Lausanne travel guide

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Introduction to Lausanne

The Olympic Museum, Lausanne Cathedral, and Esplanade de Montbenon have one thing in common - they're all three very good reasons to visit Lausanne, Switzerland. This capital city of the canton of Vaud, Switzerland is a travel destination everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Boasting a variety of natural beauty and architecture, a unique historical background, and a culture as rich as its population of over 141.4 thousand people, the city of Lausanne is truly one of the main highlights of Switzerland.

Traveling to Lausanne is especially rewarding for anyone eager to connect with locals and learn more about their unique culture and traditions. French is the official language in Lausanne. Dive deeper into the heart of the city's heritage, traditions, and community events by exploring the official website of Lausanne.

Easily accessible, Lausanne is the perfect base for a memorable and unique vacation in Switzerland any time of the year.

History of Lausanne

Lausanne, nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, holds a rich history that dates back to the Roman era. The city was originally a military camp, known as Lousonna, established around 15 BC.

In the Middle Ages, Lausanne gained significance as a spiritual and intellectual center, with the establishment of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Lausanne University.

The 19th century saw Lausanne's growth as a hub for the arts, with the founding of the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts and the Federal Supreme Court.

In the 20th century, Lausanne became renowned as the 'Olympic Capital', hosting the International Olympic Committee since 1915. Today, this vibrant city is a mix of historical charm and modern dynamism, offering a unique blend of experiences for travelers.

Local culture and customs in Lausanne

Lausanne, the Olympic Capital, is known for its vibrant culture and customs, rooted in history and tradition. The locals, called Lausannois, are multilingual, primarily speaking French, but English and German are also understood by many. Respect for punctuality is a typical Swiss trait, and the same holds in Lausanne. Always be on time for appointments or meetings.

Lausanne is a city of festivals, with an event for every season, including the Lausanne Carnival, the Festival de la Cité, and the Christmas Market. The city is also noted for its love for sports, particularly athletics and, of course, skiing. In terms of dining, the Lausannois cuisine is heavily influenced by French and Swiss styles, with cheese fondue and raclette being local favorites. Remember, tipping is not mandatory in Switzerland as service charges are included in the bill, but it's appreciated for good service.

Lastly, Lausanne is a city that values sustainability and cleanliness. Littering is frowned upon, and recycling is taken very seriously. Respecting these norms will help you blend in and enjoy your stay.

Currency information for travelers in Lausanne

The official currency of Lausanne, like the rest of Switzerland, is the Swiss Franc (CHF). ATMs are widely available, and they typically offer the best exchange rates. It's worth noting that while some places accept Euros, change is often given in Swiss Francs.

Credit cards including Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, although small shops and cafes may prefer cash. It's advisable to carry some Swiss Francs for such instances. Lausanne is a somewhat expensive city, so budget accordingly. Dining out and accommodation can be quite costly, especially in the city center or near the lake. However, public transportation is efficient and reasonably priced, and many of the city's attractions are free or inexpensive. Always inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any interruptions in card services.

Language tips for travelers in Lausanne

Lausanne, located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, primarily uses French for communication. Hence, knowing a few basic French phrases can greatly enhance your experience. Phrases such as 'Bonjour' (Good day), 'Merci' (Thank you), and 'Où est...?' (Where is...?) can prove to be quite useful.

However, don't worry if you do not speak French. English is widely understood, especially in hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Moreover, Switzerland is multilingual, with German, Italian, and Romansh also being official languages. Hence, you might encounter these languages, but French and English should suffice for most interactions. Overall, remember that a smile and polite manners are universally understood!

Best time to visit Lausanne

The best time to explore Lausanne, Switzerland, largely depends on your preferences. However, the most favourable period is from June to August, when the climate is warm, sunny and perfect for outdoor activities like swimming in Lake Geneva or exploring the city's picturesque parks and vineyards. Although this is also the peak tourist season, the city never feels overly crowded. For those who prefer cooler weather and fewer tourists, late spring (April to May) and early fall (September to October) are ideal. These seasons offer mild temperatures and changing foliage, adding a unique charm to the city's landscape. If you're a sports enthusiast, winter (December to February) brings excellent skiing conditions in the nearby Alps. Note that some attractions might have reduced hours during off-peak seasons. Lastly, if you time your visit with local events, such as the Lausanne Carnival in March or the Festival de la Cité in July, it can greatly enhance your overall experience.

Weather in Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland experiences a temperate climate with marked seasonal variations. The summer months (June to August) are typically warm, with temperatures averaging between 20°C to 25°C. These months also receive the most rainfall, but showers are usually short-lived and interspersed with sunny spells.

