Lausanne Travel Guide: 15 Best Things to Do

Lausanne is located on the picturesque shores of Lake Geneva and is known for its breathtaking views of the Alps. This vibrant city offers a rich cultural scene, including world-class museums. Join us as we explore the charming old town and lively lakeside promenade of Lausanne, a must-see Swiss destination.

What are the Best Things to Do in Lausanne, Switzerland?

If you’re looking to add a dash of Swiss sophistication and a sprinkle of urban cool to your travel itinerary, then Lausanne should be your next destination. Nestled on the northern shore of Lake Geneva with the Alps as a stunning backdrop, Lausanne offers a blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and a laid-back vibe. Ready to dive into this Swiss gem? Here’s your Ultimate Travel Guide to the Best Things to Do in Lausanne.

Tip: Take the metro and walk the sights from top to bottom to avoid having to walk uphill a lot. To do this, take the M2 line to Sallaz and start your walk there.

1. Enjoy the views at Parc de l’Hermitage

Nestled in the heart of Lausanne, Parc de l’Hermitage is the ultimate urban escape, offering stunning views of the city and Lake Geneva. This hidden gem is perfect for a leisurely stroll, with lush greenery and charming pathways that invite you to explore its serene beauty. You can enjoy the most beautiful view from Le Signal. The Fondation de l’Hermitage is also a beautiful motif. From here, you can continue your walk down the hill towards the city center.

2. Stroll Through the Medieval Old Town

Lausanne’s Old Town is a charming maze of cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and vibrant squares. Start at the Lausanne Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Climb the tower for panoramic views of the city and beyond – trust me, it’s worth the effort! Afterward, explore the Place de la Palud, where you’ll find the animated clock and the weekly markets bustling with local vendors selling fresh produce, flowers, and artisanal goods.

3. Explore the Château St-Maire

The Château St-Maire in Lausanne is a place that effortlessly combines history with a touch of Swiss charm. The magnificent medieval fortress sits atop a hill and offers panoramic views worthy of Instagram gold. The castle’s ancient walls and grand towers transport you back in time, making it a must-visit for any history lovers with a flair for adventure. And if you’re lucky, you might catch one of the local events or exhibitions that give this historical hotspot a vibrant, modern twist.

4. Admire the Notre-Dame Cathedrale

Another stop on your way through Lausanne should definitely be Notre-Dame Cathedral. Notre-Dame Cathedral in Lausanne is a gothic masterpiece that’s an absolute must-see for any traveler. This architectural marvel towers over the city, offering a majestic blend of history and spirituality. Inside, the stunning stained glass windows and intricate carvings are pure eye candy for anyone with an appreciation for art and design. Climb up to the tower for a killer view of Lausanne and Lake Geneva.

5. Decend the Escaliers du Marché

After marveling at the Gothic splendor of Notre-Dame Cathedral, make your way to the charming Escaliers du Marché. This old wooden staircase is a picturesque descent into Lausanne’s past and connects the cathedral with the lively market square below. The cozy cafés and boutiques that line the staircase invite you to linger for a coffee or to buy a unique souvenir. It gives you a real taste of Lausanne’s old-world charm, making it the perfect spot to snap that envy-inducing travel photo.

6. Soak up the atmosphere at Place de la Palud

Place de la Palud in Lausanne is where the city’s pulse truly comes alive, buzzing with energy and local flavor. This lively square is perfect for people-watching, surrounded by colorful buildings, the iconic Town Hall clock, and the stunning Fountain de la Justice, a vibrant masterpiece at its heart. Grab a seat at one of the chic cafes, sip on a coffee, and soak in the dynamic ambiance of Lausanne’s most captivating gathering spot.

7. Unwind at Parc de Mon-Repos

For a peaceful retreat within the city, visit Parc de Mon-Repos. This beautiful park is ideal for a leisurely stroll, a picnic, or simply relaxing with a book. The park features lovely gardens, historic buildings, and even a small zoo. It’s a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some tranquility in a lush, green setting.

8. Treat yourself to a Krispy Kreme doughnut indulgence

When in Lausanne, a stop at Krispy Kreme is non-negotiable for any sweet-toothed traveler. Their legendary, melt-in-your-mouth Original Glazed doughnuts are the perfect pick-me-up after a day of exploring. Watching the doughnuts being made right before your eyes adds a fun, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the magic. Plus, the sleek, modern vibe of the shop makes it a nice spot to chill and indulge in some sugary bliss.

9. Hang out at Esplanade de Montbenon

The Esplanade de Montbenon in Lausanne is the ultimate place to relax, with a fantastic view of Lake Geneva and the Alps. This lush green space is perfect for a picnic or just lazing on the grass while enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. Don’t forget to take a photo of the stunning Palais de Justice – an architectural gem that will add a touch of grandeur to your relaxing afternoon.

