Tourist’s guide to Lausanne – business and cultural center of Switzerland

Lausanne (Switzerland), the fourth largest city in the country and the administrative center of the canton of Vaud, is located 66 km from Geneva.

Lausanne, Switzerland

According to 2013 data, 138,600 people lived in Lausanne, with 40% being immigrants. With regard to linguistic affiliation, then 79% of the inhabitants of Lausanne are French-speaking, and 4% are German-speaking and Italian-speaking.

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The main attractions of Lausanne

Lausanne, spread out on the northern shore of Lake Geneva , admires not only the picturesque alpine nature, but also the many sights, and it’s completely diverse. So, what is interesting to see in Lausanne?

Pallu Square in the historic city center (Place de la Palud)
Palu Square, Lausanne

Pallu Square, located in the center of Lausanne, is rightly considered the most picturesque and picturesque historical attraction of the city. This place has an endless number of beautiful houses with original facades, a wonderful fountain with a statue of the goddess of justice in the center, many excellent restaurants and cafes, there is always a large crowd of people and many street musicians.

Town Hall Town Hall of Lausanne
Town hall of lausanne

On Pallu Square, there is a landmark for Lausanne – the Town Hall of Lausanne. The entire first floor of the building is surrounded by an arched gallery around the perimeter, and at the entrance there are two statues symbolizing justice. These statues – Justifying and Punishing justice – are painted so brightly that they cannot be missed. Now the building of the Town Hall is occupied by the Palace of Justice and the city council.

Staircase Escaliers du Marche

From Place de la Palud rises a unique, preserved from ancient times, covered staircase with wooden steps – this is Escaliers du Marche, which means “Market Staircase”. Through a picturesque old quarter, this staircase leads up to Rue Viret, which stretches around the top of the hill.

Staircase Escaliers du Marche

You need to go a little more, and at the very top of the hill will be Cathedral Square, where there is another unique attraction of Lausanne – Notre Dame Cathedral.

Lausanne Cathedral

In all of Switzerland, and not just in Lausanne, Notre Dame Cathedral in Lausanne is considered the most beautiful building in the Gothic style.

Lausanne Cathedral

Not only is Notre Dame standing on a hilltop, it also has 2 tall towers, one of which can be climbed. A steep staircase of more than 200 steps and without handrails cannot be called simple, but the result is worth it. From the observation deck, where you can stay for about 15 minutes, a gorgeous panoramic view of the whole city and the surrounding area opens up.

View from the Cathedral of Lausanne

Since 1405, night watch was conducted from the observation tower of Lausanne Cathedral, checking if there was a fire in the city. Currently, this tradition has acquired the character of a ritual: every day, from 22:00 to 02:00, a guard on duty at the tower shouts the exact time every hour. And on the eve of the New Year holidays, on December 31, a performance with light, sound and smoke effects is organized on the tower – outwardly, everything looks like the tower is engulfed in fire.

Notre Dame in Lausanne is open:

  • from April to September – on weekdays from 08:00 to 18:30, and on Sunday from 14:00 to 19:00;
  • from October to March – on weekdays from 7:30 to 18:00, and on Sunday from 14:00 to 17:30.
In the cathedral of Lausanne

At the time of service, tourists are not allowed to enter the cathedral.

Admission is free, but a symbolic amount must be paid to climb the tower.

Observation deck Esplanade de Montbenon
Observation deck Esplanade de Montbenon

Directly opposite the Cathedral, on Allée Ernest Ansermet, there is another observation deck. A rather steep climb leads to this attraction, but the view of the Old Town and Lake Geneva opening from there fully pays for the expended forces. In addition, comfortable benches are installed here – you can sit on them and relax, admiring the beautiful scenery and taking panoramic photos of the city of Lausanne.

