Situated on the shores of Lake Geneva in the French-speaking Canton of Switzerland, Lausanne is the country’s 5th largest city, and is best known for being the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Only around 30 miles from Geneva, it has a very different character to its larger neighbour.

The city is tiered on 3 main levels above Lake Geneva; the Old Town at the top, the commercial centre in the middle tier, and the bottom tier near the waterfront being home to cafés and restaurants. The University of Lausanne, which is one of Switzerland’s largest universities, gives the city a youthful feel that goes hand in hand with the historic air of the Old Town.


The IOC’s headquarters were established in Lausanne in 1915, and the Olympic Museum preserves the legacy of the Games, displaying works of art, video footage, and other memorabilia that draw attention to the Olympic ideal. Also in the same area, the Musée de l’Elysée is an impressive museum dedicated entirely to photographic exhibitions.

The Old Town is home to a number of famous landmarks, and offers fantastic views over Lake Geneva. Lausanne’s Cathedral, built in the 13th century, is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic influences. Along with the cathedral, the Church of Saint Francois is the only religious building in Lausanne that was built before the Reformation, and highly recommended are its Baroque organ case and stained glass windows from the 20th century.

The waterfront area serves as a marina and a fishing port, and has developed into one of the more fashionable Swiss lakeside resorts. It is a bustling hub of activity, with people strolling and skating along the banks of the lake, and offers views of the nearby Alps.


The Old Town’s Rue de Bourg has a number of boutique shops that sell clothes, toys, and jewellery, amongst other goods. There are art and antiques dealers in the same area too. Having said that, there are also many stores that cater to commercial shoppers, and offer the standard array of branded items.

Lausanne has also seen the development of its open-air markets. The city centre market and Boulevard de Grancy market offer shoppers a variety of local food produce, while the flea market sells antiques and second-hand goods, and the crafts market offers local handicrafts.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Lausanne’s restaurants offer a range of Swiss and international dishes to visitors. Being next to Lake Geneva, the city has a high standard of seafood on offer. Some highly recommended establishments include Café de l’Eveché for its fondue, Creperie d’Ouchy for its selection of crepes, Chez Mario for its pizzas, and Café Romand, an old brasserie that serves dishes typical of the region, such as sauerkraut and sausage with leeks and potatoes.

Some of the better known bars and nightclubs include MAD, one of Lausanne’s biggest clubs, Le Bleu Lezard, a bar and restaurant with an underground club, and Le XIIIème Siecle, a nightclub in the Old Town that resembles a cellar.

Tourist Information

  • Lausanne Tourism and Convention Bureau, Avenue de Rhodanie 2, PO Box 49, 1000 Lausanne 6
  • Telephone: +41 21 613 7373
  • Website:


Lausanne Airport is non-commercial, so the majority of visitors fly into Geneva Airport, which is served by many international carriers. From Geneva, train and bus services to Lausanne take less than an hour.