10. Relax at Ouchy Promenade

Head down to the Ouchy Promenade for some lakeside relaxation. This area is perfect for a leisurely walk, bike ride, or even renting a paddleboard or pedal boat to explore Lake Geneva. The promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants where you can sip on a coffee or enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning views of the lake and the Alps. The atmosphere is super laid-back, with street performers, cozy benches, and beautiful flower gardens adding to the charm.

11. Escape to Nature in Lavaux Vineyards

Just a short ride from Lausanne, the Lavaux Vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offer a stunning escape into nature. These terraced vineyards stretch along the hillside, providing breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. Take a guided tour to learn about the winemaking process and sample some of the exquisite local wines. Many tours include a walk through the vineyards, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in the serene landscape. It’s the perfect day trip for wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

12. Indulge in Lausanne’s Culinary Scene

Lausanne’s food scene is a delightful blend of Swiss tradition and international flavors. Start your day with brunch at Café de Grancy, a local favorite known for its cozy atmosphere and delicious dishes. For lunch, head to Street Kitchen, where you can savor global street food in a trendy setting. Dinner at The Great Escape is a must – this spot is known for its amazing burgers and vibrant, youthful crowd. If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Beau-Rivage Palace’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Anne-Sophie Pic, for a truly exquisite dining experience.

13. Dive into History at The Olympic Museum

Kick off your Lausanne adventure with a visit to the world-famous Olympic Museum. Located in the beautiful Ouchy district, this museum is a treasure trove of Olympic history. The exhibits are incredibly interactive, featuring multimedia displays, original torches, and medals from past games. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or just curious about the history, you’ll find something fascinating here. The surrounding Olympic Park offers beautifully landscaped gardens and sculptures, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll with breathtaking views of Lake Geneva.

14. Discover Art at Collection de l’Art Brut

For a unique cultural experience, visit the Collection de l’Art Brut. This museum showcases outsider art created by self-taught artists who often work outside the conventional boundaries of the art world. The pieces are raw, unfiltered, and incredibly expressive, offering a different perspective on creativity. It’s a must-visit for art lovers and those looking to experience something truly different.

15. Experience Nightlife in Le Flon District

When the sun sets, Lausanne’s Le Flon District comes alive. This former industrial area has been transformed into a trendy hub of bars, clubs, and art installations. Start your evening at Les Arches, a bar located under the railway arches, known for its great cocktails and lively atmosphere. Then, head to MAD Club if you’re in the mood to dance the night away. For a more laid-back vibe, check out Le D! Club, which offers a mix of live music and DJ sets. No matter your preference, Le Flon has something for everyone.

Best Time to Visit

Visiting Lausanne in the summer (June to August) is an absolute treat, with long, sunny days that make the city’s vibrant energy come alive. The shores of Lake Geneva become a hotspot for swimming, sailing, and sunbathing, while the numerous parks and outdoor cafes buzz with locals and tourists alike. Don’t miss the various summer music festivals, like the Festival de la Cité, add a lively soundtrack to your summer adventure.

The shoulder months of spring and fall offer a more relaxed and picturesque experience of Lausanne. In spring (March to May), the city blossoms with colorful flowers, which is the perfect time for a stroll through Lausanne’s countless parks. Fall (September to November), on the other hand, paints Lausanne in warm hues, with vineyards in Lavaux offering scenic views and wine tasting tours. These seasons are also great for exploring the old town and its markets without the summer crowds, allowing for a more intimate and authentic experience.

Winter (December to February) in Lausanne is nothing short of magical, with a crisp chill in the air and a festive spirit that takes over the city. The Christmas markets light up the streets, offering delicious Swiss treats and handmade crafts that make for perfect souvenirs. For the more adventurous, nearby ski resorts provide world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities, just a short trip from the city. Even within Lausanne, the snow-dusted landscapes and cozy cafes create a perfect winter retreat, blending the beauty of the season with the city’s warm hospitality.

How many days should you spend in Lausanne, Switzerland?

It’s best to spend 2-3 days in Lausanne. The city is not very big, but has a lot to offer. Especially if you also want to take a tour of the vineyards or visit the museums, you should plan enough time.
If you just want to walk around the sights of the city, including the parks and the promenade, Lausanne is also very suitable as a day trip.

Where is Lausanne in Switzerland?

Lausanne’s prime location in Switzerland brings with it a number of advantages that make the city a dream destination for travelers. Situated on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, the city offers stunning views of the lake and mountains that are perfect for outdoor activities all year round. Its central location in the French-speaking region means you can dive into a rich cultural and culinary offering and easily access neighboring cities such as Geneva and Montreux via Switzerland’s efficient train system. This makes Lausanne an easy stopover on any Swiss adventure. What’s more, Lausanne is the gateway to the UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyards, offering wine lovers the chance to discover some of the country’s finest wines amidst stunning terraced scenery.

