Mountains, in my opinion, are the ultimate travel destination for three reasons: the awe-inspiring views, the thrill of adventure, and the tranquility of nature. That’s why Switzerland, especially the Alps, is such a magnet for travelers (like me), despite the high cost.
One lesser-known gem in the Swiss Alps is Kandersteg. This town, part of the UNESCO Jungfrau-Aletsch area and located 69 kilometers south of Bern, boasts stunning mountain vistas and serene alpine landscapes.
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In this post, I’ll be sharing the must-see spots and activities in Kandersteg, as well as how to get there from various Swiss cities.
But first — is Kandersteg worth a visit?
Absolutely! Especially if you’re traveling with family or a group. The mountain coaster, Lake Oeschinen, and Lake Blausee are just a few places where you can create memorable moments together. But don’t worry if you’re more of a solo adventurer or a photography enthusiast, Kandersteg has plenty to offer you too.
While Lake Oeschinen and the alpine coaster are the main draws for most visitors to Kandersteg, there’s so much more to see and do in this charming village.
Don’t miss the mesmerizing Blue Lake, the fun-filled Nordic Arena, the peaceful Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass hike, and the thrilling giant swing in nearby Adelboden. And if you’re up for an extreme adventure, give the Allmenalp Via Ferrata a try!
Planning to stay in Kandersteg for a few days? You can find some great hotel deals right here in Kandersteg.
1. Explore Picturesque Village of Kandersteg
Let’s start our Kandersteg adventure with a simple yet wanderlust-satisfying activity: Taking a leisurely stroll around the scenic town of Kandersteg.
Kandersteg might not be on every list of Switzerland’s prettiest towns, but with its surrounding 3000-meter-high mountains and cozy chalets, it’s a town that invites leisurely strolls. The Bernese Alps rise majestically above the town’s traditional houses, which are decorated with vibrant flowers.
The Church of Saint Mary and the Gasthof Ruedihaus are among the town’s charming structures, each exuding a quaintness reminiscent of a bygone era indie movie.
Church of Saint Mary
Nestled in the heart of Kandersteg, just a stone’s throw away from the tourist center, is the Church of Saint Mary, a charming chapel of the Catholic Church.
It’s an easy walk (around 5 minutes) from Bahnhof Kandersteg train station — just head northeast across the bridge and continue east past the tourist center. After a few steps, you’ll catch sight of the church.
While the Church of Saint Mary may not be as grand as some of the churches in Switzerland’s larger towns, it has a unique charm that truly captures the spirit of the Alps. Its stone structure, spire, and location amidst lush green meadows make it a sight to behold.
And with the towering three-thousand-meter peaks nearby, you can snap a picture of the church against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Don’t forget to jump in the photo yourself for a memorable souvenir of your visit to Kandersteg!
Another cultural treasure in Kandersteg is the Landgasthof Ruedihus, a hotel and restaurant that’s been recognized as a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
With 250 years of tradition under its belt, it offers an authentic alpine atmosphere and specializes in Swiss cuisine. Don’t miss out on trying their Suure Mocke (marinated pot-roast) and Schnifu Büürehamme (special cured farmhouse ham).
While the food at this centuries-old hotel restaurant comes highly recommended, I personally find the dining experience itself to be the real highlight.
As someone who’s more about the ambiance than the cuisine, I can tell you that the architecture and exquisite alpine decorations create a truly unique atmosphere. As you savor their authentic Swiss dishes surrounded by such beauty, I think you’ll understand what I mean.
Just picture yourself standing in front of the stunning facade of Landgasthof Ruedihus, savoring delicious fondues and raclettes. It’s a feast for both the stomach and the eyes!
Located on the southern outskirts of town, Landgasthof Ruedihus is just a quick 2-minute drive from the Kandersteg tourism office, or a leisurely 15-to-20-minute hike. Simply head south along Kandersteg’s main street from the tourism office.
2. Ride on Kandersteg Mountain Coaster (Sommerrodelbahn)
Nestled in the eastern part of town is the Oeschinensee gondola lift station – your starting point for a host of exciting activities and scenic spots in Kandersteg.
One standout attraction is the Kandersteg Mountain Coaster, better known as the Rodelbahn Oeschinensee. This exhilarating ride offers a mix of adventure, thrill, and awe-inspiring views. All you have to do is sit back, hold on tight, and let yourself slide down a half-tube metal track for some unforgettable alpine fun!
