Lausanne, (pron: loh-ZANNE) the capital of the Swiss canton of Vaud, is a medium sized city (around two thirds the size of Geneva). The city is the host to the International Olympic Committee and two major universities. It is also the transportation hub of Vaud, and a gateway to the alpine Canton of the Valais, home to some of the best known ski slopes in the world.
Lausanne is located at the most northern point of the Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). East from Lausanne along the shores of Lake Geneva, the wine-growing region Lavaux, a UNESCO world heritage site, spreads until Vevey. It is a part of the Swiss Riviera that stretches to Montreux and the eastern end of the lake. A region known as La Côte that stretches west from Lausanne until Geneva with its capital Nyon is known nowadays as the home of a big amount of (English-speaking) expats working mostly in Geneva. North from Lausanne is a rural area extending until Yverdon and the Lake of Neuchâtel.
Lausanne and canton Vaud are part of Suisse Romande/Romandie and thus are French-speaking. However, English is not as commonly spoken as in Geneva and less than half the population can speak English at a competent level. You will probably have trouble communicating with a commoner on the street but most service-sector employees speak a little English.
As you might expect the large student population makes for a lively nightlife and arts community, revolving around the Flon district. You'll also find a number of quality restaurants and two dozen museums of note, including the Olympic Museum and the offbeat Collection de l'Art Brut. Architecture buffs should note that at the top of the old town you'll find the best preserved Gothic cathedral in Switzerland.
The Lausanne Tourism Office (+ 41 21 613 73 73, 9AM-7PM every day) is at the Main Station and in Ouchy (just across the M2 station). The staff at the tourism board offices or over the phone can almost always place you in a hotel in your price range even at the very last minute. In addition they have a fantastic free map of the city and huge assortment of useful printed materials in English as well as French, German, and Italian.
Lausanne's Cathedral as seen from the Grand Pont
There has been a settlement on the hill of Lausanne since at least the stone age, but most histories of the city trace its origin to the roman camp Lausanna which occupied a position just down the hill toward the lake in what is now the village of Vidy.
Relocated to more defensible hilltop in the middle ages, Lausanne's increasing wealth and importance were largely derived from its placement on the primary north-south routes between Italy and the north sea. It was the first major town north of the St. Bernard pass, at least until the establishment of the bishopric of Valais.
In 1538 the Bernese took the city from the Dukes of Savoy as part of their drive to secure their southwestern frontier. The Bernese held the territory until Lausanne gained its independence from Berne after the invasion of a French army under Napoléon Bonaparte in 1798. The city was later, in 1803, admitted to Switzerland as the capital of Vaud.
Map of Lausanne
Lausanne is served by one of the most efficient passenger rail services in the world, the Swiss Federal Rail system. Trains run roughly each half-hour between 4:45AM and 1:30AM every day to and from Geneva, Zurich, Berne, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Brig and points in between. There are 4 trains daily from/to Paris Gare de Lyon via the SNCFTGV (High Speed Train), 4 per day from/to Milan and 1 train per day from/to Venice.
The closest airport, Geneva airport is served by almost all European carriers, and by four daily trans-Atlantic flights, one from Washington-Dulles on United, one from New York, JFK on Swiss, one from Newark on Continental and one from Montreal, on Air Canada; otherwise when flying from the U.S. you will have to change planes at your airline's hub airport. Direct trains between Geneva Airport and the Lausanne take about 45 minutes and normally run 4 times per hour, less frequent very early or very late. A full fare from Geneva-Airport to Lausanne is currently 26 CHF. Zurich airport provides an alternative, with more frequent trans-Atlantic service mainly via Swiss.
Boats ply both the Swiss and French shores of Lake Geneva with several daily ferries to Evian (passport required to enter France), Geneva, Coppet, Nyon, Montreux, Vevey and many smaller lakeshore towns. See the boat company website for timetables and prices. Lunch and dinner cruises are also popular with tourists. Most of the ferries are meant as scenic trips and not the fastest way to get around, but a boat trip is worth the time on a clear day.
The neighborhoods of Lausanne which are of primary concern to a visitor are the Cité, the Ville Marché, and the port of Ouchy. In between you'll find the Flon which is mainly a nightclub district these days, and the otherwise sleepy Sous Gare neighborhood just under the Main Station (Gare CFF) which boasts one of the best cafés in town. If you feel up for a hike it's also probably worth while to spend a few hours climbing around in the woods of Sauvabelin which is above and north of the Hermitage.
Cité This hill is the part of Lausanne's old town which goes back the furthest, and holds a lot of interest for travelers, being the site of the Cathedral, the Castle, MUDAC, several other museums, a children's theatre and a really good toy store.
Ville Marché The medieval city of Lausanne grew up with outdoor markets arranged around several of the entrances to the old city, together with the old city these markets make up the balance of the Old Town, including Place de la Palud, Place St. François, and Place Riponne. Local outdoor markets selling fruit, vegetables and manufactured goods. In the town centre on place de la Riponne from 08:00 to 14:30.
Flon The original rail line into Lausanne once came up the Flon river into this valley, but there was no way to go through town, so it was supplanted in the 19th century with a line one ridge further south which could serve destinations in the Valais and Italy. Today the former warehouses of the Flon Valley are mostly occupied with trendy restaurants and discos.
Ouchy Once a fishing Village, Ouchy was incorporated into the City of Lausanne in the mid-19th century to serve as a port on Lac Léman. The incredible views of the lake and the Alps, and the cooler air in summer have make Ouchy a popular place especially in the summer months. There's a major cluster of hotels and restaurants around the port.
Sous Gare In the 19th century Lausanne expanded to fill all of the land between the current location of the Main Station and the port of Ouchy. This is mostly a district of apartment buildings and houses, but it's worth a walk through, if only for the Café de Grancy and the park on the Crêt de Montriond.
