— the bernese oberland
alpine heart of switzerland 

italian switzerland
ticino – best of 2 cultures

matterhorn & zermatt
iconic switzerland

KANDERSTEG

BERNESE OBERLAND

 

 

Kandersteg — extraordinarily scenic alpine village set on a flat, broad river valley, high in the Bernese Alps.

Looking east across the flat valley floor at Kandersteg to the snowcapped Blüemlisalp massif range of the Bernese Alps.

Photo view east from the Kander River by Kandersteg railway station showing a portion of the Bernese Oberland World Heritage Site copyright Home At First.

COOP grocery store and Hari's Cheese Shop, Station Street, Kandersteg
COOP grocery store and Hari’s Cheese Shop, Kandersteg.

Kandersteg — a pristine alpine village high in the Bernese Alps — offers hourly express trains between northern Switzerland & Italy, with connections throughout much of Switzerland. Kandersteg is our recommended top location for visitors looking to experience alpine Switzerland while being able to tour widely throughout the country.

          Deep in the Bernese Alps near the western end of the Bernese Oberland, Kandersteg village sits on a high (3,852′), flat plain at the southern end of a “hanging valley” carved out of the Alps by Ice Age glaciers. Surrounded on three sides by snow-capped peaks, the village is the end of the line for auto traffic driving south from the Swiss capital of Bern.

          Kandersteg’s setting is greatly enhanced by its placement on a major north-south railway that connects Germany to the north with Italy to the south. Hourly modern trains provide passenger service to destinations on both sides of the Alps and throughout much of Switzerland, making Kandersteg our top lodging location for exploring Switzerland.

          But Kandersteg is no mere base camp for day-trips throughout Switzerland. Surrounded on three sides by 10,000′ high peaks, blessed with some of the finest grazing alps in the Bernese Oberland, and offering access to one of Switzerland’s most stunning alpine lakes, Oeschinensee, and one of its most extraordinary, hidden, natural glacial side valleys, the Gasterntal,

          Kandersteg offers excellent walking, hiking, climbing, exploring, and cheese-tasting. The village features a wide range of restaurants, plus two just-large-enough groceries, a sports center, a via ferrata, and, wonderfully, one of the region’s finest cheese shops.


Home At First’s Kandersteg

HOME AT FIRST offers vacation apartments in several locations in the alpine village of Kandersteg high in the Bernese Oberland. Although most apartments are decorated and comfortably furnished in traditional Swiss alpine style, a few have modern furnishings. All apartments are clean, well cared for, and well-equipped. All are within reasonable (5-8min) walking distance to the stores, services, numerous restaurants, and to Kandersteg’s train and bus stations.

          Kandersteg is surrounded by steep walls of the Bernese Alps on three side and is open only to the north as a classic major U-shaped “hanging” valley carved by repeated glaciations during the Ice Ages.  The glaciers scooped out the softer rock of the valley floor, leaving the Kander River Valley at Kandersteg high, broad, and surprisingly flat. Guests to a few HOME AT FIRST chalet apartments in Kandersteg must climb stairs to the second (or even the third) floor, but walking around the village and to and from the village’s five transportation stations is not at all hilly.

          Flat walks of 15-30min lead in three direction to the lower stations of aerial cableways from the valley floor on the outskirts of Kandersteg: east to the modern gondola cablecars for Oeschinensee; west to the small aerial cablecar for Allmenalp; and south to the large cablecar for Sunnbüel and historic, north-south, alpine crossing via the imposing Gemmi Wall.

CHALET APARTMENT HOSTING: Each apartment has secure entry. Kandersteg is a safe, prosperous, residential community. All HOME AT FIRST Kandersteg apartments come with experienced, caring, English-speaking hosting on-site or very close by.

VILLAGE SETTING & TRANSPORTATION: Kandersteg is a compact village of just 1,250 permanent residents set at the upper reaches of the north-flowing Kander River Valley high in the Bernese Oberland. The village is served by the excellent rail services of the BLS Railway’s scenic Lötschberg Line, operating modern, rapid inter-regional express trains between Switzerland’s capital city, Bern, and southern Switzerland′s Rhone Valley at Brig, and through the Simplon Tunnel to and the northern Italian state of Piedmont at Domodossola, Italy. 

Kandersteg’s Chalet Balmhorn, with 3 guest apartments.
Hourly southbound express for Brig, Switzerland, arrives at Kandersteg.

 

          The Lötschberg Line offers smooth, comfortable, modern north-south trains hourly in both directions connecting at major Swiss Rail junction points 45min south in Brig (connections to Italy, The Glacier Express, St. Moritz, Zermatt, the Valais, Montreux, Lausanne, Geneva, and France); 30min north in Spiez (trains to Gstaad, Montreux, Interlaken, Mürren & the Jungfrau Region, Brienz, Meiringen, Luzern, and Zürich); and 70min north in Bern (trains to Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Alsace & Paris France, Germany, Holland, Zürich, eastern Switzerland, Münich, and Austria). Little, alpine Kandersteg offers one of Switzerland’s finest locations for visitors wanting to stay in a village in the Swiss Alps without limiting touring opportunities throughout Switzerland and beyond.

