Switzerland

Oeschinensee Lake & Panorama Hike – how to visit in 2024

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Oeschinensee is one of the most beautiful hikes in the whole Swiss Alps! The water has an unbelievable turquoise color seen best during sunny days. It lies in a deep valley and is surrounded by tall and steep rock faces from two sides.

Thanks to such easy access which doesn’t require any hike at all, anyone can easily visit this place. But to see the best views of Oeschinensee, you shouldn’t skip Panorama Hike. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best hiking trails we did in Switzerland. Together with Stoos Ridge Hike, it’s on the list of our favorite hikes.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get there, detailed descriptions of the trail, and many other useful tips.

Oeschinensee hike Switzerland

Quick Overview

⭐️ How to get here: 1 hour hike or cable car from Kandersteg

⭐️ Ticket price: Adult return 32 CHF

⭐️ Operation hours: 08:30 – 18:00 in summer months

⭐️ Best months to visit: May – October

⭐️ Things to do: picnic, rowboat, hike Panorama hike, swim

⭐️ Where to stay: Hotel Des Alpes, Hotel Ermitage, Waldhotel Doldenhorn

⭐️ Where to eat: Restaurant Oeschinensee, Berggasthaus Arva, Restaurant zur Sennhütte

About Oeschinensee

Oeschinensee used to be a hidden gem in the Swiss Alps, only known by locals. A few years ago you wouldn’t meet many international tourists in the area. Thanks to Instagram fame, today this place is incredibly famous and visited by hundreds of tourists each day.

While it’s not a quiet relaxing place as it used to be, it’s still worth coming here! The color of the water is outstanding and the valley offers many incredible views. To see the best views of the lake, we recommend hiking the Panorama Hike. Similar to Augstmatthorn Hike near Interlaken, the views are unbeatable.

Luckily, most people only stay at the shores and are unwilling to make the effort to hike up the steep hills. Because of this, you’ll only meet a fraction of those crowds up on the trail. But even if you don’t plan to go on a hike, you shouldn’t skip Oeschinensee when planning a Switzerland itinerary.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

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How to get to Kandersteg

No matter how you decide to get to Oeschinensee, you will first need to get to Kandersteg.

If you have a car, you can easily get to Kandersteg by road. For example, from Interlaken, it takes 45 minutes, and from Lucern 2 hours.

If you’re traveling to Kandersteg from Brig or Zermatt, you would have to cross the mountains on the way. Since there’s no mountain pass on this section, the only way is by taking a car train from Goppenstein to Kandersteg. The ticket only costs 25 CHF.

Switzerland by train
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Check the train schedule and ticket prices on bls.ch.

The best way to get to Kandersteg using public transport is by train. While direct trains are available from Bern, Spiez, and Brig, you will have to make at least 1 transfer from other locations. Check the connections either on SBB or Omio.

The valley stations are just a 10-minute walk from the train station.

You can use the Swiss Travel Pass, Interrail / Eurail Pass, and Berner Oberland Pass (valid until Visp). You can also get a discount with a Half Fare Card.

Accommodation near Oeschinen Lake

Hotel Des Alpes - Best hotels Kandersteg Switzerland

Hotel Des Alpes

Low budget

Hotel Ermitage - Best hotels Kandersteg Switzerland

Hotel Ermitage

Mid budget

Check availability

How to get to Oeschinensee

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Parking: Next to cable car station (map) for 8 CHF over 6 hours

By cable car

The easiest and fastest way to get to Oeschinensee Lake is by cable car from Kandersteg. You can easily walk to the station from Kandersteg. From the train station, it only takes 10 minutes. Buy the ticket online or at the valley stations.

Once you arrive at the upper station, you can also take the electric chargeable shuttle bus to Oeschinensee. One way ticket on the bus costs 10 CHF per person. The last bus departs from the lake at 16:30 in the summer.

Since walking only takes 20 minutes, we find this unnecessary. But it’s a great option for those with restricted mobility. If you have a stroller, you can also walk since the road is paved.

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If you have some luggage, you can use lockers at the valley station.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Operating hours

From May to September the gondola is open from 08:30 till 18:00. Check the current operating hours on the official website.

Ticket price

For an adult, the return ticket costs 32 CHF, and a one-way ticket costs 24 CHF. Kids under 16 get a 50% discount. Kids under 6 have a free ticket. IF you have Half Fare Card or Swiss Travel Pass you get 50% off.

Hike

If you want to skip the gondola, there are a few trails to Oeschinensee. It usually takes only around 1 hour to hike. However, the views are not as good. We recommend this hike if you want to save some money and avoid paying for the cable car. During our Oeschinensee visit, we hiked both ways.

