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How to Spend 1 Day in Lausanne, Switzerland

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Admin

Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a vibrant, beautiful city. The city offers a rich history, museums, shopping, a lake, and picturesque views of the Alps, making it a must-see while visiting this region. Second only to Geneva in terms of population in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, it is located in canton Vaud. So don’t wait to spend 1 day in Lausanne, Switzerland, and have a great time.

Here are three of the top things you can do in one day in Lausanne to make the most of it:

Lausanne Cathedral is worth visiting if you spend one day in Lausanne
Image of Lausanne from the Cathedral by TouringSwitzerland.com

Whether you visit Lausanne in the summer or in the winter, you won’t be disappointed. It offers both indoor and outdoor activities for people of all ages. Children will enjoy the aquarium, teenagers will enjoy the lakeside Ouchy and sports fans will enjoy the Olympic museum. One day is not likely to be enough here since there are so many things to do.

Whether you’re looking for a 1-day itinerary or a list of things to do in Lausanne, this article is for you. Here are a few ideas for how you can spend one day in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Lausanne 1 Day Itinerary: What can you do?

Below is a guide that assumes you’ll take the boat at 12:30 PM from Ouchy, but this can be modified if you’d like a later cruise or don’t want to or can’t embark on the cruise at all. Whatever your choice, I recommend the itinerary below to make the most of your visit to Lausanne. Let’s get started.

1. Enjoy a cozy breakfast as you begin your day

Image of a Café by TouringSwitzerland.com

The first thing you should do before heading out into the city is to find a comfortable, warm, cozy place to eat breakfast. In case your hotel doesn’t offer a breakfast option, you can walk around Lausanne to find a café.

You don’t have to go far in Lausanne: there are plenty of cafes and restaurants that serve up hot coffee with delicious pastries. Some options are the following:

  • Ajò Café (Rue du Simplon 13, Lausanne) – One of the best coffee shops in Lausanne where you can also stay to have brunch. They are known for their sandwiches, homemade cakes, and croissants.
  • Coffee Shop Sleepy Bear (Rue du Simplon 3A, Lausanne) – A lovely little coffee shop with its own unique and yummy house blend of roasted coffee every day.
  • Boulangerie – Pâtisserie – Confiserie – Salon de thé, chez Séverine et Luca (Av. de la Gare 2, Lausanne) – Offering an array of freshly baked bread, sandwiches, pastries, salads, and delightful treats, this bakery and tearoom nestled a stone’s throw away from Lausanne’s train station.
  • Ordinary Man Coffee (Rue du Petit-Chêne 28, Lausanne) – A cozy coffee shop near the train station with amazing coffee and friendly staff.

2.  Visit Lausanne Cathedral

I recommend visiting Lausanne Cathedral after breakfast. There are few Gothic cathedrals as beautiful as this one in Switzerland. The Lausanne Cathedral opens at 9:00 a.m.

Image of the Rose Window of Lausanne Cathedral by TouringSwitzerland.com

Located in the center of the city, this picturesque cathedral is one of the city’s highlights. The viewing platform outside the cathedral provides a panoramic view of the city and the Alps beyond.

If you would like to learn more about this beautiful Cathedral, read our article: Lausanne Cathedral: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell.

After visiting the Cathedral, why not head out on a walking tour of the city?


3. Stroll around the City on a Walking Tour

Lausanne's Old Town is worth visiting if you spend one day in Lausanne
Model Relief of the City of Lausanne as seen at Musée Historique Lausanne by TouringSwitzerland.com

For anyone planning to join the cruise around Lake Geneva, I recommend strolling around the city center for an hour or two before heading to Ouchy. I recommend the following four self-guided tours:

  1. Unusual Walk in the City Center by Lausanne Tourism (free): This self-guided city tour takes you to Bel-air Tower, Grand-Pont, Rue de Bourg, Lausanne Cathedral, La Cité, Rue Cité-Devant, Escaliers du Marché, and the Town Hall. You can check the details on Lausanne Tourism’s website by clicking here.
  2. Lausanne Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt & Audio Tour (GetYourGuide): This self-guided, interactive smartphone tour lets you discover interesting facts about the city while admiring it at your own pace.
  3. FoxTrail Lausanne (Viator): The virtual fox trail will lead you around the city of Lausanne in this 2.5-hour scavenger hunt. A free hotline is also available if you need assistance.
  4. Lausanne: City Introduction in-App Guide and Audio (GetYourGuide): This one is perfect for those who prefer classic tours rather than scavenger hunts. This audio tour will help you navigate Lausanne and give you information about the city. You can take the tour in a variety of languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.