Map of central Lausanne
Walking is a great way to get around Lausanne. There are a number of sites within a short walk of the Main Station with the largely carfree streets beginning right across the street with rue du Petit-Chêne, which leads up to Place St. François in the old town. Like many streets in Lausanne it is a bit steep though, so if that's a problem consider taking the Metro M2.
By public transport (metro and bus)
There are two Métro lines provided by Transports publics de la région lausannoise (TL) which have their hub at the Flon station. The new M2 is a fully automated subway system connecting Ouchy to the northern suburb of Epalinges via the Main Station, Flon, and multiple stops in the old town. It is a shortest fully-automatic subway line in the world and is worth seeing by itself. The M1 serves points west, including the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Clean and fast buses, also provided by TL, are very frequent and form a dense enough network that you will rarely find yourself more than a few hundred feet from one bus stop or the other.
There is also a local railway operated by the private company LEB, with trains connecting with the other two metro lines at Flon. It have few stops in Lausanne agglomeration and then run out to the northern countryside in direction of Echallens and Bercher.
Map of Lausanne/Ouchy
Public transport tickets are sold from vending machines at all bus/train/metro stations/stops. Vending machines at almost all metro stations accept Swiss banknotes and credit/debit cards; at a small bus stop you have to pay by Swiss coins. Although mostly replaced by now, there are still some ticket vending machines that do not issue change.
Price of a ticket depends on travel distance, as determined by a zone system. The zone and tarif system valid in Canton Vaud is called Mobilis. Tickets for zones 11 and 12, covering large part of Lausanne agglomeration, are sold as Grand Lausanne (GL) ticket. Single tickets are valid within respective zones for unlimited number of travels until the time indicated on the ticket (1h from the moment of purchasing for Grand Lausanne). Day tickets (Carte journalière, valid until 5 am of the next day) are available in vending machines as well. Passes for longer terms should be bought at a counter. Note that a day ticket for Grand Lausanne is cheaper than three individual tickets. So, if you plan to do more than two trips in Lausanne during one day, buy a day ticket.
For trips away from Lausanne within the Mobilis area you can determine the zones that your ticket have to cover by inspecting a map on ticket machines, or on free maps available at all ticket-sales points. Modern vending machines calculate zones according to your destination, but be ready to choose right route if there are alternatives. Older machines will issue you a ticket for a certain number of zones. Note that starting from three or four Mobilis zones a day ticket is the best choise: the price is twice the price of an individual ticket, and it is valid all the way between the starting point and the destination for the whole day.
The Swiss Federal RailAbonnement General rail passes are good for unlimited travel throughout the TL and LEB system. If you have a Swiss Federal Rail pass for non-swiss travelers you should ask at the Main Station if your pass covers the local transit system, since some passes do and others don't.
Lausanne Transport Card is a personal card for free travel on Lausanne’s public transport system in zones 11, 12, 15, 16, 18 and 19 (2nd class) available for hotel guests. The card is issued by the hotel on check-in and is valid for the duration of the reservation, including the day of departure.
Borrowing a bicycle from the self-service stations is possible with Publibike network. For a day pass (10 CHF) address to Lausanne Roule (Place de l'Europe 1b, under the bridge just outside the Lausanne Flon Metro station). Bicycles can be also borrowed from Rent a Bike and Aloc Bike, both at the Main Station.
Beware that the city is pretty steep, but the lakefront is very nice. There is a handy 1:10 000 'Carte Velo' downloadable from the city website. This map helps those new to the city find the preferred bicycling routes in the area. Throughout the city is an excellent network of paths, marked bicycle lanes, and bypass tunnels that will help get you through the most busy intersections. The routes by the lake are simply beautiful but can get quite busy with strollers, roller bladers, and cyclists at peak times during the summer.
The museums marked with * offer free entrance every first Saturday of a month.
The Palais de Rumine at Place de la Riponne, home to a number of worthy museums
Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6 (M2 or buses 7,8 to the stop ''Riponne-M. Béjart''). Tu-Th 11AM-6PM, Fri-Sun 11AM-5PM. Based on an Italian renaissance design, this lovely building is not as old as it looks. There are five different cantonal museums inside with exhibitions covering subjects ranging from fine arts to natural history.
Musée cantonal d'archéologie et d'histoire*, ☎ +41 21 316 34 30, . Archeology and History
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts*, ☎ +41 21 316 34 45, . Fine Arts
L'Espace Arlaud*, Place de la Riponne 2bis, ☎ +41 21 316 38 50, . The oldest museum in Lausanne.
Musée Historique de Lausanne*, Place de la Cathedral 4, ☎ +41 21 315 41 01, . Tu-Th 11AM-6PM, Fr-Su 11AM-5PM. A collection of maps, images and documents about the history of Lausanne, and the Lake Geneva Region from the earliest times through the long Bernese occupation to liberation and the present day. A beautifully hand-crafted diorama of 16th-century Lausanne is worth a visit all by itself.
Mudac*, Place de la Cathédral 6, ☎ +41 21 315 25 30, . The museum of design and contemporary applied arts.
Fondation de l'Hermitage, Rte du Signal 2, ☎ +41 21 320 50 01, . Tu-Su 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-9PM, holidays 10AM-6PM. Built in 1841 as a residence for the banker Charles-Juste Bugnion, the Hermatage occupies its own wooded space on the hill above old-town, with marvelous views of the Cathedral and the Alps. The family donated the house and land to the City of Lausanne in 1976, which now uses the building to host first class traveling international art exhibitions.
