The Lisbon Oceanarium, the second largest in the world, was inaugurated for the 1998 World Exhibition. This attraction consists of two buildings connected by a huge atrium decorated with a panel of 55 000 traditional ceramic tiles. The original building, named Oceans, is installed on a pier surrounded by water and a new building was opened in 2011. The Aquarium’s mascot is a blue puppet named Vasco, a reference to the navigator Vasco da Gama, who discovered the sea route to India. Two huge Vasco greet visitors, one in the patio in front of the two buildings and another on the bay that surrounds the Oceans building. The House of Vasco (“a Casa do Vasco”), in the Oceans building, is a play space for children aimed at educating them for the responsible use of the planet’s maritime resources.
The magic of five habitats
The center of the Oceanarium, in the Oceans building, is a huge aquarium 23 feet (seven meters) high and 12 inches (30 centimeters) thick, where live species including manta rays, sharks, tunas and placid sunfishes, the world’s largest bony fish (with a weight of 2 200 pounds or one thousand kilos). Around it there are four spaces that recreate different habitats. In the North Atlantic’s habitat, which simulates a natural cave in the Azores Islands, proliferate starfishes and Atlantic puffins. The penguins and terns are in the Antarctic’s habitat. In the Pacific Ocean, named by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, you can see sea anemones, sea gulls and the funny sea otters. Finally, in the Tropical Indian, a humid environment and fishes of vibrant colours take you to the other side of the world. The building of the Sea, another aquarium that allows visitors to enjoy amazing viewing angles through 45 windows placed throughout the space is meant for temporary exhibitions. With one million annual visitors, the Lisbon Oceanarium is the most popular attraction in town. Its unique architecture, the sea creatures that swim alone or in shoals in the immense central aquarium, the sea birds flying in their natural habitats, the large variety of plant and animal species, are grounds for a lengthy and unforgettable visit.
The admission tickets allow access to both buildings or just for each one of them. In the combined version, adults pay 16 euros and children over three years and senior citizens pay 11 euros. If you purchase your tickets online, you get a 10% discount. Children under age of three enter for free and if you choose to visit only one of the two spaces, you will get lower prices. In the summer, the Aquarium is open from 10 am to 8 pm, but in the winter it closes at 7 pm (in both cases, the last entry always an hour before closing). On January 1st and December 25th, the opening is later, respectively noon and 1 pm. Be prepared to stay longer than planned!