The Burj Khalifa is the landmark of Dubai. If you are planning to visit Dubai soon but don't know where to start your adventure, you can't miss the tallest tower in the world (2,716 ft or 828 meters high!).
For comparison, it is 2 times taller than the Empire State Building and visible from nearly 56 miles around (90 km)!
It is of course interesting to see it from below, but the view is even more beautiful from above – from its observation deck.
From there, you will have an exceptional view of the city and its surroundings. The experience is unique from start to finish!
And if you want to prepare your stay now, I explain everything you need to know about the building: how to visit the observation decks, what the entrance fees are...
I even share some tips – which floor to choose, the best time to go there...
In short, you will know everything about the « Burj Khalifa » after reading this article 🙂
THE HISTORY OF THE BURJ KHALIFA
The Burj Khalifa tower was part of a vast urban project to create a new district south of the historic center of Dubai. The project included the skyscraper, an artificial lake and many other buildings including residential towers, hotels, a shopping mall (the Dubai Mall) as well as parks...
Among the many proposals from architects from around the world, it was that of an American firm from Chicago, specializing in skyscrapers, which won the competition: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).
Initially, the tower was only supposed to be 1,837 feet high (560 m), but given the number of similar projects at the time, the real estate developer in charge of the project, Emaar (which has designed other towers in the emirate) decided to increase the height. The goal was to build the tallest tower in the world – the tallest skyscraper in the world, the one that would become THE symbol of Dubai
The construction started in September 2004 and despite a protest of the workers in 2006 (against their working conditions) and a great lack of financing, the tower was erected in 6 years. The construction ended in December 2009 and the inauguration took place on January 4, 2010.
The tower was initially to be called "Burj Dubai", but following a financial aid of 10 billion dollars paid by the neighboring emirate, Abu Dhabi, it took the name of the President of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyane.
As a result, since its inauguration, the tower is called the "Burj Khalifa".
Burj Khalifa + Aquarium
combined ticket 🆕
When visiting the Burj Khalifa, I highly recommend taking a "combo" ticket that will allow you to access 2 of Dubai's most important monuments on the same day.
The ticket includes the visit of the Burj Khalifa (124th & 125th floors) as well as the access to the Dubai Mall aquarium, which is right next door! Most of the time, people visit these two places on the same day – might as well take advantage of it to get a discount and get the whole package 🙂
BURJ KHALIFA KEY FIGURES
Twice as high as the other buildings that Dubai already houses, the "Burj Khalifa" reaches 2,716 feet (828 m) above sea level.
Thanks to the innovative means of construction used, it is a true feat of technology and has a unique architecture. Its Y-shaped design is even supposed to recall the petals of the Hymenocallis, a desert flower.
The "Burj Khalifa" is a 162-story inhabited tower with offices but also personal apartments (1,044).
Inside, there are also four swimming pools and a luxury hotel, the Armani Hotel, which occupies the first fifteen floors.
At its feet is an artificial lake of nearly 30 acres (12 hectares) and the Dubai Fountains, which regularly offer a superb water show.
The interest of this tower however lies in its two observatories open to the public.
These are exceptional spaces from which you can get a panoramic view of the emirate of Dubai and the Persian Gulf.
THE BURJ KHALIFA, A TOWER THAT HOLDS MANY WORLD RECORDS:
- the tallest tower in the world;
- the tallest self-supporting structure;
- the highest number of floors;
- the highest occupied floor;
- the highest open-air observation platform;
- the highest service elevator in the world.
For the moment, the Burj Khalifa holds the world record for the tallest skyscraper in the world, but it is expected to be quickly dethroned by:
- The "Dubai Creek Tower" (in Dubai) with a planned height of over 900 meters. The end of its construction was expected for 2020, but the project has been delayed and is now on hold (only the foundations are completed);
- The "Jeddah Tower" (formerly "Kingdom Tower" and located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) which is expected to exceed one kilometer in height. Construction is expected to be completed by 2025 at the earliest.
SOME ADDITIONAL FIGURES:
- The construction of the tower took 5 years of work.
- More than 12,000 workers were employed on the site (22 million working-hours).
- The foundations required more than 11 million cubic feet of concrete ( 330,000 cubic meters) and 39,000 tons of steel. 192 piles were buried 164 feet deep in the ground (50 meters).
- The facades required 1,528,475 ft² (142,000 m²) of glass and more than 24,000 windows.
- The tower measures 2,719 feet (829 meters) with its antenna. It is almost twice as tall as the Empire State Building.
- The structure can withstand winds of up to 155 mph (250 km/h).
- It has 160 habitable floors.
- There are 57 elevators.
- The construction cost 1.5 billion dollars.
