On the north banks of Lake Geneva (Léman), between Geneva and Montreux, Lausanne is the fourth largest city in Switzerland. It is the capital of the Canton of Vaud, one of the states in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. From the old town on the hilltop down to the luxury hotels on the lakeside, Lausanne is a charming city with diverse neighborhoods and atmospheres.
Here are a few tips if you only have a day to spend in Lausanne and you wish to discover its joys and beauties. We would recommend that you make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking along the steep cobbled streets of the city.
Swiss trains are well-known to be always on time. As heavy users of Swiss transportation services, we can confirm this. Swiss trains are definitely right on time! You can easily reach Lausanne by train from all around the country; traveling by train is fast, comfortable, eco-friendly, and you do not need to look for parking! Our day exploring Lausanne started at the main station. Heading first uphill, then in the Avenue du Théâtre, we walked along the front of Lausanne Opera, built in the 19th century.
Further upwards, the Bessières bridge offers a lovely view over Lausanne Cathedral on the hilltop and the rest of the city bellow. The cathedral of Notre-Dame of Lausanne is an Evangelical Reformed Church dating back to the 12th Century. Inside, the beautifully painted walls had been covered during the Protestant Reform and restored in the 20th Century. A famous French architect Viollet-le-Duc directed important transformations of the monument during the 18th and 19th Centuries.
On the hilltop, the 15th-Century Saint-Maire Castle, formerly hosting the Bishops of Lausanne, is today the seat of the council of the Canton (state) of Vaud.
From the Cathedral and then downhill through the old town, we went down the 177 steps of the Escaliers du Marché, the Market’s Staircase. In its present form, this picturesque covered staircase dates back to the beginning of the 18th Century; evidence of the stairs dates back to the 13th Century.
Downstairs we found a charming square, Place de la Palud. This cobbled place is surrounded by old buildings and hosts the colourful Fountain of Justice.
Along the rue Madeleine upwards, we arrived at the large square Place de la Riponne, where the Palais de Rumine is located. This large Italian Renaissance style monument hosted the library of the University of Lausanne and its collections. Today, this building hosts several museums.
Before going back to Lausanne train station, we took the metro, informally called by the locals the “ficelle”, i.e. the string. We arrived a few minutes later at Ouchy-Olympique, at the end of metro line 2. Lausanne inhabitants, as well as one-day tourists, enjoy a walk on the shores of Lake Geneva along the Castle of Ouchy and the luxury hotels such as the Beau-Rivage Palace.
In the summertime, Ouchy beaches get packed with people enjoying the cold waters of the lake, or just sun bathing after a long day. Regular metro services connect Ouchy beaches, Lausanne Railway Station and the rest of the city in only a few minutes. Here are our suggestions for a day-tour around Lausanne.
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