The beautiful lakeside city of Lausanne is the second-largest city on Lake Geneva and surrounded by picturesque landscapes of rolling hills and vineyard-covered slopes. Situated in the French-speaking region of Vaud, Lausanne features medieval, boutique, and café-lined streets, a stunning 12th-century Gothic cathedral with an ornate façade and the 19th-century Palais de Rumine. The lively lakeside city is also home to the International Olympic Committee headquarters, as well as the lakeshore Olympic Park and Olympic Museum, and is mostly a car-free city.
1.Cathédrale de Notre Dame
The Cathédrale de Notre Dame is a beautiful Gothic cathedral that was built in the 13th century and is one of the most beautiful gothic art monuments in Europe. Resting in the heart of Lausanne and overlooking the city, the cathedral was consecrated in the presence of Pope Gregory X and Rudolf of Habsburg in 1275 and became a protestant cathedral in 1536. The church boasts a breathtakingly beautiful multi-colored interior with a magnificent rose window on the southern façade, which depicts the medieval view of the world with the figure of God the Creator at the center. The Cathedral is famous for its night watchman, Renato Häusler, who stands at the top of the Cathedral’s bell tower and shouts out each hour to the residents between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am every night.
Place de la Cathédrale, Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-16-71-60
2.Parc de Mon-Repos
Parc de Mon-Repos is a rambling English-style park in the heart of the city that offers an oasis of tranquility and reflects the historical natural heritage of Lausanne. Designed by French architect Louis-Emmanuel-Aimé Damesme, the garden features beautifully manicured flowering gardens, an orange grove, exotic trees, and a cascading waterfall. The park also has several significant architectural features such as an impressive neo-Gothic tower, a neo-Classical temple, and an aviary with over 70 species of birds, and the park hosts a variety of several events such as musical performances and outdoor film screenings in the summer.
Avenue Mon-Repos, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-15-57-15
3.Chateau de Saint-Maire
Château Saint-Maire is a 15th-century château at the northern end of City Hill that has been the center of regional power for centuries. Built by Lausanne’s bishops in the early 1400s as their new residence, the Château Saint-Maire now houses government offices and boasts fantastic views over Lake Geneva. The château’s turreted castle was built in the Ghibelline style by Italian architects and features many defensive elements like low-cut merlons and slits. The Cantonal Government has resided here since 1803, and visitors can enjoy guided tours of the building and its surroundings.
Place du Château, Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-15-55-62
4.Collection de l'Art Brut
© Collection de l’Art Brut
The Collection de l’Art Brut is one of the city’s most significant museums that exhibits the artworks and creations of self-taught artists. Housed in a magnificent mansion known as the splendid Château de Beaulieu in the center of Lausanne, the unusual museum features permanent and temporary collections of more than 60,000 pieces of art created by unconventional artists that include detainees, prisoners, orphans, and the marginalized. The Collection de l’Art Brut also regularly hosts and participates in cultural events and festivals throughout the year and offers free admission on the first Saturday of the month.
Avenue Bergières 11, Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-15-25-70
Chalet-à-Gobet is a charming little town just outside of Lausanne in the canton of Vaud that offers a range of outdoor activities throughout the year. The vast grassy plain of Mauvernay and the surrounding forests mark the watershed area between the Rhine and the Rhône Rivers and is an excellent area for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding. The little town is also home to the Lausanne Hotel School, and the Golf Club of Lausanne.
Route de Berne, Chalet à Gobet, Switzerland
Running along the shore of Lake Geneva, the Port of Ouchy is a charming tree-lined promenade that features three exquisitely manicured gardens, markets, and concerts on the Place de la Navigation during the summer, and breathtaking lake views. The mile-long walkway is similar to those in the South of France, drawing crowds of both locals and families alike to come to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relaxing ambiance. The three gardens - the Elysée, the Denantou, and the Olympic gardens – are filled with trees and blooming flowers, and a grand display of fireworks is held on the 1st of August, Swiss National Day.
Quai de Belgique, Ouchy, Lausanne, Switzerland
© Mykola Komarovskyy/stock.adobe.com
Lausanne is home to the Olympic Museum, the largest museum of its kind in the world dedicated to all things Olympic. Established in 1993, the Museum is located at Ouchy with commanding views over Lake Geneva and is home to a large permanent exhibition is spread over three floors, each of which showcases the Games from a different viewpoint. The ground floor exhibition documents the history of the Games; the first-floor highlights all the disciplines at the sporting event, and the top floor features an interactive Olympic Spirit exhibition. The Museum houses the Olympic Torches of all the Games played so far, as well as an array of all the equipment that the athletes use during the Games.
