Lausanne is not a big city, it’s only 41.38 km² (15.9 m²) and has a population of fewer than 150,000 inhabitants. But that doesn’t make it less special. On the contrary, if you decide to visit, you’ll be amazed by the number of options and attractions this city has for you. If you are planning a short or long stay, you will find this guide very useful for recommendations on different things to do. Check out these best things to do in Lausanne, Switzerland to make this holiday unforgettable!
1. Spend a day walking by the lake or through old buildings
Like we mentioned before, Lausanne is not big, but that actually makes it perfect for walking. If you want to just get lost without direction, you’ll probably end up finding the places of interest on your own, but you can save some time by learning about them in advance. To begin, one option is to walk south, where you’ll find a very trendy district known as Ouchy. Here you can enjoy a sunny day walking through the shore of the Lake Geneva. Another option could be going to the Old Town of Lausanne, located north of Ouchy, in the center of the city. Of course, like all Swiss villages, Lausanne expresses its history and ancient culture in its Old Town (which is bigger than most in Switzerland), with preserved buildings and cobblestone streets. You can stroll here without worries because this area is completely car free. Lausanne Market in Old Town opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays, if you feel like doing some shopping and exploring the regional products.
Another option, if you are not in the mood for just walking, is to visit the main attractions of Ouchy and Old Town, such as The Cathedral of Lausanne and the Olympic Museum. The Cathedral stands out as one of the most impressive Gothic buildings in the country. The construction began in the year 1175 and it’s still being refurbished, but it’s totally worth the visit. Just the portal entrance is outstanding and very different to other churches you might have been in. The interior is beautiful with a very large arch and tasteful simplicity, due to the lack of decorations. The Olympic Museum, on the other hand, is located in one of the quais in Ouchy, which makes it perfect to complete a walk along the lake. This place is a main attraction since, as you probably know, Lausanne is the Olympic capital and host of the International Olympic Committee. It’s the perfect time to visit since the museum was renovated recently (the renovation work took almost two years) and now the permanent exhibitions are much better. The museum receives over 200 thousand visitors each year and you should definitely be one of them.
The Cathedral of Lausanne
Address: Place de la Cathédrale, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 1st July to 20th September, the guided tours are free of charge
Opening Hours: 9:30am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm. From July to August the Cathedral opens from 9am - 6pm.
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Access: Bus: Riponne, Bessières. Metro m2: Riponne-Maurice Béjart, Bessières
Contact: +41 213167161
Website: The Cathedral of Lausanne
The Olympic Museum
Address: 1, quai d'Ouchy, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 18 USD
Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm from May to October. 10am - 6pm from October to April from Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays.
Access: Take the train into Lausanne and the M2 metro line to Ouchy. M2 metro line and No. 2 bus (Ouchy stop) or No. 8 or 25 (Musée Olympique stop).
Contact: +41 216216511
Website: The Olympic Museum
2. Become one with nature in this amazing garden
Voici quelques photos prises au jardin botanique de Lausanne ce printemps par notre collaboratrice Noémie Chervet.Posted by Musée et Jardins botaniques cantonaux Lausanne Pont-de-Nant on Thursday, 30 June 2016
For a sunny day, you won’t find a better option than visiting the Cantonal Botanical Museum of Lausanne, one of the most important floral reservations in Switzerland. The mission of this site is to protect the different species that it is hosting. The collection guarded in the 2,000 meters (1.2 mi) of gardens includes 6,000 different flowers, plants, ferns, algae, moss, fungi, seeds and pollen. It also has a lot of written material like papers on historical botanists, manuscripts and archives and also several portraits. Take a walk on this site and enjoy the connection with nature like you never have.
Cantonal Botanical Museum
Address: Montriond, Place de Milan, Avenue de Cour 14 bis, 1007 Lausanne
Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm. Closed from 1st to 25th January and from the 23rd to 31st December.
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Access: TL: Bus 1 and 25, stop Beauregard. Metro M2: stop Délices.
Contact: +41 213169988
Near by Food: Café de Grancy
Website: Cantonal Botanical Museum
3. Pedestrian, modern and a little bit hipster district
If you are just passing by Lausanne and you want to see as much as possible in one location, the best recommendation is that you try the district of Flon. Located a little to the south of the Old Town and the center of the city, this neighborhood is mostly a pedestrian street that goes around the shops, pubs, coffee shops and nightclubs. The district was named “Flon” after the river that used to run through the valley. Both during day and night, you’ll find many activities out on the streets and inside the galleries, restaurants and bars that are strategically placed to attract the walkers. Find the best place for you among the many options!
Address: Quartier du Flon, Place de l'Europe 8, 1003 Lausanne
Opening Hours: Flon never sleeps
Access: Quartier du Flon is very well served by public transport, being right next to Lausanne Public Transport (TL), the subway (M1, M2) and the LEB (stop: Flon).