Otherwise, it might be better to take at least a gondola up. Once at the lake, we strongly recommend doing the Panorama Hike. You can then return to the parking on foot.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Hike to Oeschinensee Lake

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Hike distance: 3 km

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Elevation gain: around 400m

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Hike duration: 60 minutes

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Difficulty: easy / medium

When hiking to Oeschinensee, you can simply follow the signs from the parking lot. The start of the trail is rather easy, with little incline. We walked up the valley along a river. As we got further, we could see Kandersteg from above.

Soon, we entered a forest, where the path started to be steeper. There were also sections where we walked on a paved road. We could admire the mountains on the right side of valley, with ocassional waterfalls.

Some sections of the trail were really steep, but overall I wouldn’t say it was a hard hike. If you’re fairly fit you won’t have any troubles. The views got better as we got closer. The trail also gets easier here. The last section is a paved road.

Before long, we were standing on the shores of Oeschinensee.

You can also hike on other trails, but they’re slightly longer, and potentially also steeper. We took path A on the map below.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Activities at Oeschinensee Lake

Enjoy the views

Oeschinen Lake is probably the most beautiful one we’ve seen in the Swiss Alps. Its incredible turquoise color is mind-blowing, especially during sunny days. Enormous tall mountains behind provide a spectacular backdrop.

Thanks to the beautiful scenery and social media, this place has become quite famous and it’s visited by many tourists each day. So if you wish to enjoy your time here and avoid the crowds when you explore Oeschinensee, we recommend coming early in the morning.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Swim in the lake

Yes, you can also go for a swim! But since it’s a glacial lake, don’t expect it to be warm. The water is freezing cold and only for the bravest. During our visit in early October, we didn’t see anyone swimming in the lake.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Try Swiss food in mountain huts

With a few mountain huts to choose from, why not enjoy a lunch with lake views? You can choose from a large selection of different local meals or just stop for a coffee and a cake. Around lunch time, the restaurants on the shore get pretty crowded.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the food is slightly more expensive by the lake. The main meals cost around 25 CHF. Apart from a few mountain huts right on the shore, you’ll also find a few more above the lake, offering stunning views.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Rent a rowboat

If you find the water too cold for swimming, you can at least rent a rowboat and discover the area from a different perspective. You’ll find blue rental boats on the left side. This service is run by the Arva Berghaus.

The rental costs 20 CHF for half an hour and 32 CHF for one hour and is open from 10:30 to 17:00. When the weather is bad, foggy, or storms come, the boat rental closes. Due to falling rocks, you should always keep your distance from rock faces.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Summer Toboggan Run in Kandersteg – Mountain Coaster

A fun activity, not only for the little ones. Enjoy the fast-paced toboggan run down the slope, while witnessing beautiful views all around. If you don’t like to go super fast, you can also control your speed! The ride only costs 6 CHF (children under 8 years do not pay).

The Mountain Coaster is only open in summer when there’s no rain.

Hiking at Oeschinen Lake – the Panorama Hike

By far one of the best things you can do at Oeschinensee. We can’t recommend this trail highly enough. It offers a completely different perspective and views from above. Therefore, if you have time and energy for the hike, definitely go for it!

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Enjoy a barbecue

Looking for another idea? How about grilling your food at one of many barbecue stations around? They’re all free to use and offer amazing views! However, you won’t find much wood around. So if you decide to grill, either bring your own wood or buy a barbecue bag at the mountain huts.

Take a look at the Oeschinensee website to see where all the barbecue stations are located.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

How to hike the Panorama Hike

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Hike distance: 8.5 km

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Elevation gain: 430 m

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Hike duration: 3.5 h (no stop)

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Difficulty: medium

Since it’s a round hike, it can be done in both directions. When doing the hike clockwise, you’ll start with the steepest section of the trail. If you hike directly from the cable car station, you won’t see the lake until you get to the top.

If you do the hike anti-clockwise, you’ll first walk along the lake’s shores before starting a gradual incline towards Oberbärgli. You’ll decline the steepest section.

We did the hike anti-clockwise and enjoyed it a lot. I guess it all depends on your preferences. I’ll describe the trail below in the same order as we did it. Then it’s up to you to decide.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Oeschinensee – Unterbärgli

If you start the trail from the upper cable car station, you can first walk towards Oeschinensee. We hiked up from the parking lot, so we ended up right by the Mountain Hotel Oeschinensee.

The section to Unterbärgli starts with a short walk through the forest with many views of the lake from above.

Soon we got to an incredibly beautiful panoramic section with a narrow gravel path. On the left side we had enormously tall cliff faces, while on the right side, there was a steep slope. While this section is not dangerous, it’s certainly not for those with a panic fear of heights.