With a length of 750 meters, or 2460 feet, and a vertical drop of 150 meters, or roughly 950 feet, the Rodelbanh Oeschinensee’s metal track promises an exhilarating ride. Feel the thrill as you navigate each curve at high speed! But make sure to keep your eyes open! The coaster boasts stunning views of the mountain cliffs to the west of Kandersteg.
It’s a ride that will fill your senses with pure joy and is an absolute must-do! Have a look at the fun that awaits you:
The Oeschinensee toboggan run is open from mid-spring to mid-autumn, but only when the weather is dry – safety first, after all! During the summer months, you can enjoy the rides from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but note that they close an hour earlier in the non-summer months.
For more details about the Kandersteg toboggan run, you can visit its official website. It’s a handy resource for checking ticket prices and even booking your tickets online.
3. Visit The picturesque Oschinensee from Kandersteg
Oeschinensee’s toboggan run offers fun for all ages, making it a popular choice for families visiting Kandersteg.
However, if you’re traveling solo like me, you might find the nearby Lake Oeschinensee to be an even more enticing attraction.
Considered one of the most picturesque high-altitude lakes in the Swiss Alps alongside Riffelsee and Schwarzsee near Zermatt and Bachalpsee near Interlaken, Lake Oeschinensee is a sight to behold.
It’s situated 4 kilometers east of Kandersteg, but a gondola lift ride brings visitors closer to both the toboggan run and the lake. The remaining distance from the Oeschinen Gondola lift station to Lake Oeschinensee is roughly 1.5 kilometers.
While minibusses sometimes operate between the lake and cable car station, many opt for a scenic 20-minute hike instead. Sitting at approximately 1500 meters above sea level, Oeschinensee freezes over in winter, offering a range of activities and making it a popular spot all year round.
Oschinensee During Winter in Kandersteg
Oeschinensee usually freezes over in December and stays that way until May, giving you a solid five months of winter fun. The lake transforms into a massive ice skating rink, allowing visitors to glide smoothly across the ice without having to turn too often.
The frozen Oeschinensee skating rink is also excellent for family vacationers and friends who want to play together or engage in fun activities.
Individual travelers can try ice fishing in Oeschinensee. Ice fishing is a popular activity in Oeschinensee from January to mid-March. If you plan to go ice fishing, you can expect to find different types of fish such as Arctic char, lake trout, and rainbow trout.
However, ice skating and ice fishing in Oeschinensee aren’t always available, even in the middle of winter. Availability depends on the weather and the assessment of local authorities. Factors such as ice thickness and avalanche warnings are evaluated before allowing visitors to come to Oeschinensee.
Before you set out for Oeschinensee from Kandersteg, it’s a good idea to visit the official website and check for any updates from the authorities.
Oschinensee During Summer in Kandersteg
If you’re journeying from afar, the best time to experience Oeschinensee is when the lake has thawed.
This is typically from spring through to autumn, ideally during the shoulder seasons to avoid large crowds. This is when you can witness the lake’s waters transform into a radiant turquoise blue under the sunlight.
A visit to Oeschinensee comes highly recommended by nearly everyone who’s been there. The sight of the towering rock walls surrounding the lake is truly breathtaking, especially when you see the mountains reflected on the lake’s surface.
This stunning ‘mirror’ view can be enjoyed from the beach near Berghotel Oeschinensee and along the hiking trails on the northern shore. While it’s possible to hike around Oeschinensee for different perspectives of the lake, it’s always a good idea to check with the tourism office about trail availability, as routes may be closed due to rockslide risks.
To make your hike easier, consider following this trail map I created using Komoot, which takes you along a gradual incline through some of the most scenic parts of Oeschinensee.
The hiking trails to the east of Oeschinensee, nestled among towering rock walls, offer unique views of the lake that you won’t often see on social media. However, these trails are quite challenging and may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights, as they require some rock climbing skills.
But don’t worry, Oeschinensee will already take your breath away the moment you reach the beach near the hotel and restaurant. There’s no need for strenuous hiking to enjoy your visit.
You can rent a kayak, take a swim in the lake, or even try your hand at fishing! Just remember to bring your own fishing gear like rods, hooks, and bait. And don’t forget, you’ll need a permit and should familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations before you cast your line. Keep in mind that fishing permits can be a bit pricey, ranging from CHF 20 to CHF 32 depending on your age.
