From the monthly archives:

April 2013

Expo – Parque das Naçoes

by Madeleine Dick on April 19, 2013


Parque das Nações is the area of Lisbon commonly referred to as ‘the Expo’. The area has a modern almost futuristic  design and is located in the east of Lisbon around 20-mins to half an hour from the historical city centre. Much of the area was rundown and derelict until it was renovated when Lisbon successfully hosted the World Exposition in 1998 (hence the name Expo).  The World Exposition 98 was a particularly special one as it was the 100th exposition and at the same time coincided with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India. The Portuguese put on a spectacular event from May to September that year. Many architecturally stunning buildings, stations and installations where built in the Parque Naçoes area.  The longest bridge in the world (at the time) was also built and named after Vasco da Gamma and is visible from most parts of the Expo area. The Expo area was designed to be in use long after the World Exposition had moved on and true to its planning the Expo area is still a great place to visit and stay while in Lisbon.  Check out the map of the Expo area for more detail on its location.

Parque Das Nacoes- The Oceanarium- The oceanarium in Lisbon is one of the largest in the world and was designed by the American architect Peter Chermeyeff.  It is designed to appear as if it is rising out of the water and is accessed via a foot bridge.  The Oceanarium houses an enormous central tank that is around the size of 4 Olympic swimming pools.  It was the first oceanarium in the world to incorporate  different ocean habitats within one single environment. The different habitats are in fact separated by invisible acryllic walls which gives the impression they are all in the same tank. 

Cable cars and Vasco da Gama Tower with Vasco da Gama Bridge at Expo

The Cable Car-  Another of the installations of the Expo 98 that still provides a great attraction today is the telecabine  (as they are known) that stretches across the Parque Naçoes riverfront.  From the cable cars you get an amazing view over the river, the Expo area, the gardens and the Vasco da Gamma bridge. At many points on the journey you are suspended over the river itself. The journey stretches for more than 1000 metres. The cable car really is a great relaxing trip and to view the stunning modern, futuristic architecture from a completly different angle.                                                                                            

IMG_2561 Gardens & Riverfront promenade- One of the great left overs from the Expo 98 is the fabulous gardens and long riverfront promenade. All along the riverfront for quite a considerable distance is the beautifully kept promenade and landscaped gardens. Many of the gardens are themed such as the water garden, the Brazil garden, the Africa garden.  many of the gardens house unique species of plant and they are all certainly relaxing and beautiful to look at.  The riverside promenade has great views over the river and the spectacularly long bridge. On your stroll you will come across many different pieces of urban art all different shapes, sizes and designs. Among the most striking are the 4 metre high water fountain volcanoes, there are 6 in total. You can walk or cycle from the Parque das Naçoes all the way to the Vasco da Gama Bridge . Here at the riverfront you will also find many restaurants cafe’s and bars that are open all day and into the night.  Many of the restaurants and bars have outdoor seating areas with great views over the river.  


The Gare do Oriente –  Another striking feature of the Expo are is the stunning railway station the Gare do Oriente designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The railway station is stunning by day and even more so at night with lots of atmospheric lighting and angles.  Just opposite the station is the Vasco da Gama shopping centre thought to be one of the best in Lisbon.  Here you will also find stunning architecture with a striking glass ceiling. In the same area you will also find other stunning architectural achievements such as the  the Atlantic Pavilion, The towers of São Rafael and Gabriel and the Vasco da Gama tower with the round panoramic top floor restaurant. 

The Expo area is full of attractions there is a theatre, conference centre, the Pavilion that frequently hosts concerts, and the Lisbon Casino.  The Expo are is a thoroughly modern area with modern architecture and  art everywhere you look. The riverfront is a great place to take a walk and enjoy the views over the river and enjoy the peaceful landscaped gardens. In the Expo area you will find all necessary amenities with its many shops, restaurants and bars.  If you would like to stay in the Expo area check out our Expo apartments. The great thing about most of the Expo apartments is the free parking space!

