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How to Do the Milan Expo Right

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Expo is shorthand for “World’s Exposition,” the more recent incarnation of the World’s Fair. TPG Contributor Leigh Rowan recently visited this year’s Expo, held in Milan, Italy, and here are his top tips for what to see in one day, how to get there, what to eat and more.

If your travel plans will bring you through Milan, Italy now through October 31, 2015, consider making the Milan Expo 2015 part of your itinerary. Whether you have a day or several to devote to this sprawling event, you’ll be in awe of the creative national pavilions and the variety of cultural and travel-related activities.

Milan Expo logo


A one-day ticket to the Expo costs €34 (about $38) for a fixed date selected in advance, or €39 (about $44) for an open-date ticket that can be used on any day (though it’s recommended to set a date on the Expo website before arriving). You can buy your tickets through the event website. Note that you can also get evenings-only Expo tickets for €5 (about $5.60) for entry after 7pm each day.

How to Get There

A round-trip ticket to the Expo from central Milan costs €5.
A round-trip ticket to the Expo from central Milan costs €5.

One of the cheapest options for getting to and from the Milan Expo is the Milan Metro (ATM); it costs €5 for a round-trip ticket (note that this price is for travel to and from the Expo only, so be sure to buy the Expo ticket and not a regular Milan Metro ticket). From central Milan, you can take Linea 1 (Red Line 1) on the metro to Rho Fiera Milano metro station. Depending on where you depart from, travel time should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Once you arrive at Rho Fiera Milano station, you’ll head upstairs and outside to the airport-like security area, and you’ll then cross a footbridge to reach the Expo site. The walk from the metro station to the main hall took us about 15 minutes — a bit longer than you might expect.

Expect long lines — even to get into the Expo!
Expect long lines — even to get into the Expo!

Other options include the TrenItalia and TreNord trains, which should cost you between €2 and €9 one-way (about $2.25 and $10, respectively), based on my searches on the Trenitalia website. (It’s important to note that if you’re coming from other cities like Rome, Florence or Venice, you can buy tickets directly to the Rho Fiera Milano stop for less than purchasing two separate tickets). Like the metro, the train arrives at Rho Fiera Expo stop. Taxis will drop off passengers at either Merlata (Sud) or Roserio (Est), both of which are a short walk to the security checkpoint.

What to Tackle in a Day

Some of the stunning architecture on site.
Some of the unique architecture on site.

If you only have a day to spend at the Expo, don’t overdo it; when I visited, some of the national pavilion lines were at least 45 minutes long. Choose a few countries’ pavilions and simply stroll the Expo grounds to take in the impressive architecture of the others. My favorite national pavilions included Brazil, Japan, Estonia, North Korea (which was hilariously empty) and, of course, the United States.

What to Eat

Exploring the national pavilions will give you a fascinating perspective on a variety of cultures — as well as opportunities to enjoy international cuisines.

Handmade orecchiette at Italy's pavilion.
Handmade orecchiette pasta at Italy’s pavilion.

Each country’s booth offers a unique food experience, but host country Italy is naturally the highlight: A temporary branch of the globally popular Eataly gourmet market experience occupies the very center of the Expo, and features typical foods from each of Italy’s 20 unique regions. Meanwhile, at the United States pavilion, you’ll fittingly find a food truck extravaganza parked behind the open air pavilion.

It’s important to note that food costs at the Expo are (naturally) higher than in downtown Milan. Expect to spend €10-12 (about $11-13) for a main dish, €6-10 (about $7-11) for a side dish or snack and €4-12 (about $4.50-13) for a drink. Unfortunately for points lovers like me, cash is king at the Expo, as cards were rarely accepted at most of the pavilions. There are ample ATMs on site, however.

For more info on visiting Milan and the Milan Expo this year, be sure to see Milan Expo 2015: Where to Eat, Play and Stay. And I’ll soon share more on my favorite Expo experiences, including a unique frequent flyer-related perk at one of the sponsor pavilions — so stay tuned!

Are you going to the Expo this year? Have you already been? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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