The university town of Lausanne is known for its steeply pitched streets where stone buildings are topped by barrel-tile roofs. A gorgeous 12th-century cathedral overlooks it all. Situated on three hills near the placid waters of Lake Geneva, Lausanne has vineyards on the nearby slopes and the snow-capped Alpen peaks in the horizon.
This stretch of Lake Geneva, between Geneva and Montreux, has attracted many writers, artists and musicians since the days of Shelley and Lord Byron. Charlie Chaplin lived the last decades of his life in Vevey, not far from Lausanne.
French-speaking Lausanne has long been a center of arts and education. However, most people here speak English as a second language. There are lots of cultural events, especially when it comes to music. The nightlife is lively because of the presence of so many students, and clubs are open to younger people (beer at 16, liquor at 18). Weekenders from Geneva hop the train to swell the ranks of the all-night partiers, as this city is considered to be much more fun.
Geneva International Airport has speedy rail connections to just about everywhere in Switzerland. A direct train to Lausanne (and beyond) departs very 20 minutes, and takes about 45 minutes. The cost is a little over $20. See Cff.ch for rail infromation.
In Lausanne there are buses and subway trains that leave every seven or eight minutes at peak times. Walking is also an option, but the steep hills make some streets difficult. See the English language pages of Transports Publics for bus and Metro information.
Avenue de Tivoli, on the hill to the west of the train station, has a cluster of gay business. Tivoli becomes Avenue Jules Gonin as it makes its way to the center of the city. On your way, note the large MAD nightclub below, to the left, long the home of the Jungle parties (now in Geneva), with Sunday Gameboy gay nights. Most other clubs of interest are a short walk away, continuing eastbound. Descending to Place Saint-Francois, you can walk, take the subway, or hop a cab.
The Swiss Franc is the currency. ATM machines are everywhere, and currency exchange offices are common but exchange rates vary. Shop around and avoid those that charge a commission. Exchange shops closest to the train stations tend to have the worst rates, so a short walk up the hill can save you money.
Though politically conservative in some ways, the Swiss permit same-sex partner registration at the federal level. Laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation have been around since 1992. Swiss laws put the age of consent at 16. Prostitution is legal, but sex workers are supposed to register and get regular health checks.
Crossing between Switzerland and European Union countries no longer requires the showing of a passport, making travel quicker and easier - but they may still do spot checks now and then.
Media and resources
360 covers international LGBT news in French, and has business and events listings for all of Switzerland in both French and English. GayRomandie and GayMap.ch also cover all of Switzerland's LGBT business and events listings, with particular focus on Lausanne and other Francophone areas.
MySwitzerland.com has a gay pages along with general information in this official Swiss Tourism website. See the Lake Geneva Region website for more information on local accommodations, excursions, restaurants, festivals, events, and historical attractions.
Lilith is a local association for lesbians with information resources, a library, and sponsoring events throughout the year, from picnics to Pride and dances to film screenings.
For map locations and website links to the businesses listed below, and more, see our gay Lausanne listings pages.
There are many hotels in Lausanne, including two gay options. For more, see our hotels & guesthouses listiings.
Bernaldo’s Bed & Breakfast (47, avenue de La Harpe, Ouchy; 31-76-271-6479), waterside gay-friendly lodgings. Book by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rainbow Inn (22 Avenue Tivoli; 31-21-311-6969), the only men-only guesthouse in town, five modern rooms, shared showers, common living room and kitchen, and free admission to the Pink Beach Sauna.
Rainbow Inn Guesthouse (7-9 Avenue Tivoli; 31-21- 311-6969), upscale rooms around common living area, great views, WIFI, free transit card and free admission to Pink Beach Sauna and Trafick Cruise Club.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: North Central
Club Romandie (Place de l'Europe), mixed crowd, electro dance club, cult film screenings, live music.
GT’s (5, avenue de Tivoli), gay bar and lounge, cocktails and snacks, dancing weekends, drag cabaret, special theme parties; former L'Entrée Bar.
Jungle, for many years the largest regional gay dances and foam parites, several times each year, top DJs, sexy go-gps, performers. Formerly at MAD Club, moved to MOA Club in Geneva area - see website for upcoming dates.
N2O (7, place de l'Europe) sandwiches, pizza, focaccia, DJ music, mixed crowd - former Cafe Luna.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: Flon District to Avenue de Tivol
Café de Grancy (1 avenue du Rond-Point), gay-friendly restaurant, entrées/plats, salads, tartares, carpaccio, foie gras, vegetarian options.
La Couronne d’Or (13 rue des Deux-Marchés), cafe/bar, artisan beers, grog, tea and coffee drinks; Sunday brunch.
Lausanne Moudon (rue de Tunnel 20), grand- style brasserie, classic French cuisine, fine wine, vegetarian options, Sunday brunch.
Les Alliés (48 rue de la Pontaise), bright modern gay-friendly cafe/restaurant, wine and aperitifs, lounge and garden terrace tables.
Le Tramway (6b rue de la Pontaise) - CLOSED April 2016 - small restaurant, impassioned kitchen staff, fresh market produce.
Pin-Up Bar (31 rue Marterey), new Monday-Saturday lesbian-popular cafe/bar, open from 3pm at the center, all welcome, sidewalk seatings.
Vinyl Club (Place de Tunnel 9), funk, electro, pop & rock dance club/lounge, restaurant, live music, piano/jazz bar.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: South and East Central
Bar-Tabac (7 rue Beau-Sejour) arty bistro, old- fashioned ambiance, after-work snacks, meet old or make new friends.
Le Bourg (51 rue de Bourg), cafe, bar and nightclub, '60s-style venue, performance art, comedy, DJ sets, live music.
Le Saxo (3 rue de la Grotte), bar and restaurant, Saturday karaoke soirees, French food, iced deserts.
CLOSED: 43&10 (43- 10 rue de Bourg), 18+ gay dance club, men/ women mix; Le.Club (17 rue du Port-Franc), gay- friendly restaurant/ bar, outdoor terrace; L’Indécis (10, avenue de la Gare), gay-friendly bar/pub burgers, tartares, chicken, fish, pastas.
Saunas & Sex Clubs
Sauna Pink Beach (7-9 avenue de Tivoli), on two floors, largest Swiss sauna, whirlpool, massage, steam, movies, dark rooms, cabins, internet, drinks/snacks bar and lounge; open non-stop weekends, theme nights, age 18-24 discounts.
Top Club (6 rue Bellefontaine), large, comfortable and discreet gay bathhouse with sauna, Jacuzzi, gym, massage services; open daily until 11pm/ weekends until midnight.
New Relax Club (Galerie St Francois A), gay, mixed and straight sauna, steam and hot tub, open daily; Sundays gay-only from noon, second Sundays for bears.
Trafick (22 avenue de Tivoli), male erotic cinema, bar, cruise/sex club, sex shop; cabins, sling, dark room, basement maze, naked parties.
Lovely Desir (22 avenue de Tivoli 22), men's designer underwear, tees, sex toys, lube, accessories.
Monsieur Alain (35 rue du Simplon), gay-friendly men's fashion store; tees, pants, shorts, shirts, bags, sunglasses and accessories.