With an elevation of 495 meters, Lausanne is the second largest city on the Lake Geneva. To be precise, it’s the biggest city in the French-speaking area of Switzerland. In fact, Lausanne is considered as the fourth largest city in Switzerland with a population of about 146,372. The city can be called as an amalgamation between a zesty commercial town with all the hustle and bustle. But, that is along with a typical feeling of a holiday resort. You would seriously fall short of options when making your list of things to do in Lausanne. With brick roofed structures and slightly meandering roads, it serves as the perfect picturesque holiday destination.
Geographically, the city is built on three hills and is surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes. The Savoy Alps can be seen graciously rising from the opposing French shore. Facing Lausanne is the French town of Évian-Les-Bains, and to the north-west is Jura Mountains. Cafes and boutiques are nestled throughout the small alleyways in the city. Surely, they do top the list of ‘things to do in Lausanne’. Day trips from Lausanne are absolutely charming. That way, you would be able to take in the complete feel of the city. Take a trip to the old town of Lausanne to experience some of the most brilliant Gothic architecture ever seen.
LAUSANNE OLD TOWN & THINGS TO DO
Truly speaking, the main attraction lies in the old town. Carpeted with cobbled streets, a walk down would welcome you with a lovely sight of shopping streets. The vibrant Place de la Palud is one of the best attractions of the old town of Lausanne. That, if you really do love people-watching. With plenty of pavement cafes, it’s an alluring location to take a break and have the Café Renversée. Note it down in your list of the things to do in Lausanne, as you definitely can’t miss it. Also, there are ascending stairs from Place de la Palud and Place de la Riponne. They would take you to the higher points of the old town of Lausanne.
Covered with wooden steps heading from Palud, the Escaliers du Marché, will take you to the Rue Viret. From there, even more, stairs would take you up to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Make sure to go with timings which are from 8am-7pm every day. The Cathédrale is regarded as Switzerland’s finest Gothic structure. As you get inside the monument, your eyes would grow dizzy looking up at the vaulted heights. Stunning interiors and impeccable details is what gives the perfect description for this architecture. To the north of the monument, there are two parallel streets Rue Cité-Devant and Rue Cité-Derrière. Those would also lead up to the old town of Lausanne.
Also See: Honeymoon destination in Switzerland
NEW TOWN OF LAUSANNE & THINGS TO DO
A spectacular view of the Alps make Lausanne one of the most sought after locations in Europe. One of the best things to do in Lausanne is just to give a walk around. Take in the stunning view of the surroundings. Pristine and picture perfect. Simply a view from the postcards. If you look at the color palette, brick, blue, green and hints of white. Those are the dominant shades which paints the whole city of Lausanne. And, the enormity of the Lake Geneva will carry you to some other world, away from the hubbub. Also, connectivity throughout the city is extremely easy, all thanks to Switzerland’s only metro. You can take day trips from Lausanne by availing the metro which connects the various parts of this sloping town.
DAY TRIPS FROM LAUSANNE
You can also take day trips from Lausanne to the hot springs of Lavey-Les-Bains. An hour-long drive from the city or you can take a train ride to Bern, Basel or Zurich. Highly recommended is a drive to the Vallée de Joux in the Jura or a picnic at Dent de Vaulion. If you are travelling to Lausanne in summer, do go forward and explore the brilliant little village of Grimentz. How to go? Take a drive into the Valais, and up to Evolène in the Val d’Hérens. Then park and hike to the Val d’Anniviers. Grimentz is at a distance of about 21.1 km from Val d’ Anniviers. The village blooms with beautiful flowers during the months from April to July. Best, if you plan on spending a day in the Valais wine tasting in Chamoson.
Also See: Beautiful train journeys in Switzerland
THINGS TO DO IN LAUSANNE NEW TOWN
The Olympic Capital
Lausanne is also regarded as the Olympic Capital since 1994 by the International Olympic Committee. It’s a centre point for the international sport and hosts a number of, say some 55 international sports associations. The location where the associations are hosted lies in a lovely looking wine-growing region. A day trip from Lausanne is highly recommendable if you want to take a tour of the Olympic Museum. It also has been recently renovated and shows the entire history of the games, from the time it originated in ancient Greece. There’s also a provision made for tourists if you would like to relive those moments from the old Olympic games. Or, follow the evolution of sports technology with the help of film clips and slideshows.
One of the best things to do in Lausanne should definitely be to take a helicopter ride over the city. You would be in for some once in a lifetime spectacular views. There are various small companies there which do offer a variety of activities in air. The best view is of the sprawling Lavaux vineyards which are considered as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Also, nestled throughout the city just like the pavement cafes are a number of parks containing Mediterranean plant species. Quite worthy of a visit if you are lover of botanicals. Even if you are not, the lush greenery is quite a charming sight for travellers.
