l wasl roof at expo 2020 dubai

Ultimate Visitor Guide to Expo 2020 Dubai

by Dubai Travel Planner

From the stunningly designed architecture of the different country pavilions and exhibitions to AI robots greeting you along the way, here’s the ultimate guide with all the information you will need to plan your journey to the world’s greatest post-pandemic get-together at Dubai Expo 2020.

What is Dubai Expo 2020?

The first-ever Expo was held in 1851, in London where innovations of the industrial revolution era were showcased. Known as the Great Exhibition, it is where countries from around the world came together to display their technological innovations, such as the telegraph machine.

Ever since then, the World Expos – or World Fairs have been held around the world. Iconic cities have showcased many great innovations, from the first X-ray machines, hydrogen-powered cars and humanoid robots, to the introduction of Heinz Ketchup and ice cream cones.

170 years later Expo 2020 Dubai continues the legacy of celebrating human achievements and technological advancements.

With the main theme of the Expo being “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, it promises to be a hub bringing together people and cultures from around the globe, provide opportunities to budding entrepreneurs, and inspire the next generation with new thoughts and ideas for the future.

It’s also a place to have lots of fun!

What to expect at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first Expo to be held in the Middle East and Africa. It will showcase the world’s greatest innovations from different corners of the world, while at the same time sharing history and culture from countries around the world.

It will run for six months, from October 1st 2021 to March 31st 2022.

There are more than 190 country pavilions, and themed exhibitions across five districts: Opportunity, Mobility, Sustainability, Al Forsan Park & Jubilee Park.

Participating countries have the opportunity to showcase how their nation is contributing to critical global issues and their vision for a sustainable future.

With up to 200 dining venues and almost 60 shows a day, including the spectacular light and sound show at the Al Wasl dome, there’s so much to watch and do for the entire family.

You could get just a taster in one day but would need at least a week to truly explore everything on offer – even longer if your aim is to visit every country.

The Districts at Expo 2020

The three major themes, Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability are seen across the Expo 2020 site and are the inspiration for all the participating pavilions.

Here’s what you will find at each of these districts:

1. Opportunity District

Visitors here will learn about how our lives and actions are interconnected, and how every action has a ripple effect for the future generation. Furthermore, how resources can support growth and drive innovation.

A stop at the Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion is one not to be missed, as you feel empowered to help build a better future for the world.

Countries at the Opportunity District include Austria, China, UK, India, Switzerland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and more.

2. Mobility District

Visitors to Alif – the Mobility District Pavilion will explore a future of limitless connections where the physical and digital worlds are interconnected. See how information, ideas, goods and data can be exchanged faster than ever before, bringing people closer than ever.

The country pavilions you can visit here include Belgium, Oman, Australia, the Republic of Korea and more.

3. Sustainability District

It doesn’t matter which country you come from, because we all have one home: Planet Earth.

At the Sustainability District visitors will learn about how the most advanced technologies are being used to take sustainability paths in order to look after our only home. Learn about the impact of our lifestyle and how global movements can enable everyone to continue living in harmony with nature.

Walk underneath solar energy and water condensing ‘trees’, as well as traditional ‘falaj’ systems used for irrigation at the farms.

Countries included in this district are the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain, Singapore, and more.

Map of Expo 2020 showing the districts
Maps are all around the Expo 2020 grounds, along with paper maps in visitor centres and online map in the Expo 2020 app

Themed Weeks at Expo 2020

Throughout the six months of Expo 2020, ten themed weeks will take place highlighting the challenges we face and exploring the opportunities we have to shape the future of this planet.

Visitors can be part of conversations ranging from climate control, space exploration to sustainable living. The dates are as follows:

  • Climate and Biodiversity: October 3 to 9, 2021
  • Space: October 17 to 23, 2021
  • Urban and Rural Development: October 31 to November 6, 2021
  • Tolerance and Inclusivity: November 14 to 20, 2021
  • Knowledge and Learning: December 12 to 18, 2021
  • Travel and Connectivity: January 9 to 15, 2022
  • Global Goals: January 15 to 22, 2022
  • Health and Wellness: January 27 to February 2, 2022
  • Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods: February 17 to 23, 2022
  • Water: March 20 to 26, 2022

Planning your Trip to Expo 2020 Dubai

Make no mistake, a visit to Expo 2020 is a big day out. There is no way to “see it all” in one trip, but here are all the planning tips you need to get to and around Expo 2020 this winter:

Opening hours for Expo 2020

For the entire season, Expo 2020 Dubai will be open seven days a week.