WHAT IS THE VIEW FROM THE BURJ KHALIFA OBSERVATORY?
From the lookout points of the Burj Khalifa, you will have a bird's-eye view of Dubai and a beautiful 360° panorama.
You will see :
- the largest avenue of Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Road;
- the Burj Khalifa Lake, an artificial lake at the foot of the tower;
- the Dubai Mall, a huge shopping center;
- the buildings of Dubai.
On a clear day (i.e. without sandstorms and external humidity), you will be able to see the Burj al Arab (a luxury hotel in the shape of a giant sail) located 9 miles away (15 km), the Palm Jumeirah (an artificial archipelago in the shape of a palm tree) located 12 miles away (20 km), the artificial islands of The World, and even the desert!
On the other hand, don't forget to admire the "Burj Khalifa" from the ground! Indeed, the structure is most impressive when you raise your head to look at it.
In addition, at the foot of the tower, fountains come alive several times a day. However, it is better to visit in the evening: the show will be much more magical thanks to the illuminations of the tower and the whole district.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS TO VISIT THE TOWER
There are 2 different platforms:
- The « AT THE TOP » platform
The "AT THE TOP" platform is located on the 124th and 125th floors of the tower. You will be at a height of 1,496 feet (456 meters).
There is an outdoor terrace on the 124th floor and an indoor platform on the 125th floor.
These are the classic observation platforms, the visit most often chosen by tourists because it is the most affordable.
Several hundred people can be there at the same time.
- The " AT THE TOP SKY " platform
The " AT THE TOP SKY " platform is located on the 148th floor. You will find yourself at a height of more than 1,820 feet (555 meters).
This visit is considered VIP. Indeed, the entire floor is a luxury lounge with armchairs and benches, and access is limited to about 50 people.
The tickets for this visit are therefore more expensive. Of course, access to this floor also allows you to go to floors 124 and 125 of the tower.
HOW THE VISITS ARE CONDUCTED
For the visit of the platform "AT THE TOP", you will wait with several people in a large room in which you can admire a miniature representation of the tower.
For the visit to the 148th floor, you will be part of a small group and will wait a few minutes in a private room where you will be served pastries, dates, tea, coffee...
You will then be guided through long corridors where you will discover the history of the tower. Finally, you will be taken to the fastest elevators in the world (with a speed of 59 ft/s or 18m/s – or 28 mph or 40 km/h).
You will see the floor numbers flash by. You may feel dizzy and your ears will block!
During the ascent, you can also watch a video explaining the history of Dubai and the tower.
- The "AT THE TOP" platform
Floor 125 is a large and tastefully decorated room with a 360° view of Dubai.
On a glass walkway (the Burj Khalifa Glass Floor), you will feel a slight chill: the floor seems about to crack with every step you take! But this is just another experience and no need to fear for your safety!
On some of the walls, wings have been painted so you can take a souvenir photo of yourself in flight. Don't miss it!
On the 124th floor, you will have access to an outdoor terrace.
- The " AT THE TOP SKY " platform
You will arrive in a large air-conditioned room where you will again be offered refreshments. The space is huge with large windows so as to observe without being disturbed. You will be able to take advantage of nice relaxation areas (sofas and armchairs) where you can rest and enjoy the moment.
There is also an outside terrace with glass windows. Be careful, it can be very hot on the terraces.
Access to this floor is limited to 30 minutes, but apparently no one comes to disturb you beyond this allotted time.
After enjoying the view, you can go down to the 124th floor.
Interactive binoculars will be at your disposal. They will inform you of what you are looking at, as well as show you what Dubai used to look like in the past.
ALTERNATIVES TO OBSERVATION PLATFORMS?
The "Burj Khalifa" also has many bars and restaurants from which you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings.
Since 2019, you can for example opt for a gourmet break in the sumptuous and richly decorated setting of "The Lounge". Located on floors 152 to 154, it is the highest bar/lounge in the world (1,886 ft or 575 m above sea level).
You can also enjoy exceptional dinners at the "At.Mosphere" restaurant located on the 122nd floor.
Beware of the prices: they are exorbitant – but the experience is incredible!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ENTER THE BURJ KHALIFA?
- Book online!
First of all, it is better to book your ticket in advance! Indeed, due to the high number of visitors (2 million visitors/year), you will probably not be able to buy tickets directly on the spot on the day.
You may be able to book for the next day if you are lucky! But usually it is only possible to book for a few days later.
Therefore, as soon as your travel dates are confirmed, book a ticket online.
Note that in the high tourist season, from October to April, the best seats (the sunset ones) go fast (they’re sold out 10 to 15 days in advance) and the entries are limited! By booking online, you will have more chances to get the time slot of your choice.
