Lausanne Travel Guide
Lausanne might not ring a bell with many travellers, but it should. For starters, this city is home to the International Olympic Committee. But apart from that, it also sits on Lake Geneva and is an easy drive from many outstanding ski resorts.
But best of all, it ranks highly in terms of cultural attractions. During your stay, you’ll find plenty of museums, art galleries, and churches to keep you busy.
Of all the attractions in Lausanne, the Olympic Museum stands out. As its name suggests, this institution tells the story of the modern Olympic movement. This building has served in this capacity since 1993 when IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch opened it to great fanfare.
During your visit, you’ll find over 10,000 artifacts, which includes torches, medals, and more. The curators pay homage to the Ancient Games, but the main focus is on the Modern Games. Give yourself three hours to explore all three floors of this magnificent museum.
The art world can be a cold, exclusive place. To break through, artists must impress critics, patrons, and other establishment gatekeepers. As a result, untold quantities of amazingly talented creators go unnoticed.
Insiders call these creations “outsider art”. In Lausanne, you’ll find some of the most unique works in this genre at the Collection de l’Art Brut. This institution focuses on art created by social outcasts – items created by the institutionalized and the incarcerated. To get the most from your visit, pick up an audio guide at the reception desk.
Still on an art kick? Make the Fondation de l’Hermitage your next stop. Situated in an old mansion overlooking the city, this place shows off Impressionist works. In its halls, you’ll find pieces from artists like Alfred Chavannes and Francois Bocion.
When we wrote this guide, admission to this attraction was 17 CHF per adult. For the permanent artworks, temporary exhibitions, and atmosphere, it is well worth the price.
Before leaving, drop by the Cathedrale de Lausanne. Completed in the 13th century, it started its life as a Roman Catholic church. However, it now belongs to the Evangelical Reformed Church. While it has many stunning architectural features, its organ and bells are particularly noteworthy.
If you’re travelling as a family through Lausanne, swing by the Aquatis Aquarium. Unlike similar attractions, this facility focuses exclusively on exhibiting freshwater marine life. Over 46 tanks, terrariums, and vivariums, you’ll find over 10,000 fish and over 100 amphibians and reptiles.
Should inclement weather wreck your plans, this place makes for a wonderful Plan B. However, do note that this attraction is popular with local school kids. Even on weekdays, you’ll run into school field trips.
On Lausanne’s lakefront, you’ll find a curious sight – an authentic Thai Pavilion. You’ll find this splendid structure in Parc du Denantou, standing out sharply from its surroundings. It’s definitely not something you’d expect to find in a Western European country – so what gives?
Back in 2005, H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand gifted Lausanne this pavilion to honour the 60th anniversary of his reign, and 75 years of Thai-Swiss relations. But the symbolism goes deeper than that – from 1933 to 1951, the future king and other members of the Thai court lived in Lausanne. So, in a way, this monument is an expression of gratitude to this Swiss city.
Take in Lausanne and area from above by climbing the Sauvabelin Tower. Situated outside the core in the Sauvabelin Forest, this observation tower affords stunning views of the city, surrounding mountains, and Lake Geneva.
Be advised that you must climb stairs to reach the top of this wooden structure. But trust us – the price you pay in sweat will be worth it.
End your trip to Lausanne by spending a few hours at the Place de la Palud. This cobblestone public square is the best place in the city for people-watching locals. Its restaurants, cafes, and centrepiece fountain only add to the appeal of this spot.
What To Eat
During your time in Lausanne, find a restaurant that serves Papet Vaudois. This dish is not only flavourful, but it’s also veggie-friendly (but not vegan), as its cooks make it from cream, leeks and potatoes. Because it stews for hours, its flavours come through strong, so don’t miss it.
If you opt for it, you’ll often get a Saucisson Vaudais served with your Papet Vaudois. The crafters of these local Swiss sausages make them from pork & lard. They then smoke and dry them, giving these sausages a unique character.
Pair this meal (and others) in Lausanne with a glass of Chasselas. This local wine is a white that is light and easy to drink. They might not win over many critics, but this bottle is an affordable companion after a long day of sightseeing.