Parque das Nacoes Walking Tour (Self Guided), Lisbon

Parque das Nações, often referred to by locals as “Expo”, is a commercial and residential area in Lisbon which gained popularity and underwent tremendous transformation in the late 1990s as a site of the World Expo 1998. Many attractions were built here during that time, including the Oceanarium (the world's biggest), Science Museum, Vasco da Gama Tower, Vasco da Gama Bridge and others. Decades on, Parque das Nações still continues to draw attention of visitors and locals alike as a cultural and entertainment hub of the Portuguese capital. With so much to see here, it's no wonder!
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Parque das Nacoes Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Parque das Nacoes Walking Tour
Guide Location: Portugal » Lisbon (See other walking tours in Lisbon)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: ray
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Oceanarium
  • Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Science Museum
  • Casino Lisboa
  • Portugal Pavilion
  • Gare do Oriente
  • MEO Arena
  • Vasco da Gama Tower
  • Vasco da Gama Bridge
The Oceanarium

1) The Oceanarium (must see)

To celebrate the cultural relationship of Lisbon and Portugal with the sea, the Oceanarium was built for the World Expo in 1998. It is dedicated to teaching the public about aquatic creatures and their conservation.

The Oceanarium’s conceptual design, architecture, and exhibit design was led by Peter Chermayeff. It is said to resemble an aircraft carrier, and is built on a pier in an artificial lagoon. Chermayeff is also the designer of the Osaka Oceanarium, one of the world's largest aquariums, and many other aquariums around the world. The Lisbon Oceanarium has a large collection of marine species — penguins, seagulls and other birds; sea otters (mammals); sharks, rays, chimaeras, seahorses and other bony fish; crustaceans; starfish, sea urchins and other echinoderms; sea anemones, corals and other cnidaria; octopuses, cuttlefish, sea snails and other mollusks; amphibians; jellyfish; marine plants and terrestrial plants and other marine organisms totaling about 16,000 individuals of 450 species.

It has a 1000 square meter tank that extends around the center of the main floors. Surrounding the main tank are four tanks representing four habitats, the North Atlantic, the Antarctic, the Temperate Pacific and the Tropical Ocean. Though acrylic walls separate the tanks, the Oceanarium is so designed that all the creatures appear to be swimming together. An unusual creature is the sunfish that is usually difficult to preserve indoors, because of their unique and demanding requirements for care.

Sounds of the ocean are played as visitors walk through the observation rooms giving a restful ambiance. Guided tours are conducted including a backstage tour that shows visitors how an Oceanarium works.

Why You Should Visit:
Great to see marine animals living as if they were side by side and none of them seeming threatened by others.

Buy the ticket online to skip the queue... and, if you want to avoid crowds or dealing with kids screaming/running around, get there near to opening time.
If looking for a stop to get off your feet for a bit, be sure to check out the public hammocks in the small park that precedes the entrance.
There is a very good view of the Vasco da Gama bridge from outside the aquarium and also until 5pm there are cable cars with outstanding views.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Science Museum

2) Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Science Museum (must see)

Pavilhão do Conhecimento is an interactive museum of science and technology. Open to the public since July 25, 1999, it is part of the Viva Network of Science Centers. Its main objective is to stimulate scientific knowledge and dissemination of scientific and technological culture among the people. The visitors are allowed to explore many different exhibits in an active, relaxed and playful way.

Why You Should Visit:
Very reasonably priced, excellently maintained and hours of fun for the whole family (albeit more geared to children over the age of 6).
It's never too crowded, so you'll have the time and space to try each of the interactive exhibits.

Bear in mind that many of the exhibits are built for two people, so you may want to bring someone along before considering going on your own – otherwise, you'll miss out on a lot!

Operation Hours:
Tue-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat, Sun: 11am-7pm
Casino Lisboa

3) Casino Lisboa

Casino Lisboa is a casino located at Parque das Nações (Park of the Nations) in the city of Lisbon. It was inaugurated and opened to the public on April 19, 2006. The casino, at the time of opening, had around 700 slot machines (expandable to 1,000), 22 gaming tables, 4 bars, 3 restaurants and a theater seating 600. The casino took up the former Pavilhão do Futuro (Pavilion of the Future), one of the main attractions of the World Expo of '98, which was extensively rebuilt for its new purpose under a project by architect Fernando Jorge Correia. The original architects for the Pavilion obtained an injunction to halt construction work on the grounds of copyright violation (due to changes in the façade and in the structure of the building). A superior court overruled the claim, but the construction work was still halted from January to April 2005.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Portugal Pavilion

4) Portugal Pavilion

The Portugal Pavilion was built to host Expo ‘98 the world’s largest trade fair that was held in Lisbon in 1998. The design was based on the theme, ‘ocean and heritage’ and the intention was to present the culture of the country to the world.

