The city of Lausanne is located in the Canton of Vaud, sitting near Switzerland’s most famous lake, Lake Geneva. The city is Switzerland’s fourth-largest by population and is a hotspot for tourists and visitors around the world. It is also home to many international organizations and is filled with beautiful and historical sites. But what is there to do in Lausanne? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the things you should not miss when in Lausanne, Switzerland. Let’s jump right in!
We already mentioned that Lausanne is home to international organizations, most notably to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic museum. This museum shows vintage equipment, medals, and other items and stories relating to the Olympic games. Next to the museum is the Olympic Garden which houses unique sculptures relating to sports. The whole venue is a not-to-miss point for everybody visiting Lausanne, especially sports enthusiasts.
Visit the Lausanne-Vidy Roman Museum
If you go for a walk near Lake Geneva, you might also want to visit the Lausanne-Vidy Roman Museum. This museum is built upon explorations and artifacts that formed the ancient Roman city of Lousonna. Loussana was the first civilization known in the area, and this Roman settlement was later succeeded by the current city of Lausanne. Visiting the museum will give you a great overview of the city’s entire history since ancient times and familiarize you with the political and cultural perspective of the city.
See Lake Geneva by Boat
Another popular attraction in Lake Geneva is the boat ride which offers you the most panoramic and stunning views of the lake as well as the city. These boat rides have become favorites amongst the tourists since they allow them to relax in nature and see new aspects of the city. These boat rides can be booked online, where you can also check the online timeline of the rides available.
Visit Château d’Ouchy
When in Lausanne, you must visit the Chateau d’Ouchy hotel, which is built on the site of a medieval castle on a beautiful landscape on the banks of Lake Leman. The original castle was built in 1170, but after being destroyed by fire in 1609, it was rebuilt in the 1890s and converted into a hotel. It is one of the rarest buildings in the world, and it offers hotel services while also being a historical site for tourists.
Visit the Cathedral of Notre-Dame
If you visit Lausanne, you might also want to check out the Cathedral of Notre Dame; we’re not talking about the one located in Paris, where a hunchback man lives; we are talking about the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne. This cathedral was built in the early 12th century, and it belongs to the Evangelical Reformed Church of the canton of Vaud. Besides its architectural beauty and the similar naming to its Parisian counterpart, the church is also known to have one of the most unique and expensive grand pipe organs in the world, which you must see.
Visit Place de la Palud
The Place de la Palud is the heart of downtown Lausanne. This cobbled square is located at the city’s center near the hill. It was built towards the end of the 9th century and served as an intersection. Besides being one of the oldest parts of the city, the square is also filled with shops, cafes, and other modern attractions, making it a favorite location for locals to meet and relax.
Place de la Palud is very popular amongst the locals and tourists. It is a place where you can view the whole canton’s history by watching its animated history film on the city’s clock, located next to the majestic Fountain of Justice.
Climb the Sauvabelin Tower
For all the adrenaline enthusiasts visiting Lausanne, the city has something special for you too. Located in the nearby Sauvabelin forest, the Sauvabelin tower is a 35-meter high tower that was built in 2003. The tower has a 360-degree view, from which you can observe the city and many of its monuments. Besides the city, the tower also offers panoramic views of Lake Leman and the surrounding natural landscape, which are a must-see.
Visit the Château de Chillon
Another medieval attraction of Lausanne is the Chateau de Chillon, an island-castle dating back to the early Roman period. The island castle began as a military installation in the early Roman period and sustained this role for a long time. This castle survived several ruling eras, and its role changed throughout them.
The restorations that the castle went through in the 19th century changed its historical architectural structure; however, a large part of the castle and several authentic historical objects still remain in the castle. Château de Chillon is one of the most visited historical monuments in the whole country and is especially attractive to history enthusiasts.
Ride the Rochers-de-Naye Railway
The Rochers-de-Naye railway is a panoramic train ride that takes you alongside Lake Geneva and up to the Swiss Alps at a 2.042 meters altitude in the mountain of Rochers-de-Naye. The 55-minute train ride technically begins in Montreux and is a purpose-run touristic ride, but it will take only 25 minutes to reach the ride from Lausanne. Once you’re at the top of the mountain, you can behold one of the most stunning views in the world.
Wander the City Center
The Lausanne city center is a mix of marvelous attractions, all put together inside the medieval compound where the old city was located. The boulevards and picturesque fountains in the center make perfect spots to take an Instagram-worthy picture to showcase your trip to Lausanne. The city’s center is also a great place for shopping with its many boutiques and shops located in the small alleyways. There you can also find cafes and restaurants to enjoy French-Swiss cuisine.
Spend a Day in Vevey
Another attraction nearby Lausanne is the town of Vevey, which lies about 26 km away from the city and is located on the banks of Lake Geneva. Like Lausanne, Vevey has been inhabited since antiquity, and now it is a vibrant town full of attractions. It is home to a revered wine festival held once in 20 years, a Charlie Chaplin museum built on the estate where the actor lived, and a unique promenade with a giant fork monument, among other things.
Eat Fondue at La Pinte Besson
If you are looking for an authentic culinary experience in Lausanne, having a plate of classic Swiss Fondue at La Pinte Besson would be ideal. La Pinte Besson is a restaurant located on the corner of an old alley in downtown Lausanne. It retains the classical and historical building that the restaurant has been in since its beginning in 1780. Make sure to pay this place a visit when in Lausanne because it is undoubtedly one of the most atmospheric places to eat fondue and enjoy your evening.
Visit St. François Church
Being the oldest church in Lausanne, the St. Francois Church is a key historical and religious landmark of the country. The church was built at the beginning of the 13th century and is an example of Gothic architecture. Like most old buildings, it was subject to a fire accident, but it was later rebuilt and restored to its original shape. Since the building has cultural and historical values, it is now under government protection, and besides its religious purpose, it also serves as a historical tourist attraction.
Visit the AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium Lausanne
Aquatis is the biggest Aquarium-Vivarium in the entire continent of Europe and is located in one of the most vibrant cities, Lausanne. The aquarium opened up in September of 2010, and it consists of an area of 3.500 square meters with 46 aquariums, vivariums, and terrariums. Over 10.000 species of fish and over 100 species of reptiles live inside this aquarium. Aquatis is located under the roof of an astonishing post-modern-style building. The place is a must-see, as its experience is unmatched, and thanks to its diversity, it resembles a trip around the whole planet.
Gaze at the View from Musée et Jardins Botaniques Cantonaux
The Cantonal Botanical Museum and Garden is a natural miracle conserving 6.000 plants and around 40.000 botany books. The compound is located in the Cret de Montriond hill in the Parc de Milan, the main natural park of Lausanne. It includes a botanical museum where the books are stored, a garden with 6.000 medical and non-medical plants in the compound, and a remotely administered garden in Pont de Nant, which contains around 3.000 mountain plants. Make sure to go for a stroll in this garden when you visit Lausanne.
Even though a relatively small city with a population of about 140.000, Lausanne is so lively and vivid that it’s astonishing for most visitors. There are so many exciting things available for all areas of interest, and the number of places to visit is unlimited. In this article, we tried to sum up some of the most interesting places in Lausanne to see, but it certainly doesn’t do justice to the whole city. So the best way to realize the city’s vivid life and beauty is to visit it for yourself.