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Océanarium de Lisbonne

Lisbon’s Oceanarium (Aquarium)

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Navigate to the Parque das Nações – a sprawling ultra-modern district born from the 1998 World Exposition! Right by the water’s edge, you’ll discover the Lisbon Aquarium.

Expect an array of breathtaking architecture, a plethora of marine animals, and a strong emphasis on ocean conservation.

All aboard, adventurers!

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The Lisbon Oceanarium at a Glance

Oceanarium vs Aquarium

Fun fact! The Lisbon Oceanarium, often interchangeably called the Lisbon Aquarium, distinguishes itself as an “oceanarium” (Oceanário de Lisboa in Portuguese).

You might wonder, “Why this distinction?” This term reflects its expansive mission beyond just displaying marine life; it aims to recreate marine ecosystems on a grand scale, closely mimicking the natural habitats of the species it showcases.

This endeavor is grounded in a commitment to raising awareness about ocean conservation and biodiversity,

setting it apart from traditional aquariums, which are often more focused on visitor entertainment.

However, in casual conversation, both terms are often used interchangeably when referring to Lisbon’s marine showcase.

A Brief History of the Lisbon Oceanarium

Nestled along the Tagus River, the Lisbon Oceanarium is situated in the ultra-modern Parque das Nações, an area that emerged in the 1990s alongside the aquarium itself, as part of the 1998 World Exposition.

The theme of Expo ’98 was “The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future,” a philosophy that the Lisbon Aquarium has embodied from its inception, aligning with its mission to educate and inspire about marine conservation.

The architectural design of the Lisbon Oceanarium is the result of collaboration between the firm Cambridge Seven Associates and architect Peter Chermayeff, an American renowned for his work on major aquariums in Genoa, Sydney, Baltimore, and Osaka (home to the world’s largest aquarium).

Since its opening, the Lisbon Aquarium has become one of the most popular attractions in the Portuguese capital. Its success is undeniable: with an average of 1 million visitors per year, it’s a must-visit for anyone exploring Lisbon.

Lisbon Aquarium

A Quick Overview of the Oceanarium

  • The Lisbon Aquarium showcases over 15,000 specimens from more than 450 species
  • It is Europe’s second-largest aquarium after Valencia’s Oceanografic
  • The 7-meter-deep central tank, a highlight of the facility, holds 5 million liters of water and features 25-centimeter-thick glass
  • Over recent years, it has been repeatedly recognized by TripAdvisor as the world’s best aquarium.

Exploring the Lisbon Aquarium: A Visitor’s Guide

GPT With that introduction out of the way, it’s high time to dive into the main event: touring the aquarium. Let’s get moving!

The Architectural Wonders of Lisbon’s Oceanarium

Before entering the aquarium, take a moment to admire its striking architecture.

The ticket office is on solid ground, but a walkway connects it to the oceanarium, which appears to float on water, symbolizing Lisbon’s connection to the ocean. The aquarium is built in an artificial lagoon fed by the waters of the Tagus River, showcasing a remarkable feat of architectural ingenuity!

Lisbon Oceanarium

Diving into the Ocean: Up Close with the Fish

Inside, the journey unfolds across two floors centered around a massive central aquarium that guides the visit, allowing guests to observe surface-dwelling species before exploring the deep-sea creatures.

The aquarium also recreates four habitats: the North Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Antarctic, and the Pacific Ocean, offering a comprehensive view of marine biodiversity.

> The Central Aquarium

The central tank of the Lisbon Oceanarium stands as its crowning glory, offering a glimpse into the ocean’s depths.

Au programme ?  Quelque mille espèces, dont des requins à gogo (requin-tigre et requin marteaux notamment), des poissons en tout genre, des raies et même un poisson lune… une espèce rare en voie de disparition. Malgré sa taille, ce dernier est très fragile. La faute à son manque de dynamisme – disons-le sans détour, il est lent, mou et peu réactif ! – qui en fait une proie de choix pour les autres espèces et une victime collatérale de la pêche. 