Transport To & From Expo/ Parque das Nações-  The Parque das Naçoes is easily accessable from the city centre and in fact is very close to the airport. The Metro station Oriente will take you right into the heart of the city centre and its complete contrast old-town. There are also several buses that will take you to many destinations city centre, airport or other train stations. One  of the Lisbon tour buses comes right out to the Parques Nações and you can get off here and enjoy a few hours before catching the bus back into the centre again.  The Oriente train station has several train links for those wishing to travel further afield. 


Parking- Many of the attractions at the Parque das Naçoes have their own car parks its one of the many benefits of modern town planning.  Many of the apartments in the area also have  a parking space included. There are a few parking stations in the Expo area such as,

Feira Internacional de Lisboa Car park- Address: Rua do Bojador 1800 Lisbon, Mon-Sun 24hr Underground parking wiht 830 spaces. Prices €1.20 per hr, €37.90 for 24hrs
Tágides Car Park- Address: Rua do Bojador 1990 Lisbon, 400 spaces Mon-Sun 24hr €1 per hr.
Vasco da Gama Car Park– Address: Avenida Professor Gama Pinto 1.05.02 Lisboa, Mon-Sun 06.30-1.00 Underground car park with 2564 spcaes. Prices €1.20 per hour, €20.00 maximum.
Edifício Meridiano Car Park– Address: Rua do Pólo Sul 1990 Lisbon. Underground 120 spaces. Mon-Thurs 08.30-00.30, Fri 08.30-04.00, sat 14.00 -04.00, sun  14.00-00.30. Price €0.80 per hr.
Tivoli Oriente Car Park – Address: Avenida Dom João II 1990 Lisbon. Underground €12.50 per day
There are also car parks at the Oceanarium, the Casino, and 2 parks at the Gare de Oriente train station. For more detail about the parking in the Parque das Nações
    7309187416_8e990d8055_z vasco-da-gama-bridge2



by Madeleine Dick on April 15, 2013

lisboa-vista-do-miradouro-da-graca  -

Graça is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods which can be found at the top of the highest hill in Lisbon, just to the north east of the castle São Jorge.  The neighbourhood of Graça is largely residential yet with plenty of attractions for visitors.  In the main square the Largo da Graça you will find lots of local businesses such as cake shops, fruit stores and cafes. As one of the highest parts of Lisbon the Graça district has become famous for its stunning view points known as ‘Miradouros’.  In Graça you will also find one of Lisbon’s oldest churches and the National Pantheon.  Graça is just a short stroll,  through winding antique streets, from the more famous Alfama neighbourhood. Some of the attractions often considered to be in Alfama are just as accessable, if not more so, from Graça such as the Feirra de Ladra flea market.

miradouro-graca- view-source:

The Miradouro da Graça & Nossa Senhora de Monte- Due to its high location Graça boasts two of the best viewpoints in the city. The Miradouro da Graça is a beautiful terrace with fabulous views over the city and the Castle São Jorge. The Miradouro is just a short walk uphill from Alfama and the Portas do sol viewpoint with views over the river. The Miradouro is located at the back of the Igreja da Graça one of Lisbon’s oldest churches, although much was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755 the 18th century refurbishment remains unaltered. The church and monastery attached have not been cultivated into a tourist attraction, in fact the monastery is now a military barracks and not open to the public. The church interior is a little dilapidated yet hosts a fabulous collection of 17th century tiles. The Miradouro da Graça has a great open air cafe which in the summer months remains open well into the night and is favorite relaxing spot among the locals.  The Miradouro da Nossa Senhora de Monte is the highest viewpoint in the city.  Less crowded and more tucked away than the Miradouro da Graça the atmosphere is therefore a little more serene and romantic.  It can be accessed from the Largo da Graça the central square of the Graça neighbourhood where you find lots of little shops, cafe’s and restaurants.  The Miradouro’s are great places to relax and take in the views especially in the late afternoon or evening.  There are plenty of signposts around informing visitors of their whereabouts. If you fancy an apartment with a view check out our Graça apartments. 

