Is Lausanne Worth Visiting? 7 Things To Do
Updated: 4 days ago
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The Swiss city of Lausanne is known for being the home of the Olympics, as it’s where the International Olympic Committee has its headquarters. It’s one of the largest cities in Switzerland and sits along the shores of the stunning Lake Geneva, so you can imagine how picturesque it is. This French-speaking city is regularly visited for a day trip from Geneva or other nearby cities, but Lausanne is worth visiting for more than just a few hours.
Lausanne has a rich history, dating back over 8000 years. The Romans built a prosperous city along the lake before its inhabitants moved to higher grounds and started to expand. Throughout the medieval period and the age of Enlightenment, Lausanne underwent a series of changes physically, culturally, and religiously, which has helped shape it into the city it is today.
The main attractions in Lausanne are relatively close to one another. But for those of you who would prefer not to walk up a giant hill to get to the old town from the waterfront, you’ll be pleased to know that Lausanne is the only city in Switzerland with an underground network. Whether you’re spending one day in Lausanne, a weekend in Lausanne, or longer, the best small city in the world is sure to captivate you.
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7 Things To Do in Lausanne
From the old town of Lausanne down to the waterfront and beyond, there are many incredible things to do in Lausanne. Spending more than a day in Lausanne is recommended so you can explore the city in its entirety, but if you only have a few hours you should be able to add most of these suggestions to your itinerary.
Taste My Swiss City
One of the hardest things to decide when visiting a new city is where to eat. Lausanne Tourism has put together a fantastic concept that allows you to eat at places that are popular with locals so you get a real feel for the city and its food. Taste My Swiss City is a self-guided culinary adventure in Lausanne where you get to try 3 courses from 3 different locations. The pass changes every few months to allow different popular eateries to be featured, and it’s a lot of fun to plan your day around food!
We began our tour with a starter and a main dish at Bleu Lézard, which is only a short walk from the cathedral. We then headed further into the old town to grab a bubble tea at Lemoncha and a couple of mini cupcakes from Royaume Melazic (both are in the same building). After exploring the rest of the old town, we headed to Brasserie de Montbenon for a traditional apéritif on the terrace which offered a stunning sunset view of Lake Geneva. The cost to participate in Taste My Swiss City is CHF 65.00 and is totally worth it for the amount of food you get and so you don’t need to worry about where to eat in Lausanne.
One of the most scenic places in Lausanne has to be Ouchy. It’s a beautiful part of the city along the waterfront with tree lined promenades, unique points of interest, and some pretty amazing restaurants too. It’s also home to the popular hotel Château d'Ouchy which is housed within a renovated medieval castle. We spent 2 days in Lausanne and each day we made a point to come down here for a little moment of relaxation. We also brought our lunch down here one afternoon so we could enjoy the lake views. It’s one of the best free things to do in Lausanne.
As the official Olympic capital, it may come as no surprise that there’s an Olympic Museum in Lausanne for visitors to enjoy in Ouchy. Before heading inside, take a moment to appreciate the various sculptures situated around the outside of the museum that depict various sports, and don’t forget to take a look at the Olympic flame too. The inside of the museum is laid out on multiple floors, with plenty of interactive aspects that are great for children. You not only get to learn about the history of the Olympics, but you can also get up close with famous pieces of sports equipment, memorabilia, medals, and the Olympic torches. It’s one of the top things to do in Lausanne and is probably one of the best museums you’ll visit.
If you still find yourself wondering if Lausanne is worth visiting, maybe the thought of eating some traditional fondue will entice you. Le Vieil Ouchy is considered by many tourists and locals as the best place to eat fondue in Lausanne. It’s situated in a historic building in Ouchy, along the shore of Lake Geneva, and offers a warm and inviting atmosphere to customers.
They have the popular half and half fondue, but they also serve a couple of unique flavours such as the tomato fondue and the truffle and champagne fondue which are definitely a step up from the traditional version. We ordered a single portion of the tomato fondue and the truffle fondue so we could taste both, and it’s difficult to decide which one we enjoyed most. It’s not hard to see why Le Vieil Ouchy is one of the most popular places to visit in Lausanne for fondue and other traditional Swiss dishes.
