2015 Expo Milan: What To Do Inside and Outside the City

Following the 2010 edition of Shanghai, the next Universal Exposition will take place in Milan. Open from May 1st to October 31st, the upcoming 2015 Expo Milan will be a unique occasion to take a trip around the planet throughout the pavilions of the fair while spending time in one of the most visited city in the world. Although there is a lot to see and discover in the fair’s area itself,  Milan and the rest of its region, Lombardy, are getting ready to offer a thrilling experience to the 20 million visitors that are expected. Whether you go for visiting the uniqueness of the fair only or you decide to see how the city touched up its make-up for the occasion, or you opt for discovering the beauty of the region – Milan, together with Lombardy, is definitely the top destination for 2015. Let’s see what to do while there!

2015 Expo Milan: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”

The uniqueness of this world’s fair starts with its theme: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” In fact, for the first time in history a Universal Exposition will not only show products but also take part in the societal issues, contributing to the discourse about food education and responsible use of natural resources. Every aspect of the Expo revolves around this theme: the exhibition site, the architecture and the related events are all focused on these subjects.

The Site

The site of the Expo 2015 is located northwest of Milan, adjacent to the Fiera Milano fairgrounds, and covers an area of more than 1 million square meters. It is built on the Cardo and the Decumano shape of a typical roman town (these are two main streets that are perpendicular to each other and meet in a square called “Piazza Italia”) and enriched by an extraordinary green space that is evocative of an island surrounded by water.

All the pavilions are built alongside the two crossing roads. There will be 144 countries present, 69 of them will have their own pavilion, while others will be grouped by 9 clusters (a common theme or a food group to which they belong). Other types of pavilions are hosted in this area:

– Corporate Hospitality Areas: Dedicated to those companies whose core business values respect life on our planet
– 6 pavilions dedicated to International Regions
– Cascina Triulza: An ancient farmhouse that was completely restructured to host the Civil Society pavilion
– Self-built Pavilions: This is the location where all participants can build their own exhibition area

At the four extremities of the Cardo and the Decumano are some of the most important structures of the Expo, divided by Thematic Areas and Events Areas.

Among the Thematic Areas there are:

– Pavilion Zero: Introduces visitors to the Expo
– Arts & Food: In this area every type of art is related with food
– Future Food District: Presents possible scenarios for the application of new technologies at every step of the food chain
– Biodiversity Park: A variety of experiences that involve visitors through a number of different communication tools
– Children’s Park: An area dedicated to exploring the Expo theme through fun

The Events Areas are:

– Expo Center: An indoor space dedicated to cultural events and entertainment, comprising an auditorium, a square and a meeting area
– Open Air Theatre: That will host shows, concerts and official ceremonies
– Lake Arena: Water games, firework performances and concerts will be hosted here
– Mediterranean Hill: It offers a striking vista of the whole exposition site. It is also the space for Slow Food

Useful information

Date: 1 May – 31 October

Location: Expo Milano 2015, next to the Fiera Milano fairgrounds

How to get there: The Exposition Site is a few kilometers from the center of Milan, in an area directly connected by three main city airports and by main public transport lines. The Site is easily accessible by international and local travelers alike through a highly connected transportation system. The underground metro: Linea 1 (red line) connects the central city network system with two car parks at the Molino Dorino and Fiera metro stations. Three main highways are connected to the Expo: the A4 Turin-Milan-Venice, the A8/A9 Milan-Como-Chiasso, and the Milan-Varese; there is also the ring-road (Tangenziale Ovest) that joins the A1 motorway connecting Milan to Rome and Naples. The road system is purpose-built for the exposition and should free local roads from traffic going directly to the exposition site. Train system: the new Expo railway station will be built at the west side of the Exposition Site and will connect regional railway lines to Milan’s underground metro lines. Equidistant from the Exposition Site are the international, well-connected airports of Linate, Malpensa, and Orio al Serio.

