For me, there are three reasons why mountains are the best destination. Mountains give us awe from views, fun from adventure, and peace from nature. This is why Switzerland, particularly the Alps, is so enticing to travel to, even if it is expensive to visit.
One of the places in the Swiss Alps not so familiar yet worthy of visiting is Kandersteg, a town in the UNESCO Jungfrau-Aletsch area located 69 kilometers south of Bern. It is known to have spectacular mountain views and Sylvan alpine landscapes – all beautiful to see.
It is often eclipsed by many popular attractions in Switzerland like Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt, Interlaken, etc. But in fact, in this underrated town, we’ll find things/places that impress and give a unique experience to all its visitors.
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In this blog post, I share the activities and attractions you can find in Kandersteg (the reasons why you will come) and how you can get to Kandersteg from different cities in Switzerland.
So, without further ado:
Is Kandersteg worth visiting?
Kandersteg is worth visiting, especially for family vacationers and group travelers who want to spend time together in fun and scenic places. The mountain coaster, lake Oeschinen, and lake Blausee are the attraction in Kandersteg where they can have good moments together. Nevertheless, if you love to wander, take photographs and have extreme adventures, you can still enjoy Kandersteg too.
The Swiss Alps is just one of the most beautiful places on Earth, right? Discover more places to visit in the Swiss Alps from my articles: Inspiring Photos of Swiss Countryside and Things That Make The Swiss Alps Famous and Special (Click to open in a new tab and read later). I have listed all the things that will make you visit the Swiss Alps – they shall give you ideas of what to visit when visiting Switzerland.
How do you get to Kandersteg, Switzerland?
Kandersteg can be reached using a car or public transportation. However, it is preferable to use public transit, especially if you are coming from Switzerland’s main cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern, or Zurich. You will only need to do at least 2 train rides to reach Kandersteg from these cities.
To go to Kandersteg from Basel, Bern, or Zurich, the fastest way you can have is the train route via Spiez. From these cities, hop on a train to Spiez. And then, from Spiez, get another train going to Kandersteg.
To go to Kandersteg from Geneva, you can also follow the Spiez route. However, you can reach Kandersteg much faster if you instead have the IC trains to Brig and then another train to Kandersteg.
Kandersteg is located at the end of its valley. On the last leg of your train journey (Spiez to Kandersteg), you will be passing the towns of Mülenen, Reichenbach im Kandertal, and Frutigen. I included the activities found in these towns in the list of things to do in Kandersteg, so you can have more choices and maximize your trip to Kandersteg.
Traveling for a week or more in Switzerland? Save a lot of money using the Swiss Travel Pass (click here to learn more). With it, you can have an unlimited ride on public transportation (Bus, Trains, and Boats) and free entry to more than 500+ museums in the country. Cable cars, funicular, and cogwheel train rides are discounted by 50%. IMPORTANT: before you buy a Swiss Travel Pass, check first where it is valid or where it applies 50% on STP’s official website.
Need help in planning your trip to Switzerland? I prepared a 3-day, 7-day, 10-day, 14-day Switzerland Itinerary to guide you. I discussed each destination to visit (things to do, how long to stay, map, and other tips). Check it out!
Things to do in Kandersteg, Switzerland
People visit Kandersteg because of Lake Oeschinen and the alpine coaster, both located east of the town. However, they aren’t the only things you can see and do in Kandersteg. Here is the summary of the 10 activities, best things to do in and near Kandersteg:
- Explore the town
- Ride mountain coaster
- Visit Oschinensee
- Fun in Nordic Arena
- Hike Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass
- Via Ferrata in Allmenalp
- Blausee Nature Park
- Adelboden’s giant swing and gorge
- Sunset in Niesen Mountain
- More lakes and castles
Kandersteg is one of the adventure-filled, idyllic, and scenic towns in the Swiss Alps. If you plan to stay in Switzerland for longer, you should also visit other towns, e.g., Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Zermatt, and Gruyeres. Click the name of the towns to see if they are worth a visit too.
Activity 1: Explore the picturesque town of Kandersteg
Let’s kick this list of things to do in Kandersteg with a simple yet wanderlust-satisfying activity: Explore the picturesque town of Kandersteg.
Kandersteg is not often included in the most beautiful towns in Switzerland. Still, with the 3000-meter high mountains all around and chalets everywhere, Kandersteg is definitely one that you’ll love strolling around. The Bernese Alps scrape the horizon of Kandersteg, all of them peeking above the charming traditional, flower-decked houses in town.
