Lausanne is one place in Switzerland that I can’t recommend enough to visit. I feel like it is some sort of a hidden gem. Not so many international tourists visit Lausanne, compared to other places in Switzerland and not many people even heard about this city. To be honest, I also didn’t know much about Lausanne before my first trip to Switzerland and didn’t see a reason to travel there. But as for now, I’ve been to this city a couple of times and can’t wait to go there again. This is why recommend everyone to include Lausanne when planning a trip itinerary for Switzerland.
This is why you should visit Lausanne
Lausanne is located on Lac Leman (or Lake Geneva in English), less than an hour away from its better-known neighbor Geneva. Lausanne and Geneva are located on the same lake, but you won’t get the same stunning mountain views in Geneva that you can enjoy in Lausanne. You can see French Alps from almost everywhere in Lausanne. Imagine how it might be to live in here and wake up every morning to this view. You can get a taste of what it is like by booking a hotel room with a lake view or walk around the city and enjoy the view from the numerous viewpoints.
I found this panoramic stroll on the Lausanne tourism website and it is one of the best free things to do in Lausanne. One of my favorite viewpoints is on the cathedral esplanade, where you can see the roofs in the foreground and the lake and mountains in the background.
By the way, Lausanne cathedral is also worth the visit. It’s the biggest cathedral in Switzerland and nowadays is a popular venue for concerts and other cultural events. Lausanne cathedral is located in the picturesque old part of the city with pretty squares and cobble-stoned streets. And iff you decide to climb the tower, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Lausanne and surroundings.
Lausanne is the fourth largest city in Switzerland with around 140000 residents. Given the relatively small size of the city, you might be surprised to hear that it even has a metro. So if climbing Lausanne’s streets is not for you, you can use the metro and other forms of public transportation. All hotel guests receive the Lausanne transport card for free. With this card, you can use buses, metro, and trains for free during your stay (up to 15 days) and receive some discounts for museums, shops, and activities.
There are many different ways to enjoy Lake Geneva when you come to visit Lausanne. In the warm season, the city offers lots of swimming areas, lakeside cafes, and restaurants. You can also rent a pedal boat and enjoy the ride on Lake Geneva. Or simply walk or ride the bike along the shore and soak in the breathtaking views of lake and mountains.
Another fun thing to do in Lausanne is taking a cruise on Lake Geneva. The ships embark in Lausanne from Ouchy port and take passengers to different places on the Swiss or French side of Lake Geneva. You can travel up to Montreux, Vevey, Nyon and explore Chillon Castle and terraced vineyard of Lavaux.
On my last trip to Lausanne, I decided to go to France by boat and explore Evian-les-Bains (yes, it is where the famous mineral water comes from). It only takes 35 minutes and is a nice day or half-day trip from Lausanne. On the way back, as the boat approaches Ouchy you can enjoy a unique view of Lausanne from the water.
Cruises operate on Lake Geneva all year round. And while some destinations are not served during the cold period, winter is a great time for a fondue or raclette cruise.
Food and wine
Food is a big deal in Lausanne. For a relatively small city, there is a surprising variety of restaurants. Whether you want to try Swiss or international cuisine, there is something for everyone. And for gourmets, there are at least 5 Michelin star restaurants in the city.
Wine lovers can get a rare chance to try Swiss wine in Lausanne. Unesco world-heritage Lavaux vineyards are located just next to Lausanne. You can taste wines directly in the cellars or in any wine bar in the city. A very small amount of Swiss wine is exported, so it can be a great souvenir to take back home and share with friends and family.
Hiking in Lavaux vineyards
Even for people who don’t drink wine, Lavaux vineyards are worth the visit at least for the views. There are many hiking trails to enjoy. The vineyards are known to be the most spectacular in autumn, but even during other seasons, you won’t be disappointed with a view. Last time I went in spring when nature just started to wake up, and the snow in the French alps didn’t melt yet.
The Olympic Museum
The last thing that I want to mention about Lausanne is the Olympic museum. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy going to museums, I was very impressed with the Olympic Museum. Initially, I went there just because it is one of the “must do’s” in Lausanne. A few hours later, I had to drag myself out of there because it was getting late. The museum has excellent interactive exhibitions and video presentation that won’t anyone get bored. On the top floor of the museum, there is a cafe with a big terrace offering wonderful views over Lake Geneva and the Alps. And right next to the museum is the Olympic park. This place is wonderful in spring when the trees are blooming.
If you are now convinced and want to visit Lausanne, check out the Lausanne tourism website for more tips and things to do in Lausanne.
Have you been to Lausanne? Do you want to visit Lausanne?