Fishing permits are available at the restaurants near the Oeschinensee.
4. Have Fun in The Nordic Arena Kandersteg
Should you find yourself in a group of 10 and seeking more excitement after the toboggan run, don’t miss out on the next big thing in Kandersteg: The Nordic Arena.
At the Nordic Arena, you can participate in a variety of sports training and fun experiences, one of which is mountain tubing. This heart-pounding activity lets you slide from the top of a ski jumping hill to the bottom at speeds reaching 90kph (56mph). It’s fun and quite a sight seeing your friends or family members’ faces light up with thrill as they zoom down the hill!
Mountain tubing is open from June to September, every day at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., except Saturdays. You’ll need to register and make a reservation ahead of time. Please note that mountain tubing is only available when the weather is dry. The cost for adults is CHF 35 and for kids aged 10 to 15, it’s CHF 20. Group discounts are also available. For more information and to make a booking, visit the official Nordic Arena website.
5. Hike Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass and Visit Schwarenbach Hotel from Kandersteg
Exploring the Alps often involves a good hike. If you’re in Kandersteg and looking for more trails beyond Oeschinensee, consider the Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass. It’s one of the top 10 hiking trails in Kandersteg and is a great choice if you’re interested in visiting another town, Leukerbad, after your hike.
The Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass hiking trail winds its way from the southern part of Kandersteg, through the Sunnbuel plateau, all the way to Gemmi Pass and Leukerbad. Essentially, you’ll be crossing the boundaries of the cantons of Bern and Valais.
The trail features two beautiful lakes, Arvenseeli and Daubensee, and a charming hotel known as Hotel Schwarenbach. This hotel is well-loved for its delicious tarts, cozy atmosphere, and top-notch service. Personally, I’m a fan of the hotel’s design. The stone structure and wooden windows really enhance the alpine feel of the trail.
The real reward comes after hiking the Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass when you arrive in Leukerbad. Known as one of Switzerland’s largest spa and wellness resorts, Leukerbad boasts numerous thermal baths filled with healing waters that reach temperatures of 51°C/123°F.
Taking a dip in these thermal baths is the perfect way to unwind after a hike. The Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass journey begins with a cable car ride in Kandersteg (Sunnbuel) and concludes with another cable car ride in Leukerbad (Gemmi Pass).
To reach the Sunnbuel Talstation (valley station), you can either take bus #241 towards Eggeschwand or enjoy a 33-minute hike from the center of Kandersteg. You should find yourself at the Sunnbuel Talstation about 5-10 minutes after leaving the town center of Kandersteg. Under ideal conditions, hiking the Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass trail should take around 3 hours.
Here are the specifics of the trail:
6. Feel the Thrill: Kandersteg Via Ferrata in Allmenalp
Are you up for an adrenaline-pumping adventure? Check out Allmenalp Via Ferrata, one of the most thrilling and scenic Via Ferrata routes in Switzerland. You’ll have the opportunity to scale a 350-meter high rock wall, right next to the stunning Almenbach waterfall.
Allmenalp Via Ferrata is not just about climbing walls — it also features zip-line rides and a three-rope bridge for a real adrenaline rush. On the Hulster scale, Allmenalp Via Ferrata has a difficulty rating of K4, with K1 being the least challenging and K6 being the most difficult.
The course typically takes around 3 to 3.5 hours to finish, plus an extra 15 minutes for hiking. You can rent Via Ferrata equipment from the valley station of the Allmenalpbahn, situated near the Almenbach waterfalls to the southwest of Kandersteg.
The daily rental fee is CHF 25 per person. Once you’ve completed your adventure, you can take the cable car back to Kandersteg at a cost of CHF 14 for adults and CHF 7 for kids. The Allmenalp cable car runs from mid-spring through mid-autumn. You’ll find the schedule below, but be sure to check the official Allmenalp website for any updates or changes.
|13th May – 11th June
|12th June – 15th August
|16th August – 5th September
|6th September – 17th October
7. Relax in Blausee Nature Park near Kandersteg
If you prefer relaxation over extreme adventure, then your next stop in Kandersteg should be Blausee Nature Park. It’s not just any nature park, though. Inside, you’ll discover a breathtakingly beautiful turquoise crystal clear lake, along with amenities like a coffee shop, a barbeque grill garden, a bistro, and even a fish farm.