Collection de l'Art Brut*, Avenue des Bergières 11 (Bus 2 toward ''Désert'', stop at ''Jomini'' or bus 3 toward ''Bellevaux'', stop ''Beaulieu''), . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. This must-see collection of works by untrained artists will at turns delight, amaze, baffle, and irritate. Many of the artists whose works are shown here found life difficult or impossible outside (or inside) of institutions, finding solace and purpose in sometimes compulsive acts of creation.
Musée et jardins botaniques cantonaux*, Avenue de Cour 14bis, ☎ +41 21 316 99 88, . Cantonal Botanical Gardens and Museum.
Olympic Museum, Quai d'Ouchy 1, ☎ +41 21 621 65 11, . The museum advertises itself as presenting "wealth of memories which will keep your passion for Olympism burning". Items on display include Jean-Claude Killy's ski boots and Carl Lewis' golden track shoes. The sculpture garden, overlooking Lac Léman, is open to the public.
Musée de l'Elysée*, Avenue de l'Elysée 18, ☎ +41 21 316 99 11, . A world-class photography museum, located in a splendid park. Very close from the Olympic museum.
Musée Romain Lausanne-Vidy*, Chemin du Bois-de-Vaux 24, ☎ +41 21 315 41 85, . This Roman settlement site at Vidy has the remains of walls and a forum from the time of Caesar.
Eglise Saint-François, Place Saint-François, . The Church of St. Francis is the only remain of Franciscan monastery built here around 1270 and the second (after Cathedral) medieval church left in Lausanne. Operating church with occasional exhibitions.
La Tour d'Ale, Rue de la Tour / Rue du Maupas / Rue de l'Ale (close to Chauderon), . One of the few surviving parts of the medieval ramparts.
Tour Haldimand (at the east end of the lake promenade in Ouchy) and Tour de Perdonnet (in the park Mon-Repos): fake ruins of Gothic towers erected in the beginning of 19th century during a friendly competition between the owners of these respective lands.
Thai Pavillion, (close to the east end of the lake promenade in Ouchy). Built in 2007, it is a present of King of Thailand, who lived in Lausanne from 1933 to 1951, on occasion of 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Thailand.
Montbenon, Allée E.-Ansermet. A small, very centrally located park with a great view on the Lac Léman.
Cret de Montriond.
Vidy and du Bourget.
Explore The Old Town, Take Metro 2 to the Flon, and either take the elevator up, or just cross the street. Alternatively, if you don't mind climbing, the car-free section of old town really starts right across from the Main Station, with a steep walk up the hill. Shops keep strict hours of 10AM-7PM Monday to Friday, and 10AM-5PM on Saturdays. On Saturdays year-round almost all of the huge car-free area becomes a vast farmers market. Thanks to the hills making it hard to pave over, Lausanne's old town is larger than most found in Swiss cities, with the notable exception of Zurich. You can spend days wandering the old cobbled streets and still not know all of its nooks and crannies. After the shops close there are dozens of quaint, cozy, hip, or just warm restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, especially considering that at Place Central the old town joins with the Flon nightclub/gallery district. Wander as long as you like, there's no charge of course.
Explore the Sauvabelin Forest, north of the center (see map). Don't miss the freely accessible Sauvabelin tower , from which you have a 360° view on the lake, the Alps and the Jura. There is also a small free zoo with domestic Swiss animals, mostly visited by families with kids. The park of the Fondation de l'Hermitage is also located here on the slope in the direction of the city center.
Enjoy the lakefront of Ouchy, Take Metro 2 to Ouchy, et voila, as you leave the metro station you'll find the lake (and on a clear day the alps) stretched out in front of you.
Climb up the Cathedral Tower. The view from the top of the Cathedral tower  is well worth the climb. Ask the nun at the souvenir shop in the Cathedral. From 10PM until 2 in the morning, a watch man shouts the hours, perpetuating a tradition that dates back to 1405.
Swim. Some people swim in the Lac Leman at the port of Ouchy, but there are better and more popular locations. You can swim in the lake "wildly" west from Ouchy in parks Vidy, Bourget and further west, look for places where other people swim. An organized free beach with a necessary infrastructure is located in the eastern suburb Lutry, bus 9 direction Lutry-Corniche until the stop Rive. There is also a number of open-air and indoor pools.
Rent a boat or pedalo at Ouchy. And go refresh on the lake.
Concerts and theater
Métropole, rue des Terreaux 9, . A major concert hall for western Switzerland, the Métropole books dance, world music, pop, jazz, etc. If you are passing through town at the right time you might catch anything from the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra to the Cure here.
Espace de Terreaux, rue des Terreaux 14, +41 21 21 320 00 46, . The local council of protestant churches has de-consecrated the chapel located across the street from the Metropole 2000 shopping center and now uses it to present weekly concerts with a mix of sacred and profane acts ranging from American gospel singers through Eastern European Klezmer bands to puppet theatre for children.
Arsenic, rue de Genève 57, +41 21 625 11 36, email@example.com, . Specializing in more offbeat acts the Arsenic books a full schedule of avant-guarde theatre, jazz and pop music, and installation/performance art throughout the fall, winter and spring.
Theatre Boulimie,Pl. Arlaud 1, +41 312 97 00, , the sanctuary of Swiss humor.
Theatre 2.21, rue de l'Industrie 10, +41 21 311 65 14, .
Les Docks, Av. Sévelin 34, ☎ +41 21 623 44 44, . Located in a former industrial zone, this club offers concerts once or twice a week, from French "chanson à texte" to metal. The place where internationally-recognized metal bands are coming (mostly world music, though).
Le Romandie, Place de l'Europe 1a, . As a members-run cooperative the Romandie can offer just about the cheapest drinks imaginable in Switzerland, but the main point is the bands. The calendar leans pretty heavily toward hard rock and heavy metal they also book folk or other acts on a weekly basis as well as hosting friendly, late-night parties with djs. Another draw is the room itself: the club stretches between 2 arches of the bridge of Place de l'Europe.