Lausanne can be called one of those curious cities whose beauty will attract travellers. Take them forward to even new destinations. All to be explored. We have talked about the old town, it’s cathedrals and architecture, the lake and Olympic Museum. But, there’s more to the city than what is already heard of. Summer months are obviously the best time and season to go visit this pristine location. So, if you are heading sometime around July, Lausanne hosts the very famous music festival. Popularly, known as the Paléo Festival – a breathtaking musical experience. Dozens of popular artists perform for over 2 lakh people over a duration of 6 days and 6 nights.
Also See: Top things to do in Zermatt
Vineyards & Wine Tasting
Also, recommended is to visit a myriad of vineyards and then go for wine tasting in Montreaux. The stretch between Lausanne and Montreaux, which has those terraced vineyards hold quite a lot of family-owned vineyards. Every vineyard produces a specific and different set of wines of exquisite tastes. You can also experience a tour through the wineries and know a lot more about their history. And also, get to have some local cheese and wine. A trip to Montreaux can be taken by a train ride or by steamboat trip on Lake Geneva.
Exploring the beautiful forest of Saubavelin should also be a pivotal point in your things to do in Lausanne. The Sauvabelin Tower and Viewpoint is a fascinating 35 metres tower made completely of timber wood. Specifically, rumoured to be the part of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work. Get to the top of the tower to enjoy the mesmerizing views of the surroundings. The park has quite a lot of activities to offer it’s visitors. Farm and forest animals, walk and boat trips, views of the city and of course of the enormous Lake Geneva. Further along, there’s a lake by the same name Sauvabelin, inside the forest among the oak trees. You would also get to see a large variety of animals roaming free mostly and some in enclosures.
Taking long walks throughout the Lausanne city is something you can never get tired of throughout your stay. At least, the beauty of the place wouldn’t allow you to do so. So, while you are it, take a walk through the Ouchy Lakefront. Seriously, life feels absolutely untroubled seeing the vastness of the lake. And the soothing colour palette – lush green of the attractive parks and a serene blue from the lake.
Also, the majestic aura of the buildings near the lakefront will hold your attention for a long time. As you descend down from the vertical m2 metro from the Lausanne station, it’s a completely new world in Ouchy. On the opposite bank of the lakefront, the ever elegant Savoy-Alps summits give you a cheery welcome. You can either book a pedalo or a bike. Or if you are looking out for some challenge, do go for the water skiing lesson. There is also a delightful rose garden in the Hotel Beau-Rivage park which houses over 130 species of rose.
Now, let’s come to the most talked about element of travel i.e., food. Lausanne cuisine is something which actually elevates the city to newer heights in the tourism industry. As we all know, when it comes to Switzerland, it’s all about chocolate and cheese. You can find the best local chocolates and cheese of the highest standard in Lausanne. Try the fondue available at the best local restaurants. Again, something you can’t afford to miss. The city can give Spain a run for their money when it comes to cured meats. Arrays of gorgeous platters of cured meats are available throughout the restaurants in Lausanne.
Have it with a loaf of bread and crisp wine. Be sure that you would all be ready to write down an essay on your gastronomical experiences. If berries are your thing, then Lausanne is definitely a hit! Take a real good amount of time in hand and stroll around the markets. You would find the freshest produce of berries available there. Bright red currants, plump blackberries, green gooseberries. You would almost wish you had your own kitchen out there. Next, should be the Swiss Meringues. Gorgeous meringues topped with fresh whipped cream is sure to make your travel to a la-la land!
For Art Lovers
Last but, not the least, if you are an avid art lover, then do visit the Collection de l’Art Brut gallery. Should be a priority on your list of things to do in Lausanne. The unique thing about the collection of art here is that, all the art are made by untrained artists. Artists whose works are displayed here are mainly from prisons, asylums or orphanages. With more than 60,000 pieces in their collection now, this gallery is surely something to look out for. It’s like a museum with contemporary and avant-garde pieces by non-conformist artists. You can also keep track and attend some of the theatrical and musical performances in the city.
Also, the famous Béjart Ballet is located in Lausanne itself. Founded by Maurice Béjart in the year 1987, it is based in the city itself. But, needless to say, they keep on touring other countries as well. Even the Swiss Film Archive is based in Lausanne itself. Also, the city is known to host a number of film festivals. The Festival cinémas d’Afrique and the Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival.
Lausanne in whole, with it’s beauty, history and food is considered as one of the most elegant locations. Not only in Switzerland but, the whole of Europe. Other than summer, you can also visit the city in the colder months. A pretty snowy Christmas is something we all look out for. A number of Christmas festivals keep on happening around the city at the time. It’s time, if you are planning your next destination; give Lausanne a go for sure! You won’t be disappointed.
Further read : Top things to do in Grindelwald