Here's your EXPO 2020 Dubai guide for beginners if you're visiting a World Expo for the first time.
More than 180 days, more than 190 countries and an endless list of exhibitions, ideas, innovations, spectacular shows and so much more.
Not only if EXPO 2020 Dubai is your first World's Fair, this huge offer can be quite confusing and overwhelming.
But no need to worry! With the EXPO-ELEMENTS Visitor Guide we help you to get the best out of this unique world trip.
Let's start with a little crash course for beginners.
What is EXPO 2020 Dubai?
EXPO 2020 Dubai is the first world exhibition in the Middle East and thus also in the Arab and MENASA(Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region.
World exhibitions look back on a history of more than 170 years.
Its purposes and goals have been repeatedly adapted over the decades.
Today, the main task of world exhibitions - and thus also that of EXPO 2020 Dubai - is to present solutions to the greatest challenges and problems of our world.
For this purpose, each participant will have the opportunity to present their greatest innovations and ideas in their own pavilion.
The participants are mostly countries (over 190 at EXPO 2020), most of which showcase their country's assets and innovations on the theme in an idealized nation presentation.
However, some also use EXPOs almost exclusively as a tourism platform and tend to care less about the content and goals of the event.
There are also international (commercial) companies, NGOs and other organizations that present themselves and their products at EXPOs.
Lectures, theme weeks, conferences and discussion panels complete the content side of the EXPOs.
World's Fairs are also mega-events with spectacular shows, cultural and musical events, which are often also linked to the EXPO's motto.
EXPO 2020, appropriately, advertises right away with the modest slogan: "The World's Greatest Show."
And EXPO 2020 in Dubai this year is probably also the only world tour that is currently possible at all.
The motto: What is EXPO 2020 Dubai about?
Each World's Fair focuses on a particular theme.
The EXPO 2020 Dubai motto is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future." and aims to find common solutions in a globalized world.
The main motto is additionally integrated into the three sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunities subdivided.
When will EXPO 2020 Dubai take place?
EXPO 2020 Dubai was originally scheduled to take place from October 20, 2020 to April 20, 2021.
Due to the pandemic, the event was postponed by almost a year and is now scheduled between the October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 the first mega-event with visitors after or during the pandemic.
Where can I get EXPO 2020 tickets?
Tickets for EXPO 2020 Dubai are best obtained via the official website. Everything you need to know about ticket purchase and ticket options can be found here. EXPO 2020 TICKET INFO
When are the opening hours of EXPO 2020 and the pavilions?
Note last admission!
EXPO opens its doors at 10:00 a.m. in the morning and is open until 11:59 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday.
On Thursdays and Fridays, the EXPO is even open until 2 a.m. at night.
* On special days, the Opening hours also changed be
Be sure to plan for this during your visit and check the official EXPO website or the EXPO 2020 social media channels every now and then for the latest information.
Opening hours EXPO site:
Opening hours pavilions & last entrance:
Most pavilions (this also applies to country pavilions) are open 12 hours from 10am to 10pm.
The last admission often depends on the size of the pavilions!
You can also quickly enter the smaller ones again at 21:45.
Here it depends on the goodwill of the operators and employees.
In the large pavilions, where the visit to the exhibition also takes significantly longer, the doors sometimes close an hour before the official closing time.
On very full days with long waiting times, visitors (presumably) also have to queue up much earlier.
Even though you like to save the highlights for last, you should not wait too long to visit the most popular pavilions on your own visit day, because then it can easily happen that you will not be able to get into the pavilion.
This is especially true for the most popular country pavilions such as Germany, Russia, USA, Japan, of course the host U.A.E. / Dubai and many more.
Standing in front of closed doors here is very frustrating.
You certainly want to save yourself the trouble.
Waiting times at the pavilions and visitor occupancy at EXPO 2020
When are the most visitors on the EXPO site?
So far, it has been shown that most visitors start coming in the afternoon, when the sun and the heat start to subside.
EXPO 2020 is also rather a late event overall.
Waiting times in front of the pavilions are usually significantly longer in the afternoon and evening.
Fewer people are on the site in the morning and waiting times are (very) short. (Status October 2021)
Therefore, it is best to visit the popular pavilions earlier.
"Smart queue" tickets
Some pavilions also offer so-called "Smart queue" tickets an.
Here you can book a "fast track" ticket with your ticket for a certain number of pavilions, so you don't have to wait in line too long.
You can book this ticket via the official EXPO 2020 APP.
How to get there: Where is EXPO 2020 Dubai and how to get there?
EXPO 2020 is located in the south of Dubai a bit outside and can be reached best and fastest by metro.
The three main entrances to the three different areas (sustainability, mobility and opportunities) can be reached by different means of transport.
Arrival by metro
The connection by metro is probably the best.
The EXPO site can be reached in about 30 minutes by metro from Dubai Marina and about 45 minutes from the Burj Khalifa metro station.
From the airport in Dubai, the trip by metro takes about an hour (without changing trains).
The Red Line will lead you directly to your destination.
And the trains direction come to the busy at least every five minutes. Sometimes even in shorter sections.
So you don't have to wait long for the train here.
However, make absolutely sure that the Final stop EXPO 2020 because the route forks a few stations beforehand.
Watch out: In the metro there is a Gold Class and a Compartment for women only.
It is better not to enter here without access authorization.
With the Metro Planner you can organize your metro ride in advance:
To the Metro Planner
Arrival by car
There is plenty of parking around the EXPO site.
From there, the shuttle bus will take you to the entrances of the EXPO.
Arrival by bus
From the city center, shuttle buses regularly bring visitors to the EXPO site.
