We invite you to a journey of discovery in Kandersteg. Find out about the unique qualities in the village by exploring 3 themed routes. The relevant brochure (2013 edition) is available from the Information Centre. An English version is also available. Leaflets are also available for the children’s program.
Brochure (as PDF download)
The Kandersteg Municipality coat-of-arms shows the Frutig eagle and bridge over the river. Nowadays the municipality has many different types of bridges. It can be fascinating to discover them all.
The name of the river, formerly “candara”, has a Celtic origin meaning “white” (Latin “candidus”). The name of the town dates back to the old crossing over the river Kander that led to the Gemmi Pass and Lötschen Pass. These passes enabled the Romans to cross the Alps from Valais into the Berner Oberland. In 1252, the word Gemmi Pass first emerged. The tollhouse in Schwarenbach is evidence of the trading route over the Gemmi.
Kandersteg’s earliest mention was in 1374 as an overnight stop on the spice trade route from Italy over the Lötschen Pass. Incidentally, in 1785 the last bear in the region was killed at the Lötschen glacier.
In 1764, the population was about 200 in the present-day town and wider settlement area. Kandersteg belonged to the Municipality of Frutigen until 1850, and afterwards formed the Municipality of Kandersteg together with Kandergrund.
1904/05 was considered the first official winter season. In 1909 Kandersteg became an independent town. The original municipal area of Kandergrund of about 16'600 hectares was split up. About 3'200 hectares went to Kandergrund and Kandersteg was granted about 13'400 hectares.
The railway supported sustainable tourism. Many hotels and restaurant that still exist today were established during the building of the railway. The important first mountain ascents had already occurred before then: Blüemlisalphorn in 1860, Doldenhorn in 1862, Balmhorn in 1864 and Fründenhorn in 1871.
Kandersteg is very popular today thanks to its 350 km network of hiking trails and its excellent cross-country ski runs. In many parts of the municipality there are numerous protected plant species and rich botanical diversity. More than 30 orchid varieties are native to this region. Kandersteg region is among Switzerland’s most scenic locations - most of the municipality lies within the UNESCO World Heritage “Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch”.
The local public utilities company, Licht- und Wasserwerk AG Kandersteg, founded in 1903, is a local customer-oriented utilities company that is the town’s energy supplier. There is a self-sufficient supply of more than 80% of electricity and 100% of the drinking water requirement.