Contact: +41 213411212
Near by Food: Drinking and eating in Flon
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
4. A cultural journey
If you are looking for a very cultural experience, Lausanne brings to you a variety of options when it comes to museums and galleries. You can choose according to your interests. For the art lovers, the Collections of Art Brut and the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (Mudac) are the best destinations. If you are interested in architecture, you’ll love the Musée de l'Elysée. Another great option is to visit the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, an architectural beauty itself, with an archive of modern construction. And if you are more into history, the Musée romain de Lausanne-Vidy is the right choice for you.
Collections of Art Brut
Address: 11, av. des Bergières, CH - 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 10 USD
Opening Hours: July through August, open every day from 11am to 6pm. September through June: closed on Mondays. Closed on December 25 and January 1st.
Access: By public bus No. 2, 3 or 21, Beaulieu-Jomini bus stop. From the train station: bus No. 3 or 21, Beaulieu-Jomini bus stop
Contact: +41 213152570
Website: Collections of Art Brut
Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (Mudac)
Address: Pl. de la Cathédrale 6, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 10 USD
Opening Hours: 11am - 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. July and August: Monday to Sunday 11am -6pm.
Access: métro M2 stop Bessières; bus 6, 7 or 66 stop Bessières; bus 16 stop Pont Bessières.
Contact: +41 213152530
Musée de l'Elysée
Address: Avenue de l'Elysée 18, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 8 USD
Opening Hours: 11am - 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays, except on public holiday.
Access: The museum is situated 30 meters (98 feet) from the Avenue de l’Elysée, opposite the Montchoisi skating rink/swimming pool. You can also access the museum from the garden of the Musée Olympique.
Contact: +41 213169911
Website: Musée de l'Elysée
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Address: Route Cantonale, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Musée romain de Lausanne-Vidy
Address: Chemin du Bois-de-Vaux 24, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Price: from 8 USD
Opening Hours: 11am - 6pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact: +41 213154185
Website: Musée romain de Lausanne-Vidy
The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Celeste
5. Stroll along the shores of Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva, or commonly known as Lac Léman by the locals, is shaped like a crescent and shared between France and Switzerland. There are several access points to the shoreline through beaches like Plage de Préverenges, Le Laviau, and Plage de Vidy. We would recommend visiting Plage de Préverenges, which is approximately a 15-minute car ride from the city center of Lausanne, Switzerland. This beach also goes by the name Préverenges Beach and has shallow waters, views of the alps, and car parking areas. It’s a great place for families with young children to gather. For a quieter walk by the lake, you can try heading to Port de la Venoge.
6. Tread the grounds of Place de la Palud
Place de la Palud is a market square in the heart of Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s just a four-minute walk from Palais de Rumine, so after visiting the museums here, you can take a short walk to get to Place de la Palud. It’s an open space that’s very popular among tourists, and you will probably spot many pedestrians in the neighbourhood. It’s characterized by an old fountain with a statue that symbolises justice. Head to Place de la Palud on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for the country market, and the first Friday of the month for the craft market.
Place de la Palud
Address: Place de la Palud 1, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
7. Visit the museums and library in Palais de Rumine
Open to the public since 1902, Palais de Rumine is a 19th-century building designed by French architect Gaspard André. It is currently home to several museums for fine arts, money, geology, zoology, archaeology and history. You will also find Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne here. Don’t miss out on the monetary collections available for viewing at Palais de Rumine. Trace centuries of history as you observe the coins, medals, seals, and more displayed on-site. Interested in animals? Then you will be glad to know that the zoology museum contains animals of all kinds, including a collection of butterflies donated by famous entomologist and writer, Vladimir Nabokov.
Palais de Rumine
Address: Place de la Riponne 6, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
Website: Palais de Rumine
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 8 CHF (8.66 USD)
8. Catch panoramic views at Sauvabelin Tower
Sauvabelin Tower, also known as Tour de Sauvabelin, is a unique wooden structure standing 35 meters (114.8 feet) high. Open since 2003, it offers stunning panoramic views of Lausanne and Lake Geneva. However, be prepared to climb the steps to reach the top. Before you go, it’s advisable to check the weather forecast because entry to the tower might be closed in the event of bad weather like heavy winds, snow, or ice. Also, put on comfortable walking shoes lest you decide to give up halfway through the climb due to uncomfortable footwear. We promise it’s worth the sweat when you reach the top!
Address: 1018 Lausanne, Switzerland
Website: Sauvabelin Tower
Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)
9. Gaze at the historic Château Saint-Maire
Unless you live around these parts, it’s not every day you get to see a castle from the late 1300s. Furthermore, this is not just an ordinary castle. Built from 1397 to 1425 and preserved to the present day, this is a heritage site of Switzerland and part of the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. It was named after the first bishop of Lausanne, Saint Marius, and was his home until 1536. Since 1803, it has served as the seat of the Council of State of Vaud. The public won’t be able to enter the premises as such, so many travellers pay a short visit to this castle after visiting Lausanne Cathedral, which is just a three-minute walk away.
