The Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the tallest building in the world at 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). The building contains 154 usable floors, plus 9 maintenance levels, 46 spire levels and two below-ground parking levels. That's a total of 211 levels of various purpose! Burj Khalifa has held the record for tallest freestanding, man-made structure since 2009. My recent visit allowed me to get a first-hand look at Burj Khalifa wheelchair access.
The building dominates the Dubai skyline and glistens as a crown jewel, rising from the arid desert landscape. Its size is breathtaking. Given my interest in visiting the world's tallest buildings and towers, a trip to see the Burj Khalifa was a real treat.
Here is a first look at Burj Khalifa's amazing architecture in this short, 25-second video:
Tickets and Admission
Before I discuss ticket prices and where to buy them, I should point out that the general public cannot access the true top of the building. You'll have to settle for one of the two observation decks, which are located on floors 124 and 148.
Ticket prices are determined based on time of day and the level you'd like to access. Here is a quick rundown - the full pricing chart is available on the Burj Khalifa website.
Level 124 "At the Top"
08:30-16:00... 125 AED
16:30... 150 AED
17:00-18:00... 200 AED
18:30-Closing... 125 AED
Level 148 "At the Top" Sky
Opening-18:00... 500 AED
19:00-Closing... 350 AED
Without question, you should buy tickets online, 1-2 days before you intend to visit. This will allow you to skip the long lines and secure a time that you most desire. If purchasing tickets at the Burj Khalifa on the day of your intended visit, you'll have to choose from fewer available time slots (if any at all), and you will not be able to secure the 125 AED price for a level 124 ticket.
Which ticket type should you buy?
Since I wanted to visit the observation deck in the morning, my choices were a 125 AED ticket to Level 124, or 500 AED to Level 148. I asked myself, is seeing the view from 24 floors higher worth an extra $100 USD? For me, it was not.
Outdoor Observation Deck
The 124th floor features a beautiful observation deck that wraps around nearly 1/4 of the giant skyscraper. The area is completely wheelchair accessible. The glass cut-outs for professional photo-taking will be hard to reach from a wheelchair. Make sure to use the ones set to a lower height, as pictured in the photo below.
Many of my own photos were taken directly through the glass, which is regularly cleaned. My photos were not terribly distorted shooting them this way.
As you can see, on this 124th floor, I towered above all of the surrounding buildings. The view from 148 would have been a little better, but I don't think it was worth $100 USD.
The Level 124 outdoor deck faces North, overlooking the Downtown Dubai, Financial Center and Deira Creek areas. You'll also get a peek at some of The World Islands, located offshore. To see the Burj Al Arab, the world's most luxurious hotel, you'll need to head up to level 125 (included free with both the Level 124 and 148 tickets.
Indoor Panoramic Views
On Level 125, the main indoor observation area, you can check out 360-degree views of the city.
The space is wheelchair accessible, but could be difficult to navigate when crowded with people. At 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, it was easy to get around and I didn't have to fight for space at the windows.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathrooms
Burj Khalifa wheelchair access extends to the bathrooms, where there is an accessible stall with grab bars inside both the mens' and womens' restrooms.
There is no private sink in the facility pictured above, which is located on the 124th floor. Dedicated bathroom stalls (family access restrooms) are available in the Dubai mall, which is connected to Burj Khalifa.
Gift and Souvenir Shops
With my Level 124 ticket, I was presented with three opportunities to purchase souvenirs at Burj Khalifa.
The first was on the 124th floor. The second, pictured here, is next to the elevators on the 125th floor. The final opportunity is on the ground level, at the end of the tour. You'll face no shortage in opportunities to purchase gifts and souvenirs. I couldn't resist buying a box of chocolate-covered dates.
Location & Transportation
Although I only spent one hour in the Burj Khalifa itself, I spent a great deal more time in the surrounding area. Access to the "At the Top" observation experience is through the Dubai Mall - the largest shopping mall in the world. Inside the Dubai Mall are attractions such as the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which features a shark tunnel that can be rolled or walked through.
Outside the Dubai Mall is the Dubai Fountain, which offers water shows rivaling those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Getting to Burj Khalifa
The Dubai metro will be the easiest way to reach the Burj Khalifa by public transportation. The nearest metro station is Burj Khalifa-Dubai Mall, which is served by the Red Line.
The metro station is connected to the Dubai Mall by an elevated and air-conditioned walkway. It will be a very long walk, but there are moving walkways large enough to carry wheelchairs. I rode my powered wheelchair on the moving walkways without trouble, to conserve battery. There was enough space for me to pass able-bodied people who were standing still or walking slowly.
Pictured above is the area where the walkway to/from the metro meets the greater mall. Once you've come to this point, you'll turn right to head to the Burj Khalifa, following the navigational signs posted overhead. Directions back to the metro are also included on these signs.
Like all metro stations, there is barrier-free access throughout the station and onto the metro train. More information on public transportation in Dubai will be featured soon on this website.
Was the view worth 125 AED (~$34 USD)? To me, it was. The view was incredible. A visit to the Dubai Mall was a necessity. It was a unique opportunity, to marvel at the incredible ingenuity of human beings. Although the Burj Khalifa won't be the tallest structure forever, it is right now a crowning achievement in architecture. The city is exciting, and the bird's eye view of a metropolis rising from a desert along the Persian Gulf was breathtaking.
You won't regret the 125 AED, but I'd pass on spending the extra $100 USD on the Level 148 experience, where the view will be much the same. But, if you do fork over the dough, please come back and share your experience (and photos!) in the comments below.