Kandersteg was the first alpine village featured in Thomas Cook’s first package holiday in 1863. Since then it has become a mecca for cross country skiing because of its relatively broad and flat valley floor and altitude of 1,200 metres making it fairly snow sure.
Along with the Engadine and Goms valleys further east, Kandersteg is one of best known Swiss resorts for cross-country skiing with more than 100km of prepared track backdropped by steep, forested mountainsides, towering cliffs and frozen waterfalls.
The steep-sided valley around the village boasts a 6km floodlit cross-country skiing night trail, a high-altitude 8km route reached by taking the Sunnbüel cable car up to 1,900 metres, and a 14km loipe through the pine-forested Höhwald.
You can see dramatic views across the Unesco World Heritage protected Oeschinensee, an oval-shaped lake beneath a cirque of cliffs at the foot of the formidable 3,663-metre Blüemlisalphorn, the Fründenhorn and Doldenhorn. On the shores of the lake the 125-year-old Hotel Oeschinensee, makes its living from serving local delicacies.
How to Get There
Nearest Airports to Kandersteg
Berne – 48 Km
Basel Mulhouse Freiburg – 123 Km
Geneva – 123 Km
Zurich – 126 Km
Swiss operates weekly direct flights from Edinburgh to Zürich from £115 return.
From Zürich airport, Kandersteg can be reached in just over two hours with a change of train in the Swiss capital of Berne for a return price of 79 Swiss francs (£59). sbb.ch
For the ultimate in hassle-free travel and Swiss efficiency you can check your baggage all the way from Edinburgh airport to your hotel in Switzerland using the “door-to-door flight luggage system”.
The ingenious scheme, a collaboration between Swiss airlines and Swiss railways, needs to be booked in advance when you buy your airline ticket. On your return, your luggage is collected from your hotel and the next you will see it will be on the conveyor belt at Edinburgh airport, or any other UK airport served by Swiss.
Where to stay:
The four-star Waldhotel Doldenhorn charges from 260 Swiss francs (£195) for a double room per night including breakfast and access to its luxury spa, which includes a swimming pool, no fewer than five saunas (with different temperatures and humidity levels), steam-rooms as well as indoor and outdoor jazuzzis. A four-course evening meal at the hotel costs 58 Swiss francs (£43) per person. The hotel’s hearty but healthy breakfasts includes the likes of freshly-squeezed carrot juice and poached eggs on a bed of spinach with truffle sauce. doldenhorn-ruedihus.ch
Tourist office: kandersteg.ch
Things to do in Kandersteg
The annual Belle Époque week in the last week of January sees villagers and visitors recalling the past by donning Edwardian era costumes for nostalgic tea dances in the ballroom of the Victoria Ritter hotel and rides on horse-drawn sleighs. Others take to the slopes in frock coats and on antique wooden skis. kandersteg.ch/en/s/belle-epoque-week
From nearby Kleine Scheidegg take Europe’s highest mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch at 3454 metres with staggering views from across the Aletsch glacier to the Jungfrau, the Mönch and the fearsome north face of the Eiger. Return ticket: 128 Swiss francs (£96). jungfraubahnen.ch
Sample rustic specialities such as raclette or Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (sautéed strips of veal in a mushroom cream sauce and served with rösti) at the Landgasthof Ruedihus, an elaborately wood-carved chalet at the south end of the village. doldenhorn-ruedihus.ch
Snow-shoeing and winter hiking. Take a cable car to the Sunnbüel or Oeschinen mountain stations above the village, from where a number of marked snow-shoeing and winter hiking trails of between one and three hours are available. Other winter options include ice curling on the village ice rink, ice fishing on the Oeschinensee or tobogganing on one of the several dedicated tracks dotted around the village.
For a romantic weekend Kandersteg’s “love hotel”, the Hotel Adler, might appeal to some. Rooms feature whirlpool hot pots for two that – James Bond style – swivel out of the room to an outside balcony at the touch of a button as well as round, rotating beds with red velvet coverings. chalethotel.ch