Lausanne, Switzerland attracts visitors with its appealing blend of natural beauty and cultural sights. Located along the northern banks of the dazzling Lake Geneva and framed by beautiful mountains, the city provides a touch of wilderness, with beautiful woods and hiking routes that serve as a natural playground for adventurers. However, Lausanne easily bridges the gap between urban areas and the environment, providing a sense of safety inside the busy world of urban life. This lovely city in the heart of Europe is known for its stunning lakeside walk, attractive old town, and rich past. One day in Lausanne will therefore be a treat for both your body and your soul.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Lausanne?
The best time to explore Lausanne largely hinges on your personal preferences and the experiences you seek. Each season in this Swiss gem offers its unique charm.
Summer (June to August): Summer is ideal for those who enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities. Temperatures range from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F), making it ideal for lakeside promenades, boat rides on Lake Geneva, and park picnics. However, as tourists visit the city during this season, expect greater crowds and slightly higher prices. Also, the country celebrates its National Day on August 1, which means a lot of celebrations in and around the city. Festival de la Cité in early July is another event you don’t want to miss.
Spring (April to May) and early autumn (September to October): The shoulder seasons provide a great balance of pleasant weather and fewer tourists. Spring brings flowers and leaves, while early autumn brings golden colors to the environment. Temperatures range from 12°C to 20°C (54°F to 68°F), making this an ideal time to explore the city, go trekking, and experience cultural sights without the summer crowds.
Winter (December to March): If you enjoy winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding, Lausanne will be a perfect destination. Verbier and Villars, two neighboring resorts, come alive with snowy slopes. Within the city, a comfortable, festive atmosphere can be found during December, with Christmas markets and seasonal delicious foods. Also, you will definitely want to experience Fasnacht, a carnival that starts on the Monday following Ash Wednesday.
A Few Facts about Lausanne:
- With approximately 140,000 people, Lausanne is Switzerland’s fourth-largest city.
- The International Olympic Committee has its headquarters in this very city, and the same goes for more than 50 different sport associations.
- Lausanne is well-known for its vibrant arts sector, which includes various museums and galleries.
- The beautiful Gothic masterpiece that is Lausanne Cathedral is a must-see when you’re in town.
- The city is famous for its delectable Swiss cuisine, which includes fondue and raclette.
- Despite its modest size, Lausanne has its own metro system. This makes it the smallest city on the planet with this kind of transport.
One Day in Lausanne Itinerary
If there’s one city in Switzerland where you can experience all the best things this wonderful country has to offer, it’s most certainly Lausanne. The culture, the history, the food, the nature… everything around you is bound to leave a lasting impression. One day here will certainly help you recharge your batteries, but you’ll need a good itinerary. So, here are the best things to see and do while in Lausanne. Enjoy!
Start your day with Lausanne Cathedral
The best way to start your one day in Lausanne is by visiting the majestic Lausanne Cathedral, a 12th-century architectural work of art. Admire its magnificent Gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass windows, and the magnificent rose window. Don’t pass up the chance to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city, Lake Geneva, and surrounding mountains.
Enjoy a walk along the Ouchy Promenade
After visiting the cathedral, take a leisurely walk along the gorgeous Ouchy Promenade. This peaceful waterfront neighborhood on the banks of Lake Geneva offers spectacular views of the shimmering lake and the towering mountains. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and relax in the peaceful environment. If you ask me, it’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee, too.
Visit the Olympic Museum
Wrap up the morning part of the itinerary touring the Olympic Museum, which pays tribute to the history and spirit of the Olympic Games. This interactive museum takes visitors on a spectacular tour through the world of sports, complete with memorabilia, multimedia displays, and fascinating insights into Lausanne’s role as the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters.
Enjoy a tasty Lausanne lunch
For a delicious Swiss lunch, you have many great options nearby. Visit Café de Grancy, a beautiful cafe with a pleasant environment, to indulge in traditional Swiss cuisine like cheese fondue, raclette, or a heavy meal of rosti accompanied by great wine.
La Croix d’Ouchy is a great Italian restaurant that fits into your itinerary quite well because you won’t have to walk too far. They serve great pasta here, and you have to try their Parma ham! Inglewood Saint–Laurent, on the other hand, makes fantastic burgers. They also have a cheesecake that’s out of this world, so if you’re looking for some guilty pleasure, you’ll certainly find it here.
Mind you, these are just some of the great food options in town, and I strongly encourage researching and exploring on your own. You won’t be sorry!
Go see collection de l’Art Brut
After lunch, visit the Collection de l’Art Brut to immerse yourself in the world of outsider art. This one-of-a-kind museum features unusual and untrained artists who produce work on the edge of standard creative rules. The provocative exhibits call into question traditional concepts of creativity and expression.
Take it easy and explore Lausanne’s Old Town (Vieille Ville)
Next, take a leisurely walk through Lausanne’s attractive Old Town (Vieille Ville). As you walk through the city’s small brick streets dotted with antique houses, take in the vivid ambiance.
Along the route, see a number of small shops, boutiques, and art galleries, and don’t miss the busy Place de la Palud, the heart of the old town. Of course, take some time to do some souvenir shopping, too.