How to get to Lausanne in Switzerland?

There are three main ways to travel comfortably to Lausanne.

By train: The easiest way to reach Lausanne is by train. The train connections to other cities in Switzerland are very good. It only takes around 40 minutes from Geneva and just over two hours from Zurich.

By car: Lausanne is also easy to reach by car. There are various parking facilities in the city where you can leave your car. Especially if you want to park in Lausanne for several days, you should take care of a parking space in advance. This way you can ensure that there are no nasty surprises in terms of price.

By air: There is no international airport in Lausanne that you can fly to from other cities outside Switzerland. If you are traveling from further away, it is best to fly via Zurich or Geneva. From there, you can travel comfortably to Lausanne by train.

How to get around in Lausanne, Switzerland?

In this Lausanne Travel Guide, we also want to tell you the easiest way to get around Lausanne.

On foot: Lausanne is easiest to explore on foot. The main spots are not far from each other. However, as the city is situated on a hill, there are only a few routes that are not either uphill or downhill.

Metro: If your legs get tired, the metro is also a good option for the longer distances. Especially the long distances uphill or downhill can be covered very well this way.

Info: Did you know that Lausanne has the only underground metro in Switzerland?

Cab: Of course, there are also cab and ride sharing options such as Uber to get from A to B.

Car: Despite Lausanne’s good accessibility by car, driving in the city can be a pain. The many inclines and narrow streets make it a bit of a challenge. However, if you want to get further out, the car is a good choice.

By bike: You can explore the promenade by the lake in particular by bike. We do not recommend cycling in the city itself due to the many inclines.

Where to stay in Lausanne, Switzerland?

There are many beautiful places to stay for your perfect Lausanne trip.

Ouchy

If you’re all about lakeside vibes, Ouchy is the district to call home during your Lausanne adventure. This picturesque area offers stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, making it perfect for leisurely strolls along the promenade or relaxing by the water. The vibrant marina, lush parks, and outdoor cafes create a serene atmosphere that’s ideal for unwinding. Plus, with easy access to boat tours and water sports, Ouchy is a haven for both relaxation and adventure.

Flon District

For a more urban, trendy experience, stay in the Flon District, Lausanne’s hub of modernity and nightlife. This area is a blend of industrial chic and contemporary design, filled with stylish boutiques, art galleries, and buzzing nightclubs. Flon’s central location makes it a perfect base for exploring the city’s vibrant cultural scene, with everything from cutting-edge architecture to pop-up events at your doorstep. It’s the go-to spot for those who love to be in the heart of the action, surrounded by the city’s coolest spots.

Old Town

Immerse yourself in history by staying in Lausanne’s Old Town, where cobblestone streets and medieval architecture transport you back in time. This charming district is packed with historic landmarks, like the stunning Kathedrale Notre-Dame and the bustling Place de la Palud. With its quaint shops, cozy cafes, and vibrant markets, the Old Town offers a unique mix of the past and present. It’s the perfect area for those who want to soak up Lausanne’s rich heritage while enjoying a lively, local atmosphere.

Montbenon

If you crave green spaces and panoramic views, Montbenon is the ideal district for your stay. Home to the beautiful Esplanade de Montbenon, this area offers expansive lawns and breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot for picnics, leisurely walks, and soaking in the serene beauty of Lausanne. Plus, with the impressive Palais de Justice and a variety of cultural attractions nearby, Montbenon strikes the perfect balance between relaxation and exploration.

Where to eat in Lausanne, Switzerland?

Lausanne’s food scene is a culinary playground, brimming with flavors and experiences that will tantalize your taste buds. You’ll also find lots of French cuisine influences here. Most restaurants can be found in the old town and the Flon district.

How expensive is Lausanne, Switzerland?

Prices in Lausanne vary greatly depending on what kind of trip you are planning. Basically, you can find both cheap options for accommodation and restaurants as well as slightly more upmarket ones. The costs are based on the general prices that are customary in Switzerland.

You can get accommodation for just under CHF 100 (USD 113) per night. If you want to book a luxurious hotel with a view of the lake, you should expect to pay more than CHF 200 (USD 226).

Typical restaurant prices are 30-50 CHF (34-56 USD) or more per main course. For a cheaper alternative, you can budget around 15-25 CHF (17-28 USD).

If you want to use the metro, you pay around 2.40 CHF (3 USD) for one way. The day ticket costs 6.90 CHF (8 USD).

Fortunately, you can easily explore the city on your own and don’t have to pay for the beautiful views of Lake Geneva or the lovely old town.

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