Lausanne is not a big city, but don’t let its size fool you. It can stand its ground when compared to Geneva, Zurich, or Jungfrau area it is constantly overlooked for.

Monocle magazine, a very influential magazine for travel, has dubbed it as “Best small city in the world”. This title is well deserved.

lausanne switzerland
Lausanne – Switzerland

Lausanne is located in the northern part of Lake Geneva in French-speaking Switzerland.

Check out more about: Best Places To Visit in Switzerland!

Some people call it a city of two halves. The reason why is because one part of the city, the old town, is located uphill and the other is nestled at the lakefront downhill.

Both parts of the city have a unique charm. The old town will take you on a journey through the time with its historic churches and narrow townhouses with rustic shutters. The lakefront area downhill from the old town is filled with parks and hotels that look like small castles.

As it sits on the tree hills overlooking the Lake Geneva you will get to see amazing views of the lake and the Savoy Alps. The amazing views can also be seen from the high bridges in the city. These bridges span the gorges made by two rivers that cut through the city.

What about the things you can do in Lausanne?

You can do it all in Lausanne, enjoy nature, explore museums, and visit cultural attractions. We made a list of 8 things to do in Lausanne to help you plan your perfect vacation in this quaint small town.

8 things to do in Lausanne are:

  1. Enroll a university
  2. Do, talk about, and enjoy sports
  3. Go to the Olympic museum
  4. Enjoy the Lake Geneva
  5. Hang out in Ouchy
  6. Enjoy the view from Musée et Jardins Botaniques Cantonaux
  7. Visit the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Lausanne and the Old Town
  8. Shop and have fun at Flon

Enroll a university in Lausanne

One of the things to do in Lausanne is to acquire knowledge. Lausanne is a bastion of training and research and a long-standing university town of a very good reputation worldwide.

The number of students in this town is astounding. Over 34000 students are attending a university here. They together with their teachers represent over 120 nationalities.

former university lausanne
Former University – Lausanne

As the density of highly-skilled individuals is very large, it is a perfect breeding ground for new technologies that will shape the future.

Some of the most renowned training centers in Lausanne are:

  • The Swiss federal institute of Technology (EPFL)
  • The International Institute for Management Development (IMD)
  • The Lausanne Hotel School (EHL)
  • The University of Lausanne (UNIL)

Jacques Dubochet, a professor at the Lausanne University, was a Nobel Laureate in chemistry in 2017. He, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson won the prize for the development of cryo-electron microscopy. It simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules. Biochemistry has entered into a new era since their discovery.

Do, talk about, and enjoy sports

Out of all the exciting things to do in Lausanne, you can also do and watch sports. It is what you can expect from the city that is the Olympic Capital. On June 23. 1994 Lausanne was given this title by the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

Here is a story about how Lausanne became the Olympic Capital.

olympics
Lausanne was Olympic Capital!

Baron Pierre de Coubertin chose this city in 1915 for the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee during very hard times for Europe. It was the time of war and he found a peaceful and stable environment in Lausanne.

With time, many International Sports Federations and sports organizations chose this town in Switzerland for their headquarters too. It proved to be an ideal setting for strengthening and developing a place sport has in society.

The City of Lausanne, Canton de Vaud, and Swiss Confederation put in an effort and turned the city into not only the administrative capital of sport but also a place for practicing and watching it.

Some of the sports events that took place in Lausanne are:

  • 2019 IIHF World Championships
  • 2019 ITU Grand Final
  • 2020 Youth Olympics
  • Athletisima that takes place every year

We are sure that in the years to come this list will become even richer and that new events will be added to it.

Overall, the city of Lausanne has:

  • 57 international sports federations and organizations
  • More than 50 sports-related companies
  • Over 1500 people working in the sport industry

While in Lausanne go to the Olympic museum

Along with being the Olympic Capital, Lausanne has an Olympic Museum. It overlooks Lake Geneva and proudly presents the qualities that have made Olympic games stand the test of time.

