Known in English as the Park of Nations, Lisbon’s Parque das Nações was designed to accommodate the World Exposition of 1998 and is now the home for many corporate buildings. It also became one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods. Strikingly modern, it contrasts with the otherwise historical and old-world appearance that Lisbon has become associated with, and it attracts locals and tourists with many activities that will fill both days and nights. Here are just a few things that you can enjoy in the Parque das Nações.
Visit Europe’s largest indoor aquarium
There’s no doubt that the Oceanário de Lisboa, or Lisbon Oceanarium, is one of the main attractions, catching the attention of everyone from families to couples and tourists wanting to visit Europe’s largest indoor aquarium. The main tanks, filled with approximately five million liters of seawater, let visitors get up close and personal to 100 species of fish, including sharks, eels, and a sunfish (who possibly steals the show). The other exhibitions include penguins, otters, amphibians, plants, and more, adding up to more than 400 living species.
Stretch your legs
A favorite pastime for Lisboetas is walking or jogging down the boardwalk along the river, and it provides one of the best running routes in the city. The entire length lasts just over four miles (6.4 kilometers), so grab your sneakers and head out for a day in the sun.
Attend a concert
Parque das Nações is home to the MEO Arena where many of the city’s biggest concerts and celebrations take place. One of the most popular events is the annual Super Bock Super Rock music festival, which occurs every summer.
MEO Arena, Rossio dos Olivais, 1990-231 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 891 8409
Plan an outing at the Lisbon Casino
Try to win big, or just head out for a unique night on the town, at Lisbon Casino. Open since 2006, it isn’t just a place for gamblers but also offers restaurants, bars, and a variety of shows from within the arena and auditorium. The casino even holds regular art exhibits.
Marvel at the architecture
Lisbon is chock-full of unique architecture, and that doesn’t stop at the Parque das Nações. Only, in place of centuries-old palace estates and traditional homes, this neighborhood showcases contemporary buildings inspired by the area’s maritime history, and some of the city’s most beautiful buildings are found there. A few examples include the tallest building in the city, called the Torre Vasco da Gama, or Vasco da Gama Tower, the twin luxury apartment buildings named after historic ships, the gravity-defying Pavilhão de Portugal, and the beautiful Oriente Train/Bus Station.
Torre Vasco da Gama, 1990-173 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 110 7600
Snap a photo of Europe’s longest bridge
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is yet another impressive architectural masterpiece. Classified as the longest bridge in Europe, it extends 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) and connects Lisbon to the Setúbal district across the Tagus River estuary, heading towards the Alentejo.
Enjoy the view from a cable car
The cable car, or gondola lift, offers a bird’s-eye view over Parque das Nações while gliding over the boardwalk from near the Vasco da Gama Tower to the Oceanarium. Each car fits approximately eight people. The entire round trip costs just under 6€, and it is open all year long.
Visit the Pavilhão do Conhecimento
In addition to the Oceanarium, families and tourists can head to the Science Museum within the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, or Pavilion of Knowledge. This interactive, life-science museum is open every day except Monday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day, and entrance costs 9€ for adults and 6€ for children (unless they are under three years old, at which they can enter for free).
Enjoy lunch or dinner with a view of the river
Why not head to this side of the city to enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants along the boardwalk? From pizza to Asian cuisine and a variety of Portuguese restaurants (some reflecting Azorean influences), there are many options to choose from, and most restaurants offer terrace seating as well so that diners can enjoy the lovely view. Below are just a few popular options from which to choose.
Irish & Co Pub, 61, Rua Pimenta 57, 1900-280, Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 894 0558
Restaurante D’bacalhau, R. Pimenta 43, 1990-254 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 894 1296
Jardim Garcia de Orta
This charming park is a lovely place to go for a walk while enjoying the botanical gardens reflecting exotic flora from Goa, Brazil, Macau, the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde, and São Tomé. It is easy to find along the water, between the Vasco da Gama Tower and MEO Arena.