What You Should Know Before Planning A Visit To Dubai's Burj Khalifa

Dubai's Burj Khalifa is a modern-day marvel. At 2,716.5 feet tall, the cloud-piercing superstructure is the world's tallest building. Opened in 2010, Burj Khalifa is more than double the height of the Eiffel Tower and nearly 700 feet taller than Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world.

While the megatall building's sheer height is impressive enough, Burj Khalifa also boasts the world's highest observation deck, giving countless guests of the building a chance to experience a falcon's eye view of the Dubai skyline, the Persian Gulf, and surrounding Arabian Desert.

Along with incredible views from the observation deck, Burj Khalifa also boasts wonderful art installations, dining options with unparalleled views, and some of the world's quickest elevators. Dubai, as a city, is one of humanity's most striking feats of engineering, and if you're visiting for the first time, you'll certainly want to explore the city's architectural crown jewel.

Create a personalized Dubai experience

To optimize your walk in the clouds, tour companies offer all types of ticket options for you to choose from. You can choose tickets for different observation tour experiences, take a guided or self-guided tour, add a meal or refreshments to your visit, and more. You can purchase tickets through Burj Khalifa itself, but for first-time visitors to Dubai, you may want to consider a Go Dubai Pass or something similar.

These customizable, all-inclusive passes can include admission to Burj Khalifa, as well as other popular city sites. For example, you can add admission to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, on-and-off bus tours, the Aquaventure Waterpark, and other top attractions.

If you do choose to purchase tickets through Burj Khalifa, you should still buy them in advance, especially if you're on a strict schedule. Visitors are allotted time slots to visit the observation deck through either guided or self-guided tours, helping to ensure a less crowded experience. If you buy tickets in person, your tour may be scheduled for a much later time or for the following day.

Schedule the ideal time to visit

Burj Khalifa is open every day of the year, so you shouldn't encounter any trouble fitting a visit into your Dubai itinerary. However, there are certain times of the day that can add a bit extra to your experience. The building is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., with prime hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

During prime hours, you'll pay a bit more, but sunset views from the observation deck may be absolutely worth the cost. Also, fog tends to roll into Dubai before the late-morning sun burns it off. During foggy mornings, the observation deck is literally above the clouds, offering you really neat photo opportunities.

However, if you're a bit scared of heights and prefer a less crowded observation deck, you may appreciate visiting during non-prime hours. To avoid peak times, consider scheduling a visit early in the morning, during mid-afternoon hours, or after the sun sets.

Walk among the desert clouds

Undeniably, the highlight for most people who visit Burj Khalifa is the view from the observation decks. To help avoid any unnecessary confusion, there are basically two tour packages to experience the observation decks in the building: At the Top and At the Top Sky, which also includes access to the world's highest outdoor observation deck.

At the Top includes an outdoor observation deck, floor-to-ceiling windows offering 360-degree city views, a glass floor with surprising (and terrifying?) digital effects such as the simulation of the floor cracking beneath your feet, and high-powered telescopes to get a closer look at the city. Meanwhile, the At the Top Sky experience also involves a personalized tour of the observation deck. Along with views of Dubai's unique skyline, you'll also receive tasty refreshments at SKY Lounge and participate in an interactive experience to virtually explore Dubai's most famous attractions.

Peruse the artwork

While the views on the observation decks are immensely popular, Burj Khalifa offers a few other highlights worth exploring. If you're a fan of light bites and mind-boggling views, consider grabbing a snack at The Lounge, which serves canapes, teas, coffees, and house beverages. You can also take a tour of the outdoor terrace. 

For art and fashion enthusiasts, it's worth visiting the lobbies of the Armani Hotel and The Residence at Burj Khalifa. Designed by Giorgio Armani, the lobby of the Armani Hotel is unsurprisingly opulent and chic, while the art installation in the lobby of The Residence is also worth seeing. Designed by artist Jaume Plensa, the lobby features a sculpture with 196 cymbals, representing the 196 countries of the world. 

And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that traveling from floor to floor inside the Burj Khalifa is also a pretty cool experience. Burj Khalifa features some of the world's fastest elevators, moving visitors up and down the building at nearly 33 feet per second.

Explore other downtown Dubai attractions

After touring Burj Khalifa, the area around the mega-structure is also worth exploring. The building is surrounded by the meticulously manicured green spaces of Burj Park as well as the Dubai Fountain. In the park, you'll find contemporary sculptures and plenty of places to sit and relax.

If you're looking for something a bit more bustling, check out Dubai Mall. If you've finished visiting Burj Khalifa, then you've already walked through the mall, as it's the only way to access Burj Khalifa. However, with over 1,200 retail shops and 200 dining options, there's plenty to see, buy, and try.

In fact, the focal point of the massive mall is the popular Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, one of the world's biggest aquariums. With a little research, you can easily bundle your Burj Khalifa experience with other downtown Dubai attractions, allowing you to explore Dubai from its above-the-cloud views to its underwater zoo.