Should you skip the cruise or there’s none available, I recommend taking the Panoramic Stroll (free) as recommended by Lausanne Tourism. This walking tour will probably take longer than the two above because you will have to travel to Sauvabelin, which is approximately half an hour away from the city center.

There are stunning panoramic views of the entire city, Lake Geneva, and the mountains beyond atop Sauvabelin Tower. It is an easy enough climb and free to visit.

Sauvabelin Tower, a bit out of the city center, is worth visiting if you spend one day in Lausanne
Image of Sauvabelin Tower by TouringSwitzerland.com

From the Sauvabelin Tower, you will walk back through Hermitage Park, the St.Maire Castle Esplanade, Lausanne Cathedral, Flon, Montbenon, the Collège du Belvédère, Languedoc Hillside, and Le Crêt de Montriond while enjoying multiple panoramic views. With its gardens, grassy area, lake, and children’s attractions, the Crêt de Montriond makes for a pleasant place to spend some time.


4.  Cruise along Lake Geneva

I highly recommend taking part in the 2-Hour Lake Geneva Cruise if you can obtain a ticket. The cruise will take you from Lausanne to Vevey. As you look out from there, you will see the nearby French and Swiss Alps, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux vineyards.

Your tickets can be booked on GetYourGuide.com (Lausanne: 2-Hour Lake Geneva Cruise Along Lavaux Vineyards)or CGN.ch.

You can take a cruise that leaves at 12:30 PM if you want to enjoy lunch on board. To make the most of your one day in Lausanne, I recommend taking this trip and having lunch on the ship. In this way, you will avoid having to find a restaurant in the city during midday.


5. Check out a Museum or Two in Lausanne

Image of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne by TouringSwitzerland.com

You might want to stop at the Olympic Museum after the cruise or a walking tour.

Lausanne is the home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The International Olympic Committee, a non-governmental organization, is the committee responsible for organizing the Olympic games. As a result, it stands to reason that Lausanne will also have its own Olympic Museum.

Olympic Museum Lausanne presents the history of the Olympics, sports equipment used by various athletes, interactive multimedia and games, and much more. The museum holds the world’s largest Olympic archive. A total of 10,000 artifacts are housed inside the museum.

You can obtain your tickets for the Olympic Museum in advance via GetYourGuide or Viator.

Several other museums are available to you if you would prefer to explore something other than the Olympic Museum. Lausanne also has other interesting museums and an aquarium.

The following are some of the most noteworthy Museums (and aquarium) you can discover during your day in Lausanne:

  • Aquatis Aquarium Vivarium: The Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium is the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe. A total of 3,500 square meters are dedicated to over 10,000 freshwater species. As well as a variety of fish, there are also a variety of reptiles and amphibians inside their vivarium. You will also be able to see a rainforest as well as a nursery with baby reptiles inside the building.
  • Plateforme 10: Lausanne’s new art museum, Plateforme 10, is a fusion of several museums. These museums include the Fine Arts Museum, the Photography Museum, as well as the Contemporary Design Museum, and Applied Arts Museum. In addition to displaying ancient and modern artwork, the museum also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
  • Palais de Rumine: Palais de Rumine is a lovely Florentine-style building that houses several museums such as the Cantonal Museum of Zoology, the Cantonal Museum of Geology, the Cantonal Museum of Money, as well as the Cantonal Museum of Archeology and History. It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays.

6. Relax in Ouchy at the End of the Day

Ouchy is worth visiting if you spend one day in Lausanne
Image of Ouchy by TouringSwitzerland.com

I highly recommend concluding your day with a stroll in Ouchy followed by a tasty dinner in a nearby restaurant. Other options include Montbenon Esplanade or Crêt de Montriond.

