Oeschinensee, a not so hidden gem in the Swiss Alps

Oeschinensee is one of those lakes that keep popping up on your Instagram feed and look too fake and edited to be true. So naturally, I had to see it with my own eyes. While it definitely is as unbelievably turquoise as it looks on the photos, it's also overflowing with people (things they don't tell you on Instagram). However, I have some tips on how to escape the crowds, but they do require a fairly decent physical fitness (as hikes tend to 💪). 

Like most Swiss Alpine spots, Oeschinensee is very easily accessible by cable car (I am always in awe of all the places you can reach by cable car in this magnificent country), but I do recommend hiking up from Kandersteg instead. The walk up is quite steep but doesn't take more than an hour and takes you through colourful woods and one mighty mountain river (and also asphalt road for a bit, but let's keep that out as it's not very romantic - although it does have great views, proof below!). It's quite a popular hike, so you can't escape the crowds here just yet. But once you reach the lake, you can continue up to two mountain huts: the dainty sounding Unterbergli and Oberbergli (the Swiss Germans add the suffix -li to words to form diminutives and it makes me giggle every time). It takes about 30-40 minutes on an easy path to reach Unterbergli, a great spot to enjoy a snack in the company of cows and a fantastic view of the lake, and then continue up to Oberbergli (fairly steep and rocky), where you can treat yourself to a beer as there is a small bar at the hut. From there, you can that the upper route back to Oeschinensee, but we walked down the same path as we came from. 

There are a few restaurants at the lake shore - I recommend getting an Aperol Spritz to-go so you can enjoy it while dipping your feet in the lake. Just don't make the same mistake as I did and forget your swimsuit. The water is too inviting, albeit on the cold side (but hey, that's what wild swimming is for!). 

HIKING TO OESCHINENSEE, UNTERBERGLI, AND OBERBERGLI

  • Time of the year: I hiked in early September.  
  • How to get there: By public transport from Geneva: take the train to Brig, where you change for Kandersteg. 
  • Hike time: Around 3h30-4h of hiking time (excluding stops) 
  • Hike length & ascent: Around 16 km long, around 800m elevation gain (from Kandersteg to Oberbergli), highest point of the hike 1978m. 
  • Hiking gear needed: The usual hiking footwear, poles optional but useful. 
  • Difficulty: Medium - there are a few steep parts and overall a fairly good elevation gain in a short amount of time. 
  • Hike directions: From the Kandersteg train station follow the yellow signposts for Oeschinensee - turn left after the bridge and soon take a street on the right to leave the main road, passing by dreamy holiday chalets, and leaving the village behind, continue into the woods. Once you reach the lake, follow the path on the left side of the lake to go to Unterbergli. Once there, follow the only path (quite rocky and steep) upwards to reach Oberbergli. 

Part of the way from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee


On the way to Unterbergli. 

The way down from Oberbergli

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