OESCHINEN LAKE in Switzerland’s Kander Valley is a big, beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the majestic Swiss Alps. At an elevation of 5,177 ft. and fed by glacial waters, it’s far from warm, but it’s beautiful to behold.

If you feel like a brisk swim (the water only warms up to 68F), it’s definitely something to visit in the summer months, as the lake is frozen for five months of the year — from December to May. If you’re into ice fishing, Oeschinen lake is popular for it, and the surrounding area is known for its cross-country skiing.

Hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers love this area as it has (challenging) options for all three. But if easy lakeside trails and an uncomplicated paddle tour are more your pace, you’ll also be happy here. Since 2007, the lake has been recognized as a part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s considered one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Switzerland (and one of its best kept secrets).

How to get there

From Kandersteg, take the gondola to a location near the lake. It’s about a 30-minute walk through forest and pasture to the lake. Likewise, it’s possible to hike to and from the lake from Kandersteg—it’s about an hour up—or take the gondola up and hike down.

What to consider

  • It’s possible to visit the Oeschinen Lake area via gondola year-round.
  • Oeschinen Lake is a doable day trip if you’re staying anywhere in the Bernese Oberland.
  • Staying by the lake is possible (only in the summertime) at the Berghotel Oeschinensee which offers dorm-style and regular rooms.
  • Although it’s an easy walking path, there’s an electric car shuttle between the gondola drop off and the lake.