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The National Pantheon/Santa Engracia Church-  
There has been a church building on same site as far back as the 16th century. The earlier structure began to collapse and the building of the current church began in in 1681 and it took a whopping  285 years to complete. The ongoing work in progress saga of the rebuilding has given rise to the Portuguese synonym for long unfinished works ‘Obras de Santa Engracia’. Today the church has been designated the National Pantheon and contains the tombs of many of Portugal’s most important figures including presidents, writers and the famous fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. There are also cenotaphs dedicated to some of the most important Military figures and  leaders of the Discoveries.  The building was designed by one of the most important Baroque architects of the time João Atunes. The interior is covered with slabs of multi-coloured marble mostly baroque in design and the Baroque organ was brought in from Lisbon cathedral. 

feira-da-ladra4Feira-da-Ladra-Panteao (1) view-source:

The Feira de Ladra Flea market- Located just next to the National Pantheon is the famous Feira da Ladra.  Here you will find hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of wares both second hand and new. The name ladro/a in Portuguese is often used to describe a thief although technically the word derives from a bug often found in old furniture.  A market of this type is thought to have been in existence  here as far back as the 12th century. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday from dawn until dusk.  It is advisable to always  barter the price down as the prices have been inflated somewhat due to the number of tourists visiting the market. 


Transport to & from Graça- As Graça is situated at the top of the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills it is best served by the tram ride up to Graça is really a fascinating trip through the historical winding streets of Lisbon.  It is also possible to reach Graça via Metro for those willing to walk up the hill from either Santa Aplónia or Intendente.  Many people find themselves ending up in the Graça neighbourhood whilst taking a stroll through Alfama’s maze of cobbled streets andstairways.  A walk through Alfama  up to the high point of the city and Miradouro’s of Graça is certainly charming and worthwhile.  check out the map of Graça.he old electric tramcar. The famous nº28  tram heads up towards Graça after passing the Castle and through Alfama.  T

Parking in Graça-  As Graça is largely residential and slightly less city central parking is possible on the streets. Parking in the centre of Graça at the Largo da Graça can still be quite tricky however if you take the car into a side street there are spaces to be found. In recent years the city councils have been trying to organize better the parking as a result there are more strict parking rules in place,  it is always advisable to look for signs indicated parking is allowed or prohibited and  good look for a continous yellow line that indicates that no parking is allowed before leaving a car anywhere. (that said the lines are often fading away or parked over making it all the more difficult to tell) 



April 15, 2013

Tweet Chiado  for most of Lisbon’s inhabitants is pretty much the city centre as it here where you will find the main in-town shopping area. Chiado was devastated by a fire in 1988 that destroyed many of the cities oldest shops. The famous Portuguese architect Siza Viera took charge of the reconstruction project.  Viera and his workers […]

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April 10, 2013

Tweet   “Cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa” “Cheira a castanha assada se está frio” “Cheira a fruta madura quando é Verão” “Lisboa tem cheiro de flores e de mar” …   “It smells good, it smells of Lisbon” “It smells of roast chestnuts when it’s cold” “It smells of ripe fruit in Summer”  “Lisboa smells […]

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The Bairro Alto

April 5, 2013

Tweet   By Day      By Night       The Bairro Alto is truly a part of Lisbon’s soul. By day the Bairro (which means neighbourhood) is a picturesque working class quarter of the city with buildings dating back to the 16th century. By night the Bairro is one of Lisbon’s most lively  places  full […]

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The Baixa (downtown Lisbon)

April 4, 2013

Tweet The Heart of Lisbon is the  Baixa  (or the downtown) which stretches from the riverfront commercial square up to the main avenue (Avenida da Liberdade).  The area is often referred to as the Pombaline Baixa taking this name from its benefactor the 1st Marques of Pombal, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo.  He was a key figure in […]

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