VILLAGE SERVICES: Despite Kandersteg’s small size, there are a dozen or so restaurants in town and on the surrounding cheese alps (Oeschinensee, Allmenalp, Sunnbüel) and in the wild, romantic Gastern Valley, ranging from snack bars to 4-star dining. The village also has two churches — one Protestant and one Roman Catholic (small chapel). Near the rail and bus stations is Kandersteg’s Alpine Center, focusing on mountain sports: climbing, skiing, biking, & snowshoeing The Alpine Center offers training, equipment rental, and guiding services. A modern chalet just north of the town center house Kandersteg’s well-staffed Tourist Information Office, where reservations can be made, inquiries can be answered, and information can be gathered in paper and verbal forms. Kandersteg has a handful of shops offering souvenirs, and sporting goods and fashions for sale & rental (including boots & poles for hiking and skiing, and mountain bikes). Among these is the Kandersteg train station, part of the Swiss-Rent-a-Bike network which makes cycling in Switzerland easy: coast & brake downhill and bring the bike home on the train. Visitors can swim at the large village pool. Kandersteg has year-round doctor’s and physicians, and a small drugstore. Prescriptions will need to be ordered from a larger locale: Spiez, Thun, Interlaken, or Bern. Kandersteg’s branch of the BKB (Cantonal Bank of Bern) has banking hours 6 days a week. For currency exchange, the ticket window at the train station offers good rates 7AM-6PM daily (7 days a week!).

Hourly Southbound Express Arriving at Kandersteg — Touring Hint: If one day the weather isn’t perfect in Kandersteg, take a southbound express through the Lötschberg Tunnel 15-45 minutes to the south side of the main spine of the Bernese Alps. On the south side, the weather can be sunny and warm when the north side of the Alps is cloudy, cool, and wet.

Home At First’s Kandersteg Lodgings

What are Home At First’s Kandersteg chalet apartments like? 

Balcony View: the Alps & geraniums.

Each is unique. They come in all sizes and shapes. Almost all feature Swiss chalet style furnishings — lots of blond spruce — although some are traditional and others modern interpretations. Some have several bedrooms and baths; others may have a single bedroom and bathroom. Almost all have terraces or balconies. Many feature balconies with very impressive alpine views. Many have balconies and windows with window boxes full of blooming geraniums in a rainbow of bright colors. (You will be invited to water the plants!) Others may have furnished patios or gardens. All are secure private quarters with private bathrooms, and all must meet Home At First standards of quality and equipment:

HOSTING: All Home At First chalet apartments in Kandersteg have friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, accessible hosts. Hosts may be the lodging owners or their representatives. Most live in their independent apartment in the same chalet or a neighboring chalet. Hosts will welcome you, show you around the apartment, explain its workings, and be on-call if questions, problems, or emergencies arise. Otherwise, you can expect to see a familiar, friendly face from time-to-time during your stay, working in the garden or stopping by your apartment to see how you are getting on.

KITCHENS: Full kitchens or practical kitchenettes with at the very least: fridge, coffee maker, tea kettle, stove top range, oven and/or toaster oven and/or microwave. Most have additional counter appliances. Many have dishwashers as well as clothes washer/dryers. All kitchen and bath towels & linens provided.

BEDROOMS: Most bedrooms have twin beds. Some twin beds can be secured and made-up together to form a large double bed. A few multi-bedroom lodgings may have a queen-size or king-size bed in one of the bedrooms, but these are rare. Larger family-size lodgings often have one bedroom with bunk beds.

BATHROOMS: Most bathrooms have a shower stall or a bathtub with overhead shower. Some few bathrooms may have a bathtub with hand-held shower, or a bathtub for bathing only.

LAUNDRY FACILITIES: Those apartments without clothes washer/dryers will have a common laundry room in the chalet, or you may use your host’s laundry room.

PARKING: Kandersteg lodgings usually (with rare exceptions) have 1 or 2 designated private guest parking spaces, most commonly off-street by the chalet. NOTE: Although Kandersteg can be reached by road from the north, the only way to cross to the south side of the Alps from Kandersteg by car is via the auto carrier trains that operate several times daily. We recommend taking advantage of the excellent public transportation service available in Switzerland and avoiding driving on mountain roads in alpine weather conditions.

ELECTRONICS: Apartments have televisions, usually the flat-screen, cable variety. Most have free WiFi, although service can be spotty away from the chalet. Few apartments come with telephones. Bring or rent a cell phone for your trip, but remember that service is spotty in the Swiss Alps. NOTE: WiFi service is available on some trains.

PROXIMITY TO RESTAURANTS, STORES & SERVICES: All chalet apartments in Kandersteg are within short walking distance to stores, services, and transportation. Opening times for stores varies by season, with long opening hours most days during the high seasons.

HOW TO BUILD, PRICE, AND BOOK YOUR TRIP —

Contact HOME AT FIRST: (800) 523-5842 (toll-free USA & Canada) • +1 610 543 4348 (worldwide) • info@homeatfirst.com