Moreover, it will save you time by avoiding the queue: the wait there can last up to 1.5 hours, not to mention that you may end up being told to come back another day. Buying your ticket in advance will save you from having to travel twice during your stay!
You won’t have to pay more if you buy your ticket online. On the contrary, you will benefit from lower rates and will even avoid exchange fees and other commissions for foreign payments that your bank may have otherwise charged you.
Note that you will need to book a ticket for a specific time – and you will have to on time.
- The different rates
There are several prices, depending on the time you choose.
Ticket prices may also vary depending on the exchange rate of the dollars/AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham, Dubai's currency).
- Standard ticket / "At the Top" ticket
The At the Top ticket costs between $40.57 and $60.99 per person, depending on the time of day selected (the price increases during the sunset slot, for example). There are also reduced rates for children.
Burj Khalifa 124th & 125th floors
“Prime Hours” Entrance
(4 pm to 6:30 pm)
Children (4 to 11 years old)
- The "At the Top Sky" ticket
The ticket for the "At the Top Sky" platform costs between $102 and $141 per person depending on the time of day (it is most expensive during sunset, for example).
The price difference is not only due to the fact that there are 24 additional floors, but also due to the service provided. Indeed, on the 148th floor you will be welcomed as a real VIP.
This ticket includes:
- access to the 124th and 125th floors,
- access to the 148th floor,
- priority access (without waiting in line),
- a buffet for the wait: dates, pastries, coffee and tea/fruit juice.
There is no children discount for this ticket.
“Prime Hours" entrance
(4 pm to 6:30 pm)
- “The Lounge" ticket
Entry to the highest lounge in the world (1,886 ft, or 575 meters above sea level) depends on the time of day. You will either have the opportunity to enjoy a tea (afternoon) or a glass of champagne (early evening) 🙂
Access to the outdoor terrace will also be available!
Tea in the clouds at The Lounge
Glass of champagne at sunset at the Lounge
HOW LONG DOES THE VISIT LAST?
You can stay as long as you want on top of the observation platform. But in one or two hours, you will have thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO ENJOY THE VIEW?
The best time to visit the Burj Khalifa is at sunset.
This time is more expensive but the price difference is justified because this visit will allow you to admire Dubai both by day and by night. Not to mention that you can enjoy a beautiful sunset! Indeed, you will admire an incredible spectacle: you will see the sun disappearing in the distance and the sky will pass from the day to the twilight then to the darkness of the night. The sun will take on reddish hues and then the city’s artificial lights will make their appearance...it is a magical moment that photographers absolutely adore!
Note that sunset is when the tower is most crowded, so don't expect to be alone up there!
SOME ADDITIONAL TIPS
Try to arrive a little before your time slot. You will have to go through security before you can actually get to the platforms.
If you don't know when to go to Dubai, the best season is during our winter, because in summer the temperatures in Dubai often rise above 104 °F (40°C) .
You may feel a little dizzy at the top but don't worry: the platform is 100% stable.
The elevator goes up very fast (it takes less than a minute), therefore, you will not have time to have an anxiety attack! However, you may feel some ringing in your ears, which will disappear very quickly. Moreover, the lights’ intensity is lowered and you can occupy your mind with the video projection.
The tower has a souvenir store and a photo booth. Don't hesitate to go and have a look!
The view from the platforms is better in the afternoon. Keep that in mind!
HOW TO GET TO THE BURJ KHALIFA?
The Burj Khalifa Tower is located in Downtown Dubai, at number 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
- Dubai Metro
To get there by subway, take the red line, which runs through the city along the main artery of Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Road. Then, get off at the Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall station.
Once you arrive at the mall, head towards the Ground & Level 1 floor, and follow the “Burj Khalifa At The Top” indications.
The red line of the Dubai aerial subway runs from the airport terminals (1 and 3) and traverses the city from north to south. A ticket will cost you less than one dollar.
You can also take the bus with lines 27, 29 and F13. The average fare is $2.5 (or €2) and it takes 30 minutes to get from the airport.
A cab will cost you about $10.25 (9 €) and 20 minutes from the airport.
By car, it's impossible not to spot the tallest building in the world! Follow Sheikh Zayed Road and take the "Burj Khalifa" exit. If you are coming directly from the airport, it will take you 15 minutes.
You can leave your car in the parking lot of the Dubai Mall, which is right next door.
Your hotel may also offer a free shuttle service to the Burj Khalifa and other places. Don't hesitate to ask!
WHAT ARE THE VISITING HOURS?
The observation platforms of the Burj Khalifa are open all year round:
- from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm from Sunday to Wednesday,
- from 10am to midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The hours vary according to the season (especially during the month of Ramadan).
The last admissions are made 45 minutes before closing time.