Planning to visit Kandersteg in the Canton of Bern but you’re not sure what there is to do in the area? Then you are definitely in the right place because this detailed guide covers all the top sights and things to do in Kandersteg!
In the winter it’s skiing and in the summer it’s hiking – there’s a quick summary of the most popular activities in the Swiss resort town. Kandersteg is beautiful regardless of the season and it’s surrounded by spectacular mountainous landscapes. Fabulous lakes, exciting summit ascents, and a plethora of nature trails are just some of the top things to do in the area – keep reading for more!
Table of Contents
Ride The Cable Car To Oeschinen Lake
Oeschinen Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and easily one of the top tourist attractions in the Bernese Oberland. If you make it to Kandersteg, you absolutely need to make time to see this magical Alpine lake.
Lake Oeschinensee is accessible by cable car and walking trails. It takes about an hour and a half to hike from Kandersteg to Lake Oeschinensee and the trail is not very difficult so it’s suitable for most hikers. Taking the cable car is much faster, but the cable car station is still about a 30-minute walk away from the lake.
It’s important to note that there are multiple hiking trails near this magical lake, so it’s better to ride the cable car and save your energy if you want to explore the spectacular mountain scenery and sylvan Alpine landscapes that surround Oeschinen Lake.
It is also possible to come up to the lake in Winter and enjoy things like sledging, winter walking, and even ice fishing. I have never done it myself, but if you love fishing, why not give it a go!
Ride the Thrilling Mountain Coaster
Mountain Coaster is a thrilling toboggan run situated near the Oeschinensee gondola lift station. If you’ve decided to visit the beautiful Alpine lake, you can easily do this toboggan run as soon as you exit the cable car.
The toboggan run is some 750 meters, and it boasts a total elevation change of 150 meters. It’s a very thrilling ride, but it is not dangerous by any means – children who are at least 8 years old are able to ride the toboggan on their own, while younger kids have to be accompanied by someone who is at least 8.
One thing to note about the Mountain Coaster is that it is open from mid-May through October. The toboggan is closed in wet weather, so don’t even bother trying to ride it on a rainy day.
Explore Kandersteg Old Town
Kandersteg itself is a quaint Swiss village with only around 1000 inhabitants. So, it certainly won’t take you long to walk around the town, but it’s worth a wander, especially if you are new to Switzerland.
The stunning tall Swiss mountain chalet-style houses with their flower-filled balconies are always a great photo op. And then there is the Kandersteg church and a small river running through town with its lovely bridge.
Seilbahn Museum Schweiz: Learn All About Cable Cars
Seilbahn Museum Schweiz is the first cable car museum in Switzerland, and one of the more popular attractions in Kandersteg. It’s worth checking out if you’re into unique attractions, especially if you’ve got a thing for gondolas and cable cars.
You can visit this interesting museum to learn more about the history, construction, development, and operation of cable cars in Switzerland. The museum’s exhibit includes ski lifts, old gondolas, and even a cable car control system, among other things. It’s definitely an interesting exhibit and not a bad way to kill an hour while you’re in Kandersteg. After all, Switzerland is all about gondolas, cable cars and mountain railways. So, why not dive a little deeper into what makes this country tick.
Note: At the time of writing this, Seilbahn Museum Schweiz is still not entirely finished. The museum’s first exhibit is open for visitors, and more exhibits are on the way!
Ride The Funicular to Niesen Mountain
Niesen is an impressive pointy peak in the Bernese Alps you might notice as you drive down the valley on the way from Bern to Interlaken. It is also one of the best day trips from Kandersteg. To reach this impressive mountain, you need to head to the Kandersteg train station first. Get on the train to Spiez but get out at Mülenen – it’s about 20 minutes away from Kandersteg, and it’s the third stop on the ride.
If this sounds like a great day out, you need to make your way to Mülenen. Once you arrive, you need to walk across the river for a couple of minutes, until you reach the cogwheel railway station. The train takes about 30 minutes to reach the top of Niesen mountain – the time will fly because the surrounding landscapes are incredibly stunning. You’ll get out of the funicular pretty much at the summit, so you immediately get to enjoy panoramic views of all the surrounding peaks, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz.
There are lots of hikes on the top of the mountain (or from the bottom up if you are fit), so feel free to explore as much as you like. One I recommend is the Niesen Panorama Trail which takes you down to the mid-station.
There is also a hotel/restaurant at the summit where you can grab something to eat and drink, as well as a playground area for kids.
The Niesen funicular is open from mid-April to mid-November and it’s important to note that the summit is inaccessible in other seasons.
Gasterntal Valley – Step Into Paradise
Gasterntal Valley is a wildlife refuge southeast of Kandersteg town. It boasts glaciers, waterfalls, good restaurants, and wild landscapes, so it’s the best natural attraction near Kandersteg, apart from the lovely lakes.
The valley is about two hours away from Kandersteg on foot, but it follows the same route that vehicles use, so it’s not the most scenic of hikes. However, it all becomes worth it when you reach the valley – it’s truly an impressive sight, and it’s abundant with widely scenic trails that are just waiting to be explored.
I did a glacier hike up here many years ago to the Kanderfirn, which is a long glacier at the top of the valley. From there, you can then head over and down into Lauterbrunnen. It is a hike you have to do with a guide or as an experienced mountaineer because glacier hiking is not for beginners.
There’s also a bus connection between Kandersteg and Gasterntal in the summer months, and this is the best option if you want to make the most of your trip to the valley. Seat reservation is mandatory and return tickets are around 14 CHF. The buses run from approximately 8 AM until 5 PM, so you will have plenty of time to discover this magical valley.