Address: Place du Château, 1002 Lausanne, Switzerland
10. Be amazed by the freshwater ecosystems at AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium
AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium is the biggest freshwater aquarium in Europe, and it’s home to a wide variety of species, including freshwater fish, reptiles, and amphibians. This Lausanne attraction holds educational workshops for children and teens, as well as guided tours for adults. Here’s your chance to learn more about the environmental challenges faced by freshwater ecosystems from the people who know it best. There are also temporary exhibitions depending on the time of the year, so be sure to check out their website to see what’s available before you visit. We also found that they offer something interesting: fear management courses to help you deal with phobias over certain types of animals like spiders, frogs, and more. Prices for this course start from 150 CHF (162 USD).
Address: Route de Berne 144, 1010 Lausanne, Switzerland
Website: AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 29 CHF (31 USD)
11. Learn something new at Space of Inventions
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
How about taking away something new from your trip to Lausanne, Switzerland? If you’ve always been a curious learner, then you ought to make a trip to Space of Inventions. Open since 2000, this is an educational science museum located in Vallée de la Jeunesse. You can explore the museum on your own or take on a guided tour. If you’re keen to sign up for one, please note that the guided tours are only available on certain weekdays and can only be done through email reservation. Space of Inventions is a family-friendly attraction with workshops for children and exhibits for the general public.
Space of Inventions
Address: Vallée de la Jeunesse 1, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Website: Space of Inventions
Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 2pm - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 5 CHF (5.42 USD) - 7 CHF (7.58 USD)
12. Take advantage of the green spaces at Louis Bourget Park
Established in 1941, Louis Bourget Park is well-known as a destination for summer picnics, and it’s open all day. Heading to Lausanne, Switzerland during the summer season? You’ve got to try picnicking here. You will also spot many walkers, runners, and even footballers using the green space leisurely. See if you can catch sight of fireflies surrounding the pond during the evening. Thanks to Louis Bourget, a naturalist and ornithologist, we can now see for ourselves the wonders of the nature reserve by the lake. There are play areas for kids, and this is also a dog-friendly park.
Louis Bourget Park
Address: Prom. de Vidy 1, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
13. Take a breather at Esplanade de Montbenon
Esplanade de Montbenon is a city park 10 minutes on foot from Place de la Palud. With wide green lawns, it’s a suitable place for the little ones to run around freely. A visit here is definitely a good thing to do in Lausanne in the summer. Pack your picnic mat and some snacks as you take a breather on the green pastures in front of the Palace of Justice. The park also overlooks Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains, so you’re in for a good view. For a fulfilling meal, you can choose to dine at either Myo Sushi Bar or Brasserie Montbenon, both of which are located within the park. Myo Sushi Bar serves Japanese food while Brasserie Montbenon specializes in French cuisine.
Esplanade de Montbenon
Address: Allée Ernest-Ansermet 3, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
14. Get your sweet treats from Chocolatier Blondel
If you don’t know what to do in Lausanne, there’s one easy answer: eat chocolate! Ever heard of the saying, “chocolate is happiness that you can eat”? Make your travels a little sweeter with chocolates from Chocolatier Blondel - diet can always start tomorrow. Situated a mere four-minute walk from Place de la Palud, you can easily swing by this place for some sweet treats. The history of the brand can be traced all the way back to the 1850s. Choose from truffles, pralines, and bars of chocolates. It’s a good idea for a gift to a friend or your loved ones. Or you can pick from their existing menu, which has pretty interesting flavours like yuzu black, cayenne pepper, and even ginger dark chocolates!
Address: Rue de Bourg 5, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
Website: Chocolatier Blondel
Opening hours: Mon: 11am - 6:30pm; Tue - Fri: 9:30am - 6:30pm; Sat: 9:30am - 6pm (closed on Sun)
Don't get lost in the options!
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Lausanne, Switzerland. Maybe you thought one day would be enough and now you are starting to realize that you will need to stay a little longer. Don’t worry. Enjoy your visit the best you can and if you think you need more, you can always come back.
Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Lausanne
1. What are the top attractions to visit in Lausanne?
Lausanne is a beautiful city with much to offer. Some must-see attractions and historic sights include Lausanne Cathedral, Musée de l'Elysée, Plage de Préverenges, Place de la Palud, Palais de Rumine, and Sauvabelin Tower.
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Lausanne?
It would be remiss to visit this city on Lake Geneva and not spend time at one of the beaches. Stroll along the shores, swim, or enjoy water sports at Plage de Préverenges or Plage de Vidy. You can also spend some time at Louis Bourget Park or Esplanade de Montbenon and take advantage of the lush green fields.
3. What are the most popular things to do with kids and families in Lausanne?
Kids and adults alike will enjoy visiting AQUATIS Aquarium-Vivarium and Space of Inventions. Both attractions are family-friendly and offer workshops for children and guided exhibits for all. Families can also enjoy a picnic at Louis Bourget Park or Esplanade de Montbenon.
Get Trip101 in your inbox