  • Weekdays (Sunday to Wednesday): 10:00 AM to midnight
  • Weekends (Thursday and Friday): 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM

For special events, the timings may change.

Overseas visitors should note that Friday is the day off for most workers in the UAE so will always be the busiest day, followed by Saturday which is the weekend for schools and many businesses.

Location of Expo 2020 Dubai

Located in the Dubai South district, between Dubai and Abu Dhabi,  the purpose-built Expo 2020 site is a 438-hectare area (1083 acres). It is close to Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport and within easy reach from Abu Dhabi International Airport too.

What does it cost visit Expo 2020?

You can purchase Day tickets, multi-day passes and season passes from the Expo 2020 Dubai online ticket office.

Standard tickets

Paid tickets are only required for those aged 18 to 59-year-olds.

  • Day Tickets: AED 95
  • Multi-day Passes: AED 195, and allow entry for 30 consecutive days from first day of use
  • Season Pass: AED 495, and valid for the entire six months
  • Family Bundle Pass: AED 950, which includes 2 adult season passes, discounts on dining options and other perks.

As part of an introductory offer (until 15 October), a special month-long pass only for the month of October is available to purchase at AED 95.

Other ticket options

Premium experience: AED 1750, which includes unlimited entry for the season, premium lounge access, priority access to selected business events, valet parking, discounts on dining and many other perks.

Jubilee experience: AED 10,000, which includes four season passes, 30 multi-day Passes and 10 one-day passes, access to Jubilee Lounge, Garden in the Sky and so much more.

Add on experiences: Signature tours of Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility Pavilions in English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and German are available. Group tours start from AED 65, whereas private tours start from AED 1,100

Free tickets eligibility for Expo 2020

Anyone under the age of 18, over 60 and students with a valid ID card from any academic institution of the world are allowed free entry. People with disabilities too can enter for free, and bring along one companion at half price. Those eligible for a free ticket in this category must acquire their tickets by booking online, however, tickets for children under 6 will be available on site.

  • For UAE residents, free entry is also allowed for nannies, housekeepers, taxi and bus drivers and people that work in the hospitality sector, as long as they can present proof of occupation, such as a residency visa stating their occupation when getting a free ticket at the ticket offices. Nannies and housemaids have an unlimited number of free visits throughout the six months, but they will have to obtain a new ticket every time.
  • RTA drivers are allowed one free entry during the six months. People working in the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants and cafes are also entitled to one free entry ticket during the month of October.
  • Labourers including construction workers that have worked at the Expo 2020 site will be able to attend on group visits organised by employers. Special tickets at AED 1 per head have been set up directly funded by the companies.

You can find our complete guide to ticketing for Expo 2020 over here – we’ll keep this updated with further news on free tickets or special discounts throughout the season should they com up!

Get the Expo 2020 App

The best way to plan and make the most out of your visit is to download the official Expo 2020 Dubai App on your phone. It will allow you to view the schedule of daily events, parades and attractions happening across the Expo, and help create a personalised journey for you.

With the app, you have access to information about your dining options, and use the interactive GPS-enabled map to guide you to the pavilion of interest. You can also use the app to purchase your tickets and manage your Smart Queue reservations for accessing the busiest pavilions.

Transportation options for visiting Expo 2020 Dubai:

Visiting Expo 2020 Dubai is easy no matter how you choose to come.

There are three main gates located at different sites of the venue, allowing easy access for visitors. The RTA has a special S’hail app to help plan your journey, whether you are taking the metro, bus or taxi.

By Metro

The fastest way to arrive as close to Dubai Expo 2020 as possible is by taking the Metro. Take the Red Line and ride to the Expo Station, which is the last station on the new line.

