10 Best Things to do in Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne should peak your interest simply for being the fourth largest city in Switzerland. That Switzerland has four cities is surprising enough, but to then learn that Lausanne is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe should make it a top priority for travelers. Taking a road trip through the Swiss Alps to Lausanne, the fourth largest city in Switzerland, is a dream come true.

While road trips are more about the outdoors, Lausanne is more about the town. Yes, the surroundings are beautiful too, but with about 420,000 residents this town has a lot to offer as a road trip destination. It is part of the French-speaking part of Switzerland, with a view of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.

This small town is full of French romance and atmosphere and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. You can also take the Chocolate Train to a cheese factory in Gruyere and the Cailler chocolate factory. It is rich in history with medieval streets lined with shops, stunning architecture and a great assortment of fine museums and art venues.

There really is something here for everyone. Combined with the beauty of the surrounding mountains and lake it is truly a must visit road trip destination. Lausanne is a city full of history, from the Romans to the Protestant Reformation to the Olympics. The city is filled with churches and museums, and one of the towers of the old city fortifications still stands.

Don’t worry about getting around the city, for the public transport is extensive. There are 25 bus lines, 2 metro lines, and 8 regional lines, so getting around the city should be no problem for travelers. Tickets can be bought for the length or the time of trips.

The city sits on the south side of the Swiss Plateau and overlooks the Alps and Lake Geneva. Being built on a southward slope, the layout of the streets can lead visitors to miss the streets they search by meters. If it is the way you get to Lausanne, or perhaps leave it, the train station is a beautiful building. It connects the city to many others in Switzerland, Italy, and France through express trains.

best things to do in Lausanne

Here are a few of the best things to do in Lausanne.

1. Lake Geneva


Locals hate the English Name, preferring the French “Lac Léman”, because the lake is for everyone, not just those from Geneva. Whether you want to see its beauty from restaurants and bars, beaches, the walking path, or a boat, which can be eco-friendly. The views in the background are a stunning addition to the lake.

2. Lausanne Cathedral


Built in the Gothic Style, this cathedral is a must-see. It features a rose window and a gigantic pipe organ. In comparison to other European Cathedrals it is small, but the climb to the top of the bell tower is very much worth it. You can pay a small fee to climb up the stairs of the bell tower, past the great bells, to an observation area where you can look out over the city, the sea, and to the Alps.

3. Sauvabelin Tower


Sitting in the Sauvabelin Forest, this 35 foot tall tower has panoramic views of Lausanne, encompassing the Alps, the Jura, and the Plateau. Built of Douglas Wood from the surrounding forest, it also serves as a picture of sustainable development. The architecture is stunning, with a very open construction. It is outside of the city, but there is a bus line that leads to it.

4. Tour de l’Ale


This tower is a little tricky to find, being hidden off of a side street, so you might have to ask for some directions (don’t worry, they probably speak English). It’s an astounding remnant of the old city wall. You can get a tour of the inside of the tower.

5. Casino de Montbenon


Built in 1908, this Casino now holds the Swiss Film Archive. It houses 2 multi-purpose stages that can function as concert halls and movie theaters. The casino hosts the Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival, JazzOnze+, and the film festival Cinémas d'Afrique (which displays films, documentaries, cartoons, and other cinematic works from or concerning African Countries).

6. Olympic Museum


The city is also called the Capitale Olympique, meaning Olympic Capital, for its hosting of the International Olympic Committee since 1915, and Olympic Museum. The Olympic Museum is the largest museum in the world to record the history of the Olympic Movement and the most complete collection of Olympic materials in the world.

A museum devoted to the Olympic movement that features over 10,000 Olympic artifacts sits to the south of the city center. It houses exhibitions on all of the Olympic games, from the Ancient Greek Olympics to the Paralympics and Youth Olympics, and how culture, technology, and sociology influence the Olympics.

Outside the museum is the Olympic park, where works of art related to the theme of sports stand, such as Les Footballeurs by Niki de Saint Phalle.

7. Capitole Cinema


Being both the oldest and largest Cinema in Switzerland, this cinema is still active. It runs movies in French and English, and will run silent movies with piano and orchestra, and digitised older movies. The Screen and theater room itself are beautifully designed from the golden age of Cinema.

8. Café Saint Pierre


At some point as you’re going through the city, hunger will strike you. It sports craft beers, lunchtime specials, and a weekend brunch. It also has vegan and vegetarian options.

9. Salle Métropole


Designed in 1929, this historical building houses various events, like performances by the Orchestra, pop music performances, and dances. The stage has been remodeled in later years, to improve visibility and acoustics for the 1,200 seats.

10. Terrasses viticoles de Lavaux


Lausanne has one of the great sights of the world: the Lavaux vineyards. You can take a train through them.

Text BY: Jakob Schreiber
Kalyan Panja