I remember hearing so many stories about Switzerland from my mum’s travels. It’s a place she had always spoken so fondly about. Where mountains were as high as the sky, with pure white snow caps and beautiful scenery to match. The Swiss chocolate and cheese were the two of the finest things you could get your mitts onto in the gorgeous country. The weather was always true to its season, with heavy snow during the winter time and basking hot sun during the summer months. I had always dreamt of exploring the mountains and green land of Switzerland, listening to the locals yodel and bonding over a piping hot cheese fondue.
Switzerland was on my twenty seventeen wanderlust list. Well, Geneva to be specific. However, my planned trip didn’t go ahead. Silver linings meant that I had the chance to visit Lausanne in Switzerland instead. It was everything I had visioned it to be too. Mountains met lakes, snow sat on the top of mountains whilst we experienced the full force of the 30 degree heat.
Lausanne is quite a hilly city too, not something I knew prior to visiting. Travelling the metro was quite an interesting experience. Especially when you’re use to the flat routes in London as opposed to standing on a train that is on a 20 degree incline. There is a lot more to the city than many people know though, it is certainly a place you can only truly discover by visiting for yourself.
However, i’m sharing my 10 favourite things to do in Lausanne, enough to kick-start your trip planning.
1. Experience the chocolatiers
Swiss are known for their creamy, sweet chocolate. A trip to Lausanne would have not been complete without a chocolate masterclass. We wandered down to Durig Chocolatier and experienced how the finest chocolates were made. Quality cocoa is a huge part of the process, which comes from the tropical areas of the world where there is a lot of humidity. When cocoa is first harvested, it comes as a lychee style fruit until it is dried and fully fermented where they turn into cocoa beans. We had a taste of the cocoa bean, where the taste resembled chocolate without the sweetness, but quite bitter instead. This is why many of the chocolates with a high percentage of cocoa are very bitter, as little sugar is used. The creaminess was still present in the bean, which is due to the cocoa butter that is present in the bean, which gives it that silky, creamy flavour. Cocoa butter is the based of white chocolate too, mixed with sugar and milk.
We had the pleasure of making our own chocolate animals for ourselves, by painting moulds and chilling our chocolates filled figurines. Yummy!
2. Take a boat ride down Lake Geneva
Taking a boat ride down Lake Geneva was an incredible experience, you’re sailing along the mountains, clean blue waters and spotting the vineyards along the way too. The most spectacular moment was when the sun started to set, we wandered out onto the boat edge and watched the sun go down. I definitely had all the titanic vibes at that point.
3. Discover Cathedral of Notre Dame, Lausanne
Visiting the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Lausanne was a breathtaking experience. So much history within this one holy place. It once was a catholic place of worship which was painted with colourful medieval patterns and was a very inviting place to be. However, during a reformation they were covered with white washed colouring when it then was taken over by the protestants. They beheaded statues of Mary and other statues that were known to have expensive jewels on their ears.
The organ at the cathedral still remains as one of the most spectacular instruments. It was built in 2003 and weighs around 40 tonnes. The 7,000 piece instrument was designed by Italian designer, Giugiaro and built by American manufacturer, Fisk. Many concerts happen there too, so I can imagine it’s quite a special place to a experience a musical performance.
4. Drink water from the local fountains
My favourite thing about Lausanne is there are natural water fountains dotted around the city. The water comes from the mountains specifically, so there is spring water available to everyone where ever you go. Just take your bottle, fill it up and enjoy. It was some of the freshest water I had tried too. Many of the fountains are dressed with beautiful flowers in bloom, which really makes the city a brighter and happier place.
5. Wine Tasting in Lavaux
We had the pleasure of taking an eight minute train ride from Lausanne to Lavaux, to experience the beautiful Swiss vineyards. Can you believe that vineyards exist so close to the city and mountains? Switzerland truly surprised me in so many ways.
We stopped for lunch at Domaine Croix-Duplex, a family run restaurant and winery that has been in the family for many generations. It was so great to see people were so passionate about wine. We sat down with the daughter of the vineyard owners, who explained to us how she never had the intention to be a part of the family business. After many different career changes and migrations to different countries, she found herself where she started and never looked back since. I can see why, you could never get bored of waking up to that gorgeous view.
6. Take a dip in Lake Geneva
The residents of Lausanne are so lucky to have natural, crystal clear water to swim in. As much as I love swimming in hotel swimming pools, where there was something so liberating about being at one with nature, swimming amongst the mountains. I have to say, the waters were a brilliant exfoliant for my skin too, it was left baby soft after dipping into Lake Geneva.
7. Dedicate a whole meal to cheese Fondue
Switzerland is known for its cheese, it doesn’t need no introduction. There were market stalls from local producers who were proudly selling their fresh authentic cheese. The gruyere cheese was my favourite and to my amazement I found out that it is also what makes up cheese fondue.
We visited a lovely small family run restaurant in the heart of the city called Café du Grütli. This is where we experienced the best cheese fondue ever. Lots of melted gruyere, garlic cloves and white wine was mixed into a pot before being served on a live flame for us to enjoy alfresco. Dipping in the traditional crusty bread and skin on boiled potatoes, we enjoyed this special treat the true Swiss way.
8. Visit the Olympic Museum
The Olympic Museum is a definite must see. I’m not a huge sport person, but I was certainly moved by the museum itself. You got to experience famous athletes costumes, get up close and personal with all of the torches from all of the games since the beginning and check out the inspiring and unseen shots from photographers. I had a few moments where I got quite overwhelmed and had eyes full of tears.
There were many interactive areas too, for example you could have a go at running along the race track where you could compare your speed against Usain Bolt. Safe to say I wasn’t as fast, but very close 😉
9. Brunch by the waterfront
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? When you are presented with the most gorgeous waterfront views, it would be a shame to pass up a perfect brunch opportunity. Even when i’m in a different country, Sunday brunch is very much part of my schedule. Just glorious…
10. Experience the Swiss nightlife
We were fortunate to be even experience Lausanne by night with help from the locals. We were taken to The Great Escape which is a large open terrace where many people gather to enjoy post-work and weekend drinks. Music is playing, drinks are flowing and everyone’s having a great time.
If you’re looking to get a bit dressed up and enjoy a rooftop bar, then XOXO often known as ‘Zozo’ in French is an ideal spot. It can be found in the district of Flon amongst various other amazing bars and clubs. I would check out ‘No Name’ if you’re looking for a popular night out with some old school and new popping tunes. Most of all, have fun.
Have you been to Lausanne before? What are your favourite things to do?
Until next time…
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