Arnensee is a beautiful lake situated south of the Swiss resort of Gstaad.. If you’re already somewhere in the area and you’re looking for a destination where you can relax, swim, and maybe even fish a little, this is definitely one of the top destinations in southern Switzerland!
The easiest way of reaching Arnensee Lake, what there is to do and the area, and when the best time to visit it is just some of the topics covered in this detailed guide. Keep reading to learn all you need to know to plan your trip to Arnensee, Switzerland!
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How to Get to Arnensee
The easiest way to reach Lake Arnen is to drive a car. However, be aware that it is not an simple undertaking. The road is paved, but is narrow. There are a number of pull-outs on the way up, but if you are not comfortable with mountain roads – take the bus (more on that below).
Also, the last part of the road up the lake is barred by a gate that costs 5 CHF to open (as of 2023). You need 5 x 1 CHF coins to open it. So, come prepared.
If you are able to rent a car and drive to the lake, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a large parking lot directly at the lake. You can leave the car there and head off to explore the wonderful nature that surrounds this charming Swiss lake. The lake is only about a 20-minute drive from Gstaad, so you can easily visit on a day trip from the charming Swiss village.
With the advent of e-bikes things have become a lot easier. If you have an e-bike in Gstaad or bring one to the bus stop below Arnensee then you can use it to bike up to the lake. Obviously you will be sharing the way with cars and hikes, so keep that in mind, but it is another option to get you there.
By Public Transport
It’s possible to reach the lake on foot from the Feutersoey, Dorf bus stop. This is the last stop on your journey down the Zweisimmen Valley, after changing to bus 180 in Gstaad. It only takes 11 minutes from Gstaad.
If you are coming from Bern, it takes around 2 hours give or take. Most times you will change in Zweisimmen, but sometimes there are direct trains, so always check your exact connections on SBB.ch
Walking From The Bus Stop
The distance from the bus stop to the lake is some 6 kilometers and it is a climb of around 400m in altitude. It can be covered in approximately an hour and a half. However, you’re walking along the road shared with cars for a good part of the hike, so it’s not the ideal way of traveling to the lake.
Activities at Arnensee
A loop hiking trail around the lake is one of the most popular paths in the area. The walking path is level with the lake and it’s suitable even for families with small kids. This is an easy hike that anyone can do, and it’s a great way of exploring the wonderful nature around this mesmerizing Swiss lake.
The loop trail is some 3.5 kilometers long and the hike can be completed in about an hour. The hike mostly takes place on flat terrain, with a total elevation change of just some 19 meters.
Another popular trail in the area is from Col du Pillon to Lake Arnen. You can ride the bus to Col du Pillon, and then it’s approximately an hour and a half of hiking to the southern shore of the lake. It will take you another 30 minutes or so to reach the northern shore of the lake, where you can stop for a refreshing swim, or just continue hiking to the Feutersoey bus stop.
Arnensee is one of the best swimming lakes in this part of Switzerland. The temperature of the water becomes warm enough for enjoyable swimming sessions, and it’s absolutely perfect for a quick refresh from the summer heat. However, keep in mind that this is a mountain lake; the water will still be quite cool even in the middle of summer. So, don’t expect 25-degree temperatures!
You can get into the water at both the northern and southern shores of the lake, although there are more improvised beaches on the northern side. You can also rent paddle boats and row boats, for an even more fun-filled afternoon.
One thing to note is that there aren’t really any proper beaches with lifeguards, so you’re entering the water at your own risk. If you aren’t a perfectly confident swimmer, it might be best to stick to fishing and picnic spots.
Fishing is another great way to spend your time at Lake Arnen. There are many spots along the lake shore where you can fish for the perfect catch, and you can easily find them even without a map. Just see if you can spot where the locals are fishing because they usually know all the best spots where the fish will bite.
It’s worth noting that a license for fishing is necessary for the Bern canton, and you can purchase one in the restaurant at Arnensee. You will be fined if you are caught fishing without a license, so it’s best to play it safe and avoid any uncomfortable situations.
Barbecue sites can be found along the entire coast of this lake, and they’re absolutely perfect for friends and families who want to spend a day relaxing and having fun. Pair the barbecuing with the fishing and put any catches of the day on the grill!
But keep in mind that you have to use a dedicated barbecue site if you want to prepare food on an open fire. You can’t just light a fire anywhere, at least not without incurring a fine.
For those of you who prefer to eat without doing quite as much work, you’ll be glad to know that there is a local restaurant at the northern lake shore. It serves delicious Swiss cuisine and offers a gorgeous view of the turquoise lake waters.
It’s possible to rent paddle boats and row boats during the peak season at Arnensee, and this is a great way to spend time at the lake if you want to have some fun on the water. The lake is quite big and boating will allow you to explore it entirely.
You can also bring your own kayak or a SUP if you don’t want to pay for rentals and explore Lake Arnen at your own pace. This is one of the top activities at the lake, especially for people who enjoy being in the water but don’t find the mountain lake warm enough for long swimming sessions.
Best Time to Visit Arnensee
The best time to visit Arnenses is in the summer when it’s possible to swim in the lake. This is by far the busiest season for the lovely Swiss lake when countless tourists and locals come from the surrounding regions for some r&r near this beautiful lake.
Arnensee is most popular for fishing, swimming, and barbecues, all typical summertime activities you can enjoy once the temperatures become a little too hot to bear being in the cities. Here you can find a shaded spot beneath some trees for a picnic with friends and family, swim in the cool lake water, or just enjoy exploring the amazing surroundings of the lake.
Is Arnensee Worth Visiting?
If you’re already somewhere close to the lake then yes, Arnensee is definitely worth exploring. It’s only about 20-25 minutes from Gstaad, which is a fairly popular tourist destination in this part of the country. The lake boasts some beautiful nature, it’s surrounded by mountains and meadows, so there are plenty of things to keep you occupied for an entire day or more. But really it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the warm and sunny days that are so rare in Switzerland.
On the other hand, if you’re nowhere near the area and you’re thinking of traveling to the region just to visit this lake, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Yes, it’s a beautiful lake, but there are many others that I would recommend you visit before Arnensee. If you’ve not traveled to Klöntalersee or Crestasee yet, definitely consider visiting those lakes first, especially if you’re closer to them than Lake Arnen.