Lausanne is the capital of the Canton Vaud in Switzerland and is located on the beautiful Lac Léman. It is a lively city with plenty to offer for students, families, and visitors. Lausanne has an old town center, a brand-new museum hub, Plateforme10, many parks, playgrounds, and a lake area, called Ouchy, who’s natural setting invites joggers and people enjoying their Sunday afternoon stroll.
We loved visiting Lausanne, and since we do not live far away, we will definitely go more often. Here are our Top Things to do in Lausanne!
Lausanne’s Old Town and Cathedral
Lausanne has a lovely old town center and a beautiful Cathedral. It has an interesting tradition which is kept alive since the Middle Ages. The Cathedral’s night watch (guet in French) calls out every hour from 22:00 until 2AM every day, 365 days a year. Incredible right? This means someone in Lausanne actually has the job of being the ‘guet’, and climbs up the Cathedral every evening to still tell the people in Lausanne during the night what time it is. When you climb the 224 steps of the Cathedral, you will see a door that says: ‘Loge du Guet’. This is where the night watch spends his evening. Once on top, you are rewarded with a very beautiful view on the rooftops of the city, the lake, and the mountains afar. If you go to Lausanne, climbing the Cathedral should definitely not be missed!
In front of the Cathedral, there is a small square with benches for a picnic or a coffee date with a view. Very nice spot!
Things to do in Lausanne for kids!
Since April 2021 the city of Lausanne created a Travel Journal specially for their young visitors. The travel journal definitely makes a city trip to Lausanne fun for kids and allows them to read some interesting information about the sites they visit. They can check out the map to see where they are, and it has quite a few goodies to pick up at several spots while exploring the city! How about picking up a cupcake in the center of town? Or a hot or cold chocolate at the chocolate shop? Or why not an ice-cream in Ouchy on a sunny day? The Travel Journal also gives them something special at some of the city’s top attractions for children, like Aquatis and the Olympic Museum. We had fun exploring Lausanne through the Travel Journal! We visited the Tour de Sauvabelin observation tower, the Cathedral, Ouchy, and a Museum.
You can pick up the Travel Journal for free at the Lausanne Tourism Offices. The information in the journal is in French, English and German. It comes with a pencil, an eraser, and glue for kids to craft, draw, write, and customize their own journal!
More information on Lausanne’s Kids Travel Journal: https://www.lausanne-tourisme.ch/en/travel-journal/
Tour de Sauvabelin and park
Sauvabelin park in the north of the city is a lovely park for families. It has a small lake, a petting zoo, playgrounds, and a wooden observation tour, Tour de Sauvabelin. The tower was described by our children as a big Kapla tower, and we definitely saw why. From on top of the tower you have a lovely view over the park and the city. From the Tour de Sauvabelin, you can easily stroll back down to the center of town. To get there with young kids, I would suggest taking public transport as the climb up can be a bit exhausting.
How to get to Tour de Sauvabelin: we took the metro from Ouchy to Bessières station, and then bus 16 to the Lac de Sauvabelin (direction Vennes).
Museums in Lausanne
Plateforme10 is a modern new art district, very close to the train station, and located where the former train halls were. The fact that it is located at a former train hall, is nicely integrated on the esplanade in front of the building. The art district is more than a museum hub. It will also be a place to meet friends as there will be restaurants, and we already saw some shops. At the moment the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts is already located at Plateforme10, and two more museums will follow soon: MUDAC (Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts) and Musée de l’Elysée (photography).
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne
This modern, one-of-a-kind museum tells you the history of the Olympic Games, shows you what life in the Olympic village is like and how the athletes prepare themselves. It took us a while to put our stuff away in the cloakroom since all the lockers have the names of athletes on it and our children wanted to choose the locker of some specific athletes.
Inside the museum there are several beautiful movies shown, about concentration, happiness or the sadness of a defeat. There is a nice movie about the opening ceremonies through time which we loved watching. You will be able to see all the different torches that carried the Olympic flame and of course all the medals.
On the -1 level there are also some interactive games to be played. You can for instance test your balance on different balance boards.
The museum is located by the lake and the outdoor area has some nice art representing sports and athletes. You will see the Olympic flame and you can test who of your family is the fastest on a 100-meters athletics track.
Aquatis is the big aquarium in Lausanne. We haven’t been yet, but more information on Aquatis can be found here: https://www.aquatis.ch/en/
Trampoline park in Lausanne
There is a brand-new Trampoline Park in Lausanne called The Jump Spot. It’s located in a former Swiss Railway hall and they opened on March 29th 2021. Our youngest son went to test it with his friends and loved it. Make sure you reserve your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment. Their website: https://thejumpspot.ch
Excursions from Lausanne
Lausanne’s location makes it easy to go on many excursions and day trips. The closest by are of course a walk in the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux. That area is UNESCO World heritage site and has a breathtaking view on the lake. Montreux and Chateau Chillon are also close by. And the small town , Nyon, is also a nice place to visit.