Paleo, . in Nyon is the biggest and most popular music festival in Romandie. Next dates: July 24-27, 2014.
Balelec, . A festival organized by (former) EPFL students and taking place on EPFL grounds. Next date: May 9, 2014.
Festival de la Cite, . Musical, theatrical, opera, and many different types of acts take place in the old city of Lausanne. Free. Next dates: July 8-13, 2014.
Fête de la Musique, . Many musical concert are given at different venues throughout the city. Free. Next dates: June 21-22, 2014.
As an Olympic Capital, Lausanne also hosts a number of international sport events.
Prix de Lausanne, . An international competition for young dancers.
Lausanne's Cathedral as seen from place de l'Ours
The usual Swiss trinkets are available in many places around town, although they are not nearly as ubiquitous as in Geneva or Berne. There are plenty of boutiques and department stores as well. Note that pretty much every shop is closed on Sunday, except in the Main Station, Flon, Chauderon and Ouchy.
The best souvenirs from Lausanne are probably food specialties from the Canton of Vaud:
Saucisson vaudois (porc sausage) and Saucisse aux choux (porc and cabbage sausage), both protected (IGP) brands. Each sausage carries a green seal with an individual registration number. Best eaten with papet vaudois, a dish of leek and potato in a sauce made from cream and white wine.
Pâté à la viande - a small muffin-like puff pastry baked with a piece of meat inside. Join the neverending discussion, which pâté à la viande is better: the one bought from a baker or the one bought from a butcher...
Taillé aux greubons - another cake made from puff pastry mixed with small pieces of bacon.
Tarte à la crème - a pie baked with cream and sugar on top.
Tarte au vin cuit, also called Tarte à la raisinée - a sweet pie with condensed fruit juice, typically apple or pear.
Tomme vaudoise - a soft cheese with a mold crust. Best eaten if it is warmed up so that it melts inside.
Some of them you can find in Swiss supermarkets, but the best way to buy specialties is during a colorful farmers' market on Saturdays and Wednesdays in the steep, winding streets of the Old Town. Also worth checking
White wine from regions Lavaux and La Côte, a liquid counterpart of local specialties.
Beer Docteur Gab's, . Good beer brewed in the Lausanne agglomeration by a company grown from a hobby brewery. During the market, the company has a stand located on Rue Madeleine, between Place de la Riponne and Place de la Palud. Also available in many bars, restaurants and small shops across the city.
La Ferme Vaudoise, Place de la Palud 5, ☎ +41 21 351 35 55, . An alternative to the market for buying local specialties.
Chocolats Blondel, Rue de Bourg 5, ☎ +41 21 323 44 74, . Artisan chocolate, very popular in Lausanne.
The usual tricks for budget travel dining work in Lausanne as well. There is a number of Migros, Coop, Manor and other grocery stores spread over the city. In big supermarkets you often find a restaurant or take-away section. Typical working hours of supermarkets are Mo-Fr 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-6PM. Small family-run shops might be open outside of regular supermarket hours. Otherwise you are limited by gas stations and few grocery stores which are open every day / late. In the Main Station there are Coop Pronto below the railways, near the track 9, and "Aperto" (a bit more expensive) next to the main hall. You find another Coop Pronto open every day at Place Chauderon. If you are closer to the port of Ouchy, there is Migros near the Mövenpick Hotel and Coop Pronto just uphill from the Chateâu d'Ouchy.
Many restaurants offer cheaper lunches during the week days. If you have a valid student ID, many budget and even some mid-range restaurants offer a student menu for a reduced price.
Polli, . is a name of a network of bakeries operating in Lausanne. The Polli sale point vary in size from a stand that sell sandwiches, cookies and coffee to a full-scale café/tea-rooms. Many shops are open on Sundays. The most visible and most busy Polli stand located in the main hall of the Main Station is open 5AM-10PM every day!
Holy Cow!, Rue Cheneau-de-Bourg 17 and Rue Des Terreaux 10, . Mo-We 11AM-10PM, Tu-Sa 11AM-11PM. Possibly the best burgers in Lausanne. Their "Elvis Blue Cheese" burger is rated the best burger in Switzerland by gourmet blog theburgerblog.ch.
Zooburger, Rue Marterey 29, ☎ +41 21 312 50 20, . High-quality burgers and pasta dishes.
Due to the big number of restaurants that can be categorized as mid-range, they are divided according to their location. Many restaurants serve hot dishes only during the lunch and dinner time, and limit their offer by cold dishes/snacks outside of these periods. Most restaurants are closed or have very limited working hours (typically evening) on Sundays. For restaurants that are considered to be good by locals a reservation for dinner, better few days in advance, is highly recommended, especially for Friday and Saturday nights, especially in December.
Old City, Riponne, Flon, Rue de Bourg
This is a more or less continuous area of interest north from the Main Station with the biggest amount of bars and restaurants in Lausanne.
Café de l'Évêché, Rue Louis Curtat 4 (at the foot of the Cathedral), ☎ +41 21 323 93 23, . Mo-Fr 7.00-24.00, Sa 11.00-24.00, Su 16.00-24.00. Traditional restaurant located in the former house of the Bishop of Lausanne. Dining room with medieval frescoes on the walls, inside and outside terraces. One of the best places to have fondue in Lausanne.
Le Café Romand, Place Saint-François 2 (next to Eglise Saint-François), ☎ +41 21 312 63 75, . 8.00-24.00, hot dishes 11.30-23.00, Su closed. Traditional café opened in 1951, decorated with oak panels and smelling by fondue inside. Traditional urban cuisine of Romandie/Switzerland. One of the best places to have fondue in Lausanne.
