oeschinensee is probably one of the most popular lakes in Switzerland and we decided to hike there in winter, just to have a look at how it all looks when there is snow all around in the mountains. In the summertime, it looks spectacular and you can even swim there 🙂
We actually planned to do snowshoe tour – the route was open in that winter I have visited it, but spoiler alert – global warming, very warm winter – no snow on snowshoe route 😉 We got some snow just on the top, but it was not deep, so even did not use my snowshoes, although next to the Oeschinensee there is a small skiing resort full of snow – so not all the snow in that altitude is missing in the middle of winter.
Ok, so let’s explore this hike, Oeschinensee itself, how to get there, where to hike, and all other small details needed to know before you go to this small adventure.
How to Get to Oeschinensee
Oeschinensee is very close to the city called Kandersteg in Switzerland.
You can reach it by train or by your own car.
The trip by train from Zürich would take you around 2 hours, you will have to change the train once in Bern. It is a pretty popular destination so trains go that direction quite often. You can check all the latest schedules and prices right here: Swiss trains.
If you go with your own car it would take you about 2 hours from Zürich and you can easily park next to the Kandersteg cable car station in this address: Oeschistrasse 50, 3718 Kandersteg. There is a big parking place which is 5 CHF per day or you get up to 1h 30 minutes for free.
Learn more: Everything about Oeschinensee
The hike itself just to Oeschinensee is about 2 hours so you better pay for all the day that 5 CHF. Have cash – only cash is acceptable there.
Kandersteg to Oeschinensee
Basic information about the hike to Oeschinensee (not round tour):
Distance: 6 kilometers
Altitude gain: almost 600 meters
Time needed: up to 2 hours
Path conditions: very well maintained, but in one part goes pretty much off-road (for maybe 300 meters)
Shoes: in winter you must take good hiking shoes because it is steep and muddy in some places. If snow – only with snowshoes, in summer – running shoes can suffice.
Other stuff: at least 1 liter of water for each person. The hike is not long, so actually no food is needed. I would recommend taking an extra t-shirt and a jacket. T-shirt – it is a steep and sweaty hike, you may want to change your t-shirt on the top; jacket – if it starts to rain. Credit card – if you want to go down with a cable car – price 10,50 CHF for one person.
Round tour: if you wish, you can do a round tour. It would take you around 3h 30 minutes and 12 kilometers in total.
Next to the parking place, there is a very nice sports goods shop and a cable car station. You can get tickets up the mountain and back for 28 CHF. But you will not get right to Oeschinensee, you will have to walk a couple of kilometers to the lake, but it is an easy path, in winter it is snow, but good hiking shoes suffice, no need for spikes or snowshoes 🙂 Just don’t go with running shoes, they will get wet very soon as snow can be pretty loose.
Ok, so as I said before, we were ready to do a snowshoe hike, but basically, there was no snow till the top 🙂 So I even didn’t use my snowshoes.
You can see that there is some snow, but just some patches.
The hike is pretty well marked, I have missed just one mark once by one hut, but locals shouted at me and helped to find the right direction.
The views of Kandersteg are pretty wide and beautiful.
The lonely hiker battling the mountain 🙂
Some parts of the hike are pretty muddy and wet, so better have really good gore-tex hiking shoes.
On this route, you must follow this sign with snowshoe on it.
The more you hike, the more of the valley you get to see. You get to see more and more of Kandersteg.
This was probably the muddiest part and pretty slippery as well.
We did a small 5 minutes pause by one of the huts on the path. As you see: my snowshoes are packed, didn’t even took them from the black bag.
This is the most snow we saw until the cable car station.
The hike, I must say, is pretty steep. All the way up to the top you can see Kandersteg and the whole valley on your left or right (depending on which side of serpentine you are).
On-time the route crosses the skiing slope – don’t go up the ski slope, it is forbidden to do so. You can bump into skiers, that is no fun at all.
I must say, in some places of the route I was pretty happy I didn’t have to use the snowshoes as the path was extremely steep and very narrow. It is not an easy hike, unless you do it very slowly, but I was pumped as weather was nice, so I rushed all the time:) It was a very effective cardio training for me personally.
Once you reach the top, which is more than 500 meters higher than Kandersteg, we got some snow, but it was not deep, so I didn’t put my snowshoes on.
As we approached the cable car station, I saw quite many skiers as there is a small skiing resort up there.
In the cable car station, you can find a nice restaurant with great views, but we decided to continue to the lake. The last leg was around 2 kilometers through the snow, but not too slippery, pretty safe. You will cross two-three more times the skier’s slopes, but don’t worry, it is not dangerous. I would say that this skiing resort is mostly for families with small kids – it is a perfect place to learn skiing or snowboarding, slopes are very good for that. Almost all of them are blue.
This is the cable car station on the top.
Here is the skiing resort, but a very small one.
Very family-friendly skiing resort, a very good place to learn skiing.
Once you reach the lake, you can have a snack outside and buy some stuff cash (up to 20 CHF) in a kiosk or go into the restaurant. There you can pay with a credit card.
We have ordered soup and coke. My tip during hikes would be: never eat too heavy food as you will get sleepy and heavy. Soup is perfect for such hikes: it is warm, it is light, it is delicious (Swiss soups are the best in the world for me personally), it gives enough energy to continue.
The soup costs 10.50 CHF and coke another 5 CHF. I must warn you: mountains restaurants don’t come cheap in Switzerland, but after a steep hike in winter – it is very refreshing 🙂
The views from the restaurant are simply inspiring.
We have spent probably 30 minutes in the restaurant. What is cool about this Oeschinensee restaurant – it belongs now to the 5th generation of one Swiss family. Isn’t that cool? Traditions.
But all we saw, just a path plowed in snow and you can take a walk. We didn’t go on the ice and walked back to the cable station.
I must mention, that especially in summer, there are many great hikes which go up higher than Oeschinensee to those amazing peaks and rocks where you can have a look at the lake from the top and the whole valley as well – it is a stunning location.
Oeschinensee Cable Car
As we walked back, it started to rain and we made a decision to use the cable services back down – if it is not too expensive. But the price was just 10.50 CHF, so we happily hopped on and went down in 5 minutes. From the cable car station, it is just one minute to the car.
Have you ever been to Oeschinensee in the wintertime? Share your experiences below! 🙂