The modern beating heart of Lisbon now lies in the Parque das Nacoes, the brainchild of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that was constructed for the 100th World Expo in 1998. Calatrava’s reshaping of the city’s formerly dilapidated waterfront into something resembling a mini-Dubai was one of the biggest redevelopment projects ever undertaken in Europe. Today the Parque das Nacoes serves as both smart residential area and playground for tourists, who come in hordes to wander around the marina and landscaped water-gardens.
Chief visitor attraction at the complex is the eco-friendly, waterfront Oceanário de Lisboa (Oceanarium Aquarium) designed by Peter Chermeyeff, which pulls in more than one million punters each year. It is dedicated to educating visitors as well as conserving our marine life and the aquarium offers four ocean-themed aquariums stuffed full of scary stingrays, menacing sharks and darting tropical fish in a medley of colors. The antics of the sea otters and the clumsy penguins are firm favorites with kids, while various family activities on offer include ‘sleeping with sharks’ experiences. When you’re done at the Oceanarium, take the cable-car ride over the Parque das Nacoes for awesome views stretching towards the Vasco da Gama suspension bridge.
The Oceanarium stands east of Belém Tower along the River Tagus waterfront. It is accessible from Oriente metro station 10-minutes walk away. Opening hours are summer 10am-8pm; winter 10am-7pm. Admission €16, age over 65 and aged 4-12 €11, family €42. Audio guides and backstage tours are available.