Are you planning a trip to Lausanne and wondering about the best things to do in Lausanne in one day? Then this post is for you.

Lausanne is the lively capital of the canton Vaud. This French-speaking city is not the most popular place in Switzerland amongst international visitors, 

Located on the northern shores of stunning Lake Geneva, there are many things to do in Lausanne. I loved the vibrant and lovely atmosphere and think Lausanne is a great place to visit for a day.

Here, I share about what to do, plus more travel tips for your Lausanne itinerary (whether you visit for one day or longer).

Swiss Flag in Lausanne

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Before talking about the best things to do in Lausanne, here are some quick travel tips to smooth your trip!

How to Get to Lausanne

CAN I GET TO LAUSANNE BY BOAT? I think, the most scenic way to arrive in Lausanne is via boat. If you come from Geneva or Montreux, a boat cruise on Lake Geneva (367 meters above sea level) is the perfect way to get to Lausanne.

CAN I GET TO LAUSANNE BY TRAIN? Lausanne is well-connected to many cities and towns in Switzerland. The train station is located in the city center, which sits 447 meters above sea level. From there, you can reach many attractions on foot and can get to Lake Geneva and some other sights, like the Olympic Museum, by bus or on foot, too. This is another very scenic way to get to Lausanne.

CAN I GET TO LAUSANNE BY CAR? In general, I am not a fan of driving in Switzerland’s towns and cities. Parking spaces are rare and quite expensive. If you can avoid getting to Lausanne this way, do so and instead pick public transportation or the boat as your means of transport. 

How to Get Around

WALKING: I mostly walked to most attractions in Lausanne. Many of them are located in the city center, which makes them easy to walk to. However, you will need comfy shoes because the streets are cobblestone. Also, there is an uphill/downhill walk to Lake Geneva and some other sights.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Though many attractions are within walking distance, I hopped on a bus from Lake Geneva to the town center, to avoid some uphill walking.

And I recommend taking the bus one more time if you head from the city center to Sauvabelin Tower. Apart from that, I do not really think that you will need public transportation a lot. However, Lausanne has an extensive public transportation system, so you can almost always get on a bus for a stop or two if your legs cannot carry you anymore.

Where to Stay in Lausanne

While I did not stay overnight in Lausanne myself, I think it is a good idea to explore the city. Also, you can use Lausanne as a base to experience the beautiful, beautiful places around Lake Geneva, like Montreux or Geneva.

Budget Hotel / Mid-Range Hotel in Lausanne

ibis budget Bussigny Lausanne if you are looking for a budget hotel. It is located quite close to most main attractions. However, keep in mind that the area of Lake Geneva is one of the most expensive in the world and you can not expect much more value for your money. Check out rates here.

Another hotel you could check out is this 3-star hotel in Lausanne – Tulip Inn Lausanne-Beaulieu. A bus stop is close by so you can easily get to the city center by bus. Check out rates here.

Luxury Hotel in Lausanne

If you want to splurge, then the Lausanne Palace might be your best choice. It is located in the city center – close to the train station – and has also all the spa facilities you can ask for after some busy days of exploring Lausanne. Check out rates here.

Swiss Travel Pass For Lausanne

If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip.

  • It allows me to use trains and buses without any extra costs (there are just very few exceptions).
  • I can also do boat cruises on Lake Geneva and many other lakes in Switzerland without additional costs.
  • A Swiss Travel Pass also gives me a 50% discount on most mountain rides (so I can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price).

The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. 

For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass.

➡️ Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.


Let´s talk about the top activities for your Lausanne itinerary.

Lake Geneva Cruise 

Cruising Lake Geneva is probably one of the best things to do in Lausanne. Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Europe, and on a sunny day, its watercolor is striking! It is also a nice way to relax and sit back – and just enjoy the water and lake.

Given its size, you could spend many, many hours on a boat. But since you probably have a limited amount of time in Lausanne, I suggest taking a boat from Lausanne to Montreux. 

Lavaux vineyeards seen from the boat cruise

This way, you have the stunning Lauvaux vineyards, but also the mountains, villages, and lakes. More about the vineyards down below – seeing them from a boat is a fantastic perspective.

So, depending on where you come from, this is how you can start your Lausanne itinerary – by arriving there by boat.

Check out more fantastic lakes in Switzerland.

Lake Geneva Ouchy

I suggest, getting out at Lausanne boat station and strolling along Lake Geneva Ouchy – it is pretty. Like really pretty. As mentioned, Lake Geneva is a beauty, so how could it be any different when strolling this area? It is one of the 40 ports on the shores of Lake Geneva. So, you will embark/disembark here if you come by boat. 

Things to do in Lausanne Lake Geneva Ouchy

Lake Geneva Ouchy

Built in 1901, this quay is popular amongst locals and visitors at any time of the year. So, even if you do not go on a boat cruise, make sure to stop by here. Dip your feet into the lake and enjoy the flowers, scenery, and people – this is a must-see in Lausanne.

