17 Things To Do In Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne does not immediately come to mind with the mention of Switzerland – and I don’t blame you! With Zurich and Geneva constantly taking the top spot on lists like the Most Expensive City …’ and Interlaken, Jungfraujoch, and Lucerne being flooded with selfie-stick waving tourists. The city of Lausanne does not get much internet time, space or attention from tourists looking to see as much of Switzerland as they possibly can in the shortest possible time (because you know, due to Switzerland being proudly infamous for being an expensive destination).
But if you are reading this, you either are thinking of visiting Lausanne, already live in Lausanne, and want to see if your favorite spot is still kept under the radar or you are trying to determine if Lausanne is worth your time and money.
I consider myself big fan of the Olympic Games, to the extent of reducing social outings during the Olympic season to catch the action on TV, across different time zones. But did I know where the IOC was located or the existence of an Olympic Museum – Nope!! That was until I arrived in Lausanne …
It was such an interactive experience getting to geek out on everything Olympic Games-related. Summer, Winter, Youth, Paralympics, you name it, it was there. From the history of the Games back in the ages up till the most recent Summer Games in Rio. To game mascots, uniforms, medals, and even the political situation of the time have been documented and is on display. If you love the Games, this is something you definitely have to check out!
#2 Panoramic view of Lausanne at the Sauvabelin Tower
If you look this up on Google Maps it says it is permanently closed. That’s a lie!! The Sauvabelin Tower is one of the best places to get the perfect panorama over Lausanne. It’s okay, you can take the pictures after you are done catching your breath and patting yourself on the back for scaling the 200+ steps to the top. On a clear day, you can even see the highest peak in Europe – Mont Blanc (4882m)! Plus, being in Parc de Sauvabelin feels almost like being out of the city and in an actual forest, pretty cool if you ask me!
#3 Get ready to be impressed by the Nestle Museum
Having been all around the world, I have made peace with the fact that I really am not a museum person, spending all of 1.5 hours at the Louvre in Paris. I know – The travesty! But when the museum has some sort of relation to chocolate, especially in Switzerland, I will make an exception! (Mmmm chocolate!)
Le Nest (the Nestle Museum) is one of the best museums I’ve been to! Yup, There I said it!
It was almost like Disneyland! The museum is split up into 3 interactive parts. An audio-guided tour on the history of Nestle / The products that Nestle has through the years / Futuristic aerobridge of interactive games. You even get to sample some Kit Kat chocolate! Le Nest was most informative and we had an absolute blast while learning the history of one of the most successful (and delicious) companies in the world. From reading exhibits to watching advertisements from the 1980s to getting our photo taken for the Wall of Nestle to having coffee at Café Henri – which is #cafegoals.
#4 People watch as Esplanade MontBenon
With one of the best views of Lake Leman, Esplanade MontBenon is where locals hang out after work. Be it for a quick drink or just to catch up with friends. It doesn’t hurt that the Allianz open-air cinema is right next door too should you want to catch a movie post-picnic. Great views of sunset too!
#5 Stroll across the Bessières Bridge
Not only do you get a stunning view of the Lausanne Cathedral you get to feel the rumble of the train tracks from below. It is also a great place for photography within the city.
#6 Visit the imposing Lausanne Cathedral
You can’t miss the Lausanne Cathedral against the skyline of Lausanne, nor the chiming of bells every hour which can be heard from anywhere in the city. The beautiful interiors are not the only reason to pay the Cathedral a visit. It also boasts a great viewpoint with some benches which are perfect for a lunch break or sandwich stop while overlooking the city. If you are lucky, you get to see some men in uniform too!
#7 Hang out in Ouchy for the afternoon
Say it with me, Ooh-shay (not Ouch-y) – oh la French! This is the cute port side district that you cannot miss. With perfect al-fresco cafes and sailboats on the water, I am sure you can find a good pain au chocolat here somewhere to munch on while people watching. While there was no pain au chocolat for me being on a budget while in Switzerland, there was definitely some iced coffee courtesy of Migros and Denner (50 cents!), my favorite supermarkets, and a quick cat nap in the park. Have I mentioned I love laying on the grass in parks while in Europe?
