If you’re looking for a traditional yet modern town, a peaceful landscape with a ton of activity options, and serene lakes surrounded by looming snow-topped mountains, then Kandersteg, Switzerland is the place to go.
A resort village with just a little more than 1000 inhabitants, Kandersteg is an under-the-radar refuge for outdoorsy types. Far enough off the tourist trail to not be overrun and gimmicky, but still on it enough to have a traveler-minded infrastructure, Kandersteg is sure to sweep you off your feet.
Our Kandersteg travel guide features tips on the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, what to pack, things to do, and more!
The Ultimate Travel Guide to Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee (Switzerland)
How to Get to Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
Without a doubt, the easiest and most efficient way to get to Kandersteg is by train. There are trains that depart every hour from both Bern and Brig, or, if you’re coming from Zurich, it’s about a 2.5 hour journey.
Then, once you’re in Kandersteg, you can easily get to Lake Oeschinensee by taking the cable car up the mountain, and then the No. 1 walking trail. The path leading to the lake from the cable car is a fairly easy 30-minute stroll that veers downwards as you near the lake.
Best Time to Visit Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
The busiest tourist seasons in Kandersteg are in the summer and the December through March ski season. If you’re not totally into winter activities, then visiting in the shoulder seasons close to summer would be your best bet to beat the crowds.
Climate in Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
While the warmest time to visit Kandersteg is in July and August, temperatures tend to stay below 25 degrees celsius. Likewise in the winter, extreme temperatures are not the norm and generally hover around 0 degrees.
That said, daily weather patterns in Kandersteg can change in an instant, so be prepared!
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Things to Do in Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
Visit Lake Oeschinensee
Lake Oeschinensee is a turquoise dream surrounded by the towering Swiss Alps. Because the lake is fed by glacier waters, it’s a little chilly but definitely swimmable come summer time. If that’s not your thing, then there are guided paddle tours available from Kandersteg.
If you plan on visiting from December through May, know that the lake will probably be frozen over, but in the deeper winter months it’s great for cross-country skiing.
With a name that literally translates to “blue”, Lake Blausee is just a fifteen minute drive from Kandersteg and is surrounded by dense forest. The whole area is a park in which you can have a picnic, head out on the lake on a glass-bottom boat, or visit the museum. Also, the lake itself is an organic trout farm that has a fishing event every October.
To get to Lake Blausee, you can catch the bus from Kandersteg or drive. However, if you plan on driving I highly recommend getting there early in the day as the parking lots tend to fill up fast, especially on the weekends.
Tropical House Frutigen
Home to an integrated fish farm, a tropical garden, an interactive exhibition, and a unique energy concept, a visit to Tropical House Frutigen will be unlike anything else you’ve experienced in the Swiss Alps.
While you’re here, stop in at the Tropengarten restaurant for a quick bite. The chef uses fish, caviar, fruits, and spices produced on site to create some truly unique dishes.
If you’re an avid hiker heading to Kandersteg then you’ll be happy to know that there are a wide variety of hikes to choose from — some of which were even used hundreds of years ago by traders. Just be sure to grab a trail map before you head out!
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Summer Toboggan Run/ Mountain Coaster
Dreaming of an alternative, more adventurous way of heading down the mountain than hiking, skiing, or cable car? Then you’ll be happy to hear of Kandersteg’s alpine slide in the summertime, and toboggan run in the winter!
This activity is a total must-do when you’re in the area, but given that you’ll be barreling down a mountain, it’s not for the faint of heart.
UNESCO-Ice Walk in Winter
Located in the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ice walk will take you through the mountains and onto frozen Lake Oeschinensee. The trails are all groomed ahead of time, so you won’t have to trek through any deep snow, and there are options of a 30-minute hike as well as a 90-minute hike.
Where to Stay in Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
Centrally located in Kandersteg, charming Hotel Blümlisalp is perfect for travelers who have large luggage and want the conveniences of an elevator, being located right in town, and having a bus stop right in front of hotel which connects to the train station.
Additionally, if you visit in winter then Hotel Blümlisalp is a great starting point for ski adventures as the ski bus stops right outside the property. You can literally ski right back to the hotel!
Established in 1892 and located up the mountain via the cable car, Berghotel Oeschinensee has a quiet, romantic atmosphere and is perfect for easy-going, adventurous families or couples on a honeymoon.
There are many different room options at Berghotel Oeschinensee, ranging from double-bed rooms to 8-bed rooms, and the hotel provides shared bathrooms. From the hotel, you’ll have awesome views of the sunrise and sunset which, if you’re not staying at the hotel, can only be experienced by hiking up and down the trail as cable car hours are limited!
Additionally, note that because the only way to get to this hotel is by cable car, you won’t be able to check in after the car closes for the day. However, if you plan your trip to have you arrive within the cable car hours, there is a shuttle that will take guests straight from the car to the hotel (otherwise it’s a 30-minute walk).
Both of these hotels are owned by the lovely Wandfluh family. During my stay, each member of the family made me feel so welcome and I instantly felt like we were old friends.
In fact, while I was at Hotel Blümlisalp, I met a woman from the UK who has been coming to the hotel for the past 30 years due to the owners, the staff, the location and the exceptional cuisine. I’m sure there are many more stories like this for each of these hotels. They really do go out of their way to make your stay perfect.
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Where to Eat in Kandersteg & Lake Oeschinensee
Hotel Blümlisalp Restaurant
A favorite among travelers and locals alike, Hotel Blümlisalp’s restaurant is known for its traditional Swiss food made with local products from their very own farm. Additionally, if you’re on a family vacation, you’ll be happy to note they have a children’s play corner.
Berghotel Oeschinensee Restaurant
If you’re looking for home-baked bread, cake, and strudel every day, then look no further than Berghotel Oeschinensee’s Restaurant. This restaurant is also known for providing vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free options.
Located in Hotel Bernerhof, this restaurant is known for its Swiss and international delicacies, great terrace, and vegetarian options. Not to mention, the decorations and attention to detail in this restaurant are top-notch.
Right in Hotel Alfa Soleil, Nico’s à la carte menu prides itself on its locally sourced, fresh ingredients, including wild-grown herbs, fruits, and veggies. Additionally, Nico’s is member of the Guild of Swiss Restaurants, and has been featured in various popular magazines.
Kandersteg, Switzerland Packing Essentials