From Cais do Sodré the metro takes you to the former Expo site. For this occasion (Expo ’98), a forgotten area on the Tagus, east of the centre, was completely refurbished, and is now the modern and much sought-after district of Parque Das Nações.
It is a big contrast with the old and picturesque neighbourhoods where Lisbon mainly consists of, but no less fun! After the Expo it was very popular to live here or do your shopping. The setup is wide and spacious and not as busy as city centre. In addition, the boulevard offers an escape from the hot city.
Modern, but somewhat dilapidated
The neighbourhood was especially popular with the locals. But in the past 15 years it has changed and the neighborhood has been less well maintained. It is certainly not a disadvantaged neighbourhood – but it’s a bit dilapidated.
Especially if you visit this district outside high season you’ll spot many things that are just not quite up to par: broken benches, graffiti everywhere and broken fountains (of which there are many in Parque das Nações).
But do not let that stop you from visiting! There are so many attractions and the cooling off of the Tagus on the hot days makes it worth a visit.
Stare at the ultra-modern Torre Vasco da Gama or shop at the nearby shopping centre. Breathtaking is also the view of the Ponte Vasco da Gama, with 17 km one of the longest bridges in the world. Do not forget to look at the roofs of the high residential towers too – these clearly represent ships.
With kids, Parque das Nações is an excellent destination to visit! In addition to the many child-friendly attractions, the many water features are very nice for children, in addition there are many playgrounds to entertain children.
Places of interest in Parque Das Nações
Oceanário de Lisboa
In addition to the futuristic architecture and beautiful views over the Tagus you will find Oceanário de Lisboa in Parque Das Nações. This is one of the largest aquariums on earth! Reason enough to pay Parque Das Nações a visit. The Oceanario is very suitable for children.
Estação do Oriente
Station Estação do Oriente is one of the most beautiful train stations in Lisbon. It is also one of the largest train stations with many (inter-)national connections. When you get out of the city, take the the Linha Vermelha metro line. When you arrive you can enjoy the underground art, made by the Icelandic Pop Art artist Erró.
The shopping centre Vasco da Gama
The shopping centre Vasco da Gama is decorated like a large ship. You notice that when you step into one of the lifts (modeled after a submarine), or visit one of the restrooms. Especially the children’s toilet is a ship in itself. Do not forget to go to the top floor: there is a terrace where you have a view over the neighborhood. Shopping centres in Lisbon have extended opening hours, and Vasco da Gama is no different: you can go there from 9:00 a.m. to 0:00. The main entrance of the shopping centre can be found on Avenida Dom João II number 40.
Torre Vasco da Gama
Torre Vasco da Gama was a watchtower in 1998 is now a luxury hotel with a fine restaurant. The hotel is also open for non hotel guests.
As previously indicated, Parque das Nações is perfect to escape the crowded, hot and busy city centre. Especially on summer days, it’s a real pleasure to wander around this neighbourhood. What makes it extra relaxed is that the promenade along the Tagus is car-free. Another good option: cycling along the Tagus. There are enough benches to enjoy the view.
For just 5 euros you can enjoy the view at Teleférico on 20 meters up. The view of the Tagus river is fantastic and also the Vasco da Gama bridge is clearly visible. Even though it is very touristy, it is definitely nice to go with the cable car. It takes you from Torre Vasco da Gama to the Oceanário.
Pavilhão do Conhecimento
This science museum, Pavilhão do Conhecimento, is especially fun to go to with children. It is an interactive museum where the youngest visitors (3-6 years) can build their own house in 45 minutes. But there is much more to do: besides various experiments such as trying out a nail bed, making soap bubbles of 2 meters in diameter or capturing your silhouette, you can also see how a tornado develops.
Perhaps the highlight for children is dressing yourself in a Velcro suit and then hitting a velcro wall. Success guaranteed!
Opening hours: 10.00-18.00 (weekends 11.00 a.m. -7.00 p.m. closed on Mondays)
Entrance fee: € 7.00, children 6-17 years € 4.00
Ponte Vasco da Gama
Ponte Vasco da Gama is one of Europe’s longest bridges, the Ponte Vasco da Gama seems infinite at times – especially when it is foggy and you can not see the other side of the Tagus. The bridge is 17 kilometers long, it is a toll bridge.
Pavilhão de Portugal
Pavilhão de Portugal is a special building and certainly worth a visit. The building consists of two main parts and is connected via a roof of some sorts, made of a thin layer of concrete. One building is somewhat higher than the other because the architect wanted to express hierarchy. The building is particularly highly regarded by architects from all over the world – mainly because of that concrete bond. The building is used for (large) events.
You can find the pavilion at the Doca dos Olivais.
Altice Arena is a bit like Wembley stadium. Both are used for big pop concerts. However, there is no football in Altice Arena. Previously, the arena had the name Pavilhão Atlântico and MEO Arena. Altice Arena has a capacity of 20.000.
Casino Lisboa is not a casino in the way you’d expect. Besides a betting car you can also go for a show, the many restaurants and lounges and bars. We have not been to the casino but have heard that the entertainment and atmosphere are moderate. On the other hand, the reviews that are online are (moderately) positive.
Still want to place a bet? You can find the casino at the Alameda dos Oceanos. You can go there every day from 3:00 p.m. – 03:00 a.m. On Friday and Saturday until 4:00 a.m.
Food and drink
There’s plenty of places to eat in Parque das Nações. Especially around Oceanário there are many eateries and it is here that you’ll find the best places. When the weather is nice, all tables and chairs will be outside on the terrace.
After a visit to the Oceanário we were looking for a place to eat and, because locals told us that we needed to look for something in the vicinity of the Oceanário, we chose Prego D’Pescador. The restaurant has a nice location near the water and (a lot of) options to enjoy your lunch or diner outside.
Oriente DNA Rooms: is a small guesthouse with double rooms with shared bathroom. It is centrally located in the Parque Das Nações district. One night with 2 persons costs 48 GBP.
VIP Executive Arts Hotel: The four star hotel is less than 500 metres from the Tagus River. The hotel has spacious rooms some rooms have views of the Tagus and the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Every morning in the restaurant you can enjoy a breakfast buffet. An overnight stay of two people costs 105 GBP.
Beautiful and magnific yacht: if you want a special place to stay overnight then think of this yacht in the harbor near the ocenario. It has room for six people and an overnight stay costs 126 GBP.