An hour away from Geneva is the Swiss Riviera, a stunning stretch of palm trees and mansions on Lac Léman. Nestled along this pristine piece of lake is a city that enthralled the likes of Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Kerry. Intrigued? This is your guide to 48 hours in Lausanne in Switzerland.
What to See
After spending a morning exploring the old city’s cobbled streets and steps, luxury shops or home-deco and fine-food Mecca Globus, there is much left to be seen.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne
This omnipresent cathedral has majestically watched over the city since the 13th Century. Despite its beauty from afar, it is definitely worth the hike into the heights of Lausanne towards this medieval piece of architecture. With stunning views of the city from its base, it becomes one the most romantic spot in town at sundown.
Place de la Cathédrale, 1005 Lausanne
Museum-lovers will have no time to get bored in Lausanne. Surrounded by a park and more city views, the Fondation de l’Hermitage has a variety of big-name contemporary art collections all year-round, whilst fashion and design aficionadas can get their daily fix at the mudac, which is located right next to the Cathedral and displays many fun and funky pieces. For a more unusual experience, there is also the Collection de l’Art Brut, one of Europe’s largest and most complete collections of Brut Art that is housed in the historical ‘Château de Beaulieu’.
Park De Mon Repos
Perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll, this park is one of the most famous green spots of the city. Home to Swiss aristocracy for many years and later the International Olympic Committee, it is today a peaceful sanctuary of lush grass, richly coloured petals, sprinkling fountains and aviaries where a myriad of exotic birds coo.
The Lakeside: Ouchy and other small ports
Ouchy is the city’s charming lakeside escape. With many cafes and restaurants, there is a vast choice of places to sip an Aperol Spritz or two and watch passer-byes. For a bit of history between people-watching, this is also where the scenic Olympic Museum is located. Situated at the bottom of Lausanne, Ouchy is an easy walk away and accessible in less than 10 minutes from central Lausanne by metro or Uber.
With high-quality infrastructure and pretty lake views, transportation via train is both convenient and fun. Therefore, definitely do what the local ‘Lausanneois’ do and get out of the city on a hot afternoon to explore charming nearby ports. On top of my list? Lutry and Morges!
Where to eat and drink
Aside from its sights and nature however, Lausanne is also a food and drink hub that attracts people from cities all around – including Geneva.
Blackbird Café and Breakfast Club
As Lausanne’s first true breakfast club, the Blackbird Café has become somewhat of a church for those craving perfectly roasted coffee beans. A great place to start your day, whether at 7 am with an espresso or 1 pm with steaming pancakes and eggs benedict.
Palace Restaurants and Bars
Switzerland could be visited for its grand palaces alone. Unsurprisingly, Coco Chanel’s extended residence, the Lausanne Palace, and John Kerry’s favourite spot to negotiate international agreements, Ouchy’s Beau-Rivage Palace, are both top culinary destinations. The Lausanne Palace’s Michelin-starred Table d’Edgard offers stunning views of the Alps and lake, whilst the Beau-Rivage’s Ann-Sophie Pic Restaurant, is led by one of the world’s only Michelin-starred female chefs.
Aside from these gastronomical extravaganzas however, the palaces’ cafés and bars offer an equally splendid experience. The Beau Rivage’s luxurious terrace, overlooking the hotel’s gardens and lake, is an idyllic afternoon retreat before moving downstairs and cuddling into the hotel bar’s cozy chairs to taste crafty cocktail creations.
A stylish restaurant and bar with delicious tapas-style dishes and drinks from around the world. Its tucked-away location and cosmopolitan, big-city vibes, make Eat Me a hidden gem that will entice any foodie’s palate.
A laid-back, local favourite that offers a good selection of European and fusion dishes, with a variety of gluten free and vegan options available. The service is friendly and it’s a no-fuss, simple dining experience.
Ouchy’s lakeside also has a variety of good restaurants if you want to eat outside, ranging from crêpes to fondue and fresh fish or salads. For a quick bite in town I would recommend Le Café St Pierre, and for those craving exotic spices in the country of cheese and chocolate, Nandanam, a yummy South-Indian restaurant, is a great destination. For many bars, nightlife and more artsy destinations, head to the modern Flon district.
Where to stay
Within the Lausanne region, the Ouchy lake area and its lake views, is definitely recommended for overnight stays.
The already-mentioned Beau-Rivage Hotel is the city’s most iconic and glamorous hotel. Its palatial halls are filled with history and its pristine rooms have welcomed many of the rich and famous (you can admire their pictures and signatures at the hotel bar).
Alternatively, the Hotel d’Angleterre et Résidence or Château d’Ouchy are located nearby and also good choices.
During the summer months, Lausanne also has a variety of relaxed outdoor bars (e.g. Bourg Plage), festivals and events that are worth exploring.