It displays the history of the event, from the origins to what it is today. You can see Olympic torches, historic posters, equipment and even clothes sportsmen used to wear.

olympic museum in lausanne
Olympic Museum in Lausanne – Losanna Museo Olimpico

One more exhibit shows clips and videos of the great moments from the Olympic games. You can also see how sports technology evolved. Fashion enthusiasts may find the evolution of fashion design interesting.

You can see sculptures and other works of art related to the Olympics when you visit the museum. The Olympic flame too.

The Olympic Museum should definitely be on your list of things to do in Lausanne, especially if you are a sports lover.

Enjoy the Lake Geneva

The crescent-shaped Lake Geneva is a natural border between France and Switzerland. You can enjoy the Swiss Riviera, go on a lake cruise or visit the Spa town of Évian-les-Bains when you are in Lausanne.

Swiss Riviera is the shore that spreads from the east part of Lausanne and reaches as far as Montreux. There is a reason why it earned this title.

The landscape drenched in sunlight, palm trees, picturesque villages, and terraced gardens are enchanting every visitor who comes to the area.

One of the best ways to fully enjoy Lake Geneva is to go on a lake cruise. You can have a romantic dinner with the glorious Alps and Lake Geneva in the background.

lake geneva lausanne
Lake Geneva Lausanne – Ouchy

Many people choose lake steamers for experiencing the lake. Others use them for travel.

You can visit two French towns across the lake. Previously mentioned Évian-les Bains is a favorite and it only takes 35 minutes to get there by boat. Geneva and Montreux are equally popular too.

Hang out in Ouchy

Ouchy is the perfect place to be at during weekends. This lakefront district is a spot where people come to have fun and hang out.

As you can guess a lot of activities in Ouchy are related to water. People hire a SUP (stand-up paddleboards), swim in the lake, or take a stroll along the shore of Lake Geneva.

Extremely popular on a hot summer’s day is the Bellerive Plage, an open-air swimming pool.

ouchy lausanne
Beautiful spot – Ouchy Lausanne

Extravagant hotels that date back to the 19th century make the atmosphere of Ouchy very posh. Many enjoy coming here and doing some people-watching in one of the numerous bars and cafés.

Ouchy is just what you need when you want to spend a relaxing day close to the water.

Enjoy the view from Musée et Jardins Botaniques Cantonaux

There are many spots in Lausanne from which you can enjoy the view of the beautiful Lake Geneva. One of the best is from Musée et Jardins Botaniques Cantonaux on the Montriond Ridge.

It is an amazing experience strolling in the park with a view of the lake. The best view is of course at the top of the gardens. You get there by passing by 6000 plants spread over terraces and in hothouses.

Musee et jardins botaniques cantonaux
Musee et Jardins Botaniques Cantonaux

You can also go to the protected forest of Sauvabelin where even better view presents itself from the wooden tower.

Lavaux vineyards situated on the slope next to the lake are a picture-perfect image of the Swiss countryside. These picturesque vineyards are located between Lausanne and Montreux.

Visit the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Lausanne and the Old Town

You can get an amazing view of the entire city as well as the Lake Geneva and the Alps when you go to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It truly deserves a place on the list of things to do in Lausanne.

This cathedral is located in the Old Town. It can be quite a workout to get there since it is on the hill and the fact that the Old Town Lausanne is a pedestrian zone.

Luckily for you, there are many lifts, escalators, and bridges that will make it easier to get up and down the hills. Lausanne also has a metro which comes in very handy.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Lausanne is the largest cathedral in Switzerland. Catholics built it in the 13th century and it had gold ornaments and tapestries that were awing the people.

lausanne cathedral
Beautiful cathedral in Lausanne

  Unfortunately, these were stripped during the Reformation and only the stained-glass windows and originally painted statues at the south portal were left standing.

This, now Protestant, cathedral was built in early goth style. It may seem perfect but it is not.

The building is a bit asymmetrical because it was built on an angle during its extension. It had to be done so that it didn’t compromise the neighboring Bishop’s Palace,

Lausanne is also home to one of the oldest acting professions in the world the Night Watchman. The location high atop a hill was the perfect place to employ the Night Watchman and they have been doing their job for more than 600 years.