#8 Take a dip in Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) to cool off from the heat
When you experience those 36-degree summer days. Do as the locals do and go out on the lake for a dip. It is not only refreshingly cool but oh so clean! Or you can take SUP boards and kayaks out on the water as well. While admiring the beautiful Alps in the background. Don’t forget that sunscreen though!
#9 Smell some chocolate at Chocolatier Blondel
It is a travesty to travel to Switzerland and not eat some heavenly Swiss chocolates. While you have Lindt and Cailler in stores, there are also the exclusive independent chocolatiers to check out. Be forewarned, they are heart-stoppingly expensive though, but I have zero regrets heading to Chocolatier Blondel just for the smells and to conjure up some chocolate dreams. You can also get a chocolate ice cream right outside the shop for prices cheaper than an ounce of chocolate inside.
#10 Go on a COFOP street art hunt
I’ve chased street art all over South America, and while exploring the streets of Lausanne on foot, we chanced upon many a painted electrical box – all done by the same guy/girl, COFOP! They definitely add some color pop to the city and it is nice seeing something as boring as an electrical box, beautified with art! How many can you find throughout the city? Share your favorite one with me in the comments below!
#11 Climb Escaliers du Marché (Market stairs)
These steep stairs lead directly to the Lausanne Cathedral (so we walked down them instead of up) after visiting the Cathedral and hanging out at the top. It’s not so much the oldness of the stairs but the perfect rows of colorful houses next to them that makes the stairs so photogenic.
#12 Sample Luigia’s Nutella pizza
This was recommended to me by a friend, but anytime Nutella and pizza are in the same sentence, I pay more attention instantly. There are no words to describe it, but it is as good as you are imagining it to be right now.
#13 Meander downhill on Rue de Bourg for kitschy shops and a feel of the old town
If you absolutely have to get your shopping kick in, Rue de Bourg is the street for you. Or if you love to window shop and people watch like I do, Rue de Bourg is great for that too. Plus, for once it is not an uphill walk in Lausanne, *gasp. It is very much the heart of Lausanne with all the great features of kitschy Swiss cities.
#14 Have a picnic serenaded by birds at Parc Mon Repos
Confession: Okay so I discovered this park on a break from the relentless hills of Lausanne. Located somewhere midway between Ouchy and the top of Sauvabelin Tower, it is the perfect midway rest stop for those tight calves and a water break while sitting on the grass. Then you hear birds chirping in the distance and wonder if you’ve literally fallen asleep while on a break, but no, they’re actual birds in some sort of display. While I think birds should live free of cages, Parc Mon Repos is definitely a great place to take a picnic to and disappear from the city for a while.
#15 Take beautiful Instagram photos at Parc de l’Hermitage
Not that Lausanne needs more pretty spots to make it to Instagram, but if you ever wanted one of those ‘running though fields of long grass while turning back and laughing photos’ – good news, you can recreate that here. And then go visit the Hermitage house for a look see around.
#16 Do some exercise getting up and down the steep hills of Lausanne (find the steepest one)
Have I already mentioned that Lausanne is covered in hills, and steep ones too? (; We definitely huffed and puffed our way up our fair share of hills. Notably this one, which always felt the steepest to me. Hit me with your steepest hilly road find in Lausanne and maybe we’ll give San Francisco a run for her money
#17 Take part in the Lausanne Estivale (Summer Festival) all across the city
From June 21 to September 21, there are more than 450 performances, theatre shows and concerts from all music genres. The best part is – They are all FREE. If you are so lucky as to experience Lausanne in the summer, I highly recommend grabbing a program booklet and checking out multiple stages within the city. There are few better feelings in the world than watching an open air concert held by a professional orchestra, with a view of Lake Geneva and a beer in hand.