The stations are open from 06:15 Saturday to Thursday and 09:15 on Friday. The last departures from the Expo Station are at 00:00 from Saturday to Wednesday and 01:00 from Thursday to Friday.

By Expo Rider and RTA buses

There is a dedicated public bus, the Expo Rider to get you to and from the venue. Using the Expo Rider is free of charge for Expo visitors and available to board from different locations in Dubai and other Emirates. You can also take the Expo Rider from the same drop-off point when making the return trip back.

Use the RTA’s S’hail app to learn about hopping onto other standard paid RTA buses.

By taxi

Download the Careem, Uber or S’hail app on your phone and book a Dubai taxi or ride share (public taxis “Hala Taxi” can be booked via Careen).

By car

Follow the road signs leading you to Expo 2020 site, if you are driving here. There are four designated parking zones:

1. Opportunity Parking Zone – accessed from the E77 Expo Road

2. Sustainability Parking Zone – accessed from the E77 Expo Road or D54 Zayed Bin Hamdan al Nahyan

3. Mobility Parking Zone – accessed from the E311 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road

4. Dubai Exhibition Centre Parking Zone – accessed from the E311 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road

Parking at any of these zones is free of charge. The car park opens from 8:30 AM to 11:00 PM Saturday to Wednesday, and 08:30 AM to 01:00 AM Thursday to Friday and on special days.

Valet parking is also available for AED 95.

There are standard parking shuttles operating from all car parks which will operate on a high-frequency basis while the parking zones are open. Note it takes about 10 minutes from parking your car to getting through the gates; take public transport if possible.

Getting around Expo 2020

While walking on foot is the best way to explore all that is at Expo 2020, it is not the only option. There are almost 230 bicycles available to rent from 23 stations, and these can be booked via the Careem Bike app.

There are free shuttles running between key sites, golf buggies to rent, and the ticketed Expo Explorer sightseeing train travelling across all sites.

Strollers and wheelchairs can be rented at information points, located by the four main entrance gates and throughout the Expo 2020 site.

The People Mover is a free internal bus service that rides around the main locations of Expo 2020, making it easy to quickly move between the districts. They are stroller and wheelchair-accessible.

The Expo Explorer is another fun way to move around the districts and an opportunity for some sightseeing. These are electric or compressed-air trains that move about their dedicated routes within each district. These too are stroller and wheelchair-friendly.

Dining options at Dubai Expo 2020

One of the best ways to discover a new country and learn about their culture is through sampling their local cuisine, and at Expo 2020 you will be taken on a culinary adventure.

With over 200 different food and beverage options, you will be spoilt for choice whether you are looking for in-restaurant dining, street food or snack machines.

There are more than 30 dining concepts, and more than 50 country cuisines, with everything ranging from budget-friendly options to Michelin Star dining experiences. Many venues within Expo 2020 are licensed to serve alcohol – we have a detailed listing of venues here.

And that’s not all. Diners can also enjoy interacting with robotic baristas and delivery robots serving your food via a tap on your phone.

Where can you stay when visiting Expo 2020 Dubai?

The Rove Expo 2020 is the only hotel on site of Expo 2020 Dubai and has the best seats to the Al Wasl dome.

Roof top pool for Rove Expo 2020
Rooftop pool at Rove Expo 2020 – prime position for Al Wasl dome

Rooms start from Dh1,000 ($272) a night and include Expo 2020 entrance tickets for the duration of stay.

There are 312 rooms, 19 suites, an outdoor pool, and various other facilities including dining. Regular rooms can accommodate two adults and one child, while a suite is able to fit up to six people.

Other nearby hotels are in the neighbourhood of Dubai South and Dubai Investments Park located at a 15-minute drive. We highly recommend you look at hotels in Dubai Marina which is just 20 minutes away by Metro.

Facilities at Expo 2020

Expo 2020 is all about inclusivity for every person and so special consideration has been taken for people with more requirements.