Treat yourself to dinner at Café Romand
For a delicious Swiss meal, visit Café Romand, a local favorite noted for its warm atmosphere and substantial cuisine. Enjoy traditional Swiss fare like beef fondue, Zurich-style veal, or a platter of creamy raclette. The warm and inviting atmosphere makes it an ideal setting for a great supper.
Wrap up your day with a Lake Geneva boat tour
As a perfect finish to your one day in Lausanne, take a romantic boat tour on Lake Geneva. The reflection of the evening lights on the calm waters provides a wonderful mood as the sun sets and the city lights begin to shine. It’s a great way to unwind and see the city from a different angle and a perfect trip if you’re in town with your significant other.
Where to Stay in Lausanne:
Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa
Avenue d’Ouchy 40, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
When it comes to luxury stays in Lausanne, Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa is pretty much unbeatable. Two spas and an outdoor pool are just the tip of the iceberg of what you get here, and the restaurant provides a spectacular view of the lake. The rooms are divided into two wings – Savoy and Park – offering different views, and the treatment you get here is nothing short of spectacular. In short, this is luxury at its finest, and you will not regret booking a room here.
Place du Port 2, 1000 Lausanne, Switzerland
How would you like to stay in a château? Well, Château d’Ouchy allows you to do just that! This amazing castle is located right on the shore of Lake Geneva, and it has an outdoor pool and a sauna, among other things. Excellent continental and American breakfasts are served here, plus the rooms boast incredibly comfortable beds. Complimentary mini-bars only add to the whole experience. Honestly, there’s not a single thing here you won’t be happy about.
Moxy Lausanne City
Rue de la Vigie 3, Lausanne Centre, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
Located right in the city center, Moxy Lausanne City is a great modern hotel that offers incredible value. Great breakfast, extremely comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, a nice gym… the list of features that will make your stay here enjoyable is quite long. The hotel’s interior gives it quite a lot of character too, and the staff here is extremely helpful and welcoming. A great stay!
Au Major Davel
Place d’armes 8, Cully, 1096 Cully, Switzerland
If you don’t mind staying slightly outside of Lausanne’s center, why not stay at Au Major Davel? This charming little hotel is right next to Lake Geneva and offers seasonal cuisine in a restaurant with a winter garden. Sounds nice, right? And the rooms are very comfortable and full of natural light. You can even enjoy the view of the vineyards from here, along with a very tasty breakfast. This hotel is undoubtedly a gem waiting to be discovered.
Day trips from Lausanne
It won’t be a big surprise if you decide to spend more than one day in Lausanne. The city is just so pretty that it’s very hard to leave. Besides, staying longer gives you a great opportunity to explore Switzerland a bit, and some amazing day trips can be easily arranged. The country offers so much, but the following destinations are among the most popular.
A lovely Swiss Village in Switzerland, a short train journey from Lausanne, Montreux is famous for its annual Montreux Jazz Festival, a global musical spectacular. Aside from music, it has beautiful lakeside promenades with brilliant flower displays throughout the spring and summer. Perfect for a relaxing day trip.
Château de Chillon
A fairy-tale medieval castle set on the shores of Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon is just a stone’s throw away from Lausanne. Investigate its well-preserved chambers, underground vaults, and charming towers. This is the most visited historic site in the country, for many very good reasons. The castle is in perfect condition and has an absolutely divine location. Oh, and the cafe there is a wonderful place to stop for lunch.
Travel to the UNESCO-listed Lavaux Vineyards, where terraced vineyards fall down the slopes overlooking Lake Geneva. This lovely setting not only provides stunning views but also the opportunity to sample wonderful wines and pair them with great food. It should be mentioned that the terraces here are almost 1000 years old, although there is evidence of vineyards existing in this era as far back as the Roman times.
Does this name sound familiar? Yes, this is where the famous Gruyere cheese originates from. But that’s not the only thing that makes this incredibly charming little town worthy of a day trip from Lausanne. The place itself is incredibly beautiful, there is a wonderful castle to explore, and you can visit a chocolate factory, too! And let’s face it, visiting a chocolate factory in Switzerland is something really special.
Extra Tips for Visiting Lausanne:
- Currency – Swiss Franc (CHF): It is very important that you get some Swiss Francs (CHF) before visiting Lausanne. Nope, they don’t use the euro here. Have some cash available for little purchases, but credit cards are frequently accepted in most places.
- Lausanne Transport Card: The public transportation system in Lausanne is efficient and well-connected. Consider purchasing a Lausanne Transport Card, which is usually given to you by hotels and provides you unrestricted access to buses and subways throughout your stay, making it easy to navigate around the city.
- Language – Basic French: While English is widely spoken in Lausanne, particularly in tourist areas, making an effort to learn a few simple French words such as “Bonjour” (Hello) and “Merci” (Thank you) will enhance your cultural experience and interactions with people.
- Respect and cleanliness: Switzerland is well-known for its cleanliness, and Lausanne is no exception. Respect local standards by properly disposing of waste and keeping the environment clean. This not only preserves the city’s natural beauty but also demonstrates respect for the local people.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Haris Moten is a passionate traveler and the brains behind Smart Travelling. He enjoys traveling to new locations and blogging about his experiences. Haris' blog is all about clever travel strategies. He'll show you how to uncover beautiful spots that not everyone knows about and how to travel on a budget. He believes that travel may improve your life and that he can assist you in having wonderful experiences. Follow Haris on his journey around the world, one wise trip at a time.