Le Vaudois (Café Vaudois), Place de la Riponne 1, ☎ +41 21 331 22 22, . Mo-Th 7.00-24.00, Fr-Sa 7.00-1.00, Su 8.00-24.00. A former meeting point for peasants coming for a market in Lausanne, Le Vaudois is known for traditional local rural cuisine. Probably the best place for a Saucisse aux choux with papet vaudois. The main dining hall is a cozy room decorated with wooden panels and furniture, with the images of old Lausanne on the walls. It is also known in Lausanne for being open 364 days per year (except for Christmas day).
Le Chalet Suisse, Route du Signal 40, ☎ +41 21 312 23 12, . This restaurant is located in an authentic chalet on top of the Sauvabelin hill, just above Hermitage and its park. Worth to stop and have a drink while walking on Sauvabelin if only for a magnificent view from the terrace on Lausanne and the lake. Offers culinary specialties from the whole Switzerland, and considered to be rather touristic by locals.
Pinte-Besson, Rue de l'Ale 4, 1003 Lausanne, ☎ +41 21 312 59 69 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Mo-Sa 8h00-24h00. Oldest traditional neighborhood bar (pinte) and restaurant in Lausanne, opened in 1780. Traditional Swiss and utterly classic French cooking of very high quality.
Crêperie de la Chandeleur, rue Mercerie 9, ☎ +41 21 312 84 19. This cute little crêperie located in the car-free section of the old town, between the Place de la Palud and the Cathedral, offers the crêpes in a homesy Breton atmosphere. If you are traveling with children this is a great place for lunch or dinner as you will be in good company with the owners and locals, and the kids can amuse themselves with the large collection of toys.
Java, rue Marterey 36 (between rue Enning and Place de l'Ours), ☎ +41 21 321 38 37, . There's something very welcoming about this little bar/restaurant that makes it a fantastic place to linger for a few hours before staying on for a dinner of one of Java's many gorgeously presented Mediterranean inspired dishes, or optionally one of the large selection of savory crêpes. Vegetarians will feel right at home.
Poco Loco, Place Chauderon 5 (also accessible from the Flon district off of rue de Genève), ☎ +41 22 329 11 11, . So you probably aren't going to travel to Switzerland for the Mexican food, but if you get a hankering while you're there you could hardly do better than this noisy, popular, and fairly authentic joint which is attached to a Spanish-language cinema and a hip bar. The dessert menu offers a selection of Mexican cigars, tequilas, and of course sweets. Moderately vegi-friendly, they do have vegetarian fajitas and a "spinach wrap".
Ristorante St-Paul, Avenue d'Echallens 72, ☎ +41 21 544 73 91. Evenings except Sunday and Monday. Mathilde and Nazzareno Raffa, veterans of the pan-Italian kitchen at the Hotel Angleterre in Ouchy have made a big impression in Lausanne culinary circles with this perfectly authentic southern Italian bistro. Naturally the focus is, as in Puglia is on seafood, but there's plenty to keep vegetarians happy as well. Mathilde's English is perfect and her knowledge of Italian wines is nearly encyclopediac, so when presented with the wine card just ask her what she thinks.
L'Art des Saveurs - Chez Anna, Ruelle du Lapin Vert 1, ☎ +41 21 311 13 00. Anna Sivo-Librandi runs this little Italian Deli in the very center of the old city offering daily pasta specials, pannini and flatbread sandwiches.
Pur, Port-Franc 17, ☎ +41 21 311 99 33, . The upscale Italian cuisine in this large trendy all glass restaurant simply glows. For a real treat try the truffle ravioli. After dinner hours the bar crowd here leans very slightly gay, but there are usually lots of young hetero couples (and singles too) mixed in. In the summer the terrace, nicely insulated from motor traffic is a big draw for singles of all persuasions.
MYO, Allée Ernest-Ansermet 1 (in the park Montbenon), ☎ +41 21 323 22 88. A high-quality sushi/fusion restaurant with a superb view of the lake and the alps. Vegetarians fear not! The creativity of the chef extends to non-seafood items as well.
Eat Me Restaurant Lausanne, rue Pépinet 3 (near the Place Saint-François), ☎ +41 21 311 7659, . 12:00 - 23:00. The restaurant, orchestrated by the Chef Romain Maurel, a former Chef at Alain Ducasse's Louis VX, proposes a gastronomical adventure around the world in a creative and inspiring atmosphere. Here the food is served on small plates, perfect for sampling and sharing.
Gare / Sous Gare
There is another cluster of restaurants located just in front (or, considering Lausanne's topology, above) of the Main Station (direction Cité) on the Avenue de la Gare, Place de la Gare, Avenue Louis Ruchonnet; and just below (direction Lac) of the Main Station on Rue du Simplon and Boulevard de Grancy. Here are only some selected examples.
Buffet de la Gare, Place de la Gare 11, ☎ +41 21 311 49 00, . 6.00-23.30, hot dishes 11.00-22.45. Despite of unpretentious name, this is a high-quality brasserie-type restaurant, located in the building of Main Station. It has one entrance from outside of Main Station and one entrance directly from the track 1. Belle Epoque style main hall with wooden furniture and paintings on the walls. Café Freeport is a part of restaurant.
Café du Simplon, Rue du Simplon 17, ☎ +41 21 616 31 04, . Relaxed atmosphere, a terrace perfect for a good weather. Mediterranian and maghrebian food.
Café de Grancy, Avenue du Rond-Point 1 (one block south of the Main Station, next to Metro Station Grancy), ☎ +41 21 616 86 66, . The Grancy offers a full dinner menu of substantial quality, which always includes a few good vegetarian options. The reason many travelers will want to visit however is to linger - outside of dinner hours - over a coffee and a book or newspaper, or to really catch the spirit of the place your still-unfinished master's thesis. It's as though the front door is some kind of science-fiction transporter which links it directly to Berkeley.
