When you think of cities in Switzerland, the clean and crisp Zurich probably springs to mind, followed by the business hub of Geneva. While these are not without their own charm, if you take a short train ride north from Geneva airport, you’ll find yourself in the beautiful and often unsung surroundings of Lausanne. Situated on the edge of Lake Geneva and surrounded by cloud-covered mountains, it’s hard to imagine a more peaceful and calming city.
Many of the residents seem to have just stepped out of a magazine cover, their glistening teeth smiling as they happily talk you through directions to the city’s many attractions. This friendly atmosphere permeates the city and its relaxed, fun-loving attitude somehow sync perfectly with its progressiveness in the areas of technology and business.
You’ll want to make the best out of your stay here and while you could be confident in having a good time just wandering around the tree-lined streets, we want to make sure that you have a great – no, scratch that – an AWESOME time, so get that BUCKiTDREAM planner out and take note of our eight hotspots in Lausanne.
Relax in Ancient Luxury at Chateau d’Ouchy As well as being a hilariously slapstick-sounding name, Ouchy is one of the most picturesque lakeside areas in Lausanne. You can walk or taxi down the steep hill from the train station, stop just before the lake, and rock up at the 12th-century mansion where you’ll be resting your head. The 4-star hotel has all of the amenities that you’d want, including an excellent restaurant, wellness center, spa and swimming pool. But it’s the setting that will knock your socks off, the tranquil Lake Geneva quite literally a stone’s throw away from this gothic, 800+-year-old castle. Oh, and everyone who stays at the hotel (or any hotel, for that matter) gets a free Lausanne Transport Card to take them on the subway or buses around the city.
Drink the Best Hot Chocolate of Your Life at Chocolaterie le Barbare It’s no surprise that a Swiss chocolaterie is known to serve world-renowned chocolat chaud; however, we cut (or sipped) through the hyperbole and can safely determine that this quaint little cafe has to rank amongst the top hot chocolates you’ll ever taste. The secret le Barbare’s success is down to the insistence of the owner in melting genuine Swiss chocolate to create the sweet, indulgent and rejuvenating nectar as opposed to powder and milk. If you visit Lausanne in the winter, it’s better than an extra jumper.
Explore Cully Wine Regions There’s a reason why most people haven’t heard of Swiss wines; it’s because they keep them all to themselves. Due to the country’s canny financial acumen, they worked out that exporting their wine would actually be more costly than beneficial, so the lucky locals get to enjoy the boozy grape juice all to themselves. And you can too. Hop aboard the Belle Epoque ferry at the docks at Ouchy and enjoy a gorgeous boat ride across the lake, taking in the mystical-looking mountainscape before arriving at the Cully region and its Lavaux vineyards. Simply stroll into any shop and they’ll happily give you a taste of some of the finest vino that will ever pass your lips.
All Aboard the Lavaux Express If you take our advice and visit Cully (and why wouldn’t you?) then we insist that you jump on the Lavaux Express. This car-cum-choo-choo-train takes passengers on a (very leisurely) tour of the Lavaux vineyards, with the stunning landscape as its backdrop. The carriages have two-person seats each complete with wine bottle holsters, naturally. On a summer’s day with the sun glinting off the cobalt lake, a bottle of wine in one fist and your partner’s hand in the other, it’s hard to picture a more perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Step in for The Nightwatch (No, Nothing to Do with Game of Thrones) at Lausanne Cathedral Once you’re back in the city and have traversed the hilly streets back to the top, stopping at all of the cute little boutiques and wine stores that you’ll find throughout, it’s time to climb the cathedral. The city actually still employs a man to be Le Guet (The Lookout), who climbs the vertiginous staircase every evening to call out, “C’est le guet; il a sonné l’heure!” (“This is the night watch; the hour has struck!“) every hour from 22:00 to 02:00. This tradition originated from the need to guard against house fires that could spread quickly through the night and it’s a mark of Lausanne’s quirky and charming dedication to the heritage that it lives on to this day. And yes, GoT fans can channel their inner Jon Snow and pace moodily around the parapet, taking in the glorious cityscape below whilst mumbling about oncoming White Walkers.
Get Your Taste Buds Blown at Eat Me Don’t let the insouciant name fool you; this French fusion restaurant takes its food very seriously, trotting the globe in order to bring inspiration to its five continent-spanning tapas menu. Fully deserving of a Michelin star even if the guide has yet to grant it one, this elegant and stylishly decorated venue serves brilliant and bizarre cuisine that will excite and enthrall any food lover. Brave diners should try the Electric Sashimiviche, which lives up to its name by containing a Sichuan flower that (pleasantly) shocks the palate as you swallow the grapefruit-cured tuna; combine it with a swig of local white wine and you’ll have a dish to remember for the ages.
Get on Your Dancing Shoes at D! Club Strange decorations, banging tunes and a friendly, welcoming general attitude make this Lausanne’s number one nightclub and the place to go dancing away the weekend. Centrally located, it serves an array of tempting cocktails and has balcony areas where you can chat to locals away from the thudding beat of the music. Hosting DJ sets from such global superstars as 2ManyDJs, this vibrant, multi-tiered club is Lausanne’s hedonistic hotspot.
Climb the Podium at The Olympic Museum Lausanne is famous for its museums, so be sure to check out Musee de l’Elysee and Collection de l’Art Brut for some fascinating photography and art collections. However, the pick of the bunch has to be The Olympic Museum, where you can learn all about the history of the most famous sporting competition in the world whilst walking throughout the split-level venue. There are even interactive games that will let you test your mettle against the ghosts of Olympians past. Better bring your A-game!
If this has inspired you to visit what is one of (if not the) must-see city destination in Switzerland, then you know what to do next: take out your BUCKiTDREAM planner and start sharing your dream ideas with other users on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Who knows, maybe you’ll share a hot chocolate with one of them in Chocolaterie le Barbare next year?