Lausanne is a truly elegant city, not far from Geneva, on Lake Geneva. Its hillside setting on the lake facing the Alps is truly spectacular. Its old quarter, La Cité, has an impressive medieval cathedral. Lausanne is a university city with a vibrant student population. The Swiss Hotel School is located here, as well as the International Olympic Committee headquarters, which has a fascinating Museum on the Olympics with all kinds of exhibits and a library of Olympic videos. Musée de l'Art Brut has an unusual but fascinating exhibit of art by untrained artists including imprisoned criminals, mental patients, and eccentrics.
Lausanne is a very green city with many parks and gardens. Its southern exposure on the Lake gives it a wonderful climate for all kinds of vegetation. Ouchy is the city's marina, which is beautiful and has excellent restaurants and fantastic yachts. The best beach is Vidy, where bikes and skates can be rented to explore the walkways along the Lake. In the summer, Lausanne holds many outdoor festivals, street performances, and street parties, and the pedestrian-only shopping areas are excellent.
Lausanne is a great starting point for a family vacation in Switzerland. From here, high speed trains depart almost hourly to Paris and Milan, and it is a major junction for numerous train lines through Switzerland. Because of this, Lausanne makes a great base for trips into the Bernese Oberland or the Valais by train. Large luggage can be stored in the lockers at the train station while you take short trips with smaller bags, and on your way back through you can simply exchange for clean clothing.
There are many wonderful excursions and tours of the Lake Geneva area, by boat, train and cable car. Ride up to the surrounding peaks of the Alps where revolving restaurants have spectacular vistas. Or take a train to the charming medieval stone town of Gruyère, famous for its cheese, or a lake steamer to the resort of Montreux, nicknamed the "Swiss Riviera" because of its warm climate with palm trees and other tropical vegetation along the lake and in the parks.
Attractions and Activities
Lausanne is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva and hosting The Swiss Hotel School as well as the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. It is a friendly and international city offering many attractions and activities to tour!
Mountain Excursions in Lausanne
Full-day excursion by rail. The journey takes you along Lake Geneva and through the breathtaking beauty of the Valais. From Brig, the route climbs through rugged valley landscape to Zermatt and the majestic Matterhorn. This popular excursion can also be combined with a trip by cogwheel railway up to the Gornergrat or with a cableway to the Klein Matterhorn.
City Excursions in Lausanne
Bern – Switzerland's Captivating Capital
Beautiful Bern is only a one-hour rail trip from Lausanne.
This is a city of medieval magic, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Attractions include the famous clock tower, the bearpits – home to Berne's heraldic animals – and excellent shopping arcades.
Montreux – on Lake Geneva
Just 30 minutes away from Lausanne, Montreux is the most frequented resort on Lake Geneva. This trip can be combined with a visit to the Castle of Chillon.
Chateau de Chillon
In a unique setting on the shores of Lake Geneva stands one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Switzerland. Erected in the 13th century on older foundations, the Castle of Chillon was the residence of the Counts of Savoy throughout the Middle Ages. Originally a fortress, the Castle of Chillon underwent numerous transformations with a view to its adaptation to the advances in the defensive and offensive weapons of the age. Other modifications were occasioned by amenities and embellishments suited to the pomp and ceremony of life in the castle. Many prominent figures in history stayed there: emperors, popes and princesses.
Beautiful Geneva, home to about 200 international organizations, among them the United Nation's European Office, and the International Committee of the Read Cross, is approx. 40 minutes away by train. Geneva is also considered being a "City of Peace".
Other Excursions in Lausanne
Cruises on Lake Geneva
April – October. (included with some Swiss Rail Passes!)
Half-day or evening excursions. Enjoy a leisurely cruise on a modern motorship or one of the renovated stately steamers. Excellent catering and banquet facilities.
Sports in Lausanne
In 1994, Lausanne was elected ‘Olympic capital’. Sport isn’t just a big word; more than 300 active sports clubs and fifteen international sports federations make Lausanne a true ‘sportsville’.
Lake Geneva is great for all water activities. Amateurs as well as pros train and compete at the shores of Lausanne. The rowing club of Lausanne was founded in 1878 and has therefore a long tradition.
The forests above Lausanne are a paradise for hiking, mountain-biking and cross-country skiing, golf friends walk the greens on a wonderful 18-hole golf course and skating and cycling along the lake is fun for everyone.
Entertainment in Lausanne
Lausanne is also a city for active night owls; bars, nightclubs, pubs, discos, jazz clubs, theatres etc – a wide range of establishments.
Visit an opera, concert, theatre or see the ‘Bejart Ballet’, a Swiss ballet based in Lausanne.
Shopping in Lausanne
All kinds of shops can be found in the city center – watchmakers, bookshops, outfitters, food stores etc. You don’t have to walk miles but find everything within close proximity.
Browse through the City Center Market every Saturday morning (food and non-food) or pay a visit to the Flea Market every Thursday at Place Chauderon to get a unique souvenir of Lausanne.
Events in Lausanne
Every year, the ‘Festival de la Cité’ (City festival) is held in summer and since 1973 the “Prix de Lausanne” (prize of Lausanne, a dance competition) attracts friends of dancing.
Known as the “green” marathon, with no cars disturbing the event, the Lausanne Marathon is a popular race in every runner’s agenda.
Next to the meeting in Zurich, the ‘Athletissima’ in Lausanne is good for new world records. Top athletes meet every year to delight the onlookers with faster races and better results.
Museums in Lausanne
Lausanne is the site of about twenty museums. Three of the most visited are:
Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was the initiator of this museum. It was founded in June 1993 and is the second most visited museum in Switzerland. The main themes of course are the Olympic Games starting with ancient Greek up to the latest summer and winter games.
Art Brut Collection
Art brut, the synonym for ‘Outsider Art’ or literally translated ‘Raw Art’ or ‘Rough Art’ is a label created by the French artist Jean Dubuffet. A lot of ‘Outsider Art’ show extreme mental states, unconventional ideas or fantasy worlds. Jean Dubuffet’s collection, containing thousands of works, can be visited in Lausanne.
Musée de l’Elysée (Elysee Museum)
This museum is completely focused on photography. There are various exhibitions to visit. A great collection can be admired in eight rooms on four floors.
Location and Map
Lausanne is situated in the south-western part of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, 65 km (40.4 miles) from the closest airport Geneva, 30 km (18.6 miles) from Montreux and 230 km (143 miles) from Zurich. Lausanne can also be reached by international trains (3 hours and 40 minutes by TGV from Paris), by Pendolino from Milan and Intercity from Frankfurt or Munich. The travel time by train from Geneva is 40 min. Lausanne can also be reached by boat (across the Lake Geneva).
Lausanne Tourism: Map of Lausanne