In most of this section, the incline is very gradual, not steep at all. We got to a more spacious alpine meadow with a trail that looked like from Hobbit. We could already see the Unterbärgli, which was just a short climb away.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Unterbärgli to Oberbärgli Trek

From Unterbärgli to Oberbärgli the trail gets steeper. The whole climb will take between 20 – 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level. We personally didn’t find this part too difficult. But I believe that if you’re an occasional hiker, you might need a few breaks on the way.

The views only get better and better as you get closer to Oberbärgli. Once you arrive at the mountain hut, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible views of Oeschinen Lake. But it’s not the end yet, the most beautiful section is still ahead of us.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Oberbärgli to Kandersteg Cable Car

Okay, so this is by far the best section of the whole Panorama hike. As we departed the Oberbärgli hut, the views kept leaving us in awe. You walk along the Alpine meadows, traverse steep hills, and see a few smaller waterfalls and water streams along the way.

We found a few different viewpoints along the trail, where we certainly recommend taking a break to enjoy the views. On the day we hiked, it was super windy though. This made it slightly dangerous to stand on the cliff edges.

But overall, this section is safe and even kids used to walking in the mountains once in a while can manage this trail just fine.

The last section is a pretty steep decline, which doesn’t feel so comfortable. Once you get down, you can choose to either go to the lake, cable car station or hike down to the parking lot.

Oeschinensee Switzerland

Oeschinensee Hike: Map & Plan

Facilities on Oeschinensee

You’ll find a few different hotels and mountain huts in the area. Some are right on the shore, while others require a hike. Apart from boat rental, you can also use free barbecue stations. Public toilets can be found around and on the trail, you can use natural toilet.

One thing to keep in mind is that the availability of drinking water is limited, and buying it in one of the restaurants is overpriced. So we recommend bringing enough drinking water with you.

Where to eat

While most places take card payment, have some spare cash with you.

  • Bergstübli by Berghotel Oeschinensee – A restaurant close to the upper station. Apart from the main meals, they offer some desserts and coffee.
  • Berghotel by Oeschinensee – A self-service restaurant, the largest one in the area. During lunchtime, it gets very crowded.
  • Berghotel Arva – A smaller restaurant with a serviced terrace, only open in summer.
  • Restaurant zur Sennhütte – A restaurant situated slightly above the lake, offering lovely views.
  • Unterbärgli – Only drinks are sold here. Not always open.
  • Oberbärgli – A simple mountain hut, with both hot and cold food. Free public toilets to use. Only open in summer.
Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Best time to hike Oeschinensee

The answer to this question is simple – in the summer months! The hiking trails are open between mid-May and mid-September. At the beginning of the summer, there might still be some snow on the trail.

You can still do the hike in autumn, in October, and in November. But make sure to check the official website and whether the trails are open. We did the hike in early October and it was a wonderful experience. The surroundings turn from lush green to orange colors.

In winter, you can only visit Oeschinensee. The Panorama hike is closed the whole winter.

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Daywise, we recommend coming as early as possible. We came early in the morning and did the Panorama hike. When we returned after the hike, which was late afternoon, we couldn’t believe how crowded it was.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

Frequently Asked questions about Oeschinensee

As mentioned above, it’s up to you. When you do the hike clockwise, you’ll start with the steepest section first. However, you’ll finish the hike by the lake.

When hiking anti-clockwise, you first walk along the lake shores. The steepest section will be on the way down. It’s just a matter of preference.

Absolutely! We met many families with kids as young as 3 years and they managed the hike just fine.

No, you can’t drive up to the lake. You must leave your car in one of the parking spaces in Kandersteg. The only road up is a private road.

Yes, swimming in the lake is possible. But the water is freezing cold even in the summer.

No, you cannot fly your drone around Oeschinensee.

Oeschinensee is accesible in the winter. The cable car only closes for 10 days in November. It’s also closed from mid-March till mid-May. However, you can’t do any hikes in the area in winter time.

Of course! Dogs are welcome in the area. You can also take them on a gondola. The dog ticket is 5 CHF unless you have an SBB Dog pass.

No, camping, bivouacking, or sleeping in a hammock are not allowed due to many restrictions according to outdoor guidelines. You’ll find a camp at the lower cable car station.

Toilets are at both cable car stations and in every mountain hut. If you need to go to the toilet elsewhere, do not leave tissues or any other waste behind. You can dispose of waste at waste separation stations.

Oeschinensee & Panorama Trail Switzerland

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Final thoughts on Oeschinensee Hike & Panorama Hike

Hiking to Oeschinensee and doing the Panorama Hike have been on our bucket list for quite some time. After seeing this trail on Instagram we just couldn’t resist coming here. Switzerland is known for many mindblowing views and glacial lakes, but this might be the most beautiful area we’ve visited.

The sheer size of the cliff faces around is stunning. When the sun shines on the water, the color becomes so turquoise it looks unreal. So if you’re looking for a family day hike with impressive views, Oeschinen Lake won’t disappoint you.

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