Lausanne is a lovely place to explore with your family. There are many ways to explore the Family-friendly Lausanne with your young travellers even during winter. Since 2016 when our first son was born, I have been exploring the city’s family-friendly places where you can have a good time even if it’s pouring rain outside.
Tip: Some of the places mentioned below are suitable for older kids but they mainly work for toddlers / young kids up to 5-6 years old. I have also included a few family-friendly restaurants to eat at around town.
PLAYGROUNDS & INDOOR ACTIVITIES
La Grenette: this eco-conscious playground is a great place for outdoor and indoor playing. On the outside you can find a multitude of vehicles/bicycles that the little ones love to ride, a little corner with books, various spots where they can draw with markers and brushes while you can enjoy a coffee with a “pain au chocolat” from next door The Pavillon (although not my favorite cup of coffee in town).
If it’s too cold or rainy, head inside: on the ground floor, there is ample space for drawing, crafting (most of the items used for crafting come from recycling) and playing. There is also a space with tables where parents can sit and enjoy a warm cup of homemade herbs, grown outside. On the top floor, there is more space to play especially for the little ones, a library with books which you can read on the couches and a delightful little retro kitchen for endless hours of play.
Entry fee: free
Where: Place de la Riponne 10, 1005 Lausanne
Opening hours: Tuesday-Thursday-Friday: 09.30-12.30 & 14.00-17.30, Wednesday and Saturday: 09.30-17.30, Sunday and Monday: closed (wintertime schedule valid from 1st October – 31st March)
La Maison Ouverte: this is where you will meet local families (in my experience, mainly expat families come here) and a nice little place for indoor playing. They offer a variety of toys, books to read, a drawing board and a kitchen where you can have some biscuits, tea, coffee or bring your food for your kid. You are responsible to look after your kids.
For kids: 0-4 years old
Entry fee: free (but you can leave a tip on site)
Where: Route Aloys-Fauquez 23, 1018 Lausanne
Opening hours: Monday – Tuesday – Thursday – Friday – Saturday: 14.00 – 18.00 / Closed on Wednesday & Sunday (check on their website to be sure they are open as they close for school holidays)
Maison quartier sous-gare: the community centre of the “sous-gare” neighbourhood, which is just below the train station is a lovely place to meet local families with kids. Although it’s mainly targeted to families who live nearby, it’s open to everyone and you can just show up. Mornings are more structured and they usually propose a crafts activity for the kids or they are free to play with the toys offered and read books. At 10 am, a little snack for the kids and coffee/tea with a croissant for the adults is served. Most of the parents speak English as well and the kids usually don’t have an issue communicating with the body language. We love to come here and I think it’s a great place to get a sense of local life.
For kids: 0-6 years old
Entry fee: 5 CHF for each family (includes coffee/tea for adults and a snack for the kids)
Where: Avenue Édouard Dapples 50, 1006 Lausanne
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 9.00-11.00, Wednesday 14:30 – 18:00. Check on their website to be sure they are open as they close for school holidays.
Restrictions on the number of participants might apply due to Covid19.
Payot Bookshop: we particularly love going to this one and browsing all the wonderful children books they have because they also offer a few corners where you can sit and read the books in more detail. A great place to spend a few, creative minutes in an inside space before heading outside again. Most books are in French but they also have a few in English. That’s one of the places where we get our sticker books -a great companion for travelling or any public space to keep your little ones busy and happy -while they also have a nice selection of creative toys and puzzles.
Where: Place Pépinet 4, 1003 Lausanne (near Flon area)
Mon-Repos Swimming pool: this is an activity you might overlook when visiting Lausanne, but you shouldn’t. We have recently started coming more often during winter and Marios loves playing with the water indoors, as do many other kids. Plus, packing swimsuits when travelling is easy and fun!
Tip: remember to have a locker with you for the changing room. If you forget, they also sell on site.
Where: Avenue du Tribunal-Fédéral 4, 1005 Lausanne
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES & PLACES TO VISIT:
Winter in Lausanne can be mild at times – it depends on how lucky you are when you are visiting as the weather is quite unpredictable, as is everywhere nowadays. Therefore you might be able to go outside and explore with your little one(s) while in town. Here are a few of my suggestions for Family-Friendly Lausanne in Winter when it comes to exploring the outdoors:
Saturday market: on a Saturday morning, even during wintertime, one of our favourite outings is visiting the open market taking place in the town centre. There is so much going on and I love the vibe of the city on this particular occasion. Often, we combine it with a visit to La Grenette (see above) for playing and then head to the market to grab something to eat (usually a Greek pie from the Pitta stand or a veggie tart from Racines at Riponne, empanadas from Tayta, a piece of homemade cake or cookies from various stands and fresh fruits from the market stalls). At Place de la Palud you can sit and savour your quick lunch while watching the clock show (near the fountain) which goes on every hour.
