When you think of the beautiful medieval city of Lausanne, situated on Lake Geneva, you probably don’t think of counter-culture art, avant-garde architecture or of trendy international cuisine. But Lake Geneva’s second largest city has much more to it than just historic charm: in fact, it has contemporary cool by the bucket-load.
Thanks to its new exhibition spaces, bars and restaurants, the city is beginning to become a hub for hip culture. And what better time than the present to discover the edgy, contemporary charm of Switzerland’s most historic city? Even in the old parts of Lausanne, which feature cobbled streets and a twelfth-century Gothic cathedral, you’ll find that there are plenty of cool spaces to visit and explore.
So throw away the traditional guide books and check out my alternative guide of things to do in the city. Read on for some insider tips!
Discover Counter-Culture at the Collection de l’Art Brut
When you stroll around the exhibition space of the Collection de l’Art Brut (literally translated as ‘collection of raw art’), the first thing you will notice is the stark honesty and authenticity of the work here. That is because the artwork was created by people who did not necessarily consider themselves artists.
The Art Brut movement strives to recognise art by those who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves on the margins of society. Outcast or forgotten, this is a collection of art by those who never expected their work to be seen, much less exhibited. The result is that the creators held nothing back in their artistic expression, vividly portraying children, prisoners and those suffering from mental illnesses, among other depictions.
Needless to say, this is an astonishing ‘alternative’ art collection, which shines a light not just on the overlooked talent of its creators, but also exposes the discriminatory nature of mainstream society.
Take a Stroll Around the Flon District
Formerly an industrial wasteland strewn with warehouses and transportation networks, the Flon District has been redeveloped in recent years to become the hip new quarter of Lausanne.
The converted warehouses of Flon are largely flat-roofed buildings, and serve as the ultimate juxtaposition to the spires and pointed roofs of the city’s Old Town. What’s more, many of these flat roofs have been converted into bars, and are perfect places for enjoying a drink after a long day of sightseeing.
Alongside these former industrial buildings, you’ll find fascinating new architecture, which greatly contributes to the vibrant city space that attracts so many young cosmopolitans.
There’s also a selection of bars, restaurants, contemporary exhibition spaces, cinemas and leisure complexes in Flon, which makes it a great place to explore. What are you waiting for?
Climb the Tour de Sauvabelin
Anyone with an interest in architecture or engineering (or just quirky-looking structures!) will love the Tour de Sauvabelin in the Sauvabelin Forest, perched high above the city.
Built in 2003 from Douglas fir, spruce and larch wood, the 35-metre-high structure has a beautiful double helix staircase, which leads up to its lofty viewing platform.
From the top, you can enjoy a breathtaking view that spans across the city, Lake Geneva, the French Alps and the Swiss Vaud Alps. Don’t forget your camera!
Enjoy a Meal at Eat Me
You may think that tapas and cocktails don’t sound like very ‘alternative’ suggestions, but that’s because you haven’t tried the tapas and cocktails at Eat Me.
The head chef here takes inspiration from cuisines that he’s discovered around the world to create what he describes as ‘food souvenirs’. Each ‘souvenir’ is served in a small dish so that you can order as many as you like and take your own trip around the globe. The result? Delectable tapas that use uncommon – and sometimes surprising – ingredient combinations, which you won’t be able to get enough of.
You’ll be able to order from a menu that is divided into destinations (think steak tartare from Europe, spicy mini burgers from America and Indonesian coconut curry), and let your taste buds do the travelling.
How to Get to Lausanne
Geneva is the closest major airport to Lausanne. Flights from the UK are offered by a variety of airlines, including easyJet, British Airways and Lufthansa, and take just 90 minutes.
The journey from Geneva to Lausanne is a beautiful 45-minute drive along the shores of Lake Geneva. To really enjoy the view, book Shuttle Direct’s group or private airport transfer online before you leave home, and then sit back and relax as you are driven to your accommodation.
Where to Stay
Beausite – The Beausite is set just outside of Lausanne, but is close to an M1 metro line station that takes you into the city centre. It offers great value for money, boasts modern and clean rooms and free Wi-Fi throughout. There’s even an excellent pizzeria close by!
ibis budget Bussigny Lausanne – Another great-value option that’s close to Lausanne is the ibis budget Bussigny Lausanne. Five miles from the city centre, the ibis budget offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi and breakfast at an extra cost.
ibis Lausanne Crissier – This accommodation is conveniently close to the Olympic Museum. The ibis Lausanne Crissier provides free Wi-Fi, has an onsite Swiss restaurant and a 24-hour bar. And, even better: the hotel provides guests with a free public transport pass for the city.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of Europe’s largest airport transfer providers and offers a great value-for-money way of getting from the airport to your final destination. Those on a tight budget can choose between a low-cost shuttle service to a specified location and a shared ride, which will take you directly to your accommodation. For peace of mind, just book online!