  • Quiet Rooms at four different locations which include an innovative sensory pod and a sensory corner have been set up for those on the autism spectrum.
  • Hearing induction loops are provided at dedicated counters for those with hearing impairment.
  • Guide dogs are welcome at the Expo 2020 and trained staff members with communication cards will be present to converse with non-verbal visitors.
  • Accessible toilets are present throughout the Expo site. These also include dedicated family toilets, breastfeeding rooms equipped with bottle-warming facilities, and changing rooms.
  • Seven First Aid posts are also present that are open 7 days a week. At these posts visitors can also store their medication in refrigerators.
  • Kids play ground areas at different areas of Expo 2020 are present.
  • Strollers and Wheelchairs, both manual and electric, available for renting out at Inofrmation points located at the entrance gates. Also available to hire from here are Expo golf buggies which can seat an entire family and are driven by trained drivers.

Top 5 things to do with the family at Expo 2020

If you’ll be visiting with your kids, here are five highlights we recommend you not to miss:

  1. Al Wasl Plaza Steel Dome: Children will enjoy watching an immersive projection show of the Expo 2020 mascots, Rashid and Latifa, to battle against Mr. Scrap and help restore the beauty of our planet.
  • Latifa’s Adventures: A fun play area complete with nets and trampolines across the terrain of what looks like planet Mars, as the children learn about the universe and space.
  • Reverse Water Feature: The Expo 2020 Water feature is gravity defying. You can experience water tumbling down across 13 metre high vertical walls which mysteriously seem to disappear at the bottom, during the day, and then flowing upwards by night. Immerse yourself  into the orchestral music heard every time a surge of water gushes down.
  • Garden in the Sky: This is an observation tower and a ‘flying park’, which offers 360-degree views of the entire 4.38sqkm Expo 2020 Dubai site. It is 55 metres tall and the perfect place to observe the park while being surrounded by nature.
  • Play with the Robots : Visit the Monaco Pavilion, home to a colony of robotic penguin and help guide a baby penguin return back to safety past the dangers of the Arctic. A wonderful way to learn about penguin behaviour and have some fun.

Don’t forget to grab yourselves a passport too if you’d like to collect stamps at each of the country pavilions. they cost only 20 AED from any of the official stores, at each entrance and within the grounds.

You can find a more detailed guide to Dubai Expo with kids here.

Covid-19 Safety measures at Expo 2020

A number of precautionary measures are in place on-site to ensure you and everyone around you have a pleasant and safe visit.

 1. Visitors aged 18 and above must be vaccinated, with proof of vaccination recognised by any Expo 2020 participating country or the World Health Organisation (WHO) presented at the time of entry.

2. Visitors aged 18 and above who are unvaccinated must present a negative PCR test certificate for a test conducted within the last 72 hours. It is advisable to take a PCR test at least one day before your visit to Expo as results can take up to 10 hours.

3. Once at Expo 2020 site, visitors must maintain all the Covid-19 safety measures. This includes wearing a face mask at all times and maintaining a social distance of at least 2 metres.

4. There are hand sanitiser stations positioned at regular intervals throughout the site for your use. All venues and common areas are regularly cleaned and sanitised.

Top Tips for a Comfortable Day Out at Expo 2020

We cannot reiterate enough, Dubai Expo 2020 is big! You will not cover it all in one go but we have plenty of tips to help make your day run as smoothly as possible.

