A Local’s Guide to Lausanne, Switzerland: Cafes and Beaches on Lake Geneva | Holidays in Switzerland


Lausanne’s restaurant scene has changed tremendously in the decade I’ve lived here and there’s plenty of variety now, but Café de l’Eveché near the cathedral is an old favorite for classic Swiss dishes, including fondue, rösti and perch fillets. The draw in the summer is its shady garden, a cool outdoor spot on a hot day.

At the end of the street, I love Le Barbare, a small cafe at the top of the steps of the old market, which opened in 1952. After closing a few years ago, it has recently been renovated and reopened, and its small terrace is still just as popular. The menu is small, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients, local craft beers, and superb Marta hot chocolate named after the woman who ran the place for years.

For a quick lunch, go to Place de la Riponne, where food trucks offer international flavors every day (except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the market takes over the square). My favorite is Koko’s Bistro (Tuesdays), which serves Latin American plantain dishes.


place of the tour de france on the page

Headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, Lausanne is known as a sports city and hosts many amateur and professional events – the Tour de France passes this year on July 9th. The flashy Olympic Museum in the lake district of Ouchy is a fun and interactive experience for sports fans and viewers alike. However, it’s Lausanne’s location that really gets its people moving. In summer, Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) becomes a giant outdoor playground for swimming, sailing and paddleboarding. From Ouchy, you can walk (or run) along the lake in either direction, to Pully, where there is an outdoor pool complex by the lake, or to Vidy for its sandy beaches, crowded with people during hot days.

The beaches of Lake Geneva.
The beaches of Lake Geneva are ideal for cooling off on a hot summer day. Photography: Laurent Gilliéron/EPA


I live near rue Marterey, a street north of the city center which, for me, shows how much Lausanne has changed in recent years. It is now dotted with creative businesses like the Viva Frida concept store and Les Filles du 19 café-boutique, ideal for unique pieces of jewelry, homewares and clothing. There are also some great places for a takeaway lunch, including Italian charcuterie Mauro Traiteur and gluten-free pastry shop El Gato. The upper half of the street is pedestrianized, and in summer the tables of its bars and restaurants fill the cobblestones. Order a pisco sour at Lucha Libre and soak up the atmosphere.

Green area

I like to have an ice cream at Loom Gelateria and walk in the Parc de Milan, below the station. Its botanical gardens are peaceful and there are lovely views of the mountains from the top of the hill. Former public restroom turned café Le Montriond serves cocktails and local wines in a park-side setting, perfect for a aperitif.

Night life

Lausanne’s rather confusing layout creates many quirky spaces that locals have turned into open-air bars. I love Les Jardins du Vieux Lausanne, a garden bar hidden under the cathedral, and La Terrasse des Grandes Roches, nestled under the arches of the Bessières bridge. But my favorite is probably La Jetée de la Compagnie, a lakeside strip in Vidy where drinks are served in an old shipping container. It started as a pop-up bar a few years ago, but is now an integral part of the Lausanne summer, with a sunbathing terrace, access to the lake and morning yoga classes, and is open from 10 a.m. to midnight.


Right in the city centre, Hotel des Voyageurs (doubles from £123, breakfast extra) is an affordable option in a city best known for its luxury hotels. Its contemporary decor complements the art deco features of the original building.

Journalist and author Caroline Bishop has been based in Lausanne for almost 10 years. She has been writing about Lausanne since guides and is the author of the novel The Other Daughter (available from Guardian Bookshop for £7.43), which is partly set in the town

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