The most notable structures in Kandersteg are the Church of Saint Mary (Marian Kirkko) and the Gasthof Ruedihaus. Both buildings are quaint, straight out of an indie movie set decades ago.
Church of Saint Mary
The Church of Saint Mary is a chapel of the Catholic Church in the heart of Kandersteg, very near to the Kandersteg tourist center. From Bahnhof Kandersteg (train station), it’s only a 4-7 minute walk through the bridge northeast of the station. Continue walking east past the tourist center, and you’ll have a sight of the church after some steps.
The church is not as large and spectacular as the churches in the larger towns in Switzerland. Still, this Church of Saint Mary from Kandersteg is one of the buildings in town that shall make you feel that you’re actually in the alps. Thanks to its stone structure, spire, and location in the middle of the beautiful verdant meadows.
As the three-thousand-meter peaks are close to the town, you can photograph the Church of Saint Mary with the snow-capped mountains in the background. Don’t forget to join in the photo, so you get a photo souvenir, proof to yourself that you’ve really been to Kandersteg.
Another cultural gem in Kandersteg is the hotel/restaurant Landgasthof Ruedihus. It is registered as a Swiss heritage site of national significance, home to 250 years of traditional hospitality, alpine ambiance, and Swiss cuisine specialties. You should try two dishes in Landgasthof Ruedihus: the Suure Mocke (marinated pot-roast) and Schnifu Büürehamme (the special cured farmhouse ham).
Though the food was highly rated, the actual dining in this centuries-old hotel restaurant is the one I find more exciting to experience. Well, mainly because I’m not a food traveler, but with the architecture and exquisite alpine embellishments you’ll see all around as you devour their authentic Swiss dish… I know you’ll get my point.
Just look at the facade of the Landgasthof Ruedihus! Imagine you are at the front, eating fondues and raclettes. Tummy and eyes are satisfied!
Landgasthof Ruedihus is located in the outskirts south of the town, a 2-minute drive from the tourism office of Kandersteg or some 15-to-20-minute hike. From the tourism office, just go south, along the main street of Kandersteg. Here’s the map location of Landgasthof Ruedihus if you need directions.
You can learn more about Landgasthof Ruedihus from booking.com.
Activity 2: Ride on Kandersteg Mountain Coaster (Sommerrodelbahn)
We can find the Oeschinensee gondola lift station at the eastern portion of town – the gateway to more exciting and scenic spots in Kandersteg. One of which is the Kandersteg Mountain Coaster or more known as Rodelbahn (toboggan run) Oeschinensee.
Rodelbahn Oeschinensee is a fun way to experience the alps – a mixture of excitement, thrill, and awe. All you’ll need to do is sit, hold on tight, and slide down on a half-tube metal down to ecstatic fun!
The metal track of Rodelbanh Oeschinensee is 750 meters (2460 feet) long, covering 150 meters (950 feet) vertical distance from the top. You can expect to feel an exhilarating speed and thrill on every curve of the way!
But don’t you close your eyes as you move down the slopes! Rodelbanh Oeschinensee faces spectacular views of the wall cliffs mountains west of Kandersteg. The ride will overload your senses with addicting amusement – definitely not to be missed.
Have a look at the fun that awaits you:
Oeschinensee toboggan run is open from mid-spring to mid-autumn, only during dry weather (of course, for safety reasons). For the summer months, the rides are available from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.; closing time is earlier by an hour during non-summer months.
Access to the tracks costs differently in the morning and afternoon. You can also avail yourself of packages that will cost you less if you plan to have consecutive rides in a day. At the time of this writing, the prices are:
|Participant||Access Fee (CHF)|
before 11:30 a.m.
|Access Fee (CHF)|
after 11:30 a.m.
|Child (5 trips)||13||22|
|Adult (5 trips)||18||27|
You can book and check for announcement/price adjustments from the Oeschinensee-Kandersteg website.
Activity 3: Visit the picturesque Oschinensee from Kandersteg
Oeschinensee’s toboggan run is a fun thing to do in Kandersteg, both for adults and kids. It will be most appreciated by family vacationers who have their kids on the trip. But for travelers like me, who are single and free, I think we will enjoy the thing next to the toboggan run more: Lake Oeschinensee.