Brasserie Les Trois Rois, Rue du Simplon 7, ☎ +41 21 616 38 22. Mostly steaks with pommes frites - but extremely good steaks. Vegetarians will find little to eat. The high end is mostly horse meat. It's packed with locals, few of whom were students.
Ouchy and lake shore
Crêperie d'Ouchy, Place du Port 7 (near the Olympic Museum, next to the hotel d'Angleterre), ☎ +41 21 616 26 07, . The oldest Crêperie in town with more than a 30 year old tradition. It is situated in a picturesque location on the lakeside with a beautiful view on the French Alps across the lake. It offers a vast variety of salty and sweet crepes which can satisfy demanding tastes of a wide range of clients. It is popular with locals, tourists and families and the terrace is always full. It is one of the rare restaurants in town to offer warm food all day long and also an ideal budget place to have a bite on the lakeside surrounded by expensive 5 star hotels.
Mövenpick. Very good ice-cream. Restaurant menu is characterless and expensive.
Le Lacustre, Quai Jean-Pascal Delamuraz 1 (next to the quays in Ouchy), ☎ +41 21 617 42 00, . This restaurant is located in Ouchy directly on the lake, just next to to the quays where boats stop. Worth visiting for a view on the lake and French Alps. Brasserie and fish dishes of varied quality.
Le Carrousel de Vidy, Allée du Bornan 8, ☎ +41 21 601 40 30, . This place is located in on the lake shore west from Ouchy, in front of big marina. Perfect for a pause with a view on lake. Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.
L'Accademia, Place du Port 11 (in the hotel Angleterre), ☎ +41 21 613 34 34. . Very high-end Italian cooking in a warmly decorated room. The service is impressive, as is the wine list. Of course you pay for what you get. 60 Chf + per person.
Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, rue d'Yverdon 1, 1023 Crissier (Bus 18 to Crissier-Centre gets you fairly close, or take a cab), +41 21 634 05 05, . The top of the top in Suisse Romande or possibly in Switzerland. Reviewers use words like "incomparable", "stellar", and "spectacular" when writing about the culinary stylings of chef Philippe Rochat. They have 3 (three) Michelin stars which is as high as the scale goes (and quite rare), and 19 (out of 20) points in the Gault et Millau (also quite rare). Consider reserving several months in advance. The Menu will run you 295-360 Chf, without wine.
La Table d'Edgard, rue du Grand-Chêne 7-9 (in the Lausanne Palais Hotel), +41 21 331 32 15. Known for inventive and subtle cooking and super attentive service, the Table has won a Michelin star, one of two in central Lausanne. 100 Chf + per person.
La Grappe d'Or, rue Cheneau-de-Bourg 3 (under the Pont Bessière), +41 21 323 07 60. Angelika and Peter Baermann are the royal family of within the city of Lausanne, having received numerous awards over the years including a star from Michelin. The food is as creative as the restaurant is formal, with meat and seafood menus. Don't be surprised if you wind up dropping 200 Chf per person with wine.
The sheer number of nightlife spots makes it hard to choose which ones to list. As a general rule they tend to be clustered into nightlife districts, like the Flon, Place du Tunnel, Place de la Gare, rue Marterey, etc. This list tries to present one or two individual establisments from each of those clusters, plus a few which are a bit more off the beaten path.
The city's own official website has surprisingly good music listings, so if you would like to see what's going on during your visit give it a try.
The Great Escape, Rue de la Madeleine 18, ☎ +41 21 312 31 94, . Probably the most visited and well-known bar in Lausanne, perfectly located on a terrace above Place de la Riponne. Relaxed atmosphere, the place with the highest percentage of english speaking customers, big tasty hamburgers and fries, giant screen for soccer and rugby games, blind test on Monday.
XIIIème Siècle, rue Cité-Devant (In the old city, behind the Cathedral). 10PM - 5AM. Claiming to be a bar for students this "13th Century" basement bar really gets going after midnight, when the other bars start to close. The dancing (and massive pulling) goes on until 5AM. A big plus: the very clean bathrooms are 21st Century, having been remodeled just a few years ago. Drinks are a bit pricier here than elsewhere though.
Le Lapin Vert, Ruelle du Lapin Vert (In the old city, behind the Cathedral), ☎ +41 21 312 13 17, . Rock Bar. Beer, Sweat and Loud Music. Closes at 3AM on Friday and Saturday.
Café Couronne d'Or, Rue des Deux-Marches 13, ☎ +41 21 311 38 17, . Another fine place for a drink over your master's thesis, or a conversation with friends, the Couronne packs them in on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday evening. Cosy old bar in a small alley between Riponne and Tunnel. Sunday & Tuesday 4PM - 12PM, Wednesday 8AM - 12PM, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 8AM - 1AM.
Taco's Bar, Rue de Genève 17 (In a basement in the Flon), ☎ +41 21 320 15 25, . Pool and Live music, of reasonably large size.
Les Arches, Place de l'Europe, . The bar under the arcs of Grand Pont.
Le Bourg, Rue de Bourg 51, ☎ +41 21 625 07 07, . 6PM - 2AM. A great place to see up-and-coming jazz and performance oriented acts from all over the continent. The place is a real theater with a tiny bar in front, and the booking is simply amazing for a room which can hold maybe 30 people tops, with acts ranging from French accordeon jazz or gypsy jazz to Coco-Rosie-like "new folk" to famed Chicago and NYC djs. You would not be alone in asking how they could possibly pull that off (a little bird mentions that they are underwritten by the city).
