I just adore Switzerland – the rolling alpine hills, breathtaking mountain views, gothic architecture, fresh air, sparkling lakes, cheese and chocolate! Whilst I have visited Switzerland a handful of times during the summer months, visiting during the Winter months and Christmas time for the markets was on the bucket list and so when an opportunity arose to visit the lakeside city of Lausanne, the fourth biggest city, I said yes straight away. I couldn’t wait for the snowy scenes, the mulled wine at the Christmas Markets and indulging in delicious Cheese Fondue.
I have chosen Switzerland for city breaks in the past because it is such a short flight from the UK, making it perfect for a weekend trip. Lausanne, which is french speaking, is just a short train journey from Geneva, where we flew into from London, and navigating around the city is super easy.
Additionally, as a tourist, if you are staying at any one of the hotels, you also get a complimentary travel card to use for the buses and trams, making getting around really convenient and the best bit is it is free.
Here are my top suggestions of things to do in Lausanne, a city packed with so much history and culture, and perfect for a weekend escapade.
Take a stroll around Ouchy
I love being by the water and Ouchy was absolutely lovely. This is where you can catch one of the Belle Epoque cruises, or just stroll along the harbour and take in the surrounding lake and mountain views. This is where lots of people’s naval boats and yachts are harboured.
The Olympic Museum is close by (see next item), making it the perfect area to spend a few hours. There are lovely restaurants with a view of the lake in the vicinity, where you can enjoy local cuisine and just relax.
Visit the Musée Olympique
A must visit is the Olympic Museum, the largest in the world, and filled with several floors of interesting interactive exhibitions, memorabilia from past games, and the Olympic Torches from all the Games played so far. Lausanne is actually the HQ of the Olympic Games, and important decisions regarding the games are made here.
I loved seeing aspects from the London 2012 games, which I attended, and this brought back lovely memories, as well as watching clips of past games and I learned so much in the few hours we spent discovering all the history of the games, the rules, as well as reading information and seeing visuals about each of the sports, posters from the games and the past participants.
There is even an olympic flame burning outside on the gorgeous grounds, laden with sculptures of athletes. I really enjoyed this and would love to come back in a few years to experience some of the newer game memorabilia.
Cupcake Decorating Class at Royaume Melazic
A fun activity to do is participating in a cupcake decorating at Royaume Melazic, a store which will leave you wanting absolutely every cake and biscuit on display as everything just looks gorgeous and delicious.
Icing is great fun and they show you all the correct techniques of piping. The best part is you get to get your decorated cupcakes home to indulge in too!
Cocktails at Havana Bar, Lausanne Palace
I am such a hotel bar girl and so cocktails at The Havana Bar, found at the luxurious Lausanne Palace Hotel were just up my street. As it was a particularly chilly evening I warmed up with a Hot Buttered Rum which was just dreamy!
The bar is absolutely gorgeous with dark leather seats, woody interiors and photographs of Cuba displayed all around. A great place for a pre-dinner drink or two.
Belle Époque breakfast service on a ferry
Take a cruise- the Belle Époque breakfast service on a ferry which connects Lausanne with Evian across Lake Geneva. The ferry takes half an hour to Evian and half an hour back, and is such a picturesque way to experience the lake, the views as well as indulge in a continental breakfast of coffees, croissants and freshly baked breads. As there are several ferries going back and forth, you can hop off at Evian if you wish, and that way you can be in 2 countries in one day!
Indulge in Cheese Fondue
You cannot go to Switzerland and not indulge in Cheese Fondue. It is my absolute favourite thing to eat whenever in the country – the gooey melted cheese complimented with chunky bread, potatoes and some lovely wine on the side – just dreamy!
My favourite one was inside an igloo, Bô Noël, which was there for the Christmas season, and close to the Christmas markets. I tried a version with mushrooms in it and it was a game changer! Another reason to add Lausanne to your radar for Winter!
Visit the Domaine Croix Duplex Vineyards
The Lavaux vineyards, which were originally prepared for the cultivation of grapes by Benedictine monks are a UNESCO World Heritage site, still used to produce wine. We visited Domaine Croix Duplex, a family-run vineyard, which produces some of the best Chasselas in Switzerland. It is unfortunately not exported to my dismay as it was absolutely delicious! This was the first time I tried Swiss Wine and I was really impressed.
When we visited, it had been snowing and so the vineyards were snow capped and just breathtaking! The views while you are enjoying the wine is unbeatable and just unbelievable. From visiting no vineyards, this is the second vineyard I have visited this year, the first being in Tuscany. Swiss Vineyards are just stunning – you have both the lake and the mountain views as a bonus!
Notre Dame Cathedral
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is a stunning Gothic cathedral built in the 13th century with high ceilings, gorgeous architecture and a beautiful rose window, and located in the old town. It is absolutely mesmerising to see, with stone sculptures and so peaceful inside. A great place to take a moment of reflection.
Beer Tasting at La Nébuleuse Craft Brewery
La Nébuleuse is a fantastic craft brewery where you can take a tour of the brewery and enjoy a beer tasting of various Craft Beers made in house, including unusual flavoured ones such as Shrimp and Coconut. They also make Embuscade, which was recently awarded the third-best Indian Pale Ale (IPA) at the European Beer Awards.
It is a fascinating tour and after the tour there is a lovely bar area where you can relax and enjoy a few drinks. If you love beer you will definitely love this!
Visit the Christmas Markets
Lausanne has such lovely festive Christmas markets where you can enjoy traditional fondue, various other cheeses, Vin Chaud, which is mulled wine, buy crafts, and socialise. They are all in close proximity to each other and absolutely fantastic. If you are planning 2018 Christmas Markets, Lausanne is definitely one to put on the radar!
Museums – Collection de l’Art Brut
The collection of Art Brut is a unique and unusual gallery filled with art exhibits from artists that are untrained – from the edge of society, founded by French artist Jean Dubuffet’s Some being orphans, prisoners, widows, or from broken families, and not backgrounds that are typically reflective of curated art.
The theme during our visit was Bodies and it was really fascinating, eye opening and disturbing at times. There are several floors and rooms filled with such diverse art that you can spend a good few hours looking at the pieces and trying to digest it all.
Place de la Palud
Located in the city center and just off the Cathédrale de Notre Dame, the Place de la Palud is a square with wide, and pretty cobblestoned streets, cafés, restaurants and shops that give it that classic al fresco European feel, and is a buzzing place. There are even little stalls selling pancakes, should you wish to have some hot freshly made ones, or roasted chestnuts. The delicious aromas fill the air making it irresistible!
In this square there is a painted fountain known as the Fountain of Justice. What I loved most though, was a mechanical clock that tells the history of Vaud through its small historical vignettes, as well as the festive tree.
Enjoy the snow (if you’re lucky) and explore the city
Take a stroll through the cobbled streets and get to know the city of Lausanne. I was very lucky that it snowed whilst I was there so I adored seeing the snowy scenes.
In the evening I loved the various Lausanne Lumières, festival of lights, all over the city.
I discovered so many cute streets, shops and architecture whilst wandering around and it is a great way to learn about a city.
Have you been to Lausanne? What were your highlights? I would love to know in the comments section below.