  • Wear comfortable shoes – no exceptions! A visit to Expo 2020 requires a lot of walking. Whilst there are the free Expo Explorers, they may not be there when you need them and it’s easiest to traverse most areas on foot. Expect in a full day you’ll cover at least 15,000 – 20,000 steps; comfy trainers are a must.
  • Go early in the day – yes, the sun is hot but like most things in Dubai, the earlier in the day, the less crowded it is.  Doors open at 10:00 AM so head to the known popular pavilions first (eg UAE, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia to name a few) to try beat the queues and take your time, using airconditioned breaks where you can. It starts to get cool and the crowds heat up between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
  • Stay hydrated – it is also exceptionally thirsty work as you make your way around the grounds. Do bring a chilled, reusable water bottle with you. There are water stations to refill but we found them few and far between and the water wasn’t cold. Prices seem to vary vastly between vendors selling water from 4 AED to 10 AED.
  • Wear sunscreen – although there are many shaded areas and most pavilions are indoors, you will enivitaby be in the sun for parts of the day, the suns rays are strong in Dubai so the fair-skinned especially will want to have some extra protection.
  • Pick up a passport before you go in – they can be purchased inside, but we found ourselves treking back on ourselves. The official stores are at all the main entries, pick one up before you head inside so you can hit the ground running ollecting stamps straight away. Make sure you check out the pavilions as you go too, don’t just stamp hunt!
  • Visit the smaller pavilions – sure you’ve heard about the fancy display or cool ride in xyz pavilion, but give the little ones a go too. In our experience, they can actually learn way more facts about the country and the information is easier to digest. No queues, great aircon and friendly smiles – what’s not to love! We’ll have our guide to best small pavilions out soon!
  • Grab a paper map too – we didn’t find using the app the easiest way to navigate around at times. Grab a paper map (available in several languages) at the visitor centres. The kids really enjoyed plotting our route where we could all see and point, as well as having a souvenir paper map for later we’ll keep with the passports.

More Frequently Asked Questions About Expo 2020

What is Expo 2020?

Expo 2020 is a World expo hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, taking place over six months. It is an international event that will bring together people and cultures from around the world, where they can exchange perspectives, and inspire the next generation with real-life solutions.

When is Expo 2020 scheduled to take place?

Expo 2020 will run from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022. It was originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed by one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For branding and marketing purposes, the organisers decided to keep the name ‘Expo 2020’.

What is the Expo 2020 logo?

The Expo 2020 logo is designed as a ring symbolising connectivity, resilience and heritage. The inspiration for the ring design comes from a 4000-year old gold ring, unearthed at the Saruq Al Hadid site in Al Marmoom back in 2002.
This archaeological site was first discovered by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai himself while he was flying over the area and noticed the irregular ripples on the sand dunes.

The original ancient ring is currently on display at the Saruq Al-Hadid Museum in Al Shindagha. The design of the gold ring and its story of the ancient civilisation goes well with the theme of Expo 2020: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

In other words, while Expo 2020 presents a vision of what the future holds, it also connects to the distant past of the country. 

Where is Expo 2020 in Dubai?

The Dubai Expo site covers an area of 438-hectare area (1083 acres) and is situated in Dubai South. We cover in detail above exactly how to get to the Expo location using various forms of transport.

How much is a ticket to Expo 2020?

Prices start from AED 95 for single-day visits. Options are also available for multi-day passes and season passes. Visitors under the age of 18, over 60, students with a valid ID card and people with disabilities (of determination) are eligible for free entry.

Where do I get an Expo 2020 passport?

The yellow Expo passports are for sale in all of the official Expo 2020 merchandise shops. You’ll find these shops on your way in and spotted around the grounds of Expo. They cost 20 AED on their own, or if you add a lanyard and plastic pocket to keep your passport safe (recommended!), 59 AED.

Where can I find out what’s happening at Expo 2020?

Your best bet is to download the Expo 2020 app. This will guide you through the daily schedule of events so you can best plan your visit.

You will also find the events schedule at expo2020dubai.com/en/calendar

Can I get food at Expo 2020?

Yes, one of the key aspects of visiting Expo 2020 is to see and experience the culinary delights from around the world. As well as the main country pavilions, you’ll find several restaurants dotted around the grounds – in fact over 200 places you can grab a bite, in varying price ranges from takeaways to Michelin-star.

With small kids, we’d strongly suggest bringing a plentiful supply of snacks too.

Can you buy alcoholic drinks at Expo 2020?

Yes, there are many licensed venues within the grounds at Expo 2020. We have a list of our favourite stand-alone bars and country pavilions serving up local beverages over here. You can only drink whilst within the licensed venues. BYO alcohol or drinking while walking around is strictly prohibited.

Who is hosting the next Expo?

At the conclusion of Expo 2020, all eyes will turn to Osaka, Japan who will be a third-time host of Expo from 13 April 2025 to 13 October 2025.

Anything you feel we’ve not answered yet? Let us know in the comments below. One of our team will do their best to find the right answers for you, or hop on over to the official website expo2020dubai.com.

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