I have been living in Lausanne for almost 3 months now and I really want to share with you the unmissable things to do in this city. I arrived here in February and, to be honest, I didn’t like the city a lot during winter. I found it too cold, but mostly too quiet and boring. But I completely changed my mind after one month living here because this city comes alive when the weather gets warmer. And now that I’m about to move to Ireland again I’m so in love with this city that I would like to stay a little more. So I think that this is the right time to share with you the things that you cannot really miss in this beautiful city.
1. Strolling in Ouchy
The Ouchy neighbourhood is the lakeside part of the city, which is the best part of the city for me to stroll and relax. The view of Geneva Lake surrounded by the Alps is simply stunning and, to be honest, this view is one of the reasons I decided to move here for a while.
At the centre of this area, there is the Château d’Ouchy, which gives the name to the neighbourhood. The Château is a medieval castle which is now transformed into a luxury hotel. The shore is also the ideal place to have a picnic or to soak up some sun during spring or summer. And when the weather gets warmer the lake is also the perfect setting for water sports.
Ouchy is just perfect to chill out after a working day, and during the weekend is also a nice place to have a coffee, especially on Sunday, when the remaining part of the city shuts down and this part is so alive.
2. Old Town day and night life
Lausanne is built on three hills. In the upper part of the city, there is the old town, which is dominated by the cathedral, considered as Switzerland’s most impressive piece of early Gothic architecture. The area around the cathedral is a pedestrian zone, and also an open-air market every Wednesday and Saturday (here more info about markets in Lausanne).
The overlook in front of the cathedral offers an amazing view of the city, the lake and the mountains. This part of the city is my favourite part to hang out at night, either in pubs or on the street or grass outside the cathedral. The cool thing is that alcohol consumption in public places is legal in Switzerland (Yay!), so if you want to save money it is a good idea to buy alcohol at the supermarket and then hang around the old town.
3. View from “Park of Sauvabelin”
But if you really want to enjoy a stunning view you have to go to the park of Sauvabelin.
This is a lovely park inside the city of Lausanne where you can chill out by the little lake, have a fondue at “Pinte du Lac de Sauvabelin” ( my favourite place for fondue in Lausanne) and you can also see many farm animals around the park. But, most importantly, in this park, there is the Sauvabelin Tower. This tower was built in 2003 using wood cut from local forests and, at the end of 151 steps of a spiral staircase, it offers a unique 360º panoramic view over the city, the lake, the mountains and the neighbouring countryside. The picture of the view was taken on April 19th, but colours are so autumnal (spring where are you??). Nevertheless you can see how incredible the view is.
4. Collection de l’Art Brut
“Art Brut” is the French for “Outsider art”, which is art by self-taught or naïve art makers, who typically have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. Often, art brut illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds. How cool is that there is a museum dedicated to this type of art here in Lausanne?
The museum is located in the magnificent Château de Beaulieu. It’s clear from the beginning that the museum is quite singular because of the black walls all around, which indicate the quite dark experience. Most of these works were gathered by Jean Dubuffet, founder of the movement. There are children’s drawings, pieces of folk art and paintings by patients in psychiatric hospitals. This museum remembered me how thin is the line between creativity and insanity.
5. Olympic museum
Another museum that you cannot really miss in Lausanne is the Olympic Museum. The reason for the presence of this museum is that Lausanne has been the host of the International Olympic Committee since 1914 (and it will host the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2020). The museum is divided into three floors. On the first floor the history of the Olympic Games is explained. On the second floor, some sport equipment are on display, together with viewing stations where athlete interviews can be watched. I particularly appreciated Natalie Cook interview, whose I found inspiring. The final part of the permanent exhibit covers the Olympic Spirit. I loved the “inside the race” video-documentary. It makes you feel all the passion and the effort these athletes put to pursue their dreams.
6. Exploring “Quartier du Flon”
Quartier du Flon was historically a goods depot. It retains its cobblestones and the remains of rails, as well as the “Voie-du-Chariot”, evoking the old industrial function of the area, but it is now a pedestrian area full of shops, cafè and restaurant. It is the ideal place for shopping during the day or partying during the night.
Lausanne is also super close to Geneva, so you can also consider doing a one-day trip to the biggest city on the shore of Lake Geneva. You can find other day-trip to do from Lausanne in this post, which is about day-trips that can be done from Geneva. But Lausanne is so close to Geneva that the same day-trips can be organised from the 2 cities.