Time: Open every day. Monday and Tuesday: 9am – 7pm. Wednesday to Sunday: 9am – 11pm

Tickets: You can buy a normal adult ticket for 39 euros as well as special discounted tickets for families, students and pensioners for 22 euros. You can buy a fixed date or open-date ticket. One ticket is valid for one day’s access to the Expo 2015 site. Open-day tickets do not have a ‘use by’ expiry date. Simply use it once at any time during the entire duration of the expo, provided that there is capacity.

Milan is the second most populous city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy

Milan is the second most populous city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy


Milan is getting ready for the memorable event, its second opportunity as the city previously hosted the Expo in 1906. Spending a few days in the city is really worth it, not only to enjoy the new modern look, but also to take part in the more than 7,000 events that will be held throughout the 6 months of the Expo. Here is a short summary of what to do in Milan, divided by categories:

Art: Italy is the cradle of art, so the Expo will be an incredible occasion to show its immense artistic heritage. Among others it is worth a visit to:

 The Last Supper and “Leonardo in Milan” – An exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work during his 25 years spent in Milan

Michelangelo Merisi “Caravaggio” exhibition – The exhibition planned for 2010, will be repeated on the occasion of the Expo 2015 Milan, in order to show the city’s devotion towards this great artist

– Great Exhibitions at the Trienniale and the Pinacoteca di Brera about the Expo’s theme

Theatre: Milan is one of the biggest cultural centers in Europe. Many events will be organized in order to bring the greatest artistic creations in the world to Milan. The Scala Theatre and the Piccolo Theatre, the two world-renowned Milanese theaters that usually close during the summer, have decided to remain open for the whole year, broadening their concert season.

Fashion and Design: In addition to the traditional events held in the city, there will be a huge number of events dedicated to fashion, design and all possible expressions of creativity directly connected with the theme of the Expo. Among many you should not miss the Milan Fashion Week – the coolest event in the city that will be held in September, 2015. For the occasion it will host “Milan, 100 years of fashion,” an event in which the most celebrated Milanese stylists will create evocative ethnic collections related to the theme of the Expo.

Shopping: It is impossible to go to the capital of shopping and not pay a visit to its sparkling shop windows. The Fashion District, with its celebrated streets Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, will change their routine with late openings and many events connected to the Expo. But the big news for 2015 is Scalo Milano, a contemporary mall, 25 minutes away from the city center, where the best of fashion, design, and fine foods and wine meet.

Food: Considering that food is the main theme of the Expo it is obvious that the taste itinerary begins within the pavilions. Needless to say, the food giant, Eataly, will host 20 different Italian regional kitchens in an area of 8000 square meters. Here you can experience all the different tastes of the Italian cuisine, even at night. 2015 Expo Milan, in fact, will be the first universal exhibition opened until late. On the other hand you might choose to leave the fair at a certain time and try one of the typical Italian restaurants in Milan. Here you will be delighted with the traditional dishes of the Milanese cuisine such as the Risotto alla Milanese or the Cotoletta.

The Milan cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete

The Milan cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete

Tourism: The city has undergone a profound architectural transformation. New neighborhoods have arisen while others have been renovated. In 2015, Milan will be a modern and sophisticated European city that still maintains its ancient splendor. Three of the main tourist attractions of the city changed their look for the occasion:

The Duomo: The fifth largest Christian cathedral in the world has a big surprise for the Expo tourists. After an 8-year, 12 million euro restructuring operation, its “Museo del Duomo” opens its doors again to the public. Another surprise waits outside the church, in the famous “Piazza Duomo:a giant botanical garden will be set up in tribute to the theme of the Expo.

