If you are looking for a European getaway with a difference this summer, why not try the pretty Swiss city of Lausanne in Romandy? With amenities to suit families on a budget, couples looking to spend quality time together and even the most ardent of thrill-seekers, this bustling capital of the canton of Vaud has something for everyone.
It sits on the shores of the beautiful Lake Geneva, just 50 minutes by road from Geneva itself, so hire a car from Geneva airport, navigate onto the A1 and enjoy the beautiful countryside vistas as you cruise by.
If you wish to use a highway in Switzerland you will need to purchase a 40 CHF (£27) windscreen sticker and ensure it remains visible in your car. These are available from petrol stations and at the border, and having one in your vehicle means you will not have to pay any other tolls to use the road network.
Here is our guide to the best things to do in Lausanne.
Take in the sights
Lausanne has a number of beautiful old buildings that have overlooked the city for centuries; the cathedral is just one site to add to your must-see list. Construction of the magnificent venue started in 1175 and was completed 100 years later. While the gothic exterior is impressive in the daylight, you should come back at night to see it all lit up from below. To add to the atmosphere, a nightwatchman patrols the cathedral between the hours of 10pm and 2am every night and calls out the time on the hour from the tower. Be sure to find the rose window – the only part of the original cathedral left today.
Make sure you pay a visit to the Palais de Rumine, too. This stylish structure was built in the 19th century and features Florentine Renaissance detail. Even its grand façade echoes the opulence of its interior settings. The building houses five museums, each specialising in a different discipline, so visitors can wander round displays of fine art in the Musée cantonal des beaux-arts, check out archeology and history in the Musée cantonal d’archéologie et d’histoire, or even have a look at the social, cultural and historical aspects of money in the Musée monétaire cantonal.
Take advantage of the lake
Lake Geneva boasts its own medieval castle out on the water, which you can explore via a 100-year-old paddle-wheeler. Board this quirky vessel and enjoy skimming over the surface of the lake towards the rocky outcrop that houses the Chateau de Chillon with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. You can even upgrade to first class seats, which are much more comfortable than the standard ones.
Across the lake – half an hour on the ferry – is the French town of Evian-les-Bains, which is where the popular bottled water brand originates. You can take a tour of the mineral water facilities or just stroll along the shores of the lake soaking up the gorgeous views back to Lausanne. Visit some of these sights and you’re sure to return home full of happy memories of this fantastic city and Switzerland in whole.