Embankment of the Ears

The Embankment of the Ears is the most picturesque place of Lausanne. Everything is beautiful here: a lake shrouded in a bluish haze, a port, graceful yachts, noisy gulls. This promenade is not only a favorite vacation spot of citizens and tourists, but also a popular historical district of Lausanne.

Embankment of the Ears, Lausanne

It is here that the famous attraction – the Ears Castle is located. His story began back in 1177, when, by order of the bishop, they began to build a fortress. But then only the tower was built, which has survived to our time.

At the end of the 19th century, this attraction of the Swiss authorities gave a new life – the modern Chateau d’Ouchy hotel was built around the tower. The 4 * Chateau d’Ouchy hotel has 50 rooms, the cost of living per night is from 300 to 800 francs.

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

The Ears embankment harmoniously passes into the spacious Olympic Park, in which the Olympic Museum is located. These attractions are of great importance not only for Lausanne, but also for the whole of Switzerland .

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

The museum was opened in 1933. The exhibits that are presented in it will be interesting mainly to those who love sports – otherwise you should not go into it. Here you can learn a lot about the history of the Olympics by looking at the collections of awards of various sports teams and the equipment of their participants, photo and film documents, torches and sports equipment. The museum has screens where there is a demonstration of the grand opening and closing of the games, the most exciting moments of the competition.

Restaurant Tom Cafe
Tom cafe

On the top floor of the museum complex there is a small restaurant Tom Cafe with an open terrace, from where you can see all of Lausanne. The restaurant serves delicious food, during the day there is organized a buffet, although they can be prepared to order. It is better to reserve a table only after entering the museum, and after completing the inspection you can have a tasty meal and walk around the Olympic Park.

In the Olympic Park of Lausanne

The park looks fantastic, it has many diverse sculptures dedicated to various sports and depicting athletes. Walking around the park is very interesting, in addition, here you get gorgeous and completely unusual photos in memory of the city of Lausanne.

  • The Olympic Museum is open every day from 9:00 to 18:00, and is closed from October to April on Monday.
  • Admission is free for children under 9 years old, a child ticket costs 7 CHF, and an adult costs 14 CHF.
Museum-Collection Art Brut
Sculptures at the Museum de l'Art Brut

An interesting attraction not only in Lausanne, but throughout Switzerland – is the museum collection de l’Art Brut, located at avenue Bergieres 11.

The rooms of the four-story building feature paintings and sculptures created by patients of psychiatric clinics, prisoners, mediums, that is, people who were recognized as insolvent by society and medicine.

Each work is unique and original – it is a fantastic, incredible, mysterious and unpredictable manifestation of a parallel world.

Paintings at the Collection de l'Art Brut Museum

These unique works were collected by the French artist Jean Dubuffet, who gave the name to this type of art – art-brut, which means “rough art”. In 1971, Dubuffet presented his collection to Lausanne, which prompted the city leadership to create a museum.

Now in Art Brut, more than 4,000 works are exhibited, and each of them is a separate attraction. Many of these exhibits are priced at several hundred thousand dollars.

  • The museum is open daily, except Mondays, from 11:00 to 18:00.
  • A full ticket costs CHF 10, a preferential ticket costs 5, and children under 16 and unemployed can visit the museum for free.
Rolex Learning Center EPFL

The Rolex Training Center, considered Swiss property, opened in Lausanne in the winter of February 22, 2010. The building, which has an ultramodern appearance – its shape resembles a giant wave running towards Lake Geneva – looks very harmoniously against the background of the surrounding landscape.

Rolex Learning Center EPFL

The training center has a huge conference room, laboratory, multimedia library with 500,000 volumes.

Rolex Learning Center is open to all visitors (for students and the public) completely free of charge and works seven days a week. The center is crowded during university exams; at other times it is quite calm here.

Sauvabelin Tower
Sauvabelin Tower

Outside the city, 200 meters from Lake Sovabelen, in the middle of the park, stands the very interesting Sauvabelin Tower. To get to this attraction in Lausanne you need to take bus number 16 and go to the stop Lac de Sauvabelin, and then walk another 5 minutes on foot.

