The Burj Khalifa, also known as Burj Dubai before its inauguration in 2010, is the world’s tallest skyscraper and at the same time the tallest man-made structure in the world at 829 metres high.
The decision to build such an incredible skyscraper was based on the Dubai government’s decision to diversify the city’s economy, in a transition from oil to services and tourism that continues to this day.
The skyscraper was designed by the architectural firm SOM, responsible for other world-famous projects such as the Willis Tower in Chicago and the new World Trade Center in New York.
The building uses half the steel used to construct the Empire State Building in New York thanks to a tubular construction system. But the shape of the Burj Khalifa (Arabic for Caliph’s Tower) is a reference to Islamic architecture, like a spiral minaret and a Y-shape derived from the symmetry of the Hymenocallis desert flower, which is very suitable for hotels, offices and private homes.
An outdoor viewing terrace, called At The Top, officially opened on 5 January 2010 on the 124th floor. Since its construction, it has been the world’s highest observation terrace at 452 metres, but this record ended when it was surpassed in December 2011 by the 488-metre-high Cloud Top terrace of the Canton Tower in Guanzhou (China).
But taking a record away from Dubai is never easy: in fact, the Emirates decided to take the record back immediately by opening the Burj Khalifa Sky terrace on the 148th floor at an altitude of 555 metres on 15 October 2014, thus bringing the record back home.
From the 124th floor terrace, it is possible to admire the city with the naked eye or through the use of the Tellscope electronic telescope, an augmented reality device developed by a Canadian company that allows visitors to see both the current landscape and what they could see in the past, at different times of day or in different weather conditions.
In any case, using the electronic telescope or not, the view from the terrace of the Burj Khalifa is sensational: the city looks like a toy and the view ranges from the desert to the Palm Islands, from the artificial islands The World to Sheikh Zayed Road, dominating the entire Downtown Dubai district from above.
The Burj Khalifa offers several ways to admire Dubai from above; you can buy tickets for the two observatories directly online before you leave, allowing you to skip the queues at the ticket counters and ensure your visit to one of Dubai’s most visited attractions.
The best-selling ticket is the one for the At The Top terrace, which will allow you to admire Dubai outdoors from the 124th floor of the skyscraper, for a view of the city skyline. The 125th floor, located at a height of 456 metres, is a tribute to Arabian art and culture and allows visitors to enjoy a 360° view of Dubai.
The cost of the ticket varies depending on the time of day you plan to visit: the basic cost for an adult (over 12 years old) is AED 169, during sunset hours the price goes up to AED 244. Children between 4 and 12 have a reduction, while under 4 admission is free, if accompanied, of course.
If you want the best view of the Burj Khalifa, buy a ticket that includes floors 124 and 125 (Terrace At The Top) and the Burj Khalifa Sky terrace, located on the 148th floor. This, at a height of 555 metres, is the highest outdoor observation terrace in the world.
It is generally less crowded than the terrace on the 124th floor, but the ticket – which of course also includes floors 124 and 125 – is considerably more expensive, starting at AED 399 per person.
Why not enrich your visit to the world’s tallest skyscraper with lunch or dinner inside? After visiting the At The Top terrace, you can head to the 3rd floor for a meal at the Burj Club, overlooking Burj Lake and the Dancing Fountains.
If, in addition to visiting the Burj Khalifa, you would like to combine your visit with other activities and attractions in the city, such as theDubai Mall Aquarium or a desert safari, choose one of the combination tickets below: in addition to the cost-effectiveness, you will not lose time between transfers and other queues at the ticket offices.
The At The Top terrace (floors 124 and 125) is open from 8am to midnight, with last admission at 11.15pm. Access to the Burj Khalifa Sky (floor 148) is from 12 noon to 10pm, with last entry at 9pm.
If a visit to the Burj Khalifa terraces is not enough for you and you want a more complete experience, you can stay at the exclusive Armani Hotel Dubai. Designed by the famous Giorgio Armani, it occupies eleven floors of the Caliph’s Tower; there are also restaurants, spas, nightclubs and lounge bars, and it is directly connected to the Dubai Mall.
The history of the Burj Khalifa, then Burj Dubai, began in 2004 when construction began in the centre of a new district that would be called Downtown Dubai upon its completion.
Completion of the external structure was completed on 1 October 2009, and the building officially opened a few months later, on 4 January 2010 with a magnificent opening ceremony where more than 10,000 fireworks and 868 strobe lights were fired, attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, 6000 guests and hundreds of journalists from all over the world.
On that day, the skyscraper was renamed Burj Khalifa in honour of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It was thanks to him that the construction saw the light of day, as Abu Dhabi and the UAE federal government loaned Dubai tens of billions of dollars to enable it to pay its debts (Dubai at the time had $80 billion of unfinished construction, but the economic crisis threatened not to finish large projects already under construction, including the Burj Khalifa).
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.