Flon: the modern neighborhood of the city is a great place for a walk around with your little ones. As it’s mostly pedestrianized, they can run around freely (although some vehicles do circulate to supply the many restaurants and shops on-site so do keep your eyes open), do ice-skate at the small piste (temporary), watch a movie at Pathé cinemas, have a hot drink or something to eat at the many restaurants around. There is a Migros supermarket if you need to buy any fruits or snacks while nearby there is also Metropole shopping centre with a small family space to eat and drink.
Where: Flon square
Walking at Ouchy port and watching the ducks and the swans is a lovely way to spend a sunny morning; in front of the metro station, there is also a playground. If you are looking to eat or drink something, then head to The Lacustre which is located right above the ticketing office for the cruise boats: this laid-back place serves great pizza and a few delicious desserts as well, while you can play at the table soccer or just watch the cruise boats come and go.
On the west side of the lake, Vidy is also great for a walk or bike ride by the lake and there are a few playgrounds in this area as well. Marios loves riding his bike or scooter (“trotinette” in French) around this area. As for me, I just love the feeling of being next to the lake and the views you get to enjoy.
On the northern part of the city, Sauvabelin lake and its surroundings are worth a visit. There is a recently renovated wooden playground that the kids love, a few animals, a little lake, pathways around the woods to walk, Sauvabelin tower with panoramic views (though you have to climb up a few stairs to get there) and a small buvette (café/restaurant) where you can grab something to drink or eat with your little ones. Bus no. 16 gets you up there (stop: Lac Sauvabelin) and then it’s easier to walk towards the city as it’s downhill.
Parc Mon Repos is very close to the city centre and one of our favourite places to go when we need some fresh air: there is a small playground, exotic birds to watch and many benches where you can sit and enjoy a quick lunch outdoors.
Just below the train station, head to Parc Milan; there is a playground, ample space for football, outdoor chess and also ping-pong tables. Just next to the park you can also visit the Botanical Gardens and watch a unique viewpoint of the city from the top. Plus, you could also grab a great cup of coffee from Ca Passe Crème, a delicious sandwich from Al Sacco or a hot chocolate from Balzac, all found nearby the park.
The Olympic museum’s location by the lake is impressive and a great place to spend a few hours indoors. There is always a temporary exhibition where entry is free while the main exhibition is full of interactive screens and devices (especially the “Olympic Spirit” part on the -1 floor). Often, there are activities for kids of all ages so do check the website for any current events when you are visiting. TOM café and restaurant is great for lunch (they offer a kid’s menu as well) or weekend buffet brunch (do reserve a table in advance if you want to taste their brunch).
Where: 1, Quai d’Ouchy, 1006 Lausanne
When: 10.00-18.00 from 21 October to 30 April (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Mondays (winter timetable, check on the website for more details)
The Cantonal Museum of Zoology in Palais de Rumine: this zoology museum located on the top floor of Palais de Rumine is not my favorite (watching stuffed animals is not my definition of pleasurable activity) but kids of all ages seem to like it. Τhe entrance is free, the building itself is quite impressive and you can spend an hour here easily.
Where: Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6, 1005 Lausanne
When: Monday: closed, Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00
Culture café: inside FNAC, this cozy café is one of the most family-friendly places around town and that’s why you will see so many kids around. There is a small but lovely kids corner where they can play with wooden puzzles, trucks, dolls and dinosaurs or read books out of a suitcase (one of my favorite deco parts) and, most importantly, play with other kids.
We love to go there for a morning or an afternoon coffee with a homemade treat (their carrot cake is my current favourite and the moelleux au chocolat never disappoints), and for lunch: they have a kids menu with delicious meatballs (also vegetarian ones), vegetables and pasta and they also offer OBA ice-creams which are made locally from natural ingredients.
Here you will meet other parents with their kids and then you can also browse the book section which is located one floor below. Warning: at the same level there is also a toys section with lots of LEGO, Playmobile and other toys which might be hard to pass by without being distracted, at least for your little one!