Ouchy is Lausanne’s most popular harbor on the shores of Lake Geneva. There are many things you can do here, including relaxing, having fun with friends, exercising, swimming, and more.

If you would like to read more about Ouchy, you can check out our article Ouchy, Lausanne: A Haven for Everyone.

For those who wish to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant to end the day, you have the several options: Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, Anne-Sophie Pic au Beau-Rivage Palace, Le Berceau des Sens, La Table du Lausanne Palace, La Grappe d’Or, and Auberge Communale Le Mont.


Recommended Hotels in Lausanne, Switzerland

Image of Château d’Ouchy in Lausanne by TouringSwitzerland.com

Should you need some assistance choosing a hotel in Lausanne, here are some suggestions:

  • Beau-Rivage Palace (5-star) – The Beau-Rivage Palace is a luxury hotel located in Switzerland and one of the best hotels in Europe. Since 1861, it has been a popular address for celebrities and politicians, such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, and Nelson Mandela. This beautiful hotel features not only gorgeous architecture and antiques, but also excellent service, two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness center. 
  • Lausanne Palace (5-star) – Located in Lausanne, this elegant 5-star hotel is a historic landmark. Located near the Montbenon Esplanade, it features views of Le Flon or Lake Geneva.  The hotel features an indoor pool, spa, fitness center, and Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant.
  • Château d’Ouchy (4-star) – Located in Ouchy, Lausanne, this renovated medieval castle near the lake has an original donjon. In addition to an outdoor pool, there is a restaurant and bar at the hotel. 
  • Alpha-Palmiers by Fassbind (4-star) – Our favorite hotel in Lausanne, we have stayed here at least three times. It is located near Lausanne’s train station and offers clean rooms at a reasonable price. There is a Thai restaurant, a classic Swiss restaurant, and a bar. The hotel has a tropical garden in the middle. 
  • Hotel Angleterre & Résidence (4-star) – On the shore of Lake Geneva, the Hotel Angleterre & Résidence is 12 minutes away from the lake. This unique hotel is spread over 6 historical pavilions dating from the 18th, 19th, and 21st centuries. The hotel features a swimming pool, a beachfront, and a fitness center. Here you can enjoy a good breakfast or a fine dining meal at the Italian restaurant.
  • Hôtel du Port (3-star) – Located near the lake and harbor in Lausanne, this small hotel is family-run. The hotel offers cozy rooms, fine cuisine, and beautiful views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. 

Summary: 1 Day in Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne View
Image of Lausanne by TouringSwitzerland.com

As you can see, you will not run out of options on what to do in Lausanne in one day. You can stretch the Lausanne One Day Itinerary offered here easily to another 1 or 2 more days. And if you would like to find more ideas on what to do in the Lake Geneva region, check out our related articles below.

You may swap out one of the options above if you would like to visit other areas in Lausanne by checking out the list below. The following are other things you can do in Lausanne on a 1-day trip:

  1. Roman Museum and Gallo-Roman Ruins – Visit the past with what remains from Lousanna Vicus – the ancient village dating from 15 BC.
  2. Flon District – A living area with restaurants, bars, clubs, boutiques, cinemas, and exhibition spaces.
  3. Vidy – The place to be for those who are active. You can play sports here such as football, hockey, beach volleyball, basketball, and more. There is also a beach here (Plage de Vidy).
  4. Musée Historique Lausanne – Lausanne’s Historical Museum features Lausanne’s rich past with its collections. The museum is located near Lausanne Cathedral.
  5. Lutry – A nearby medieval village with old rooftops, fantastic views, and a popular beach.
  6. Mon-Repos Park – With huge lawns, exotic birds, playgrounds, and structures, this park is open to the public.
  7. Rôtillon Neighborhood – One of the oldest neighborhoods in Lausanne, it has small shops and trendy cafés.
  8. Espace des Inventions – An interactive science and technique museum that is suitable for children.

What I would personally recommend after exploring Lausanne is also visiting Montreux, Vevey, and Geneva nearby.

Image of Lake Geneva from Vevey by TouringSwitzerland.com

The entire region around Lake Geneva is gorgeous. We visit it at least once or twice a year from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It is highly recommended to spend at least one day there, if not a week. Even after visiting several times, we still haven’t seen everything. Enjoy!

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.