Admire Untouched Nature at Blausee Naturpark
Blausee Naturpark is situated north of Kandersteg and it is easily accessible by a 10-minute bus ride from the town. It’s a 5-minute walk from the bus stop to the nature park entrance, so in total it takes about 15 minutes to reach the park from Kandersteg.
Lake Blausee (Blue Lake in English) is a surreally beautiful lake and a must-see attraction for travelers in Kandersteg. It’s the definition of beautiful, untouched nature, and it’s one of the places that you can visit in the area regardless of the season.
Swimming in the lake is prohibited, so leave your bathing suits at home. Instead, consider discovering the lake on boat rides – if you visit in the summer, you’ll have a chance to ride the glass-bottom boat! There are also plenty of walking trails in the area that you can hike, a seasonal playground for kids, and a couple of great restaurants nearby, so you don’t have to pack snacks for the day.
Enjoy Rock Climbing at Kandersteg-Allmenalp Via Ferrata
Kandersteg-Allmenalp via Ferrata is a challenging climbing route perfect for all mountaineers in Kandersteg. Plan to spend about half a day on this excursion – it takes about three hours to climb the mountain face, plus any time you take to relax and enjoy the views at the top. When it’s time to head back into town, you can just ride a cable car back to Kandersteg.
This is one of the most beautiful via Ferratas in Switzerland, so you should definitely plan to do it if you are an avid climber. It is rated KS4+ (on a 1-6 scale), so it’s definitely a challenging route suitable only for experienced climbers. The via Ferrata alone is 370 meters, but the entire climb is around 650 meters.
The via ferrata is open from May through October, although it can be closed even during those times, depending on the weather conditions. You will need special equipment for this climb – if you don’t already own it, you can get it at one of the many sports shops in Kandersteg, or just rent it directly at the Allmenalp cable car station. Rental is around 25CHF per day per person.
Hike From Sunnbuel to Gemmi Pass
The hike Hike From Sunnbuel to Gemmi Pass is one of the best hikes in the Kandersteg area for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s about three hours in one direction, so it will take you at least six hours to hike from Sunnbuel to Gemmi Pass and all the way back, plus any time you spend resting or just enjoying the views.
You can get from Kandersteg to Sunnubel in about 30 minutes if you walk, or just 10 minutes if you take the bus. We’d recommend getting on the bus and saving your energy for the hike because it is quite challenging.
The terrain is not very technically difficult, but it’s a long hike and the total elevation gain is around 525 meters. The trailhead is at Sunnbuel gondola station, from where you head south following a pretty straight path. You’ll pass next to Daubensee, a wild but stunning lake.
The views from Gemmi Pass are absolutely mesmerizing and well worth the hike up the mountain. It’s worth noting that you can ride the cable car from Gemmi Pass to Laukerbad – a small resort village famous for its many thermal baths. Is there a better way to relax after a tiring hike than submerging yourself in hot but therapeutic water? Just make sure you’ll have enough time to hike back home!
How to Get to Kandersteg?
The closest airport to Kandersteg is Sion Airport, but that’s a small airport that only services seasonal flights. On the off chance that you manage to get a flight to this airport, you can travel from Sion to Kandersteg by train, with a quick train change in Brig. The entire journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
Most people don’t land at Sion – instead, they arrive at either Geneva Airport or Zurich Airport. They’re the two largest (international) airports in Switzerland, and they’re both equally far from the resort in the mountains.
Travel by train is still your best option, regardless of where you land. It’s the quickest way of traveling through Switzerland, especially when trying to reach a town in the mountains. Driving in the Swiss Alps is not the better option, particularly in the winter when the conditions are challenging and many roads and mountain passes are closed.
It takes about two and a half hours to travel by train from Zurich, with a quick train change in Spiez. From Geneva, the journey takes around three hours and includes a train change in Brig.
Best Time to Visit Kandersteg
The busiest seasons in the resort town are summer and winter (December-March). Most people who visit Kandersteg are there for one of two reasons – they either want to explore the many cross-country skiing trails or they’re there for the countless hiking trails.
If you’re planning a ski trip, then the best time to visit is during the ski season, which normally lasts from December through March. You won’t be able to avoid the crowds, but it’s worth noting that Kandersteg is not an extremely popular tourist destination, so it’s unlikely the place will be overcrowded anyway.
On the other hand, if you want to travel to Kandersteg for its many hiking trails, plan for a summer family vacation. This is when the trail conditions are at their best, and there’s the least amount of snow on the surrounding mountain peaks.
Shoulder season visits are also a good idea, especially if you want to avoid larger crowds. Just keep in mind that trail conditions will not be ideal in the shoulder season (April-May, September-November) and that there’s a possibility of snow at higher altitudes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Kandersteg Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! The lovely resort town is surrounded by breathtaking nature and it’s one of the best places in Switzerland for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you want to go hiking, skiing, rock climbing, or even on wild toboggan rides, you will not be disappointed by this lovely village.
The best thing about Kandersteg is that it’s just enough off the beaten path. It still has a great tourist infrastructure and it is easily accessible by public transport, but the crowds here are nowhere near as big as those in Zermatt or St. Moritz even during peak season.
With plenty of things to do and places to visit, you could easily spend a week in this village and not even notice the time going by. There are plenty of exciting trails that start directly at Kandersteg, and even more amazing places you can discover on easy day trips from the resort town!
What language do they speak in Kandersteg Switzerland?
The majority of the population in Kandersteg speak the local dialect of German with the next biggest population speaking Portuguese, and the third most popular language is then English.