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Parque das Nações Lisbon Guide

The Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) is the striking modern side to historic and traditional Lisbon, which extends along the north-eastern side of the Tejo Estuary. The district was rejuvenated from a desolate industrial wasteland for ‘Expo 98, and has since been transformed into the centre for corporate Portugal.

Instead of becoming a sterile office and residential area, the original attractions of Expo have been enhanced, and today the district is popular with Portuguese and tourist alike. This guide will provide an introduction to the Parque das Nações and includes tourist information, details of the major sights and things to see and do.

Parque das Nações Lisbon

National arena, 5-star hotel and a cable car; the Parque das Nacaes has it all!

Quick details for a trip to the Parque das Nações

 

 

The Parque das Nações is a great destination for children

Of all the districts in Lisbon the Parque das Nações is possibly the most suited for families. Children will adore the Oceanarium, while the Pavilhão do Conhecimento is a modern and engaging science museum with lots of hands on activities. Within the original Expo Park are numerous interactive water exhibits and children’s play areas, while the whole area is open, calm and traffic free. Inside the Vasco da Gama shopping centre is a large cinema complex and numerous great value restaurants.

Pavilhão do Conhecimento Lisbon

Pavilhão do Conhecimento will entertain children of all ages - I had hours of fun pushing the globe around....

A Suggested Half Day Itinerary to the Parque das Nações

Here is our suggested route to get the most from the Parque das Nações:

• Catch the red metro line to Orient station

• Admire the ultra-modern Orient train station – 5 minutes • Wander through the Vasco da Gama Shopping centre – 15minutes

• Visit the Pavilhão do Conhecimento (families only) – 1 hour

• Pass beneath the waterfall urban art exhibit • Visit the Oceanarium – 1 hour

• Ride the cable car to northern end – 10 minutes

• Admire the Vasco da Gama tower (Lisbon’s tallest building) and the Vasco da Gama bridge (once Europe’s longest bridge)

• Stroll along the Estuary footpath into the Parque do Tejo with its views over the Ponte de Vasco da Gama Bridge (optional) – 30 minutes

• Have a light lunch in one of the numerous restaurants that overlook the estuary – 40 minutes

• Stroll back to the shopping centre through the parks and exhibits of Expo 98 - 30 minutes

Money Saving Tip: The food court in the Vasco da Gama shopping centre is home to many excellent yet inexpensive eating establishments. The setting may not be wonderful but it is difficult to complain when you’re paying only 7Euro for a full meal including a drink….

Pavilhão do Conhecimento Lisbon

The most expensive apartments in Lisbon, which were designed to resemble two cruise ships

The Nightlife of Parque das Nações

The nightlife of the Parque das Nações has matured over the last few years, gone are the karaoke bars and late-night clubs, replaced by fine restaurants and stylish bars. Expo park is a great place for an evening meal and more relaxed night, but for the vibrant nightlife that Lisbon is famed for, head to Bairro Alto or Cais de Sorde. The one exception to this is the Casino Lisboa, which is Portugal’s best casino.

Casino Lisboa

The Casino Lisboa

Is the Parque das Nações a good location for a holiday?

Having a holiday or city break to Lisbon based in the Parque das Nações is a good choice for visitors who wish a calmer and more relaxed area of the city. On a map Expo Park may appear a long distance from the historic centre of Lisbon but it is served by some excellent public transport. Oriente station is connected to the red metro line (and is close to the airport) while the number 728 bus goes directly to Belem by passing through Baixa and Alfama. Contained in the Parque das Nações is a wide selection of restaurants and all the hotels are modern, having be built in the last 10 years.

 

 

Water everywhere….

While wandering the Parque das Nações, it will quickly become come apparent that water has some connection to many of the exhibits, gardens and original Expo buildings, and this is because the theme for Expo 98 was the world’s oceans. Some of the ocean themed connections are very apparent while some are much more subtle, and include:

• The Lisbon Oceanarium (note not an aquarium), which appears to float on the water

• The Torre Vasco da Gama (before the construction of the hotel) styled as a ships mast and crow’s nest

• The two apartment blocks representing Portuguese caravel ships

• The exploding water volcano towers

• The shopping centre which was meant to represent a cruise liner…

water volcanos Parque das Nações Lisbon

The water volcanos, great for a hot summers day!