There’s also a hotel where you can rest and recharge. In short, Blausee Nature Park might just have everything you need to relax after your adventures in Kandersteg.
Of course, the main draw of the nature park is Lake Blau, also known as Blausee in German. It may not be as expansive as Lake Oeschinen, but its vibrant colors and glass-like transparency are truly mesmerizing. Nestled amidst a forest, Lake Blau presents a magical view as it mirrors the surrounding trees on its surface when the sun shines. The sight is particularly spectacular during autumn.
A hike around Blausee is possible and can be completed within 10-15 minutes due to the lake’s compact size. As you wander around, you’ll likely see small boats gently floating on the turquoise waters of Blausee – a truly picturesque sight!
In summer, special boats with glass floors are available for rides on Blausee. Although you may see fish in the lake, fishing is prohibited. But don’t worry – there’s a trout farm close by where you can purchase fresh fish and cook them at the park’s spacious grill area. For more details about Blausee, check out its official website.
To get to Blausee from Kandersteg via public transit, first make your way to Kandersteg Bahnhof. Then, hop on bus #230 that’s going to Frutigen. You’ll need to alight at the 7th stop, known as Blausee BE. Once you disembark from the bus, you should immediately spot a big signboard for Blausee.
8. Visit Adelboden’s Giant Swing from Kandersteg
Adelboden, a town to the west of Kandersteg, is nestled on the valley on the other side of the towering 2000-meter-high mountains of Chlyne Lohner, First, and Bunderspitz. Despite these mountains, traveling from Kandersteg to Adelboden is quite straightforward.
It’s just an hour’s bus ride away on bus #230. Once there, you can visit Switzerland’s giant swing that offers a panoramic view of the entire Adelboden. While it might not be as thrilling as the toboggan run in Kandersteg, the breathtaking view and picture-worthy spot make it worth a visit!
At this spot, you can snap photos of yourself swinging high above the ground, with the stunning alps serving as a breathtaking backdrop. Just remember to be cautious and not swing too wildly, as there’s no protective gear – it’s just you holding onto the ropes to stay seated on the giant swing.
The swing is located on a ridge plateau known as Tschentenalp. To reach it, head to the Tschentenalp valley station, which is northeast of the Tourist Center Adelboden. Here, you’ll find cable cars that will take you directly to Tschentenalp.
You can discover more activities in Adelboden on its official website. However, apart from the giant swing, the top two attractions in this town are:
- Engstligen Falls — a stunning 600-meter waterfall located in the southern part of Adelboden. It’s about an hour’s hike from Adelboden, but you can cut down on the trek by taking bus #232 towards Chäli.
- Cholerenschlucht Adelboden — a highly-rated gorge located to the north of Adelboden, featuring steel pathways for visitors to explore. To get there from Adelboden, you can take bus #232 towards Adelboden, Ausserschwand. However, you’ll still need to hike for about 15 minutes to reach the gorge.
9. See the Triangular Shadow in Niesen Mountain
By now, I believe I’ve covered all the noteworthy activities to do in and around Kandersteg. But don’t forget, the journey to and from Kandersteg is filled with beautiful sights worth seeing too! One such attraction is Niesen Mountain, often referred to as Switzerland’s pyramid mountain.
Niesen is a spectacular mountain located in the canton of Bern, offering stunning views over Lake Thun. It’s one of the mountains you’ll spot on your journey to Kandersteg.
The beauty of Niesen is best appreciated when viewed from the opposite side of Lake Thun, near Interlaken, where it forms an almost perfect triangular shape. But you don’t have to cross the lake or take a bus ride around it to truly appreciate this mountain. In my opinion, the real magic of Niesen Mountain is experienced at its peak.
At the peak of Mount Niesen, a breathtaking view of the entire Canton of Bern awaits you. From here, you can observe the striking shift in Switzerland’s geography from the central plateau to the jagged peaks of the Alps. You’ll also have an overhead view of Lake Thun and Brienz, where you can see boats creating ripples as they glide across the water.
The best time to experience Mount Niesen is from afternoon until sunset. If luck is on your side, you may see Mount Niesen projecting a triangular shadow onto the fields and lake beneath.
Here’s a sample:
There are a couple of ways to get to the top of Mount Niesen. The first option is to hike up the entire mountain, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. The second, and perhaps more convenient option, is to take the funicular. This can either cut down your hike or take you straight to the summit.