I love the vibes and the relaxed atmosphere here – especially on a warm day, this is one of my favorite places in Lausanne.

Olympic Museum

Along the shores of Lake Geneva, there is also one of the best museums in Switzerland – the Olympic Museum. There are permanent, as well as temporary, exhibitions related to sports at the Olympics. It is an interactive and fun museum that is perfect for people of all ages!

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

You might be wondering why it is located in Lausanne?! Well, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has had its headquarters in Lausanne since 1914. 

In 1993, a museum was built to commemorate all this history – right on Lake Geneva’s banks. Now, you can experience the Olympic spirit with over 150 screens and 1500 objects.

Marvel at torches and medals from past Games, and get inspired by equipment used by famous athletes. Don’t forget – kids can become real-life athle(tea) for an afternoon through fun interactive activities!

No, I do not care about the Olympics. I do not watch them and I also did not really care about visiting the museum, but I must admit it was interesting and actually fun. So, if you are interested in sports, this will be even better.

Lausanne Olympic Museum

I rushed through it because of my dog – do not ask! Dogs are not allowed, by the way. I think that you should plan in 2-3 hours for this experience. 

Then, it is time to visit the city center of Lausanne. It actually has a French – Parisian – flair. At least to me. But that’s not surprising given its history. The town center is not the most spectacular place, but it is beautiful and interesting, so you should not miss it!

Lunch Time

So, now it might be time for lunch. Either have it at one of the restaurants at the shores of Lake Geneva, or head to the old town of Lausanne which is where you can also spend the rest of your day.

The old town is located uphill – but thanks to Switzerland´s amazing public transportation, you can either take the metro or a bus that gets you to the city center from the museum, or better, from Ouchy.

Lausanne Cathedral

Let´s start with the Cathedral. At the heart of the old town, you have the stunning Lausanne Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne overlooking the city. It was consecrated in the 13th century and had been a Catholic Church before it became a Protestant church in the 16th century.

Lausanne Cathedral

It is considered to be one of the most beautiful gothic art monuments in Switzerland, if not Europe, and attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually. So, of course, I recommend visiting it. 

If you stay overnight in Lausanne, you might want to enjoy the night watchman. Between 10 pm and 2 am, the night watchman stands at the top of the Cathedral’s bell tower and shouts out each hour to the residents. He was historically meant to watch over the city but now remains to perpetuate a 600-year-old tradition. 

  • Free to visit

Cathedral’s Bell Tower

My top tip is to get to the Cathedral’s bell tower for the best views of the city.

Views from Cathedral Bell Tower

It is a narrow staircase, and you “only“ have to climb 224 steps (compared to many other European bell towers, this is not that much) to enjoy a great panorama.

I am all about amazing views, and this is my favorite one in the city.

  • There is an entrance fee of CHF 5 for the tower (you can pay by credit card)

Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace was built between the 11th and 15th centuries for one of the most important dioceses of the region. Now, it houses the Lausanne Historical Museum.

Bishop's Palace in Lausanne

It was closed when I planned to visit, but I still suggest heading there for a quick stop because there is an open-air cafe that is beautifully decorated and inviting! 

Also, it is open again, so you could check out opening hours and visit for an hour or so.

Escaliers du Marche

At some point, you will pass Escaliers du Marche, which is a direct staircase that runs between Place de la Palud and the Cathedral.

Escaliers du Marche in Lausanne

This interesting stairway – mentioned for the first time in the 13th century – has existed in its present form since the 18th century. On one side of the stairway, you have some boutiques and cafes.

I saw people sitting on the steps and enjoying “La Dolce Vita” 

Place de la Palud

Then you are at the Place de la Palud – one of the most charming areas in Lausanne. It is a junction of several pedestrian streets and one of the liveliest places. 

Place de la Palud in Lausanne

Apart from the 17th-century Town Hall, you also have many shops and cafes/restaurants here. At the upper part of the Place de la Palud, you have the striking Fontaine de la Justice, which dates back to the 16th century (the original statue has been replaced by a copy). 

Fontaine de la Justice in Lausanne

It features a blindfolded young woman bearing a sword and scales. The Pope, the Emperor, the Grand Turk, and a magistrate are bowing in submission at her feet. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, you will also find a market here, and every first Friday of the month it hosts a craft market.

Town Hall

You also find the pretty town hall of Lausanne at the Place de la Palud, which dates back to the 17th century. It has a typical Vaudois roof and arcades, and the Renaissance façade is decorated with two copper gargoyles in the form of dragons.

Town Hall in Lausanne a must see in 1 day

It is still used today for municipal offices. The Lausanne architect Abraham de Crousaz built it between 1673 and 1675 on the site of previous town halls.