Lake Oeschinensee is considered one of the most picturesque high-altitude lakes in the Swiss Alps, together with Riffelsee and Schwarzsee near Zermatt and Bachalpsee near Interlaken. It is located 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) east of Kandersteg. The distance is shortened by the gondola lift ride that brings visitors right to the toboggan run, closer to the lake.
The distance between the Oeschinen Gondola lift station and Lake Oeschinen is roughly 1.5 kilometers. Sometimes you can find minibusses linking the lake and the cable car station. However, people often hike instead as the trail is easy and the sceneries along the way are scenic. Hiking lasts for 20 minutes.
Oeschinensee changes form with the season. This lake, situated at approximately 1500 meters (4920 feet) above sea level, gets so cold that it freezes during winter. That allows more activities to become available, making the lake a year-destination for travelers.
Oschinensee during winter in Kandersteg
Usually, Oeschinensee freezes by December. It stays frozen until May for five months. The lake is a gigantic ice skating rink during this period, letting visitors enjoy long glides on the ice without making frequent turns.
The frozen Oeschinensee skating rink is also excellent for family vacationers and friends who want to play together or create gimmicks.
Individual travelers can try ice fishing in Oeschinensee. Ice fishing is a famous activity in Oeschinensee from January to mid-March. If you plan to do ice fishing, you can expect to find different fish such as the 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. It depends on the weather and on the assessment of the local authorities. The ice thickness and the avalanche warnings, etc., are evaluated first before allowing visitors to come to Oeschinensee.
Check the Oeschinensee authorities’ announcement before planning/going from Kandersteg-Oeschinensee’s official website.
Oschinensee during summer in Kandersteg
For travelers coming from far-away places, the best time to visit Oeschinensee is when the lake isn’t frozen. That’s from spring to autumn (preferably shoulder seasons for a lesser crowd). It’s time you’ll see Oeschinensee’s water burst out with turquoise blue color as the sun shines over it.
Visiting Oeschinensee is absolutely worth it, said by almost everyone who has been to the lake. The wall of rocks surrounding Oeschinensee looks so spectacular, especially when you see the lake reflect the face of the mountains on its surface. This dramatic “mirror” view can be seen starting from the beach near Berghotel Oeschinensee continuously along the hiking trails located on the northern shore.
By default, it is possible to hike around Oeschinensee to see the lake from different angles. However, it’s always recommended to inquire first from the tourism office if the routes are available. Authorities sometimes close hiking trails when they detect the risk of rockslides.
To make the hike easier, I suggest that you follow this trail map I created using Komoot. The hiking trail shown below follows a gradual inline along with the most scenic parts around Oeschinensee:
The hiking trails located east of Oeschinensee (tall rock walls) give the most unique views of the lake, not commonly shared on social media. However, it is really challenging, and you would not dare to try if you have vertigo. Most parts will require rock climbing skills.
Anyhow, Oeschinensee will instantly awe-inspire you when you reach the beach where the hotel/restaurant is. For me, you can skip the strenuous hiking. You can already enjoy your visit to the lake by renting a kayak or just swimming in the lake.
You can also go fishing in Oeschinensee! However, you should bring your own fishing items like fishing rods, hooks, and baits. Also, even if you have the equipment, you still need to get permits and know some of the “fishing laws” before you can fish. Lastly, the fishing permits are costly; the price ranges from CHF 20 to CHF 32, depending on your age.
Fishing permits are available at the restaurants near the Oeschinensee.
Activity 4: Have Fun in the Nordic Arena Kandersteg
Suppose you aren’t satisfied with the fun in the toboggan run and you travel with a group of 10. In that case, you should try the next exciting thing awaiting you in Kandersteg: Nordic Arena.
Nordic Arena offers various sports training and fun experiences such as mountain tubing, an adrenaline-pumping activity you can enjoy with your friends or family. Mountain tubing activity uses the ski jumping hill, where you will be sliding from the top down to the bottom of the slope with a speed reaching 90kph (56mph). Watch your friends and family make thrilled faces and scream as they glide down the hill! LOL.
Mountain tubing is available from June to September, every day at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., except Saturdays. Registration and reservation are required. Note that Mountain tubing is only available during dry weather.
Access is CHF 35 for adults and CHF 20 for kids 10 to 15 years old. There are discounts for larger group packages. You can book/check the availability and some announcements from the official site of Nordic Arena.
Activity 5: Hike Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass and visit Schwarenbach Hotel from Kandersteg
Hiking will always be a part of your visit to the Alps. If you are looking for more hikes in Kandersteg aside from Oeschinensee, Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass could be the one you can try. It is one of the top 10 hiking trails in Kandersteg, and it is best to do it if you like to visit another town (Leukerbad) after hiking.
The Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass hiking trail stretches from the southern portion of Kandersteg to the Sunnbuel plateau up until Gemmi Pass and Leukerbad. Basically, you will be crossing the borders of the cantons of Bern and Valais. Along the hike, you will encounter two lakes (Arvenseeli & Daubensee) and a rustic hotel called Hotel Schwarenbach.
The Hotel Schwarenbach is loved for its tarts, quaint vibes, and excellent service. In Google Maps, the hotel has 300 reviews which rating averages of 4.5 out of 5. Personally, I like what the hotel looks like. The stone and wooden windows definitely amplify the alpine vibe on the trail.
The real deal comes after hiking Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass when you finally reach Leukerbad. Leukerbad is one of Switzerland’s biggest spa/wellness resorts, where you’ll find numerous thermal baths with gentle-healing waters at temperatures 51°C/123°F. A dip in these thermal baths is just the perfect relaxation right after a hike.
The Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass starts with a cable car (Sunnbuel) in Kandersteg and ends with another cable car in Leukerbad (Gemmi Pass).
To get to the Sunnbuel Talstation (valley station), you can hop on bus #241 heading to Eggeschwand or hike 33 minutes from the Kandersteg town center. You should arrive at the Sunnbuel Talstation 5-10 minutes after departing from the Kandersteg town center.
Hiking the Sunnbuel-Gemmi Pass trail should last for 3 hours in an ideal situation. Here are the details of the trail:
Activity 6: Experience thrill in Kandersteg’s via Ferrata in Allmenalp
Want to try extreme adventures? Check out Allmenalp via Ferrata, one of the most exciting and beautiful via Ferrata in Switzerland. You’ll climb a 350-meter tall rock wall where the gorgeous Almenbach waterfall flows.
Allmenalp via Ferrata isn’t only about wall climbing throughout the course. It also includes zip-line rides and walking on a three-rope bridge – all to satisfy your thirst for some adrenaline-pumping adventure.
The difficulty of Allmenalp via Ferrata is K4 in the Hulster scale, with K1 being the easiest and K6 as the most challenging. The overall course takes 3 to 3.5 hours to finish, with additional 15 minutes of hiking.
You can rent via Ferrata equipment from the valley station of the Allmenalpbahn, located southwest of Kandersteg near Almenbach waterfalls. The per-day rate is CHF 25 per person. After the adventure, you can go back to Kandersteg using the cable car, which one-way access costs CHF 14 for adults and CHF 7 for kids.
Allmenalp cable car operates from mid-spring to mid-autumn. Below is the schedule, but do not forget to check the official website of Allmenalp for announcements and changes.
|13th May – 11th June||08:30 a.m.||05:00 p.m.|
|12th June – 15th August||08:00 a.m.||06:00 p.m.|
|16th August – 5th September||08:30 a.m.||06:00 p.m.|
|6th September – 17th October||08:30 a.m.||05:00 p.m.|
Activity 7: Relax in Blausee Naturepark near Kandersteg
If extreme adventure isn’t your type but just relaxation, Blausee Nature park is what you must do next in Kandersteg. It’s more than just a nature park, though.
Inside, you can find not only a surreal, turquoise crystal clear lake but also a coffee shop, barbeque grill garden, a bistro, a fish farm, and a hotel. Everything you need to relax after all the adventure in Kandersteg is perhaps in Blausee Nature park.
Of course, the main attraction in the nature park is Lake Blau (Blausee in German). It isn’t a big lake compared to Lake Oeschinen. Still, indeed it has stunning colors, and the water is transparent like glass!
Lake Blau looks very magical as it is surrounded by forest. The lake’s surface reflects the trees around when the sun is out. Perhaps it shall look really incredible during autumn.
Hiking around Blausee is possible. However, since the lake isn’t huge, you can quickly finish the hike within 10-15 minutes. As you walk around, you can spot little boats drifting over the turquoise Blausee – a picturesque scene it shall be!
During summer, you can ride special boats with a glass floor in Blausee. Though you might find fish swimming in the lake, you cannot do fishing as it is prohibited. However, there is a trout farm nearby the lake where you can buy fresh fish and grill them at the large grill area of the park.