Major sights of the Parque das Nações

Lisbon Oceanarium

The Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the greatest tourist attractions of the capital. The complex comprises of four massive tanks, which represent the worlds four major oceans and are filled with fish and aquatic life from each of the different regions. Considering there are only four tanks the viewing route is cleverly designed so that are viewed from below, from the side and above, so it deceptively feels much bigger than it actually is. The ticket price may seem quiet steep at €16.20 for an adult ticket but it is worthy of the cost.

Insider tip: The Oceanarium has is best avoided at the weekends when it can get very crowded, but during the peak season the Oceanarium operates extended opening times and stays open late into the evening, which is the best time to visit.

Lisbon Oceanarium

The ultra modern Lisbon Oceanarium

The Pavilhão do Conhecimento

The Pavilhão do Conhecimento is a science museum, which focus more on interactive displays than wordy descriptions. The museum is solely designed for children, but parents will not be bored as the exhibits are creative and intelligent. The entrance fee is €9.00/€6.00 (adult/child) and is again worth the admission.

 

 

Parque das Nações Cable Car

The cable car extends the length of the park, from the Oceanarium in the south to the Torre da Vasco da Gama in the north. The cars fly silently over the estuary in the 8-minute ride and provide panoramic views over the park. The tickets can be purchased as a single in any direction for €3.95 or as return for €5.90.

cable car Parque Nacoes

The Vasco da Gama Tower

The Vasco da Gama Tower is Lisbon’s tallest building but being on the banks of the estuary it does not appear as. There was once an exclusive rotating restaurant and viewing platform but these closed down; hopefully with the construction of the 5-star hotel this great viewpoint may one day re-open. The tower continued Expo 98 theme of the oceans and was constructed to represent a ships mast with crows next and flag pole.

Torre da Vasco da Gama Lisbon

The Torre da Vasco da Gama, Lisbon's tallest building

The Vasco da Gama Bridge

The Vasco da Gama Bridge was constructed to relieve the traffic from the Ponte de 24 Abril suspension bridge, and when opened to coincide with Expo 98, it was Europe’s longest bridge. The bridge follows a simplistic design and constructed from concrete, but the sheer size is inspiring, especially when viewed from beneath in the Parque do Tejo.

Vasco da Gama Bridge Lisbon

Vasco Da Gama Shopping Centre

The Vasco da Gama shopping centre is one of the largest in Lisbon, with a range of multi-national, designer or branded stores that are set in a well-designed complex. Notable things in the centre include the extensive food hall on the second floor, the cinema on the top floor and the Continetal supermarket on the lower floor- ideal for good value foods, toiletries etc. Standing above the shopping centre are two apartment blocks which represent two of Vasco da Gama’s ships used of his epic voyage to India, the Sao Gabriel and the Sao Rafael.

Vasco da Gama shopping centre

The Vasco da Gama shopping centre

There’s a lot of Vasco Da Gama in Parque das Nações….

Many of the significant buildings in the Parque das Nações are named after Vasco da Gama, who was Portugal’s greatest explorer and discovered the sea route to India. He was commemorated within Expo 98, as it coincided with 500 years since the start of the Portuguese discoveries, which lead to the glory years of Portugal.

Travel to Parque das Nações Lisbon

The Parque das Nações Lisbon is easy to reach from any location in Lisbon as it is served by the Gare do Oriente station. The Gare do Oriente contains metro (redline), bus and major train station spread over three levels of the ultra modern steel and glass structure. The metro is the easiest method of travel from the historic and tourist district of Baixa. For late night revellers there are always lots of taxis waiting to pick up passengers.

Gare do Oriente Lisbon

The train station at Gare do Oriente

History of the Parque das Nações and Expo Park

Parque das Nações which is still referred to as Expo Park or just Expo by Lisbon residents was the site of the World Fair of 1998. Expo 98 was planned to coincide with Portugal’s celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's arrival in India, in 1498, and this presented the organisers a flexible and varied theme based around the world’s oceans, with a title of The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future.

Expo Park Lisbon

Expo Park Lisbon

Expo 98 was regarded as a great success for Portugal which promoted the new industrial might of the small country and is even considered to have helped Portugal join the Euro single currency. After the ticket offices closed on Expo 98 many feared that the area would become an expensive disused area as with prior Expo events. The good management and foresight of the organisers has ensured the transformation into a trend setting area of the capital and a popular tourist destination.

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