Moulded into the picturesque contours of Lake Geneva, Lausanne lives up to its location with a wealth of art and culture to rival some of the greatest cities of Europe.
The impressive centrepiece is the magnificent Gothic cathedral, but the city’s cultural appeal extends far beyond its physical beauty. Alongside a number of important institutions (including the IOC and Switzerland’s highest court) it’s blessed with far more than its fair share of galleries and museums.
Whatever time of year you choose to visit, for those willing to fully immerse in the culture, the city more than repays the effort with a satisfyingly busy schedule of events and attractions.
Don’t Miss these Cultural Attractions
The city’s storied heritage has left it with a host of architectural gems, from the very ancient to the more contemporary. These are a few not to miss:
Lausanne Cathedral: The magnificent twelfth-century Gothic cathedral is considered the best example of the style in the country. Its intricate façade gives way to grand vaulted interiors, the highlight of which is the massive 40-tonne pipe organ.
Find it: Place de la Cathédrale. Situated on a 150m cliff overlooking the lake, you can see it from virtually anywhere in the city. Open 7 days 9am-5.30 or 7pm.
Château Saint-Maire: Serving as a seat of the country’s government, the chateau began life as a bishops’ residence in 1397. Its stern, austere architecture has been likened to the Kremlin, in Russia.
Find it: Place du Château, on City Hill.
Sauvabelin Tower: This 35-metre wooden structure was built to commemorate the third millennium. Constructed entirely from local timbers, the environmentally-friendly tower offers panoramic views over the city and Lake Geneva. For lovers of architecture, the chance to ascend via the ‘Archimedes’ timber screw staircase offers a wonderful experience.
Find it: Just out of the city in the Sauvabelin Forest. Open 7 days 9am-9pm in summer and until 5pm in winter.
Romainmôtier Priory: Culture and architecture aficionados will appreciate the aesthetics of this former medieval Cluniac priory. Built between 990 and 1030, the site is also believed to have been that of another monastery, dating back to the fifth century. The priory is one of the country’s oldest Romanesque structures and houses some well-preserved frescoes from the fourteenth century.
Find it: Place du Bourg, 1323 Romainmôtier. Open 7 days.
Art for Art’s Sake
Lausanne is so dense with art galleries and museums it’s impractical to try to see them all unless you’ve got a couple of weeks – in which case, make a list and start checking them off! Otherwise, these are some you should try to get to:
Musée Olympique: For sports and culture buffs combined this is a must see. It’s the city’s most impressive museum and exhibits include memorabilia and technology from the earliest Olympics up to the modern day.
Find it: Place du Bourg, 1323 Romainmôtier. Open 7 days.
Musée de l’Art Brut: One of the most fascinating of all the city’s museums, this one houses a massive collection of works from untrained and, in many cases, mentally-ill artists.
Find it: Quai d’Ouchy 1. Open 9am-6pm May-Oct, 10am-6pm Oct–April.
Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts:The site of the signing of the history-changing Treaty of Lausanne, today the museum holds a vast collection of international art ranging from ancient Egyptian to Cubist works. Be prepared to spend a few hours here.
Find it: Place de la Riponne 6. Open 6 days, 11am-6pm Tue-Thu, to 5pm Fri-Sun
MUDAC: For lovers of modern art and design, the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts offers a wonderful insight into the minds of some of the most brilliant and creative young artists, in the surrounds of the ancient medieval building in which it is housed: Maison Gaudard.
Find it: Place Cathédrale 6, just opposite the cathedral. Open Tuesday-Sunday
If you’re still tossing up when to go to Lausanne in 2016, you may be guided by the cultural calendar of events still to come.
- Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival
- Festival Lausanne
- Metropop Festival
- Bô Noël Lausanne (Christmas Markets)
- Lausanne Lumières
- Béjart Ballet Lausanne
- Christmas Midnight Run
How to Get to Lausanne
Flying into Geneva is the fastest way of getting to Lausanne. With Geneva just 1.5 hours by air from the UK and the journey to Lausanne taking under an hour by road, the trip is not only quick but also very enjoyable.
Once you land at Geneva Airport, the most relaxing way to complete your onward travel is by prebooking a shared or private transfer to Lausanne with Shuttle Direct. You’ll be met at the airport by a friendly local driver and transported the short, picturesque drive to Lausanne.
If you’re travelling across Europe by rail, you can also book a Shuttle Direct transfer to meet you at the train station in Lausanne and take you directly to your accommodation.
Where to Stay:
Hôtel de la Paix – Enjoying a spectacular location on the shores of Lake Geneva, the sophistication of the Hôtel de la Paix is the perfect complement to a fulfilling cultural experience in Lausanne. Within walking distance of all the city’s attractions, you can explore the wealth of cathedrals, galleries and local culture on the doorstep of this elegant hotel.
Lausanne Palace and Spa – With its subtle blend of modern glamour and historical heritage, the superb central location of the Lausanne Palace and Spa sets you in the ideal position to explore the city. With outstanding lake views, an onsite concept spa centre and a Michelin-starred restaurant, this stylish hotel makes a luxurious home-from-home.
Hotel des Voyageurs – Set in a stunning Art Deco building, the Hotel des Voyageurs enjoys a convenient location in a pedestrianised area. The contemporary rooms offer lovely views and with a buffet breakfast, all the cultural attractions at your fingertips, and restaurants on the doorstep, you might not even take advantage of the free public transport offer.
About Shuttle Direct:
With a wealth of experience and a reputation for a range of affordable, efficient services, Shuttle Direct is the most trusted name in Europe for airport transfers.
No matter where your holiday takes you, Shuttle Direct has a service to meet every budget and group size requirement. If you’re travelling for a winter sports holiday, advise at the time of booking and and any equipment can transported free of charge.
For the best airport transfers to and from your final destination, contact the friendly team of professionals at Shuttle Direct.