Tour de l’Ale

Though this tower is temporarily closed, you might want to do a quick walk towards the Tour de l’Ale.

Tour de l’Ale

The tower, standing at 20 meters high, dates back to the 14th century and is the last vestige of Lausanne’s old city walls, which were mostly destroyed during the 18th century. It is located in a more alternative street/neighborhood of Lausanne and I enjoyed seeing that side of the city with some street art. Thus, even if the tower is closed, it is great to check out quickly.

Palais de Rumine 

The Palais de Rumine is a late 19th-century building in the beautiful Florentine Renaissance style. Until 1970, it served as the main building of Lausanne University, and now it houses the cantonal museums of geology, zoology, archaeology, and history, the Cantonal Money Museum, and the cantonal and university library.

What is interesting about the creation is that in 1871, Gabriel de Rumine (1841-1871), an aristocrat of Russian origin with a Lausannian mother, left 1.5 million francs to the City of Lausanne for the construction of a building for public use.


If you also plan to have dinner in Lausanne, the old town is the perfect place to enjoy it. 

You can see all the above-mentioned places in one day in Lausanne – if you have more time or are a quick traveler, then here are a few more suggestions for your itinerary!


Here are a few more activities you can enjoy when visiting Lausanne. 

Sauvabelin Tower

A bit outside the city center, you will find an interesting tower made of wood – the Sauvabelin Tower. From the top of the 35-meter-high tower, you have 360° views of the Lausanne conurbation, Lake Geneva, and the three geographic regions of Switzerland – the Alps, the Jura, and the Plateau. It is quite new and was just built in 2003. If there is bad weather and there are safety concerns (strong wind, snow, or ice), the tower is closed.

  • There is no entrance fee for the tower.

Lavaux Hike

One of my favorite activities around Lausanne was the hike in the Lavaux region. It consists of 830 hectares of terraced vineyards that stretch for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva.

Vineyards along Lake Geneva a top thing to do in Lausanne

It is the largest contiguous vineyard region in Switzerland with some of the most beautiful vineyards in all of Europe. Its hillside terraces have been protected by UNESCO since 2007.

Lauvaux hiking from Lutry near Lausanne near Geneva

It starts just a few kilometers east of Lausanne in Lutry and goes all the way to Chexbres/St. Saphorin, a few kilometers west of Montreux. 

In the summer and fall months, in particular, it looks absolutely beautiful, and hiking in the area gives you fantastic views of the vineyards and Lake Geneva. You can combine it with some wine tasting! 

You do not have to do the full hike; you can do just some parts of it. My tip: start in Lutry and hike to Cully, Rivaz, or St. Saphorin. You will surely not regret it. Plan in a couple of hours for this impressive hike!

Swiss Riviera Day Trip

Embark on a captivating journey through the picturesque Swiss Riviera! Depart from Lausanne and explore Lake Geneva’s serene beauty aboard a cozy motorcoach. As you traverse the Vaud countryside, marvel at Lavaux – a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its divine wine production. If the season allows, relish the chance to visit a vineyard and indulge in delectable local wine.

Vineyards in the Chexbres region
Vineyards in the Chexbres region

switzerland tourist attractions

Next up, Vevey presents you with the opportunity to explore the enchanting world of the legendary Charlie Chaplin. And if you are up for a Lake Geneva boat cruise, prepare to be entranced by the Belle Epoque – a majestic steamer boat that will transport you through breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the awe-inspiring 11th-century Castle of Chillon. 

Montreux rounds out the tour with a luxurious touch – its grandeur fit for the long list of renowned artists who’ve visited. From Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ray Charles to BB King, take in all the epic jazz history on display as you wander through this chic town’s cobblestone streets! Discover unique shops galore plus celebrate at iconic landmarks around every corner from famous festivals past.

You can follow this itinerary for the day trip independently – or you can book a guided tour of the Swiss Riviere from Lausanne.

Day Trip to Geneva

From Lausanne, you could also do a day trip to Geneva, the city is about 60km southwest of Lausanne and it takes about one hour to get to Geneva (by car or train).

Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland and one of the world’s major centers for international diplomacy. Located on Lake Geneva, it is a global hub for finance and business. The city has a rich history, vibrant cultural life and shopping scene, and many attractions.

The city’s top attraction is the Jet d’Eau, a 140-meter-tall fountain located in the lake.

View of Lake Geneva in one day


Lausanne is a beautiful city – full of history and gorgeous architecture. However, it gets, even more, special because of Lake Geneva and the vineyards! You cannot go wrong with visiting Lausanne – whether you stay one day or longer, it is one of the best cities to visit in Switzerland. 

I would not say it is my favorite Swiss destination, I think it is great to spend one in Lausanne day as it combines historic charm with modern vibrancy.

Enjoy your day trip to Lausanne.

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