Bar Tabac, rue Beau-Séjour 7, ☎ +41 21 312 33 16, . This friendly café has a huge selection of Belgian beers and French wines. The decor is understated hip, the climate is calm, and the clientele is a very pleasant mix.
Bleu Lézard, rue Enning 10, . The Bleu Lézard is a popular student hangout with a restaurant-café-bar upstairs and a dancefloor in the basement. There's usually live music on Wednesdays and DJs on the weekends. Perfect place for a late Sunday brunch.
WhiteHorse Pub, av. d'Ouchy 66 (Just up the road from the Chateau). So many English pubs try to actually be English. This one is very Swiss-Romande and is possibly better for it, at least as a pub experience for the traveller who presumably would have gone to England to visit an English pub.
MGM, Rue du Lac 14 (50 meters east of Métro Ouchy), ☎ +41 21 616 38 81, . A red storefront facing the lake and the alps, the MGM has two terraces: the usual sort on the sidewalk, and better yet a deck on the second floor which makes for a great place to relax and enjoy a drink while taking in the view of the Massif du Chablais in the lingering sunlight of a summer evening.
To perhaps a surprising degree for visitors from outside of Swiss Romande gay nightlife is very well integrated into nightlife at large. Most Lausanne nightspots are definintely gay-friendly, and many have a mixed straight-gay barstaff. There are a couple of places though which either advertise themselves as gay, or just have a majority gay crowd rather than just being gay-friendly. If that's what you are looking for there are a number of such bars along the avenue de Tivoli.
Although you wouldn't think so, there are few places in Lausanne that offer high quality beer. They all also serve good food.
Café du Château (Brasserie Artisanale), Place du Tunnel 1, ☎ +41 21 312 60 11, . Open from 5PM every day. The Brasserie offers a number of beers made on the spot including a speciality, 100% natural ginger beer. They also have a kitchen offering a range of tasty pizzas at reasonable prices. Note the signs that say "service au bar", which means you have to order at the bar or you'll wait some time to be noticed and served. A pint of ginger (or other) beer will set you back 5 Chf, a pizza 15 Chf. Pizza and homemade beer until 4AM on weekends.
Les Brasseurs, Rue Centrale 4, ☎ +41 21 351 14 24, . An artisan brewery with beer brewed on spot in the city center. Degustation sets for beer. Hamburgers and brasserie-type dishes. Ask which beer fits to your dish!
La Bossette, Place du Nord 4, ☎ +41 21 320 15 85, . Restaurant and bar with relaxed atmosphere and reasonable prices. Big selection of artisan beer from all over the world, also from tap.
Le Bavaria, Rue du Petit-Chêne 10, ☎ +41 21 323 39 13, . The name says it. Bavarian (and not only) beer and passing Swiss and Bavarian dishes in a (fake) Bavarian-type ambient.
Café Bruxelles, Place de la Riponne 1, ☎ +41 21 311 33 01. This place is more a pub. Good to try Belgian mussels, otherwise there are hamburgers, tapas and other types of pub snacks. Belgian beer in bottles and on tap, relatively limited choice.
MAD, Rte de Genève 23, . One of the largest Swiss dance club with international DJ appearances. Thursday RnB & student nights, Friday trance & techno , Saturday house clubbing, Sunday TRIXX & Jungle gay nights. Difficult to enter after midnight. Check local listings for details.
D!, Place Centrale, . Dance club with international DJ appearances, occasionally concerts. Doesn't get started until after midnight. Check local listings for details.
Atelier Volant, 12, Côte de Montbenon, . Wednesday through Sunday until 4AM.. Offering three floors of entertainment including live Brazilian and Cuban bands, and salsa dance parties. The downstairs bar leans a bit more to Punk and Rock music. The new upstairs disco has a candy theme and a 25 and up restriction
Cult Club, Place Chaudron 18, . House, RnB depending on the night. Over 28 y.o. parties on the first Friday of each month.
La Ruche Club, Rue de la tour 41, . A very popular place to dance on minimal music, there's sometimes psychedelic trance. A strange place, attended by a lot of very weird kinds of insects. "On s'retrouve à la ruche!" they say.
Most of the hotels in Lausanne are in the mid-price range, though there are also a number of luxury hotels as you would expect in the city which hosts the International Olympic Committee. There are also a few cheapies.
Lausanne GuestHouse, Epinettes 4, ☎ +41 21 601 80 00, . Near the Main Station, in a nice 19th century town house.
ADA-Logements, Av. de Tivoli 60, ☎ +41 21 625 71 34, . A good value bed and breakfast with 12 rooms, with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
Jeunotel, Ch. du Bois-de-Vaux 36, ☎ +41 21 626 02 22. A hostel near the university and sporting complexes offers 55 Casual rooms aimed at younger travelers, with 6 rooms designed for the needs of Chaperons.
Raisin, Pl. Palud 19, +41 21 312 27 56. This traditional inn still offers a handful of rooms just as it has for several hundred years. They've kept prices low by avoiding any suggestion of remodeling. 70/130 Chf
Hotel Regina, rue Grand St-Jean 18 (In the old town. Metro Flon, Bus to Place Bel Aire), +41 21 320 24 41, Fax: +41 21 320 25 29, . Desk open until 10PM. This cute little hotel is in a great location for exploring the old town and the Flon gallery and nightclub district. The staff is super nice, and they offer free wireless internet service to their guests! 84 Chf - 135 Chf.
