Visiting Lausanne soon? Are you on a tight budget? Then keep on reading.
Switzerland is, without a doubt, a postcard-perfect country. Yet, it’s also so expensive that your heart aches, in case you are not a millionaire, that is. There are, however, some tips which have helped us save some francs every now and then and I want to share them with you.
All Year Round
Open Market: every Wednesday and Saturday morning, up to 13.00-13.30, there is a lovely open market at Place de la Riponne (Riponne Square), Place de la Palud and the surrounding pedestrian streets. There are trucks selling cheese, cured meat, pasta and “eggs from happy chickens”, artisanal bread, vegetables from farm producers, spices and much more. It’s a real feast, bursting in color, smells, people and taste. The products are not cheap but you can just take photos and enjoy the atmosphere, which is absolutely free and fun.
The Cathedral: Switzerland’s biggest Cathedral is located in Lausanne and the entrance is free, so that’s one of the main stops in my itinerary when family and friends are visiting. The organ is simply impressive, the rose petal window mesmerising and the side room with the coloured statues a great place to sit and pray if you wish. The elevator to the top of the cathedral with the panoramic views costs 4 CHF but the views from its courtyard are equally impressive.
Sauvabelin Tower: when the skies are clear, that’s the place to come and enjoy the unhindered views all around the region. The wooden steps to get to the top are ruthless but you will be rewarded. The tower is located next to Sauvabelin lake with a small zoo and a newly built kids playground; all for free.
Museums: every first Saturday of the month, most museums of the city have a free entrance. One of my favorites is La Collection de l’Art Brut, showcasing art from self-taught and unconventional creators (www.artbrut.ch).
I also love going to the Musée de l’Elysée, the photography museum hosting very interesting temporary photography exhibitions. (www.elysee.ch )
The Olympic museum is most possibly the most visited museum in the city and this reflects to the entrance fee which is a staggering 20 CHF! So if you are not able to check it out this time around, you can simply walk around its gardens, with the stunning, entirely free views. Sometimes, I like to sit at the terrace of TOM café, the museum’s restaurant and cafeteria, and have a drink while taking in the views of the surrounding Alps. (www.olympic.org )
Place de la Palud: this nice little square where the town hall is located has a clock show right behind the statue of justice which starts every hour and lasts about 5 minutes.
Just look for the crowds that are most of the time gathered below the clock with the photo cameras ready to shoot. I wouldn’t say it’s impressive, but hey, you get what you are paying for!
Lunch, not dinner: eating out can easily wreck your budget if you haven’t planned properly. Lunchtime is way better value-for-money and in most restaurants, you can find offers like the “menu of the day”. Food trucks, which are currently growing in popularity around town – and around the country – are also a great option for budget-conscious travellers, plus you get to taste ethnic cuisines, from Lebanon and Hungary up to Mexico and Greece. Where to find them? Place de la Riponne is currently the main base for the food trucks, and you will find a varied selection almost every day of the week (except on Sundays and on market days).
Ιf possible, avoid eating meat. A recent survey showed that meat is 152% more expensive in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe! You can read the survey right here.
Drinking Water: 4CHF for a 0.25l bottle of water; that’s how much I paid the last time I was thirsty at the airport of Geneva. Yes, you can find it much cheaper at the supermarket but still, alpine water is widely available for free so you should take advantage of it. Grab a thermos and fill it in for free whenever this is possible as this will save you a good amount of Swiss francs.
Vidy plage: when the weather is summery, one of the first things on my list is to go on a picnic and sunbathe by the lake. Swimming in the lake is not for me –spoiled by the Greek seas, what can I say? – but many people like that as well. It’s so popular that you can hardly find a place for your blanket or towel in this vast area. Crazy, I know.
Open Swimming Pools: Bellerive, just by the lake, is very popular and you can spend a whole day there if you are properly organized. The entrance for an adult is 6 CHF (or 4.5 CHF if you go after 5 pm) but you can bring your own food, drinks and snacks so there is no need to spend any more money if you don’t want to. You might be tempted to splurge on ice cream though.
Pully also has a very nice open swimming pool by the lake and I have been told that it tends to be less busy. Montchoisi is another option, as are many swimming pools with a free entrance around the city’s residential areas such as the one at Vieux-Moulin, which are strictly for leisure and not for sport. Here is a list of all the swimming pools in Lausanne.
Ouchy: the promenade is never-ending and we can’t get enough of it. Especially during springtime when the new flower arrangements are in place, so beautiful. Oftentimes, especially during the summer months, there are various events such as live music concerts going on so stick around, have a drink and dance under the moon.
Iphone app: Lausanne City Guide iphone app is free to download and has a handy city map, suggested city tours with basic info for various points of interest, and also information on restaurants, events and shopping. Another interesting –and basically free – iphone app to check out is the “Lake Geneva Tourism Guide – Vaud” app, which sends you customized recommendations in real-time.
If you are into games you could also check out the free iphone app Treasure Hunt Lausanne “Aquaphobia”, with an itinerary, which will guide you from the Mon Repos Park to the lakeside of Ouchy.
City Parks: Lausanne has plenty of parks spread around the city and each one of them is unique in its own way. One of my favorites, Park Milan is fairly small but has a great playground for the little travellers and there are several benches under the shade where you can sit, read a book or even have a nap. Adjusted to the park, an uphill pathway leads you to the Botanical Gardens, from where the views of the city are just wow.
Mon Repos Park is hilly and also has a very popular playground, just next to La Folie Voltaire, a tiny kiosk which serves as a café-restaurant during summertime, the perfect spot for parents to linger by and keep an eye on their bees playing. It’s open from May until mid-October (when the weather is nice and dry) and it also organizes various events such as jazz music concerts and open-air cinema nights with free entrance. Picnic under the starry night and open-air cinema at the park, how is that combo for a Saturday evening?
Park Montbenon has a wide-open space, without much shade but with smashing views over the lake. Oftentimes there are festivals and various events going on and the place is packed. It’s also a great spot from where to check out the fireworks on the 1st of August, which is Switzerland’s national holiday.
Ice cream: summer wouldn’t be summer without all the ice cream involved, I think. LOOM artisanal gelateria is THE place to try out unconventional flavors such as chocolate with pepper, whisky and matcha. Get a cone with two of their delicious flavors for just 4 CHF (yes, in Switzerland this is a bargain price). My favorite combination? Although I always like to try new flavors, I tend to return to my absolute top of the top: gianduja or Stracciatella, red fruits and mocha or chocolate. www.loom-gelateria.ch
Picnic: anywhere and everywhere you like, there is a place and time for a picnic. Take advantage of it without any second thoughts.
Have you been to Lausanne recently? Do you have any other budget-friendly tips to share with us? Leave your comment down below!
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Are you visiting Lausanne soon and want to know which are the best places to eat and drink? Are you new to the city and eager to discover the top foodie addresses? Check out my ebook – The Curated Foodie Guide to Lausanne which consists of a 4-day foodie itinerary and an insider’s tips on local life.