1 Quai d'Ouchy, Lausanne, Vaud, 1006, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-16-21-65-11
Jardin Botanique is an exquisite arboretum and natural oasis on Montriond hill in the heart of Lausanne. Established in 1824, the Lausanne botanical gardens are home to over 6,000 plants from around the world, ranging from tiny cacti to towering trees, fragrant herbs, and blooming flowers, creating a lush green paradise that offers a tranquil escape from the city. The gardens also have a specialized library listing rare and threatened plants to conserve the protect regional flora, and visitors can enjoy guided tours of the garden on request and a host of events throughout the summer.
Avenue de Cour 14, Lausanne, Switzerland
9.Place de la Palud
© Roman Babakin/stock.adobe.com
Resting in the heart of Lausanne next to the magnificent Cathédrale de Notre Dame, the Place de la Palud is a charming cobblestoned plaza lined with quaint cafés and bustling restaurants that exudes a classic European ambiance. The wedge-shaped pedestrian square is home to the 17th-century City Hall and surrounded by picturesque apartment buildings and has a beautifully painted fountain known as the Fountain of Justice dating back to the 15th century. The City Hall ‘s tower features a fascinating mechanical clock called the Horloge de la Palud that chimes on the hour and tells the history of Vaud through its small historical vignettes.
Place de la Palud, Lausanne, Switzerland
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10.Parc du Desert
Situated on the outskirts of Lausanne, the Parc du Désert is a beautifully landscaped Baroque-style garden dating back to 1782 that features groves of lime trees, intimate nooks and crannies for romantic trysts, and a large vegetable garden. Despite its name, the lush green garden is an oasis of greenery geometrically patterned in the typical Baroque fashion and featuring a large pond that draws plenty of birds and other little creatures. There are plenty of lovely spots for picnicking in the gardens, as well as several walking paths with interpretive boards along the way.
Chemin de Pierrefleur 72, Lausanne, Switzerland
11.La Table d’Edgard
© Friends Stock/stock.adobe.com
Boasting a breathtaking setting in the heart of the old town with panoramic views over the city, Lake Geneva and the Alps, La Table d’Edgard is a culinary gem that promises an unforgettable dining experience. The Michelin-Star restaurant takes fine dining to new levels, helmed by internationally acclaimed Chef Edgard Bouvier, who specializes in the delicacies of Mediterranean cuisine with signature dishes like lobster with black truffles and sea bass with Amalfi Coast lemons. Diners can watch the expert culinary team at work through a glass wall that divides the kitchen from the dining hall and sip on world-class wines from around Europe, which are paired with each dish by professional sommeliers.
7-9 Rue du Grand-Chêne, Lausanne, Vaud, 1002, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-31-32-15
© Café Saint-Pierre
Café Saint-Pierre is a bright and colorful café that serves Spanish-style tapas with Swiss precision. The contemporary eatery features vibrant décor, chromatic plastic accents, and colorful photographs adorning the walls, creating a hip, trendy vibe. The menu follows suit with creative tapas dishes such as fresh Bresaola carpaccio, aubergine caviar with warm Lebanese bread, and creamy foie gras with Tasmanian pepper. The café hosts regular music events and popular weekend brunch sessions with a variety of playful options like the ‘So British’ brunch – a tongue-in-cheek take on the English breakfast. Café Saint-Pierre is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily, and weekend brunch.
1 Place Benjamin-Constant, Lausanne, Vaud, 1003, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-23-36-36
13.La Pinte Besson
Established in 1780 by a local wine merchant, La Pinte Besson is one of the oldest restaurants in Switzerland. Resting in the heart of Lausanne, the unique dining venue still retains much of its original atmosphere with heavy wooden benches, handcrafted stained-glass décor, and low lighting. The restaurant serves a menu of traditional Swiss cuisine with grilled beef entrecote and fondue served with a variety of deliciously fresh meats being popular dishes. The cuisine is paired with local and European beers and ales, wines from around the world, and premium spirits, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
Rue de l’Ale 4, Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-12-59-69
14.Anne-Sophie Pic at Hotel Beau-Rivage Palace
© Beau-Rivage Palace Lausanne
Helmed by three Michelin Star winning chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, Anne-Sophie Pic at Hôtel Beau-Rivage Palace is an exceptional fine dining establishment with breathtaking views over Lake Leman. Set within the luxurious Beau-Rivage palace hotel, the Stewart Wildson-designed restaurant features soft gold and beige décor, exquisitely dressed tables, and soft lighting, creating an air of elegance and in the summer, an outdoor terrace and garden offer fine dining against a backdrop of spectacular lake and mountain views. The award-winning cuisine is prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and presented with flair, and dishes are paired with wines from an impressive cellar, housing over 70,000 bottles of wine from around the world.