The wooden tower of Sovabelen is a rather young attraction – it was built in 2003. Inside this 35-meter-high structure there is a spiral staircase of 302 steps, which leads to a viewing platform with a diameter of 8 meters.

From this platform you can admire the spacious fields, the panorama of Lausanne, Lake Geneva, covered with snow Alps. And, of course, to take beautiful photos as a souvenir of a trip to Switzerland and Lausanne.

  • Entrance to the tower is free.
  • Open: Sunday and Saturday from 5:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Walk on the lake in a Swiss steam boat

Walking on a steam boat will leave an unforgettable experience! Firstly, it is a walk along Lake Geneva. Secondly, the old wheeled steamer itself is very interesting, stylish, beautiful – a real attraction! Thirdly, during the trip, the most picturesque places of Switzerland are opened to the eye: numerous well-groomed vineyards on the coastal slopes, spacious neat fields running along the railways.

Walk on the lake

The main thing is that the weather is good, then swimming is much more pleasant.

The steam ship has many routes from Lausanne, for example, to the creative and festival Montreux , Shinyon, Evian.

Prices for room and board

Lausanne Youth Hostel Jeunotel

Switzerland is an expensive country, the products here are the most expensive in Europe, clothes are comparable or slightly more expensive than in other European countries. Knowing where Lausanne is located, one should not expect that prices in this city will be low.

Accommodation in Lausanne per day on average will cost the following amount:

  • hostels 1 * and 2 * – 55 and 110 Swiss francs, respectively,
  • comfortable hotels 3 * and 4 * – 120 and 170 francs,
  • luxury and boutique hotels – 330.

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Self-service restaurant Restaurant Manora
Restaurant manora

Restaurants in Swiss cities are the most expensive in continental Europe.

  • In a cheap student canteen, you need to pay from 13 CHF for a hot meal, about the same cost of a snack at McDonald’s and similar fast food.
  • In cheap restaurants, a hot dish will cost 20-25 CHF.
  • Restaurants for middle-income visitors offer snacks of 10-15 and hotter ones for 30-40 CHF, for lunch for two of the three dishes you need to pay 100 CHF.
  • There are business lunches in Lausanne – self-service restaurants in the Restaurant Manora, COOP, Migros networks offer the lowest prices.
  • For 18 francs, you can buy something for a quick snack at the supermarket, for example, an apple, a bun, a chocolate bar, a bottle of juice.

By the way, in Switzerland, tips are quite legitimately included in the bill, so you can not leave them to waiters, taxi drivers, hairdressers. Unless they literally “struck” their service.

Travel around Lausanne

The city of Lausanne is located on a rather steep slope of the shores of Lake Geneva and has a hilly landscape – because of this, it is best to walk around the center. But with public transport in the city, everything is in order: a convenient bus network, the metro operates from 5:00 to 00:30.

Lausanne metro map

The metro in Lausanne is the base transport, which is very rare for Switzerland. In Lausanne there are 2 metro lines (M1 and M2) that intersect at the train station, in the central district of Flon, this is the Lausanne Flon interchange station.

The blue metro line M1 stretches mainly on the surface of the earth and is more like a light rail. From Lausanne Flon, it goes west to the suburbs of Renenes.

Metro in Lausanne

The new, red line M2, stretches mainly underground, and this is the shortest fully automated metro line on the planet – it is itself considered a landmark of Lausanne. The M2 branch connects the northern suburb of Epalinges, as well as the Les Croisettes and Ouchy stations, which are located on Lake Geneva’s seafront, making several stops in the city and passing through the main city station.


Buses in Lausanne are fast, comfortable and tidy. They form a fairly dense urban transport network: stops are located just a couple of hundred meters from each other.