Hôtel City, rue Caroline 5, +41 21 320 21 41, . A nice well-kept hotel at the other end of pont Bessières from the Cathedral, and thus offering some magnificent views. 125-160/160-195
Hôtel des Voyageurs, rue Grand St-Jean 19 (In the old town. Metro Flon, Bus to Place Bel Aire), +41 21 319 91 11, . Just across the street from the Regina, and offering rooms of a similar quality. 149-178/219-260 Chf singles/doubles
Mövenpick Hotel, av Rhodanie 4 (On the waterfront at Ouchy, just down from the Metro station), +41 21 612 76 12, . The Swiss Ice-Cream and hospitality giant's Lausanne location is a very good value for the price, if you're going to spend that much anyway. There are three very good value (splurge quality, mid-range prices) restaurants downstairs to choose from. The main one offers fusion dishes and — a rarity for Europe — a good choice of California wines. 180-360/194-440 Chf singles/doubles
Hotel Continental, Place de la Gare 2 (Just in front of the Main Station of Lausanne), +41 21 321 88 00, . Just a 10-minute walk from the historic quarter and the shopping area. The hotel has also the Grill Olympia where you will be able to taste authentic cuisine. All ingredients come from local suppliers with the greatest emphasis on quality. Specialities of the Steak House Olympia include different grilled meats as well as tiger fish and meat fondue.
Lausanne Palace, rue du Grand-Chêne 7-9 (''next to park Montbenon''), ☎ +41 21 331 31 31, . Reception operates 24 hours per day 365 days per year. This stylish 5 star just off of the old town offers superb views of the lake and mountains, and three different restaurants including the Table d'Edgard which has a Michelin star.Starting at 350/450 CHF. 2600 CHF for the presidential Suite..
Chateau d'Ouchy, Place du Port 2 (across the street from the M2 Ouchy station), ☎ +41 21 616 74 51, . It's a still a castle, freshly renovated. On the down side the prices have been elevated into the stratosphere making what was formerly a deal into a splurge. Of course it still has the magnificent view of the Vaudois alps.270-440 CHF.
Beau-Rivage Palace, pl Port 17-19 (''across from the Chateau d'Ouchy''), ☎ +41 31 613 33 33, . The absolute pinnacle of Lausanne guest accommodations, the Beau-Rivage practically defines luxury. It's a perfect choice for delegations to the IOC, or for anybody whose boss is footing the tab.410-680/470-780 CHF singles/doubles..
Lausanne, like most of Switzerland, is pretty safe in general. You are only likely to run into problems just outside of the entrances of popular dance clubs near closing time, when imported tensions sometimes show themselves. Name a conflict worldwide, odds are that both sides are represented among young people in Lausanne.
There are also numerous African drug dealers working in the center of town especially around the Flon area.
CHUV rue du Bugnon 46, +41 21 314 11 11 or dial 144 for emergency telephone assistance (in French). 24 hour emergency medical care at this the University Hospital of Canton Vaud.
Emergency medical service at Flon, Voie du Chariot 4, +41 21 314 90 90. Open Mo-Sa 7.00-21.00, Su 10.00-21.00.
Centre Médical de Vidy (just off Maladière roundabout), Route de Chavannes ll, +41 21 622 88 88. Open for Emergency medical care weekdays: 07h - 23h and sat - sun 09h - 23h. You can just turn up!! Very quick service in this new, modern urgency center.
Centre Médical de la Source, + 41 21 641 25 25, Avenue Vinet 30, north from Place Chauderon. Open daily until 21.00.
Centre Médical d'Epalinges, +41 21 525 80 00, Route de la Corniche 1, Epalinges, at the upper terminus of M2 Croisettes. Open daily until 21.00.
Hôpital de l'Enfance rue Montétan 16, +41 21 213 77 77 or dial 144 for emergency telephone assistance. 24 hour emergency medical care for babies and children.
Hôpital Ophtalmique Jules Gonin, ave de France 15. For emergency on problem on the eye.
Pharmacie 24 SA +41 21 613 12 24. 8AM and midnight every day. This service provides for pharmacy service at one or more Lausanne pharmacies between. Call for the pharmacy open nearest you. Be ready to state your current address in French, or have someone at reception do it.
Pharmacie de la Gare, in the Main Station. If you are staying in the old town this will almost certainly be the pharmacy you are referred to by 24 SA at least until it closes at 11PM.
The city-owned power company, SIL, has now added high speed internet by cable to its C.V., and along with that has been installing totally free wireless access points around town, notably in Place Palud, Place St. François, the Flon valley, and on the hill of Montbenon near the casino. It's rare now to find a café in Lausanne which doesn't have access to one of these. As an aside SIL also provides a range of wines to those same cafés including a nice little Chardonnay, and a fairly bold Gamay. Neat huh?
Metropole 2000, rue des Terreaux 15-19, . A multi-level shopping mall which was built as an add-on to the Metropole theater and tower has wireless access in each of its 3 food courts and 7 restaurants. Free
Fragbox, rue de la Tour 3 (in the center of Lausanne, one street above rue de l'Ale. Bus: Place Bel-Air). An amazing cybercafé and permanent LAN party. They speak English, Italian, German and Portuguese. 5.-/hour and goes down to 2.-/hour with coupons. It's a highly equipped center, with 35 computers. You can install any software you need.
One of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon anywhere is to take a boat from the port of Ouchy on the Lakefront of Lausanne to either Vevey or Montreux. The Steamboats of the CGN offer you an amazing view of one of the most gorgeous corners of our planet. On the left side of the boat you can take in the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux, and on the right side the Masif of Chablais, and the franco-swiss alpine giants, the Dents de Midi.
Here's a partial list of selected daytrips, in order of distance:
Lavaux - Terraced vineyards and one of the prettiest landscapes anywhere stretching between Lausanne and Vevey.
Vevey - A lovely city in a cove, and the corporate home to the Nestlé chocolate and food empire.
Montreux - The jewel of the Swiss Riviera and a gate to Château de Chillon.
Geneva - The international capital by default, only 33 minutes by rail.
Evian - The French bottled water capital. 35 minutes by boat from Ouchy.