17-19 Place du Port, Lausanne, Vaud, 1006, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-16-13-33-39
© Café Romand
Established in 1951, Café Romand is the last of the grande brasseries that were once the go-to places for wining and dining in Lausanne. Still maintaining a timeless vintage charm, the café features elegant architecture and design, heavy oak furniture, and a refined, yet relaxed ambiance. The largely seasonal, bourgeois menu offers classic Swiss dishes such as traditional fondue with the signature moitié-moitié fondue being a popular choice. There is also an array of meats and local classics available, ranging from a good selection of sauerkraut-based dishes to typical brasserie-style brains and tripe for the brave eater. The cuisine is accompanied by a variety of excellent wines from around Europe and local craft and draft beers. Café Romand is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
2 Place Saint-François, Lausanne, Vaud, 1003, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-12-63-75
16.Cafe de Grancy
© Café de Grancy
Laid-back, arty and hip, Café de Grancy is a buzzing bistro where shabby chic meets Art Deco charm and serves a menu of delicious, health-conscious fare in a warm and welcoming ambiance. While the café exudes an ‘informal’ air, the menu oozes style and sophistication with sublime dishes of fresh seafood, delicious meats, organic salads, and vegetarian options, and sumptuous desserts. Signature dishes include foie gras terrine sprinkled with truffle oil, salmon tartare with avocado and coriander, and prawns with mango, ginger, and sesame seeds. Casual wines and craft drafts are served from the bar, and the café’s mouthwatering artisanal foie gras can be taken away as a gift.
Av. du Rond-Point 1, Lausanne, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-16-16-86-66
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© Caffé Bellini
Caffé Bellini is a chic, New York-style café with Italian vintage charm that serves sophisticated spins on Italian classics and wood-fired pizza in an elegant, laid-back setting with contemporary décor. Loved by Lausanne’s creative set, the trendy bistro is one of the city’s hottest after-hour spots, drawing an arty crowd for handcrafted cocktails and thin slices of hand-tossed pizza. The menu boasts a range of rotating daily specials, along with standards such as housemade pasta, succulent steaks, fresh seafood, and mouthwatering desserts, along with a variety of casual Italian wines, imported craft beers, and high-end spirits. Caffé Bellini is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
5 Rue de la Barre, Lausanne, Vaud, 1003, Switzerland, Phone: +41-2-13-51-24-40
17 Best Things to Do in Lausanne, Switzerland
- Cathédrale de Notre Dame, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Parc de Mon-Repos, Photo: sarenac77/stock.adobe.com
- Chateau de Saint-Maire, Photo: bill_17/stock.adobe.com
- Collection de l'Art Brut, Photo: Collection de l’Art Brut
- Chalet-a-Gobet, Photo: _jure/stock.adobe.com
- Port Ouchy, Photo: elophotos/stock.adobe.com
- Olympic Museum, Photo: Mykola Komarovskyy/stock.adobe.com
- Jardin Botanique, Photo: Laiotz/stock.adobe.com
- Place de la Palud, Photo: Roman Babakin/stock.adobe.com
- Parc du Desert, Photo: kucheruk/stock.adobe.com
- La Table d’Edgard, Photo: Friends Stock/stock.adobe.com
- Cafe Saint-Pierre, Photo: Café Saint-Pierre
- La Pinte Besson, Photo: davit85/stock.adobe.com
- Anne-Sophie Pic at Hotel Beau-Rivage Palace, Photo: Beau-Rivage Palace Lausanne
- Cafe Romand, Photo: Café Romand
- Cafe de Grancy, Photo: Café de Grancy
- Caffe Bellini, Photo: Caffé Bellini
- Cover Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com