> Antarctica

Set off on a journey to discover Antarctica! The Lisbon Aquarium has successfully recreated a small segment of the ice caps, where penguins and rockhopper penguins thrive and play.

Lisbon Aquarium - penguins

> Indian Ocean

From the icy landscapes of Antarctica, the scene shifts dramatically to the Seychelles at the Lisbon Oceanarium. Here, visitors can explore a recreated tropical rainforest habitat, home to free-flying birds, vibrantly colored fish (including the stunning humphead wrasse), and corals.

It’s a dose of the exotic at a fraction of the cost, offering a unique and diverse experience of world ecosystems under one roof.

> North Atlantic Ocean

In this section of the Oceanarium, you’ll encounter squids, stunningly luminescent jellyfish, and fish species native to the Azores—a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic known for its rich biodiversity. This area offers a unique glimpse into the marine life of this remote and ecologically diverse region.

> Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean section of the Lisbon Oceanarium is a must-see, especially for those who love otters. Here, visitors can watch these playful creatures frolic in the water. This area also introduces guests to giant octopuses and catsharks, adding to the diverse marine life showcased throughout the aquarium.

“Forests Underwater” by Takashi Amano

Captain Ulysses highly recommends the “Underwater Forests” exhibition, a contemplative and poetic journey into the ocean’s landscapes.

Created by aquascaping virtuoso Takashi Amano, this 40-meter long installation holds nearly 160,000 liters of water, making it the largest of its kind in the world. Amano’s work invites visitors to explore the artistic recreation of marine landscapes in an aquarium setting, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and artistic expression.

Opened in 2015, the “Underwater Forests” exhibition was originally set to close two years later. Due to its overwhelming success, it remains open to this day.

Lisbon Oceanarium - exhibition

Temporary Exhibitions

The Lisbon Oceanarium regularly hosts thematic temporary exhibitions that are either artistic or educational, all dedicated to the oceans.

Practical information

Getting to Lisbon’s Oceanarium

The Lisbon Aquarium is located in the Parque das Nações, northeast of Portugal’s capital.

For those driving, several parking options are available nearby.

It’s also conveniently accessible by public transport:

  • Metro: red metro line at Oriente station,
  • Bus: lines 705, 708, 725, 728, 744, 750, 759, 794,
  • Trains: Oriente station.

👍 Insider Tip 👍

Hop-on hop-off tourist buses also stop near the Aquarium, offering a convenient way to explore the capital’s iconic landmarks, especially if you wish to minimize walking or are traveling with children.

The ticket includes an audioguide available in multiple languages enriching your journey with various comments and anecdotes throughout the route!

Lisbon Oceanarium Opening Hours

The Lisbon Aquarium is open daily from 10 AM to 8 PM, with ticket sales ending at 7 PM. Special hours apply on December 24th and 31st (10 AM to 7 PM), and on December 25th and January 1st (11 AM to 8 PM).

How long to visit Lisbon Oceanarium?

To make the most of your visit to the Lisbon Aquarium, it’s recommended to allocate between 2 to 4 hours. Dining options are available on-site for convenience.

Tickets to Lisbon’s Aquarium

Ticket prices for Lisbon’s Aquarium vary by age:

0 – 2 years:Free
3 – 12 years:€15
13 – 64 years:€25
65+ years:€17

With an average of 1 million visitors per year, Lisbon’s Aquarium stands as one of the capital’s most iconic attractions. Needless to say, the queues at the ticket counter can be absolutely endless.

That’s why Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your ticket online in advance:

👉 Tickets to Lisbon’s Aquarium

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⚠️ Attention ⚠️

As a general rule, Lisbon tends to get quite crowded, so Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your visits and activities in advance (especially for popular attractions like Jerónimos Monastery, Saint George’s Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, a cruise on the Tagus River, and more).

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