The Aquatis Aquarium/Vivarium in Lausanne, which opened in 2017 is a MUST see for families.
Set on the hillside above Lausanne in Vennes, the building stands out in all its glimmering architectural beauty. Over 100,000 silver aluminium discs were used to decorate the exterior of the cylindrical building, which shimmer just like the scales of a fish. On the same site stands a new hotel, a wellness centre as well as two restaurants and a conference centre.
A UNIQUE CONCEPT
Aquatis is the largest freshwater aquarium/vivarium in Europe, dedicated to ecosystems and sustainable development. With over 2 million litres of freshwater, 46 aquariums/vivariums and terrariums, 100 reptiles and amphibians and 10,000 fish from 5 different continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America), covering some 3,500 square metres over two levels, combined with some pretty nifty interactive digital scenography – you’ll easily fill the average visit time of 90-120 minutes.
Take the time to immerse yourself – tickets are not timed, so there’s no hurry.
A LOCAL EDUCATION
For me, the most interesting and informative part of the tour was the educational insight into the work involved restoring the our region’s rivers and local habitats, as well as learning more about the local fish population of Lake Geneva and the journey down the River Rhône to its mouth at the Mediterranean Sea.
TOP 5 MUST SEES – and some insider tips
The Snakes – a bit of a phobia of mine I’m afraid, but I was fascinated by one specific species of snake which had a head that looked like a leaf and a body that blended in perfectly with the dried leaves around it. How clever is that? Didn’t make me like him any better though. Search him out if you visit.
The Komodo Dragon – one of the biggest lizards in the World. Viewing him from the glass fronted boxes which are set low down to the ground and designed especially for smaller kids (and not grown up adults like me) to get up close to this incredible dinosaur-like creature, I was seriously impressed!
The Giant Poison Frog (from the Poison Dart Frog Family) – its name is slightly misleading being as it’s only 5cm in size! Would win any colourful frog competition in my books.
Piranhas – whilst they look quite innocent swimming around their tank, I shudder to think what they are capable of. I’m not sure if there is a day-time feeding slot, if so I sadly missed it as I’m sure it would have been thrilling to watch!
The Leopoldi River Stingrays – a new species of stingray to me, with its leopard like spots. What’s not to love about a stingray – they always look so smiley! This species, however, has a venomous sting!
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE
Remember this is a freshwater aquarium, so don’t expect a re-enactment of Finding Nemo. More colourful fishes are found a little further along the tour and should satisfy your needs.
TOP TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
Buy your tickets on-line before you visit to save time queuing.
Avoid bringing large bags or rucksacks into Aquatis. Lockers were available to store them, as they are not allowed in the aquarium, but were popular on the day of my visit.
Don’t wear a skirt! (I say this as there are a lot of mirrored floors – need I say more?!).
Lunch can be bought at the Piranha Restaurant but for those on a budget, a picnic area is also available.
Take your time to locate each specimen in their environment – it isn’t a competition to see who can see what the fastest (although it is fun to do that too!). Sneaky tip is to watch where people are pointing!
Aquatis is a 45-minute drive from the centre of Geneva or can be accessed by train. With plenty of on-site parking. Find directions here.
Child (5 to 15 years old) CHF19
Child (under 5) FREE
Family Entrance (2 adults 1 child) CHF69, each additional child CHF15