Where: at FLON, inside FNAC shop
When: Weekdays from 9.00 – 19.00, Saturday: 9:00 – 18:00
Luigia: that’s a great place to go in Lausanne for pizza as it consistently ranks as the top choice among the local foodies I interview. It’s one of our favourite family-friendly restaurants so far as well. Located in an old cinema building, the theatrical interior is impressive, the Italian service is super-friendly and the pizza tastes so good. Apart from the pizza, there is also pasta, gnocchi, salads, meat and fish dishes and many desserts – they serve ice-cream sorbet in the most innovative way I have ever seen, especially handy for small kids not to get all sticky. Pizza is prepared in an open space and kids love to have a look at what goes into their food and how exactly it is prepared. Did I mention they have a cinema dedicated to kids and table soccer? Waiting time at a restaurant has never been so fun: Marios is honestly crying and objecting whenever we propose to take-away our pizza and not eat at the restaurant.
Tip: Friday and Saturday night the restaurant tends to get crowded so get there early, reserve a table in advance or prepare to wait a lot for a table.
Where: Rue Saint-Pierre 3, 1003 Lausanne
When: Saturday: 12.00- 23.30. Sunday: 12.00-22:30
During the week, the kitchen is open from 11:30-14.00 and 18:30-23.00 (23:30 on Fridays).
The Lacustre: this hidden foodie gem located in a spectacular setting just by the lake is a great place for an easy-going, delicious lunch or dinner with your little ones which includes burgers, wood fire stone oven pizzas, tacos and more. During summer, its terrace is a highlight but the view is spectacular year-round. Plus, they serve delicious sweet and savoury pancakes on their weekend brunch. While waiting, kids can play at the two table soccer available or watch the cruise boats come and go.
Where: Quai Jean-Pascal Delamuraz 1, 1006 Lausanne (Ouchy port)
When: Wednesday 2pm – 1am, Thursday 2pm – 1am, Friday 2pm – 2am, Saturday: 10am – 2am, Sunday: 10am – 1am
Chalet des enfants: this Swiss-style chalet is just a few minutes away from Lausanne, in the countryside. Great place to enjoy some local dishes such as fondue and soups while they also have a small kids’ menu. Their brunch, served from 9.30-12.00 on weekends and public holidays, is also popular. Here you can easily combine a walk in nature with a family lunch or brunch.
Tip: during weekends it’s quite popular so you should better reserve a table in advance.
Where: Auberge du Chalet-des-Enfants, Route du Chalet-des-Enfants (commune de Lausanne), CH-1052 Le Mont-sur-Lausanne
When: Monday-Friday: 9.30 – 24.00, kitchen open for lunch and dinner
Saturday: 9.30 – 24.00, kitchen open non-stop until 22:00
Sunday and public holidays 9.30 – 18.00, kitchen open non-stop until 17.00
DAILY EXCURSIONS FROM LAUSANNE
Did you have enough time to explore Lausanne with your little ones and also look for some daily excursions nearby? Here are a few ideas for you:
Visit Cailler chocolate factory: I am sure you know by now what effect chocolate can have on a toddler but this is a fun place to visit with your little one to get a taste of Swiss chocolate and how it is made. What might be even more interesting than the museum visit, is the chocolate workshops that you can attend as a family or your kid alone (usually available for kids of 6 years old).
Where: Rue Jules Bellet 7 – 1636 Broc (by car or by train)
When: Every day 10:00-17:00 (winter timetable from 01.11 to 31.03)
Take the train to Lutry: this is such a cute, medieval town next to Lausanne and is part of the Lavaux area, the Unesco World Heritage vineyards, and a surreal landscape that you cannot miss while visiting the area. By train, you can reach Lutry in 5 minutes from Lausanne. The lakeside promenade is even more impressive here and the pedestrianized streets of the center are great for a leisure walk.
Where: Lutry, 5 minutes from Lausanne by train (you could also take bus no.9 but it would take much longer to reach the destination)
Get your train tickets here: www.sbb.ch
Boat ride to France: did you know that Lac Leman (also known as Lake Geneva) is divided between Switzerland and France? Just across Lausanne, you can visit Evian (35 minutes) and Thonon-les-Bains (50 minutes) by boat, which can be a pleasant half-day or day excursion.
Get your boat tickets here: https://www.cgn.ch/en/
Les Paccots ski resort: it’s only 30 minutes drive away from Lausanne and great for families who love skiing and having snow fun such as sledging or snowshoeing (there is a shop where you can rent all necessary equipment).
What else would you add to a Family-Friendly Lausanne guide in winter? Do you have any other family-friendly places and activities to suggest for wintertime? Leave a comment down below!
Last Updated: November 2021
Are you visiting Lausanne soon and want to know which are the best places to explore with your young kids? Are you new to the city and eager to discover its charms with your family? Check out my ebook – 48 hours in Lausanne, A Guide for Families with Young Kids which consists of a 2-day itinerary and practical tips on local life.