Bannalpsee – a Peaceful, Easy Feeling (and only 40 minutes away)
One of my favorite local destinations is the nearby mountain reservoir of Bannalpsee. If you are looking for a quick getaway that isn’t full of tourists and will provide a remarkable beautiful setting for a hike or a picnic this is a great option for you. It is one of the most peaceful places I have found within a short drive from Luzern and I visit the lake at least a few times each summer. There is a short hike around the lake (less than 5km) as well as more challenging hike include the Walenpfad which takes you around the peaks and into the Engelberg valley. You don’t even need a full day to enjoy all that Bannalpsee has to offer.
I find myself recommending Bannalpsee often when asked for destinations within an hour drive for a hike or some place to take visitors to show off the natural beauty of Central Switzerland. As always, we want to minimize any of the obstacles or excuses you have for not visiting this wonderful hidden jewel. Let’s start at the beginning:
What / Where is it?
Bannalpsee is a reservoir in Nidwalden at 1,586 meters above the Engelberg valley. The reservoir was completed in 1937. It can be reached via an 8-person alpine cars from Fellboden. There are two alpine cars; the other travels from Fell to Chrüzhütte (closer to the winter ski lifts) but the alpine car from Fellboden takes you directly to the base of the lake. There is ample parking at both locations. The GPS coordinates are : 46.882649N / 8.421516E.
How to get there?
Fellboden can be reached from central Luzern in under 35 minutes (27.2 kilometers). Leave Luzern via the A2 highway ging south until you reach exit 33 (Stans-Süd toward Stans-Süd/Engelberg) following the signs for Engelberg. As you approach Wolfenschiessen turn left on Oberrickenbachstrasse and follow that road into the valley until you reach Fell/Fellboden. Fellboden is just a few hundred meters further than Fell and there is parking just past the alpine car station. You can use “Fellboden” with most car navigation systems.
When to go?
For summer activities, Bannalpsee is best visited from late April to early October. If you don’t see a cloud in the sky and are looking for a quick getaway this is the place for you. It’s best to not go too early in the day as the sun hasn’t made its way over the southern peaks that separate it from the Engelberg valley. The alpine car from Fellboden runs at :00 and :30 past the hour but more frequently during busier periods. An adult round-trip costs CHF21.00 with children half the prices. There is also a family rate of CHF49 which includes any children under 18 traveling with their parents. Up-to-date information can be found on the Bannalp website.
Activities / Attractions
There are numerous hiking trails of various difficulty in and around the lake. The trail around the lake is less than 5km and while it’s at times on uneven terrain it’s suitable for just about everyone including children over 6 years old. There are other more challenging trails that take you higher up into the peaks surrounding the lake. Download their brochure or full page map to find out more.
Bannalpsee is a good destination for visitors that aren’t interested in a hike but just want to have a nice meal in a beautiful setting. The Berggasthaus Bannalpsee is less than 250 meters from the top of the alpine car and offers the usual alpine fare on a massive terrace overlooking the lake.