The funicular’s base station is located in the quaint village of Mülenen. If you’re traveling to Kandersteg from Spiez by train, Mülenen is the first stop. On the other hand, if you’re coming from Kandersteg, it’s the last stop before you reach Spiez.
10. Explore Lake Thun after Kandersteg
Given that Lake Thun is on your route to and from Kandersteg, it makes sense to include it in your travel plans. More importantly, Lake Thun is home to some truly beautiful attractions along its shores. Two notable ones are the Oberhofen Castle, a charming castle with a tower that extends into the lake, and the Saint Beatus Caves.
How do you get to Kandersteg, Switzerland?
You can get to Kandersteg by car or public transportation, but public transit is the preferred option, especially if you’re coming from major Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern, or Zurich. From these cities, you’ll need to take at least two train rides to reach Kandersteg.
The quickest route from Basel, Bern, or Zurich is via a train ride to Spiez. From there, you can catch another train to Kandersteg. Kandersteg is situated at the end of its valley, and on the final leg of your train journey from Spiez to Kandersteg, you’ll pass through the towns of Mülenen, Reichenbach im Kandertal, and Frutigen.
If you’re traveling from Geneva to Kandersteg, you can also take the route via Spiez. However, a faster option would be to take the IC train to Brig and then catch another train to Kandersteg.
When to Visit Kandersteg
Given that Kandersteg’s attractions are primarily outdoor, weather plays a crucial role in planning your visit.
The ideal time to visit is during the summer, particularly from July to August, when the weather is at its warmest and temperatures usually remain below 25 degrees Celsius. Summer is particularly suitable for water activities at Oeschinensee.
However, if you’re more interested in sightseeing, consider visiting during the shoulder season for a less crowded and more budget-friendly experience. For a unique sight, especially around Oeschinensee, an autumn visit offers a view of stunning fall foliage. Plus, autumn is the driest season in Kandersteg.
How Many Days in Kandersteg
A single day is ample to experience the beauty of Kandersteg, especially its highlight, Oeschinensee. Start your day by exploring the charming village of Kandersteg. Then, head over to Oeschinensee, where you can spend the majority of your day. You can hike, relax by the lake, or even participate in water activities!
If you’re staying in Bern or Interlaken, a day trip to Kandersteg is a great choice as it’s only a couple of train rides away.
Going for a day trip to Kandersteg? Make sure to peek at the Oeschinensee webcams before your Kandersteg day trip. This way, you can be certain of having a great time. If the weather’s fine, go ahead! If it’s not, don’t worry, there will be a next time!
Spending two days in Kandersteg is a fantastic idea if you’re looking to add some extra fun to your trip. After a day of exploring the village and Oeschinensee, why not try the thrilling mountain coaster? You could also visit nearby attractions like the serene Blausee and the exhilarating Adelboden Giant Swing.
In my view, Kandersteg is an ideal weekend getaway, particularly for those in Europe seeking a couple of days in a lesser-known destination.
Planning to stay in Kandersteg for a couple days? You can find the best hotel deals in Kandersteg here.
Where to Next After Kandersteg?
Located in the heart of the Swiss Alps, Kandersteg is close to numerous destinations in Switzerland. Within a couple of hours, you could be exploring another charming village in Switzerland or a city that’s just a stone’s throw away from the Swiss Alps.
If you’re seeking the closest destination, the Jungfrau Region should be your first stop, where you’ll find Grindelwald, Interlaken, and Lauterbrunnen. These places are, in my opinion, the jewels of Switzerland, boasting a wide array of attractions. To experience the whole Jungfrau Region, you’ll need to spend 7 days in Interlaken.
If you’re interested in a blend of cultural and alpine experiences, consider visiting larger towns a bit further from the mountains, like Gruyeres. This town is renowned for its cheese, chocolates, and charming streets at its medieval city center.
In fact, there are fantastic destinations in the Alps that offer a mix of experiences as well. They a nice destination for travelers looking for hidden gems. Take Sion, Brig, and Thun for instance — these alpine cities boast medieval castles that tower over the rest of the city. If you’re after a combination of lake, mountain, and culture, Lucerne or Montreux should be on your list.
Lastly, it’s important to note that Kandersteg is only a short 40-minute train ride away from Brig. Brig has a direct train service to Milan, making it a convenient starting point for your travels in northern Italy, including destinations like Lake Como, Bergamo, or Cinque Terre.
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