The Castello Sforzesco: It is one of the largest fortresses in Europe, and since 1896 it has hosted one of the largest artistic collections in Milan. During the six months of the Expo the castle will be split in two parts to host two sensational exhibitions: on one side there will be Michelangelo with its Pietà Rondanini, on the other side there will be Leonardo and his Milanese works. Outside the castle, in Piazza Castello, you will find the Expo Gate. It will not just contain information about Expo Milano 2015 and the ticket office, it will also be a space where experiences can be enjoyed and shared, hosting a variety of multimedia and interdisciplinary events.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele: The historic gallery arcade completed in 1877 is the oldest shopping mall in the world and retains some of the most spectacular architecture and paintings you’ll find in Milan. You should have a visit not only for the Flagship stores of prestigious names hosted but also because of the several famous cafes and restaurants located in the building. In fact, the municipality of Milan decided that, during the Expo, the Galleria will be opened until late in order to host a large number of cultural and gastronomic events.


The Expo is not just Milan, there is an amazing region surrounding the city. With its 9 UNESCO sites and an ancient history of culture, music and art, Lombardy is definitely a place worth visiting. There are so many enchanting places to see that you may need a little help to make up your mind. Beth Rubin, Select Italy’s Manager of Custom Travel Planning & Sales, was recently added to the prestigious Travel+Leisure A-List as one of the world’s Top Travel Advisors. She is known for her expertise in custom Italian travel planning, and, as T+L reports, she loves to “tempt clients with innovative day trips or excursions. As a matter of fact, she suggested Mantua and Cremona among her favorite destinations for 2015. These Lombard hidden gems can be reached as part of a day trip while in Milan for the Expo.

“I think 2015, in Italy, will be the year of the Lombardy region. With all eyes turning to Milan for Expo 2015 it is only natural that people will visit not just the region’s capital, but also some of its most interesting towns. There are incredible small towns to discover, my favorites of which are Mantova and Cremona. Mantova, a UNESCO site, is just one of those special “pearls”, and it is very important now because of the damages it sustained during an earthquake in 2012.  Cremona, the violin town, is a wonderful little place to stop in between Milan and Mantova. Here you can visit violin makers’ workshops, and if you arrive at precisely the right time, you can actually see the daily ritual of the Stradivari being played in the town hall, so that it doesn’t warp or go out of tune,” says Beth.

Mantova skyline (credits: Wikimedia - ANGELUS)

Mantova skyline (credits: Wikimedia – ANGELUS)

Mantua: With its surprising old town that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007, Mantua is no doubt the Lombardy’s Sleeping Beauty, a city that hasn’t changed since the middle ages. It was one of the greatest Renaissance Courts in Europe, and home to the wealthy Gonzaga family that helped protect the arts and culture over the years. Today Mantua is a peaceful small city surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes, created during the 12th century as the city’s defense system. A one day trip to this destination is a must, not only to admire its incredibly rich cultural heritage (such as the Palazzo Ducale, the Palazzo Te, the Duomo and the many picturesque squares) but also to discover its sumptuous cuisine based on handmade ravioli, freshwater fish from its lake and the renowned Sbrisolona tart.

Cremona: Situated in the heart of “Pianura Padana,” Cremona is universally considered to be the world capital of stringed-instrument-making and the birthplace of the violin. The city is especially noted for its musical history and traditions, including some of the earliest and most renowned luthiers, such as Guarneri and Stradivari and several members of the Amati family. Once you get there you cannot miss a visit to the Violin Museum or have a look at how violins, violas and cellos are made by one of the 70 master luthiers around the city. Like most Italian cities, Cremona has its own culinary specialties: among the not-to-be-missed offerings, take a bite of the amazing Torrone (the nougat said to be invented here for a Renaissance wedding banquet) and make sure you try the Mostarda di Cremona (a condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup).

2015 Expo Milan is not just a Universal Exposition but a unique occasion to visit an amazing city and a marvelous region with its hidden gems.

Would you like to experience Milan and Lombardy during the Expo? Share why (or why not!) in the comments! 



One thought on “2015 Expo Milan: What To Do Inside and Outside the City

  1. Pingback: Travelareo » 20 Steps to Becoming an Italian Foodie: Lombardy

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