The winter season (December to February) is cold, with temperatures often falling below freezing, and snow is common especially on the higher ground. Autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) are transitional seasons with moderate temperatures and a mix of sunny and rainy days.

Despite its inland location, Lausanne can occasionally experience winds from the Atlantic, leading to sudden changes in weather. The city's location on the shores of Lake Geneva also means it can be foggy in the mornings, particularly in autumn and winter. Therefore, it's a good idea for travelers to check the local forecast before heading out and to pack a variety of clothing options to accommodate sudden weather changes.

Local tip for visiting Lausanne

An insider tip that locals often share with visitors to Lausanne centers around the city's vibrant nightlife. Lausanne, in fact, boasts the title of the 'Swiss Nightlife Capital.' While the city is renowned for its historical sites and picturesque landscapes, this vibrant side of the city often goes unnoticed by tourists. The Flon district, in particular, is a hub of contemporary culture and avant-garde nightlife. The area, once an industrial wasteland, is now a vibrant mix of clubs, bars, and art galleries. It is the place to be after dark, with places like MAD club and D! Club attracting international DJs and a lively crowd. The venues often stay open until the early hours, giving visitors ample opportunity to dance the night away. Remember, while this area might seem off the beaten path, it is a cherished part of local life that offers a unique perspective on Lausanne's culture. As such, ensure you pack your dancing shoes when visiting Lausanne!

Top services in Lausanne

On this page, you'll find all the top travel services in Lausanne, Switzerland. Enjoy the convenience of planning and booking every detail of your trip to Lausanne, including flights, accommodations, activities, and more, in one place.

Discover the cheapest and most popular flights offered by a variety of airlines that fly to Switzerland. Check out the best things to do in Lausanne by browsing over 38 top-rated tours available to you in the city. Compare the rates and services of the stays and 5 car rental companies offering CDW insurance coverage.

Experience the best of Lausanne with an expertly curated and fully customizable itinerary. Get answers to questions about the routes and services offered in Lausanne from our free 24/7 customer support. We make it easy for you to find and book every detail of your trip to Lausanne with this travel guide.

Continue reading this Lausanne travel guide to learn how you can enjoy a stress-free and memorable vacation in the city of Lausanne!

Learn more about Switzerland

With destinations such as Lausanne, a trip to Switzerland needs no further explanation. Spanning over 41,285 square kilometers, Switzerland is an expansive playground of discovery, offering a wealth of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and captivating experiences awaiting exploration. From bustling metropolises to historic towns and modern urban hubs, Switzerland has something to enchant every traveler.

In Lausanne alone, travelers are spoiled for choice with an array of experiences and world-famous attractions such as The Olympic Museum, Lausanne Cathedral, and Esplanade de Montbenon. Thus, a trip to Switzerland becomes essential. Whether you're drawn to historical sites, natural wonders, or vibrant cultural experiences, Switzerland offers an abundance of treasures waiting to be discovered.

There's so much to explore and uncover in Switzerland. Click or tap the link below to discover more about Switzerland and its offers.

What to see in Lausanne

Photo of Chateau d'Ouchy or Castle of Ouchy is an old medieval castle in Lausanne city in Switzerland

Expect an exhilarating journey through Lausanne, a haven brimming with attractions to suit every traveler’s taste. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, and delectable cuisine, Lausanne offers an abundance of experiences waiting to be discovered. Dive into this ultimate Lausanne travel guide to uncover must-visit spots and get the scoop on what makes the city so special.

Top attractions in Lausanne

With its blend of traditional and modern culture, Lausanne is more than just a wonderful city in Switzerland. It's a hub for diverse experiences, boasting top attractions that range from historical landmarks to modern marvels, offering a glimpse into Switzerland's rich heritage and innovative spirit.

One popular place to visit in Lausanne is the unforgettable The Olympic Museum. Considered one of the most well-known attractions in the city, a visit to this spectacular travel destination is something you shouldn't miss on your trip to Lausanne. This remarkable attraction is located at Quai d'Ouchy 1, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland, and is open for visitors Monday - Sunday, between 09:00-18:00.

For more information about what you can expect during a vacation in Lausanne, check out our list of top attractions below. Discover the best places to visit in Lausanne, including the fascinating The Olympic Museum, Lausanne Cathedral, Esplanade de Montbenon, Sauvabelin Tower, and Place de la Palud.

Map of attractions

Take a closer look at the city map below for the exact locations of all the top attractions in Lausanne.

