Continuing on our second day for this weekend in this region and after visiting Geneva the day before, we took the short train ride that takes to the city of Lausanne, right by the shores of Lake Geneva. It was at this point where I had to stop and think back which of both cities I would like the most by the end of the day, but since it’s quite a hard decision to be honest, I will keep both at the same level. Still, and don’t get me wrong, both cannot compete with the beauty that Basel and Zurich are for example.
As you can also image, the train ride was great with nice landscapes and views of the lake. Certainly we could have managed it better perhaps by having a rental car and being able to stop wherever we wanted and visiting many other places along the route. But well, it was already quite an expensive weekend altogether and a rental car would have set us on even higher costs. At the end of the day, it was not even a month ago since we were by Lake Constance all around, where the architecture, nature and landscapes were really similar to those in here.
For the size, it is smaller than Geneva, but divided in two different areas, therefore not as compact as it might look. In any case it will not require too much time to visit everything. Don’t rush nor wake up early to get here should you have enough time until leaving the city. For us, we had until 21.30pm until our plane departure therefore giving us the full day to enjoy Lausanne. After such a crazy weekends over the past months before this, it was actually a nice treat to have a rather lazy and slow one.
Lausanne is really a well worth it city to visit; for history and beauty it makes one of the nicest to visit in Switzerland. Not only in its architecture but the emplacement on the lake and natural surroundings. Although yet again I have to add in here that if you are expecting a city like Basel is, for example, then you might be disappointed. And surely disappointed any visitor will be to find out that the city is pretty much dead anywhere around the old town. What’s worst that absolutely every restaurant and cafe is also closed on a Sunday. Not even a shop to buy water! Thankfully the random Coop supermarkets found in the lower town were opened.
It was a dead empty city with rare tourists wandering around. But where everyone could be? We found out once we reached the harbour area. Thanks goodness there was live in there, and with over 30 degrees that was crowded along the lake promenade. If it would not be for this I would have left the city with a wrong and bad impression all together.
For more information about Lausanne check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Switzerland currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Lausanne
- Cité Is the oldest areas in the city, located around a small hill, on the same way we saw in Geneva, with the Cathedral at the highest point.
-Cathedral of Notre Dame Constructed in Gothic style between 1170 and 1275 when it was consecrated by Pope Gregory X. Inside you will also find an unique in the world pipe organ. Inaugurated in 2003 was the first ever organ to be designed by a designer. First of its kind to contain all four of the principal organ styles (classical, French symphony, baroque, German romantique); and first ever organ manufactured by an American company for an European Cathedral.
-Saint Marie Castle Built between 1397 to 1425 as the fortified residence of the Bishops of Lausanne it is now the seat of the cantonal government, the Council of State of Vaud.
-City Hall Built in the 16th century has a characteristic small tower containing the clock.
–Place de la Riponne One of the most famous and important squares in the city.
-Palais de Rumine Occupying one full side of the square is this 19th-century building in Florentine Renaissance style. It is one of the 3 sites of the University Library and some museums as the Fine Arts and Natural History. You are free to enter and cross the building through the impressive main staircase, that’s the best way to access the Old Town.
- Ville Marché Is the medieval part of the city encircling the old town, forming together the historical core of Lausanne.
-Rue du Grand-Pont Where the characteristic stone arched bridge cutting through the city is.
-Casino Montbenon and Gardens Is one of the exclusive casinos mostly orientated to the upper-class society. Just north of the train station. From the gardens in front of it you will get the best views of the lower city, lake and mountains.
-Church of Saint-François Is the only remain of the former Franciscan monastery and the second medieval church in Lausanne after the Cathedral. East of Montbenon Casino right at the end of Rue du Grand-Pont.
-Hôtel des Postes Right next to the Church of Saint-François is the central post office building.
-Opera House Located few meters to the east of the post office building.
-Synagogue Built in 1859 combining Moorish Revival architecture and Byzantine styles.
- Sous Gare Is the name that receives the 19th century expansion of the city between the train station and the port, Ouchy. Filled with up-scale residential buildings on nice avenues and tree-lined streets. A nice walk is that from the train station to the port through the pedestrianised street converted in gardens where the metro also passes by.
-Train station Built in 1856, the current is a rebuilt from 1996 keeping most of the original featuring from the former building in Art-nouveau.
- Ouchy Waterfront Once a fishing village was absorbed into the city in the 19th century to serve as the main port.
–Beau-Rivage Palace Is one of the most exclusive hotels in the city, together with the surrounding ones in the area. The elegant architecture is best seen from the park at the front.
-Olympic Museum Lausanne is one of the headquarters of the Olympic committee and the museum also includes the Archives of the International Olympic Committee.
-Thai Pavillion Built in 2007 as a gift by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, daughter of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who used to live in Lausanne.
-Belle Epoque Vessels These original paddle steamers have become integral part of the Lake, national heritage and a tourist attraction in itself. Built between 1910 and 1927 they do still sail between the cities across the lake as if on the first day. La Suisse (1910), Savoie (1914), Simplon (1920) and Rhône (1927).
Arriving to Lausanne from anywhere around Lake Geneva and of course, Geneva itself is very easy and quick. Trains are very often and criss-cross the country with fast connections. From Geneva there are trains every 15 minutes and there is no need to pre-book in advance as you can get the tickets from the self service machines at the train station. The journey duration varies between 33 and 48 minutes depending if the train is a Regional Express or an Inter City. The cost is the same on any type of train but behold of the price, 23.50 CHF for a return ticket.
Within the city there is absolutely no need for taking any public transport at all. Everything is walking distance and distances are short. The only area that will take you longer is going towards the harbour, but even that is a great and beautiful walk through the nice elegant streets and buildings, though I would recommend you take it on the opposite direction from the port towards the city centre as it’s quite a hike going up.
There is, to anyone’s surprise for the small size the city is, a metro system with 28 stations! Quite handy if you want to move fast.
Unfortunately I cannot say nor recommend anything in the city. Our hotel was based in Geneva from where we came. In any case, and ans general rule for anywhere in Switzerland you might be, prices are high. And could be very high. If you opt for also being based in Geneva where there is a greater choice then I won’t hesitate in recommending you the one we were. A good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We stayed at Hotel Lido. Although twice as much expensive as what we are used to pay for a hotel elsewhere in Europe, it came still as one of the best prices across all the hotels of the same category around. Located right in the city centre not even 5 minutes away walking from the train station was just all we needed. Very basic with old decor but comfortable, with included breakfast and nice and friendly staff.