The job of a Night Watchman is to keep an eye out for fires. Every night since 1405 a watchman calls out the hours starting from 10 pm to 2 am from the tower.

In the past big number of houses, if not all, were made of wood and their job was to warn residents in case of the fire.

Fun fact: the number of Night Watchman in entire Europe is only seven.

After you have visited the cathedral stroll down to the Place de la Palud the Old Town’s main square.

Shop and have fun at Flon

Flon is now the center of the city with its clubs, trendy bars, modern restaurants, and cool shops. But, in the past, this wasn’t the case.

Flon was a far cry from the innovative district it is today. It is a natural valley made by the River Flon that cuts between two of Lausanne’s hills. During the industrial revolution, it was turned into a gross place.

lausanne flon
Lausanne – Flon

The tanners that were located here emitted a very repelling smell. It is safe to say that it made it unpopular. After a while, it became a warehousing district that got neglected and started crumbling down.

This all changed when the officials made plans to bring life back into this area. It became the place to be and one of the hot spots of Lausanne nightlife now.

The old run-down buildings were replaced with modern architecture. Art and architecture go hand in hand in this area.

Very innovative buildings that self-regulate temperature inside and murals on old warehouses add a certain charm. You can find some amazing vintage furniture in the Flon, or grab a drink under the arches of the old bridge. 

Many people love to end the night having fun at cult nightclub Mad.

Interesting facts about Lausanne

  1. 146,000 people are living in Lausanne
  2. The number of students is impressive 25,000. They come from over 125 countries. There is one student per 4 locals in Lausanne.
  3. It has 11 km of shoreline along Lake Geneva.
  4. There are 33 hectares of vines.
  5. Parks and public areas cover 360 hectares.
  6. The number of sports federations that have headquarters in Lausanne is 40.
  7. Lausanne was named the Olympic Capital in 1994.

Helpful information

It is always better to be ready than sorry. When you want to enjoy all the things you plan to do in Lausanne it is good to know emergency call numbers, healthcare, holidays, currency, among other things.

Emergency call numbers in Lausanne

  • Ambulance – 144
  • Police – 117
  • Fire department – 118

Healthcare in Lausanne

Lausanne has always had a good reputation when it comes to healthcare. Things have not changed today. The city has excellent medical engineers, top-class health care services, and brilliant specialist doctors.

Currency

Switzerland is not part of the European Union and it has its own currency Swiss francs (CHF). But, in Lausanne, many places will have prices in euros so that you can compare them. Some stores will accept euros but don’t have to. Don’t be surprised if you get the change back in Swiss francs though even if you paid in euros.

swiss francs
Swiss francs – CHF

When do the banks open in Lausanne?

On work-days, most banks are open from 8:30 to 12:15 and from 13:30 to 16:30.

Where can I exchange my money in Lausanne?

You can exchange foreign currency by the banks at the window or ATMs. Rail station and airport have exchange offices and so do some hotels.

Shops working time in Lausanne

On workdays, shops open at 08:00 – 08:45 and stay opened until 18:30 -19:00.

On Saturday work time is from 08:00 – 08:45 until 18:00.

On Sunday and public holidays, the shops are mostly closed.

Here is a list of most important public holidays in Lausanne:

  • New Year’s Day – 1st of January
  • January 2nd
  • Good Friday – Friday before Easter
  • Easter Monday – Monday after Easter
  • Ascension Day – 40th day after Easter
  • Swiss National Holiday: August the 1st
  • Bettagsmontag – Third Monday in September
  • Christmas – December the 25th

To conclude

Lausanne is a living proof that the grandeur doesn’t have to come in a big package. It is a small city with huge versatility. It is packed with history and culture but buzzing with modern restaurants, markets, and cafes. Out of all things to do in Lausanne we chose to tell you about these 8, but there are plenty more places to visit and things to do in this amazing city.

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