To go to Blausee from Kandersteg using public transit, go to Kandersteg Bahnhof first and catch bus #230 going to Frutigen. Alight the bus at the 7th stop (Blausee BE). You shall see the big Blausee signboard as soon as you get off the bus.
Activity 8: Visit Adelboden’s Giant Swing from Kandersteg
Adelboden is the town located west of Kandersteg, separated from Kandersteg by the 2000-meter high mountains of Chlyne Lohner, First, and Bunderspitz. Though there are mountains between them, going from Kandersteg to Adelboden isn’t very hard. By public transportation, it’s only 1 bus ride away (bus #230, 1 hour travel time) to reach.
You can visit Switzerland’s giant swing that overlooks the entire Adelboden from this town. It isn’t as fun as the toboggan run in Kandersteg, but hey, the view is breathtaking, and the spot is really Instagram-worthy!
Here you can take photos where you capture yourself swinging in the air. Of course, you’ll have that epic view of the alps in the background, which is really cool!
Just be careful not to swing too much. There’s no protective gear or something. It will be just you that will hold on to the ropes to keep yourself sitting on the giant swing.
The giant swing is located on a ridge plateau called Tschentenalp. To get to the giant swing, go to the Tschentenalp valley station located northeast of Tourist Center Adelboden. There you can find cable cars that will directly send you to Tschentenalp.
You can find more activities in Adelboden from Adelboden’s official website. However, aside from the giant swing, the best two attractions you can visit in this town are:
- Engstligen Falls – a 600-meter gorgeous waterfall located in the southern portion of Adelboden. It’s an hour hike from the Adelboden, but you can shorten the trek with bus #232 heading to Chäli.
- Cholerenschlucht Adelboden – A highly rated gorge with steel pathways located north of Adelboden. To go here from Adelboden, you can ride on bus #232 heading to Adelboden, Ausserschwand, but you will still have to hike for 15 minutes or so.
Activity 9: See the Triangular Shadow in Niesen Mountain
At this point, I think I have already mentioned all the worthy things to do in and near Kandersteg. However, the way in and out of Kandersteg also has beautiful attractions you must also see! One of them is called Niesen Mountain, better known as Switzerland’s pyramid mountain.
Niesen is a spectacular mountain in the canton of Bern, overlooking Lake Thun. It’s one of the mountains you’ll see when you go to Kandersteg.
Its spectacle is much appreciated when observed from the other side of Lake Thun near Interlaken. You can see Niesen form an almost perfect triangular shape from those places.
However, you do not have to cross the lake or take a bus ride around the lake to see the best of this mountain. For me, the epicness of Niesen mountain is found at its peak.
At the peak of Mount Niesen, the sweeping view of the entire Canton of Bern’s landscape awaits you. There at the top, you can observe the remarkable transition of Switzerland’s geography from the central plateau to the rugged peaks of the Alps.
Aside from that, you will also be overlooking Lake Thun and Brienz. You can observe the boats drift in the water, creating wakes behind them.
The best time to visit Niesen Mountain is during the afternoon until sunset. You can witness Niesen Mountain form a triangular shadow to the fields and lake below if you’re lucky. Here’s a sample:
There are two ways you can reach the summit of Mount Niesen. First, of course, is through hiking the entire mountain, which I will not recommend. The second way is by using the funicular to shorten the hike or get to the summit right away.
The funicular ground station of Mount Niesen is located in the small village of Mülenen. Mülenen is the train’s first stop if you’re going to Kandersteg from Spiez. Reversely, if you’re coming from Kandersteg, it’s the last station before you reach Spiez.
Activity 10: Explore Lake Thun after Kandersteg
Since Lake Thun will be along your way to and from Kandersteg, I think it’s reasonable to include it in your itinerary. Most importantly, Lake Thun has beautiful attractions on its shores. Two of which are Oberhofen Castle, a lovely castle with a tower dipping into the lake, and Beatus Caves.
Tip: you can get unlimited boat rides to see all the attractions in Lake Thun (also in Lake Brienz) using a one-day Hop-On-Hop-Off boat pass from getyourguide.com.
From Spiez, you can find boat rides to these tourist attractions. You can check my article about Interlaken and Thun (click to open in a new tab and read later) to see what awaits you around the lake.
Before you go! Know that there are five cities near the Swiss Alps where you can see beautiful sceneries and at the same time learn about Swiss culture and history. If you are looking for a city to visit in the Swiss Alps after Kandersteg, see my articles about Montreux, Sion, Brig, Thun, and Lucerne.
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