Things to do in Lausanne

Photo of Rivaz town on Lake Geneva in Lavaux terraced vineyards region by Lausanne, Switzerland

You've explored Lausanne's top attractions and marked them on your map. So now, it's time to delve deeper and discover the top things to do in Lausanne. These activities not only offer excitement and adventure but also provide unique insights into the city's culture and heritage. Take your experience to the next level by checking out the best sights with a knowledgeable guide, embarking on fun adventures unique to Lausanne, or learning more about the city's rich history and traditions.

Discover the most popular tours and experiences in the city below.

Most popular experiences in Lausanne

A visit to Lausanne gets more exciting with memorable experiences. And the city is just perfect for that, with plenty of fun activities. Bus Tours, Walking Tours, Guided Day Trips, and more are just some of the options you could explore to fully immerse yourself and make the most of your time.

In this travel guide, we've included some of the best things to do in Lausanne, adding a special touch to your journey in this vibrant city. Explore bustling markets, embark on scenic hikes, sample local delicacies, or immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of Lausanne. Browse this diverse array of unforgettable experiences Lausanne offers and let your adventures begin!

Top tours & tickets starting in Lausanne

In Lausanne, travelers are spoiled for choice with a dazzling array of 11 categories of top-rated tours and tickets. But among this sea of options, one category reigns supreme: Trips & Excursions.

Trips & Excursions offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Lausanne. For example, the fantastic Vine Stories: Lavaux & Lutry wine walk.

Lausanne also offers plenty of budget-friendly tours and activities that promise travelers a unique experience. Medieval Lausanne: A Self-Guided Audio Tour, for example, is the cheapest Walking Tour option in the city. This experience costs around 5 EUR.

Elevate your upcoming Lausanne adventure with unforgettable experiences by booking top-rated tours in the city. Uncover the finest tours, activities, and tickets awaiting you in Lausanne right below.

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Discover the best things to do in Lausanne. Choose from 38 fantastic tours and activities available in the city.

Select your dates and number of travelers in the search bar below to receive the best recommendations for your vacation in Lausanne. Click the green button to view your options and discover a variety of exciting things to do in Lausanne.

What to eat in Lausanne

Lausanne, a charming city in Switzerland, offers a unique culinary experience that pairs local traditions with international flavours. The best places to eat in Lausanne range from street food stalls to high-end restaurants. The districts of Flon and Ouchy are renowned for their diverse food scenes. At Flon, you'll find trendy eateries serving innovative cuisine, while Ouchy boasts exquisite dining establishments offering picture-perfect views of Lake Geneva. For traditional Swiss fare, try the emblematic fondue or raclette, dishes that showcase the region's exceptional cheese production. Visit Lausanne's weekly markets to savour local produce and street food, especially at the bustling Riponne Market. For a high-end dining experience, try the Michelin-starred restaurants like Anne-Sophie Pic at the Beau-Rivage Palace, which serves up intricate dishes with an emphasis on local ingredients. Don't miss trying the Swiss pastries such as Pain de Pâques or Le Carac– a delightful pastry filled with green icing and chocolate ganache. Exploring the culinary landscape of Lausanne promises to be a delightful journey of gastronomic discovery.

Nightlife in Lausanne

Lausanne's nightlife is a vibrant blend of elegance and excitement, offering something for everyone. The city's unique night culture is best experienced in the Flon district, widely regarded as the best area for bars in Lausanne. This former industrial district has been transformed into a lively hub for nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants. Here, you can enjoy everything from quiet wines at trendy wine bars to energetic dance nights at popular clubs like MAD, one of the biggest nightclubs in Switzerland.

For those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, the Ouchy waterfront area offers a range of cozy bars and eateries. The White Horse Pub is a must-visit, revered for its great selection of beers and enchanting Lake Geneva views. Don't miss out on trying local Swiss brews for an authentic taste of Lausanne's nightlife. Remember, the local law mandates bars and clubs to close by 2 a.m. during the week and 5 a.m. on weekends, so plan your night out accordingly. With its buzzing atmosphere and diverse offerings, Lausanne promises an unforgettable nightlife experience.

Best shopping in Lausanne

Lausanne, a beautiful Swiss city, is a paradise for shoppers. Its vibrant shopping scene perfectly combines high-end fashion, local craftsmanship, and unique souvenirs. One of the best places to go shopping in Lausanne is the pedestrian Rue de Bourg, packed with luxury boutiques and international brands.

For a more localized experience, visit the Flon district. It's known for its trendy boutiques and design stores where you can discover the city's distinct fashion and creativity. Don't forget to explore Place de la Palud, the city's oldest square, where you'll find weekly markets selling fresh produce, Swiss delicacies, and local crafts.

