12 Awesome Things to See and Do
The historical city of Lausanne is located directly on Lac Léman, or Lake Geneva as it is known in English. It’s a very lively place, bustling with street cafes, open air restaurants, cute little shops, markets and lots of outdoor sports activities too. We visited recently and here is a list of 12 recommendations based on what we did and saw in Lausanne. It’s a great city – so why not take a trip and explore?
AQUATIS Aquarium & Vivarium
The first place we visited on our tour of Lausanne was the Aquatis Aquariaum.Vivarium and it was very impressive. The building is shaped like a large silver dome or space ship from the outside and inside the tanks are absolutely huge. It is the largest fresh water aquarium in the whole of Europe. In addition to the Aquarium they also have a Vivarium too and we saw alligators, monkeys, snakes and lots more besides. You can see our article on the Aquarium by clicking here or you can see our video of AQUATIS by clicking here.
Address: Route de Berne 144, 1010 Lausanne, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0)21 654 23 23
The Olympic Museum
Did you know that Lausanne is the official headquarters of the Olympic movement? The Olympic Museum is located close to the lakeside and underwent a huge renovation in 2016. It is now very modern and split across 3 levels. On each one you learn about different aspects of the Olympics, from the original Greek Olympics, the history of the games over the years, how it endured interruptions due to wars, right up to the present day and the Covid pandemic.
An audio guide accompanies you through the exhibition so that you can listen to the narration in your own language. There are stunning collections of all the Olympic torches dating back to the first Games as well as medals and memorabilia collected over the ages. You can even see original sportswear and sporting equipment collected from a variety of disciplines. There are lots of videos, an interactive games zone and so many fascinating exhibits. Do allow yourself long enough to visit as there is so much to see.
Afterwards we had a delicious lunch at the TOM Cafe Restaurant which is on site and has a lovely terrace. They serve a good choice of dishes to enjoy whilst admiring the superb views over the lake.
Address: Quai d’Ouchy 1, 1006 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 621 65 11
Address: Quai d’Ouchy 1, 1006 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 621 67 08
Visit Lausanne Cathedral
Lausanne’s 13th century gothic cathedral is the largest in Switzerland and certainly very impressive. It occupies the highest point in the city and boasts among many things a beautifully carved portal and a very artistic rose window based on the signs of the zodiac.
During the Reformation the cathedral was stripped of many statues and decorations but with its high vaulted ceilings it is still very grand. If you fancy one of the best views of the city then for a small fee of around CHF 5 you can climb the 225 steps of the 500-year old staircase to the top of the belfry for a breathtaking view of the whole city.
Address: Place de la Cathédrale, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
Visit the Markets
After we visited the Cathedral we popped over to Place de la Riponne where there was a busy flea market taking place with everything from books to antiques to clothes. Every Wednesday and Saturday there are fruit and veg markets on Rue de Bourg and the central Place de la Palud.
The Escaliers Du Marché
Lausanne is a city built on a hill so you will most likely find yourself walking up and down steps quite a lot. One of nicest places to visit is the historic 13th century wooden staircase which is called the “Escaliers du Marché”. It links the Old Town and market to the Cathedral at the top. On either side there are some really charming picturesque shops and buildings painted in bright colours.
Stroll Round the Old Town
Lausanne is a lovely city to explore on foot and there are plenty of bridges, escalators and lifts as well as Metro M2 line to help you circumnavigate all the hills. There are fabulous views from the medieval Cité at the top and the Old Town has lots of boutiques and shop to explore as well as cafes and food shops. The town hall in the photo above is where David Bowie got married to supermodel Iman on 24th April 1992.
Try the Chocolate Shops
There are also quite a few artisanal chocolate shops and whilst we were there we visited Durig Chocolatier and tasted some of their delicious wares.
Stroll Along The Promenade in Ouchy
The promenade along the waterfront, has so much to offer. Whilst we were there people were jumping in the water and swimming, gliding along on their SUPS, hiring pedallos and taking trips on the big passenger boats to the towns further along the lake. It’s a beautiful place to take a stroll and watch the swans and simply relax with an ice cream.
Take A Boat Trip with CGN
You can take a passenger boar from Lausanne’s ferry port at Ouchy and they offer a variety of different cruises. Don’t forget your passport as you can easily take a trip across Lake Geneva and visit the lovely spa town of Évian-les-Bains! Alternatively, the medieval French village of Yvoire is another interesting trip – or why not simply take a trip down to Montreux.
PLATEFORME 10 is the new “arts district” in Lausanne. Located right next to Lausanne train station it is a very striking museum complex and has been constructed on the site of the former locomotive sheds. The idea behind it was to bring together three art museums: the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (Cantonal Fine Arts Museum), the Musée de l’Elysée (Cantonal Museum of Photography) and the MUDAC (Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts) and to have them all in one place.
There are lots of great exhibitions taking place at PLATEFORME 10 and to find out more please visit the PLATEFORME 10 website here.
Eating Out – Where To Eat in Lausanne
Brasserie de Montbenon
This is a resaurant located in a beautiful building in a park. They have oudoor dining on the wonderful terraces as well as in the garden. Do make sure to book an outdoor table it you can as there is high demand. The food was excellent and it is such a lovely location to enjoy dinner on a Summer evening.
Brasserie de Montbenon
Address: Allée Ernest-Ansermet 3, 1003 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 320 40 30
Café de Grancy
Café de Grancy offers a good selection of bistrot food. They have a small outdoor terrace to the front and to the left of the restaurant – but again you need to reserve in advance for these.
Address: Avenue du Rond-Point 1, 1006 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 616 86 66
Anne-Sophie Pic Restaurant
If you want to really splash out, we had several recommendations to go to the Beau Rivage Palace and to dine at the Anne-Sophie Pic Restaurant. Led by France’s first female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, the food is said to be wonderful. Drawing on the flavours and seasonal ingredients of her childhood home as well as local Swiss produce, Pic creates imaginative, beautifully presented dishes that have earned the restaurant two Michelin stars and 18 Gault Millau points. We haven’t yet tried it but it is definitely on our list for next time!
Anne-Sophie Pic Restaurant
Address: Beau-Rivage Palace, Place du Port 17-19, 1006 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 613 33 39
Where To Stay
The Lausanne Palace Hotel
We stayed at the Lausanne Palace Hotel which is very comfortable and convenient for exploring the whole of the city. It is a five star luxury hotel with a great spa and excellent service.
Our room on the 6th floor had a fabulous view over the whole of Lausanne and the breakfast was absolutely fabulous.
Lausanne Palace Hotel
Address: Rue du Grand-Chêne 7-9, 1002 Lausanne, Switzerland
Tel: +41 21 331 31 31
Other things you might wish to do do whilst in the area include:
A Trip To Vevey
Just 20 minutes away on the train, Vevey is the town which hosted the Fetes des Vignerons in 2019 and is a very charming lakeside resort. You may be interested to see our article here all about the things you can do in Vevey.
A Trip To Montreux
Take a trip to Montreux and visit the iconic waterside castle of Chateau de Chillon.
A Trip To Lavaux Unesco World Heritage Vineyards
You could also go for walk around the famous UNESCO World Heritage Vineyards at Lavaux and go for a wine-tasting. Don’t forget to to sample the region’s Chasselas-blanc. You can read all about these very special vineyards here.
Lausanne – not to be confused with Lucerne!
NB: We’ve heard countless stories of English speakers confusing the town of Lausanne in the French speaking part of Switzerland with Lucerne in the German-speaking part of Switzerland! They both have a lot to offer but are located in very different parts of Switzerland – so do make sure which one you are heading for!
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