Portugal was the choice World Tourist Destination for 2017 and 2018, and the choice European Tourist Destination for 2019, according to the World Travel Awards. If you are wondering why, there are several reasons and we will illustrate some of them.

For our first “Explore Portugal” feature article, we chose to start with Portugal’s capital, the city of Lisbon.

With approximately 500,000 habitants it’s the largest city in Portugal and is divided into several districts. Each of Lisbon’s districts is unique in their own way and offer a mix of old and new world charm while harmoniously blending both.

Our first destination is Lisbon’s newest district, the Park of Nations (Parque das Naçōes). It’s situated along the north-eastern side of the Tejo River and only about 10 minutes from the center of Lisbon.

The Park of Nations was originally built for the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition (Expo 98). In a period of 4 months, the Expo received over 10 million visitors. 

Vasco da Gama Bridge in the background with Vasco da Gama Tower in foreground

To handle the expected number of visitors to Expo 98 several new infrastructures and  improvements were made:

  • The Vasco da Gama bridge was completed in March 1998 prior to the May 1998 opening of the Expo.
  • The Lisbon Metro line was extended.
  • The Lisbon Oriente Station (Gare do Oriente) was built to serve trains, metro, buses, and taxis.
Gare do Oriente (Orient Station)

After Expo 98 the Park of Nations became one of the most desirable residential, leisure and commercial hubs in Lisbon. It’s easily accessible by metro, bus or trains via the Oriente Station, and it provides a variety of experiences, from outdoor walks, cable cars, and bicycles. 

Cable cars with Tagus Bridge in the background

Built on the riverfront of the Park of Nations, Vasco da Gama Tower is the tallest skyscraper of Lisbon at 140 meters. Seen from any part of the Park, this structure is an impressive landmark resembling a sail of the ships that departed the Tagus to discover the world.

Vasco da Gama Tower

Families can relax in this area of the city and visit Oceanário de Lisboa one of the worlds largest saltwater oceanariums. Here they can view and appreciate many different species of animals and plants in their natural habitat, and kids will love to visit the nearby knowledge pavilion.

Lisbon Oceanarium one of the main attractions of Park of Nations

Integrated into this vast area, Vasco da Gama Shopping Center is an exciting place where you can spend your time shopping in some of the 170 stores, 30 plus restaurants, several movie theatres and more. 

Vasco da Gama Shopping Center

A short walk from Vasco da Gama center you will find the Altice Arena (Atlantic Pavillion). Also known as UFO because of its shape. With a capacity of 15000 spectators, it’s the largest indoor arena in Portugal. The Eurovision Song Contest was held there in 2018. Plan your trip and check for events. 

Altice Arena – Atlantic Pavilion

If you like gambling visit the Lisbon Casino where you will find slot machines, gaming tables, several bars and restaurants, and a theatre. Located in the former Pavilion of the Future the Lisbon Casino it’s a great attraction to spend a night with friends.

Casino Lisboa at Park of Nations

From our perspective, those are more than great reasons to visit the Park of Nations and experience the attractions of this revitalized district of Lisbon. 

Stay tuned for our next “Explore Portugal” destination. 

Other Feel Portugal articles

Park of Nations view from the sky.

Stay tuned for our next “Explore Portugal” destination. 


About Author

Paulo Martins and Feligenio Medeiros are the co-founders and editors of the digital magazine FEEL PORTUGAL IN THE USA.

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