One of the more unique things to do in Lausanne is to take a bus up to the Sauvabelin Forest and climb up the wooden Sauvabelin Tower. It was built in 2003 and offers panoramic views of Lausanne and the surrounding area, including three geographical regions of Switzerland. The tower is completely free to climb up, and it really is an architectural marvel. It’s certainly one of the Lausanne attractions worth adding to your itinerary if you have some spare time or are spending more than a day in Lausanne.
Explore the old town
Many of the main things to see in Lausanne are located within the old town. I love walking around old towns, and Lausanne’s didn’t disappoint despite its small size. The first thing you should visit in the old town is Lausanne Cathedral, which is considered to be one of the finest pieces of gothic architecture in Europe. Other places to visit in Lausanne’s old town include the Escaliers du Marché, Place de la Palud, St. François Church, and the Hôtel de Ville. You could easily spend a full day exploring the streets here, but it’s doable in a couple of hours if you don’t have much time to spare.
Lausanne City Pass
Take advantage of the Lausanne City Pass while you’re here, because it will save you quite a bit on entry fees. There is a 1 day pass for CHF 35 or a 2-3 day pass for CHF 39, with the 2-3 day pass including a chocolate treat from Durig Chocolatier. We used the 2-3 day pass which gave us entry to the Olympic Museum, the Belfry Tower of the Cathedral, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne History Museum, and the Vaud Museum of Fine Arts. There were a few other sites included that we unfortunately didn’t have enough time to see as well.
The 2-3 day pass doesn’t include public transportation like the 1 day pass does, but if you’re staying at a hotel in Lausanne you’ll be given a complimentary pass anyways which includes all modes of transportation within the city. If you’re not sure what to do in Lausanne, the City Pass will give you access to all of the main attractions so you can enjoy the city stress free.
Where To Stay in Lausanne
Best Western Plus Hotel Mirabeau Lausanne
Lausanne is small compared to other cities like Geneva and Zurich, so to get the most out of your visit you’ll want to stay somewhere central. The Best Western Plus Hotel Mirabeau Lausanne is the perfect hotel to base yourself from as it’s located halfway between the old town and Ouchy, and is only a 5 minute walk from the train station. We couldn’t have asked for a better location. This historic hotel has a total of 75 rooms in the Art Deco style, with many having a lake view and lots of space to relax.
We stayed in one of their stunning lakeview suites which was situated on the top floor of the hotel. The balcony overlooking Lake Geneva was my favourite part of this suite, and at sunset the view was incredible. Our suite was very spacious with a separate bedroom and living room, a large tiled bathroom with various amenities that included bathrobes and slippers, and a second toilet near the main entrance. The large double bed was very comfortable so we had a great two nights sleep here. There’s also desk space in the living room to get work done, as well as a TV in both rooms and a coffee machine.
Breakfast is located in the hotel’s gorgeous restaurant, and is served in a buffet style. It’s a traditional French breakfast with lots of croissants, pastries, breads, cheeses, meats, and other food items you’d find at a continental buffet. There are a few hot food choices though such as eggs and sausages. Overall we were very happy with the breakfast at the Hotel Mirabeau which was the perfect way to start our day. If you enjoy staying in historic buildings that have still retained much of their original charm, and have incredible views, then booking a couple of nights at the Best Western Plus Hotel Mirabeau Lausanne is a no-brainer.
>> Click here for the most up to date prices at the Hotel Mirabeau <<
So, is Lausanne worth visiting? The answer is a resounding yes! I would suggest spending at least 48 hours in Lausanne because there are a lot of things to see even though the city is smaller than you might expect. We stopped in Lausanne after visiting Geneva for a few days, on our way to Bern, and we’re so glad we were able to see the majority of the city and taste some delicious Swiss food along the way. Lausanne should be on anyone’s Switzerland itinerary, even if it’s just for a day trip.
Have you had the pleasure of visiting Lausanne before? I’d love to hear what you thought about the city, or if you have any questions about an upcoming trip you’re planning, so please leave me a comment below. You can also find more information about our trip through my Instagram page.
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