The Portugal Pavilion was designed by Pritzker Award winning architect, Alvaro Siza Vieira. The striking feature of the building is a sagging roof representing the billowing sails of a ship reflecting the maritime theme of the structure and its surroundings. It weighs 1,400 tons, has an area of 167 by 223 square feet and covers a large ceremonial plaza. It is supported by fin like walls designed as porticos along the sides of the square. Since Lisbon is earthquake prone, high density cables hold the roof in place and the buildings and the roof have distinct support systems.

The Portugal Pavilion has two exhibition spaces. The covered space hosts the main exhibitions while the outdoor plaza is used for national displays. Today, it hosts many temporary exhibitions. The structure has had no permanent use after Expo ’98 although there are proposals for making it the headquarters of the Portuguese Cabinet or converting it into a museum of architecture in the future.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Gare do Oriente

5) Gare do Oriente

The Gare do Oriente is one of the world’s largest transit stations and the largest and busiest transport hubs in Portugal. It was built for Expo ’98, the world trade fair held in Lisbon.

The Gare do Oriente is a magnificent structure designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava. The roof is made of glass and steel and the design resembles a row of trees. The glass roof offers views of the other structures made for Expo ’98. At night Oriente Station looks magnificent when the lights are turned on. The structure has an open concept and the roof is supported by beams giving an aura of grandeur. This concept helps to keep the interior cool during the hot summer months.

The Gare do Oriente is the main terminal of the Lisbon metro. It is also a high speed commuter and regional train hub and a national and international bus station. Over 75 million passengers come to the station annually. It is now being extended to house the main terminal of the high speed train service of Lisbon and will also be the first stop of the train bringing visitors from the Lisbon airport. The Gare do Oriente also contains a police station, a book market, a cafe and a shopping centre.
MEO Arena

6) MEO Arena

MEO Arena (formerly Pavilhão Atlântico) built for Expo’98 in Lisbon is a large indoor hall with the capacity of seating 20,000 people. The external appearance looks like an upturned boat or a horseshoe crab and to some, like a flying saucer. It is the largest indoor arena in Portugal.

MEO Arena was designed by Portuguese architect, Regino Cruz. The façade faces the south to maximize sun exposure during winter and minimize exposure to direct sunlight during summer. Ventilators on the roof allow the flow of fresh air and lower the cost of artificial climate conditioning within the arena. External moving blinds help to allow natural light into the building. The entire structure is designed to suit modern environmentally conscious architectural norms without compromising on the comfort of spectators. It is also fitted with state of the art acoustic equipment for music performances.

During Expo ’98, a spectacle called the Oceans and Utopias took place at MEO Arena. Ocean themed artistic, scientific and historical exhibitions were shown during the program. Today, performances by major international music bands and artists take place here. It was also the venue of major events like the Tennis Masters championships, the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Vasco da Gama Tower

7) Vasco da Gama Tower (must see)

The Vasco da Gama Tower is a 145-metre (476 ft) lattice tower with skyscraper in the civil parish of Parque das Nações in Lisbon. Built on the north bank of the Tagus river, it is named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (the first European to arrive in India by sail, in 1498).

The tower was one of the many buildings constructed for Expo ’98, the world trade fair held in Lisbon. The inauguration celebrated the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s historic voyage. It was designed by architects Leonor Janeiro and Nick Jacobs and constructed by the firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The engineering firm, Maritfer assembled the steel structure.

At the base of the Vasco da Gama Tower is a three-floor building that was used as the pavilion of the European Union during Expo ’98. At the top of the tower, there was an observation deck that was designed to look like the viewing basket on a ship. There was also a restaurant below the viewing platform that offered panoramic views across Lisbon. At the time three glass elevators took visitors to the top of the tower. Since then, a large hotel was constructed adjacent to the tower, and the general public is no longer allowed to go up.

While the high-above restaurant is only available to customers of the Myriad Sana Hotel, the tower itself can be easily viewed from the cable car. It's actually a good starting point for the short cable car trip to the other end of the park.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Vasco da Gama Bridge

8) Vasco da Gama Bridge (must see)

This cable-stayed bridge was inaugurated during Expo ’98 the world fair held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama that opened trade routes by sea between Europe and Asia. It is the second longest bridge in Europe after the Crimean Bridge with a total length of 12.3 km (7.6 mi), including 0.8 km (0.50 mi) for the main bridge and 11.5 km (7.1 mi) in viaducts.

The bridge was designed by Armando Rito and constructed under the supervision of a private consortium called Lusoponte and was built over a period of 36 months.

The Vasco da Gama Bridge is best viewed from the Expo ’98 cable car. It has a life expectancy of 120 years and the strength to withstand an earthquake 4.5 times stronger than the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that almost destroyed the city. The viaducts are extended inland to preserve the marshes below and the lamp posts are slanted inwards so as not to cast light on the river at night. All these considerations have made the Vasco da Gama Bridge one of the most environmentally friendly structures in the world.

You might want to take one of the higher buildings in Parque das Nações to have an aerial view.
Otherwise, you'd better have a car to cross it, but also doable with a taxi.

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