Lausanne's shopping malls, such as Metropole 2000 and Centre Commercial de la Riponne, offer a diverse array of shops in a contemporary setting.

If you're searching for the perfect Swiss souvenir, head to Lausanne's old town, a hub for independent boutiques selling traditional Swiss watches, chocolates, and the famous Swiss army knife. Remember, the city's shops usually open around 9 AM and close at 7 PM, with an extended shopping night on Thursdays. Lausanne's shopping scene offers an exciting mix of tradition and modernity, truly an essential part of your Swiss visit.

Best Free Things to Do in Lausanne

Exploring the best free things to do in Lausanne offers a rich and fulfilling experience for travelers on a budget. Embark on a journey through time at the Lausanne Cathedral, a stunning Gothic monument offering panoramic views of the city, mountains, and Lake Geneva. Stroll through the vibrant neighborhood of Flon, peppered with modern art installations, trendy murals, and eclectic architecture. Immerse yourself in Swiss culture by visiting the weekly Farmer's Market at Riponne Square, where you can sample local produce and witness the bustling everyday life of Lausanne. Wander through the tranquil paths of the Lausanne Botanical Garden, home to a treasure trove of exotic plant species. Don't forget to visit the Olympic Museum, which offers free entry on certain days and houses a wealth of information on the history and spirit of the Olympic Games. Lastly, for a peaceful retreat, head to the picturesque Sauvabelin Forest and climb the Sauvabelin Tower for an unparalleled view of the city and surrounding countryside. These activities showcase Lausanne's cultural richness and historical significance at no cost.

Car rentals in Lausanne

Photo of Lake Geneva and Swiss mountains, Lavaux-Oron district in Switzerland

To navigate Lausanne effortlessly, renting a car is an excellent choice. With your own wheels, you can explore every nook and cranny of the destination without relying on public transportation and even venture off the beaten path. On our website, you'll discover a selection of over 5 car rental companies in Lausanne, ready to provide you with the perfect vehicle for your travels.

Automatic cars for rent in Lausanne start at 58 EUR per day or 406 EUR per week. The cheapest automatic rental car is a Volkswagen Polo. If you prefer driving a manual car, you'll find multiple options for rent in Lausanne, starting at 64 EUR per day or 447 EUR per week. The cheapest manual rental car is a Mitsubishi Asx.

Learn more about the different types of cars you can rent in Lausanne, Switzerland below.

Popular types of cars for rent in Lausanne

Renting a car in Lausanne is a popular choice among travelers who want to explore the city at their own pace. A wide variety of popular car rentals are available to choose from in Lausanne, ensuring you find the best car for your travel plans.

Check out all the options available and book your car rental in Lausanne for your upcoming adventures in Switzerland below. All car rentals come with CDW insurance for added protection throughout your trip.

Search for car rentals in Lausanne

Get ready to hit the road and explore the beautiful city of Lausanne. Find the best deals on a variety of popular car rentals in Lausanne, Switzerland, or any other destination in Europe by using the search tool below.

Enter your pick-up and drop-off location, driver's age, and dates. Click the green button to view your options.

Popular destinations to visit after Lausanne

Photo of Palais de Rumine, a historical building in Lausanne city center, Switzerland.

The city of Lausanne is just one of the many unique and scenic destinations you can visit in Switzerland. So if you're itching for another cultural adventure, a relaxing road trip, an action-filled city break, or a memorable weekend getaway, know that Switzerland has it all.

Each destination in Switzerland offers something unique to experience! Take the opportunity to visit other captivating places in Switzerland that are as magical as the city of Lausanne. The most popular travel destinations in Switzerland are listed below. Click on the name of the place you want to explore next to learn more about it.

All the best destinations in Switzerland

When unsure about where to go next, use the map below. This map shows the locations of all the best destinations in Switzerland. Use the map to plan your trip and find the best routes.

Transportation in Lausanne

Lausanne boasts a well-developed and extensive public transportation system. The Transports Publics Lausannois (TL) provides bus and metro services throughout the city, ensuring convenient and efficient commuting.

For those who prefer private transportation, taxis are readily available and can be hailed on the street, booked online, or picked up at designated taxi ranks. Rental car services are also an option, with several international and local providers offering a wide range of vehicles to suit different needs.

Lausanne also offers unique local transportation experiences. The city's charming old town is best explored on foot, but you can also take a ride on the historic Lausanne-Ouchy Railway, a funicular railway that provides breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the surrounding areas. For a leisurely exploration of the city, consider renting a bike from one of the many bike-sharing outlets. Lastly, don’t miss a chance to ride on a boat in Lake Geneva to soak up the beautiful Swiss scenery.

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