Lausanne Travel Tickets
Machine at the bus stop

Tickets for travel in city public transport are sold in special vending machines at all stops. You can pay with Swiss money, and in some machines also with credit (debit) cards. The ticket price is calculated depending on the distance, and it is determined by zones.

A single ticket for any public transport valid for one hour costs approximately 3.6 francs. It allows travel within a specific area without limiting the number of transfers.

Carte journalière - full day pass
Carte journalière

Carte journalière – a full-day pass (valid until 5:00 the next day) – costs more than 2 single tickets, but less than 3. If sightseeing is planned, and there should be more than 2 trips in Lausanne, then it is advantageous to buy a full-day pass.

Lausanne Transport Card – a personal travel card for Lausanne, allowing you to ride on any public transport (2nd class) in zones 11, 12, 15, 16, 18 and 19 without payment. Such a card in Switzerland is issued to hotel guests during their stay on the hotel on the day of departure inclusive.

Taxi Taxi Services

Taxi Services is the largest taxi operator in Lausanne. You can order a car for moving around the city online or by calling 0844814814, or you can take it at a specialized stop – there are 46 of them in Lausanne.

The cost of landing is 6.2 francs, and another 3 to 3.8 will need to be paid for each kilometer (prices depend on when the trip is made and on the place of trip). When transporting luggage and pets, an extra charge of 1 franc is required. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card.

How to get to Lausanne from Geneva

The closest international airport to Lausanne is located in the French-speaking city of Geneva . Airplanes from different European cities fly to this Swiss airport, and it is from here to go to Lausanne most convenient and easiest.

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By train
Train to Lausanne

From Geneva to Lausanne it is more convenient to travel by train. Right at the airport, 40-50 meters to the left of the exit from arriving flights, there is a railway station. Trains to Lausanne depart from 5:10 a.m. to 00:24 a.m., there are flights at 03 (or 10), 21, 33 and 51 minutes every hour – these are direct flights, and if with transfers, there are even more. In time, the road takes 40-50 minutes. If you buy a ticket at the ticket office of the station, it will cost 22 – 27 francs, but if you buy it in advance on the Swiss Railways website, it will be much cheaper.

By car

The federal highway A1, connecting the city with Geneva, is laid through Lausanne, and there is also the A9 road. This means that you can use the car for the trip – it takes about an hour to complete the journey. You can also take a taxi to Lausanne from Geneva; this will require costs of approximately 200 Swiss francs.

On a ferryboat
Ferry to Lausanne

You can also get to Lausanne by ferry, along Lake Geneva. Based on how many stops there will be – and their number is different for different flights and days of the week – the ferry takes about an hour and a half. The ferry arrives at the main embankment of Usha, located in the central part of the city – it is convenient to get to hotels from here.

Prices on the page are for March 2018.

Interesting Facts

  1. Lausanne is the recognized world Olympic capital, because it is in this city of Switzerland that the main office of the International Olympic Committee and many representations of international sports federations are located.
  2. 4 rivers flow through the city territory: Riele, Vyuasher, Luv and Flon. It is interesting that the last 2 are now completely hidden in underground tunnels.
  3. Bicycle rental Lausanne Roule
  4. A lot of people in Lausanne travel around the city on bicycles. By the way, from April to October you can rent a bike here completely free of charge from 7:30 to 21:30. To do this, provide the ID data and give a security deposit of 29 francs. But if you return the bike after the deadline, you still have to pay for each new day. Under these conditions, bicycles are issued at Lausanne Roule in the Flon area. By the way, it is very convenient for trips to most of the sights of Lausanne.
  5. CGN, the main carrier on Lake Geneva, organizes not only private flights, but also flights with special entertainment programs. Lausanne often hosts sightseeing tours , jazz dinners, fondue cruises, and the like.
  6. Lausanne (Switzerland) is known for the fact that such personalities as Victor Hugo, George Byron, Wolfgang Mozart, Thomas Eliot, Igor Stravinsky spent a long period of their life here.

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