Home > Tourist Guide > Table of contents > Bernese Oberland > The western valleys > The Kander valley > Kandersteg

Long a centre for mountaineering, the picturesque, chalet-strewn village of Kandersteg was for centuries the trailhead for travellers crossing the high mountain passes into Canton Valais. In 1912, though, Kandersteg was changed forever by the completion of the Lötschbergtunnel (see below) just south of the village, a crucially important rail link between northern and southern Europe – the only one between Geneva and the Gotthard – which created a through route from Bern to Milan. Although the small valley road into the village can get heavy with trans-Alpine traffic, most people are heading for the car-train terminus, situated on the outskirts; once you arrive in Kandersteg itself, all is tranquil.

The main reason to visit Kandersteg is to explore the surrounding area – attractions are all rural and scenic. Kandersteg is also one of the best places in Switzerland to learn how to ski: beginners can test out their snowplough techniques on the easiest and least daunting of slopes, with other beginners all around and not a trace of big-resort swagger. The village itself is strung out along the valley floor for several kilometres, loomed over by the massive bulk of the Doldenhorn to the southeast and the First massif to the northwest. Prime hiking and recreation spot above the village is the dramatically crag-ringed Oeschinensee, a small lake accessed by a chairlift from the eastern edge of the village. From the top station, it’s a twenty-minute stroll to the lake itself, warm and glittering in summer and iced over for cross-country skiing in winter. A handful of trails fan out around the area, dotted with mountain refuges (the tourist office in Kandersteg has a complete list, with hiking routes), and the walk back down to Kandersteg is only about an hour. Another lift on the opposite side of the valley accesses the Allmenalp.

A ten-minute drive north of Kandersteg, just off the main valley-floor road, is the underwhelming Blausee (Fr.4.50; www.blausee.ch), a privately owned area of land surrounding a tiny boating lake. It’s all a bit overblown, since once you stroll through the trees to the lakelet itself, there’s not much to do other than order a plate of fresh trout on the restaurant terrace, and watch kids boating around the lake. Even the views are hemmed in by thick pine woods.

Kandersteg’s tourist office is on the main street, just ahead from the train station (July & Aug Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 8–11.30am & 2.30–6pm; Sept–June Mon–Fri 8am–noon & 2–6pm; 033/675 80 80, www.kandersteg.ch). This is also the office of the Mountaineering School (033/675 80 89). Even before the Lötschbergtunnel put Kandersteg on the map, the village had a tradition of hospitality, and accommodation is of universally good quality. Plenty of places offer dorms: the Rendezvous, near the Oeschinen chairlift (033/675 13 54; Fr.15), the International Scout Centre at the southern edge of the village (033/675 82 82, fax 675 82 89, www.kisc.ch, Fr.15), and Hotel National, near the turning for the Allmenalp chairlift and with some cheap rooms too (033/675 10 85, fax 675 22 85; a; Fr.27). Breakfast for dorm sleepers at all these places is an extra Fr.6–10. There’s a good campsite next to the Rendezvous (033/675 15 34, fax 675 17 37).

Hotels are led by the amazing Ruedihus, in a meadow off the road south of the National (033/675 81 82, fax 675 81 85; c). A beautifully restored chalet from 1753, its nine characterful rooms display minute attention to detail, with original rustic furniture and fittings set off by the most spotless of modern en-suite bathrooms. The Zur Post (033/675 12 58, fax 675 22 58; b), in the centre, is a quality lower-end choice, as is the comfortable Alpina (033/675 12 46, fax 675 12 33; b), at the northern entrance to the village. There’s a welter of luxury pads, best of which is the Victoria Ritter in the centre (033/675 80 00, fax 675 81 00, www.hotel-victoria.ch; c–d), a stout old building drenched in tradition. The Waldhotel Doldenhorn (033/675 81 81, fax 675 81 85; c) is out in the countryside, boasting comfort and quiet but not much else.

Eating and drinking covers the gamut from the simple but palatable dishes (some veggie) in the Bahnhofbuffet train station diner, up to the gourmet spreads at the luxury hotels. Meals at the Ruedihus are spectacularly good, with a choice between the formal restaurant above and the wonderfully atmospheric Stübli below, serving a range of inexpensive Swiss specialities (from Fr.20). Most of the hotels along the main street serve food, but the Victoria-Ritter prides itself on its kitchen – justifiably so, with the menu of intricately well-presented international cuisine changing every two or three months (from Fr.25).

For drivers, the Lötschbergtunnel is a very handy link between Bern and the north of Switzerland, and Valais and the south – especially since you would otherwise be forced to aim for the Grimselpass or make a detour to Montreux. Regular shuttle trains through the tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein in Valais are dedicated to transporting motor traffic. Departures run year-round, every half-hour between 5am and midnight; in July only, there are hourly shuttles throughout Friday nights. Both termini have drive-on drive-off facilities, and journey time is only fifteen minutes. You can buy your ticket on the spot – Fr.25 for a car holding up to nine people or a motorbike. For more information, call 033/675 83 83.

© Micheloud & Cie 2013     No part of this site may be reproduced in any form or by any means without our prior written permission. Printed from http://Switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/berner_oberland/kandersteg.html