The ride with the so-called "people movers" is even free of charge.
However, they usually take longer than the metro ride.
Arrival by cab
There are several drop-off points in front of the EXPO site.
Call of the muezzin at EXPO 2020 Dubai
This is new for world exhibitions.
At several times during the day, the "call of the muezzin" can be heard on the EXPO grounds.
Although the last (smaller) EXPO in Astana in 2017 was also held in a Muslim-majority country, EXPO 2020 in Dubai is likely to be the first world's fair in history where the call of the muezzin can be heard daily through the loudspeakers.
Highlights of EXPO 2020 Dubai
What are the must-dos and must-sees?
With over 190 participants and around 60 events per day, determining the highlights is always a matter of taste and not easy.
There are so many different pavilions, themes, shows and approaches.
Some are practical and rather informative.
Other participants take a playful approach to the EXPO 2020 motto, and some rely on plenty of show effects.
The choice and the possibilities are so great that here follows only (m)a much too small, very subjective (first) list of must-dos and must-sees of EXPO 2020 Dubai.
Tips: EXPO 2020 Visit Plan!
As you can already imagine, an event with over 190 participants is very confusing and can sometimes overwhelm you.
Therefore, you should think in advance which pavilions you would like to see in any case and what you would rather do without.
Unfortunately, you are often faced with this decision at the EXPO.
Especially if you don't live in the EXPO city and have only one or a few days to visit the World's Fair.
Here are a few tips for a good day at EXPO 2020 in Dubai that will save you time, money and stress!
- Think of the most comfortable shoes!
Today, it's not about looking your best, it's about making a lot of miles.
You will walk a lot from pavilion to pavilion. And you may also need comfortable shoes in the queues.
The paths on the EXPO grounds are covered and the pavilions are mostly well air-conditioned.
However, there will always be situations where you will have to protect yourself from the Dubai desert sun.
So remember sunscreen, sun hats, caps and sunglasses.
Proper clothing + second set:
It's easy to get wet at the EXPO.
This can happen with one or the other water attraction.
But it is also not impossible that you sweat a lot.
Sweat-wicking and breathable sports shirts are best suited for this purpose.
For the selfie, you can then conjure up your favorite shirt later, freshly ironed and unencumbered from the backpack.
Multi-day tickets or Season Pass
One day is not enough!
Therefore, you better secure a multi-day ticket directly. This is valid for 30 days from the first day of use.
- If you want to return to EXPO even more often or at a later date, the Season Pass is a good choice.
Free tickets about airlines, tour operators or hotels:
Some vendors and sponsors also offer free complimentary tickets to EXPO.
- Remember your (digital) Vaccination certificatea valid certificate of vaccination or your negative PCR test (which is a maximum of 72-hours old) to get to the EXPO site quickly.
- PCR tests can be made at the EXPO site (with some tickets even free of charge), but it takes some time until the result is available.
Planning with the APP
Load the official EXPO 2020 Dubai App down to plan your day in advance.
Here you can find a map of the area with all pavilions. And here you can also make your reservations for the SmartQ book and manage.
Link to the official app
- Go so early to the EXPO, as possible.
The EXPO opens at 10 a.m. and at this time the waiting times at the pavilions are still very short.
Even with the large and popular pavilions you do not wait long.
This changes in the course of the day!
Plus, there's so much to see that you can easily stay at EXPO for 12 hours.
- Thinks of Water or other Drinks!
It can get very hot at the EXPO in Dubai and regular drinking is important to avoid getting a circulatory collapse.
It is best to bring a refill bottle with you. There are refilling stations for drinking water in many places.
You can also buy water and other drinks in many places.
Water is available from 5 AED. That is about 1.20 EUR.
- Get the EXPO Passport
It is perhaps the best souvenir of the EXPO.
The EXPO-Passport are available in many stores on the EXPO grounds. And in each pavilion there is the matching "entry" stamp.
Visiting and waiting times:
For the large and popular pavilions, calculate about 30 to 60 minutes for your visit. In addition, you should plan the way and the waiting time.
So far, the waiting times are shortest in the morning. From the afternoon on, more people come to the site.
Important: The closer the EXPO comes to its end, the more people usually think about visiting the EXPO again. This leads to the fact that especially in the last month the number of visitors and the waiting times shoot up!
- Pick out your favorite countries ahead of time and estimate the time so you won't be disappointed in the end.
"Don't fritter away" too much time at the beginning.
One is inclined to take it a bit slower at the beginning, to look around first. But if you walk up and down the boulevard first and spend too long in the nice café near the plaza, you'll lose a lot of time here that will be missed in the end.
- First visit the most popular pavilionswhen the waiting times are still short.
- Watch the Last intake!
The pavilions actually close at 10 pm. But depending on the queue, it can be much earlier.
- Don't just take a selfie in front of the pavilion, dive deeper into some topics! After all, the purpose of the World Expo is not (only) to take the most beautiful selfie, but to learn about the challenges and solutions for our heavily burdened planet.
- Waits for Photos on the best light!
Don't waste all your cell phone battery during the day!
The best photos are taken in the afternoon, when the sun sets and bathes the EXPO grounds and especially the Al Wasl dome in a warm light.
Even in the dark, when everything is illuminated, the EXPO 2020 in Dubai is the most beautiful! So if you're still looking for the right (cell phone) camera for your EXPO and Dubai trip, make sure it takes good photos even in the dark.
- Don't "waste" too much time at the beginning. At the beginning you like to drift, dawdling here and there.
With a multi-day ticket this is not a big problem. After all, you can always come back.
But if you want to see a lot, you should just use the early hours, because then also the queues are not yet so long!