Lausanne is probably not the first city you think of visiting when you think of Switzerland. Situated by the biggest lake in Europe, Lake Geneva, it is paler and less touristy compared to Geneva and Montreux, both located nearby each other. However this little city has its own charm, and here are my experiences exploring Lausanne for four days.
Places to Stay
What I love about Switzerland is how the hotel gives you a free transport card for all public transportation for certain areas surrounding the hotel. Usually when I travel and look at places to stay, it’s cheaper for accommodation that is far away from the city center, but you have to consider the time and money it takes to travel every day. In this case you can choose any hotel you’d like that is slightly farther away from the center of the city but not having to consider the costs for transportation. I stayed at the SwissTech Hotel, around twenty minutes from Lausanne center. It’s a nice, budget hotel located near a campus area and really close to the metro.However you need to change metros twice to actually get to the main Lausanne train station, which might be a hassle if you are bringing lots of luggage.
Other than that I’m not sure about other hotels or places to stay, I can only speak for my own personal experience.
Places to explore and things to do
The Lausanne city center, Cite, is a lovely, old town style centrum that is filled with interesting buildings you can visit. Like many European cities, they have a lot of squares with statues in the center, a monumental building, and lots of lovely places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Place de la Palud is a famous one, but I prefer the quieter but more cozy Place de la Louve.
Nearby you can go up the unique Escaliers du Marche, a picturesque wooden staircase leading up to the Lausanne Cathedral. To be honest, I’ve been to a lot of cathedrals all over Europe, and compared to the ones in say, Italy, this one is quite boring. There is no entry ticket however, and it’s really nice to explore the building, which has a lot of boards with interesting information inside. And of course the architecture, the statues, and glass-stained windows are wonderful.
Other than that, it’s nice to always just get lost in Cite, the Lausanne old town. The tourism website actually offers a really nice route you can follow for a personal walking tour.
Other noteworthy locations around the center:
- Hermitage Foundation
- Palais de Rumine
- Libraire de Louve
- Sleepy bear coffeeshop
By the Lake
From the city center, Ouchy-Olympique, the metro station by the lake, is only less than ten minutes away. This is what you should be spending your whole day. I personally love bodies of water and nature, and Lake Geneva is truly incredible, I can look at it all day long!
But of course there are a lot of things you can do by the lakeside. There are water activities such as boat tours, both long journeys to another country, or short personal ones with smaller boats. You can just walk along the lakeside and explore how the lake view changes as you walk. That was what I did on a warm late morning, and it’s nice to be able to also explore some of the parks by the sidewalk that are themed and that you can explore. Additionally many people were seen sunbathing by the “beach”, or even dipping their toes on the lovely water.
The Olympic Museum is top destination for Lausanne, as it is known for the Olympic city. It’s a very insightful, beautifully made and knowledge-packed museum that is very child-friendly as well. Loved the information you can get surrounding the history of the Olympics, different committees involved in the making of a race, and some insight into the winners and participants of the previous historical events.
When I was planning my holiday, I thought 4 days is enough for me to just explore Lausanne the city and not take any day trips. After a little convincing by my friend, I decided to take one day as a whole day of day trip away from the city. It was the perfect decision! I think 2 to 3 days in Lausanne itself is more than enough – if you want to stay for longer, then spend your time exploring other locations.
Montreux is a far livelier and tourist-y place than Lausanne. Only half an hour away by train from Lausanne, it’s the perfect daytrip destination. I went there on a morning by boat (CGN offers boat trips throughout the sides of Lake Geneva and there are quite frequent boats from Lausanne). It takes less than 2 hours by boat, which was nice because you get to see all the different views of the lake.
You also get to see Vevey from a distance, which is a great daytrip choice that is closer from Lausanne. It hosts a famous vineyard tour and nearby there is the Alimentarium Museum, a food focused museum that looks fascinating. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to visit the city or the museum, but check out my friend Priska’s post about it in her blog.
From Lausanne I didn’t stop in the city of Montreux but went two stops ahead to the Chillon Castle. This is a medieval building by the lake that is a famous tourist attraction. It’s a great place to visit, especially if you like to explore castles, look at Medieval lifestyle and history. I am going to make an in-depth post about Chillon soon!
Chillon Castle is only 20 minutes by bus away from Montreux. I was lucky that when I visited the infamous, international yearly Montreux Jazz Festival was happening, and over the lakeside pavilion there were stands of exciting foods you can buy even though you’re not participating in the festival itself. Other than that there are beautiful flowers and parks to visit, and interesting statues by the lake.
Geneva is also a lovely city (I heard). Unfortunately I did not get the chance to explore it yet. It is less than an hour away from Lausanne city center.
Other than that, CGN offers various trips to cities near and far from Lausanne, including across the lake to France!
So that turned out to be a very extensive post of my travel experience in Switzerland! Definitely share your tips and tricks as well, and let me know your thoughts on Lausanne and Switzerland, whether you’ve been and how much you love the lake. Talk to you later!